Takeover: WarGames III
Date: November 23, 2019
Location: Allstate Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Beth Phoenix, Nigel McGuinness
It’s a big night around here as we have not one but two WarGames matches on the same show, which I’m pretty sure has never happened before in a major company. The card is a little bit shorter than your usual Takeover but I have a feeling the quality is going to be just fine. The big question for tonight is who is the final member of Team Ciampa, which could be a lot of people. Let’s get to it.
During the Kickoff Show, it was announced that Mia Yim has been injured and is out of WarGames. No word on the attacker, yet.
Kickoff Show: Angel Garza vs. Isaiah Scott
The first ever Kickoff Show match in NXT history. The entrance features the production area for the Kickoff Show panel, including a video screen for a weird behind the scenes/in front of the scenes hybrid. Hold on as Garza needs to take off his pants but Scott grabs them, only to give us a series of escapes into a standoff.
A headscissors puts Garza on the floor for a handspring hurricanrana (which wasn’t the smoothest thing in the world). Back in and Scott hits a gordbuster into a….I guess cartwheel splash onto the legs? A high crossbody connects but Garza rolls through and sends him into the corner. With Scott down, GARZA HAS TO TAKE OFF HIS PANTS! Scott is so distracted that it’s a superkick into a slingshot reverse suplex into another superkick for two.
The Lionsault misses so Scott is right back with a clothesline. Something close to a side slam gives Scott his own two as commentary keeps swooning over Garza. Scott tries a backdrop into the ropes but Garza flips back into a sitout powerbomb (cool) for two. With Scott on the apron, Garza dives at him but lands in a Death Valley Driver, followed by the double stomp to the floor. Fans: “YOU GOT SWERVED!” The House Call gets two back inside and Scott is shocked. Garza drives him into the corner but can’t use the distraction to hit a low blow. Instead he blocks Scott’s kick and hits the Wing Clipper for the pin at 7:34.
Rating: C. The missed execution hurt both of them but they have been good enough as of late to write that one off as a bad night. Scott continues to be someone with all the potential in the world but WWE keeps having him lose like this. I’m not sure if Garza has that much potential, though the amount of charisma he has is going to take him wherever he wants to go.
Shawn Michaels narrates the opening video, talking about how war is inevitable. The two WarGames matches get the focus, with the two regular matches being mentioned as well, as it should be.
Team Ripley vs. Team Baszler
Rhea Ripley, Tegan Nox, Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai
Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, Kay Lee Ray
Kai is Yim’s replacement in WarGames. The first two will face off for five minutes, followed by Team Baszler sending in a second member for a three minute advantage. After that, Team Ripley gets to tie it up for three minutes. The teams alternate entrances every three minutes until everyone is in, and then it’s first pinfall or submission wins. If you leave the cage, you forfeit the match for your entire team. Rhea and Io get huge reactions while Kai is seen as a big of a disappointment.
Shirai and LeRae get things going and they hit the right hands early on. Candice’s headscissors is rolled through as the fans are entirely behind Io. Shirai gets sent to the other ring but is fine enough to block a dive, setting up a 619 from both directions. A rope walk missile dropkick puts Candice down again and she gets sent head first into the metal board between the rings. LeRae’s face gets raked across the cage but she scores with some right hands as Bianca Belair is in to make it 2-1.
The release Glam Slam into the running shooting star have Candice down again but she scores with a reverse hurricanrana. Belair’s charge hits Shirai in the corner so she makes up for it with a triple powerbomb, with the third being a buckle bomb into the cage (Cage bomb?). Belair grabs a camel clutch so Shirai can run the ropes several times into a dropkick to a huge reaction (it’s not that hard to work a crowd up you know).
Rhea Ripley ties things up and it’s already time to bring in the weapons. Hold on though as Rhea pauses to slam the cage door onto Belair’s head before grabbing even more weapons. The fans want tables but have to settle for EVERYTHING else as Rhea goes under the ring at least six times to get weapon after weapon. A belly to back faceplant onto the trashcan makes it even worse for Belair and it’s time to set up some chairs.
Shirai saves Belair from a double suplex through the chairs to prevent a bad case of death as Kay Lee Ray makes it 3-2. She pulls out her own weapons, including a pile of chairs, before pulling out a table….which she slides back under the ring in a good heel move. Chair shots abound, including a tornado DDT to plant Rhea on one of the chairs. A lot of people head over to the corner above the open chairs so Ray folds them down, setting up the HUGE Tower of Doom to crush everyone save for Belair onto the chairs. That’s fine for Belair, who snaps off the gorgeous 450 onto Ripley.
Everyone is down so it’s Dakota Kai to tie things up….but she turns around and kicks Nox in the face before slamming her into the small cage so hard that the cage is actually rocking back and forth. The cage door is slammed onto Nox’s head (you could hear that one all over the arena) and then the knees over and over. Kai takes the brace off so here’s William Regal for the save. Kai shoves HIM and swears a lot as Regal orders her to the back. She comes back though and pulls on the leg again before shouting at a furious Ripley, who is watching from the cage (yeah the cage, which we haven’t seen in a few minutes now).
With Kai finally taken to the back, Baszler finally gets to come out to complete her team and doesn’t exactly seem in a hurry. Ripley is being held back but she breaks free to slug it out with Baszler, only to have the numbers get the better of her. Kai and Nox are officially out so pins and submissions are open. Candice gets in a shot to knock down Shirai and Ray but she has to save Ripley from being handcuffed to the ropes (something I couldn’t see at all watching live). The stereo two on one fights are on with Belair being sent into a trashcan in the corner.
Ripley blocks Ray’s DDT and suplexes her into the cage, setting up the Cloverleaf to Shirai on the top. Not to be outdone, Baszler grabs the Kirifuda Clutch on LeRae across the ring. LeRae slips out though and Ray makes a save with a kick to the head, followed by LeRae’s moonsault for two on Baszler. Belair gorilla presses LeRae over the top onto Ripley and it’s the Gory Bomb to leave LeRae laying. The moonsault gives Shirai two and there are the hair whips to Ripley.
LeRae is back with the kendo stick shots for the save but Shirai takes her down. Shirai goes all the way to the top but LeRae catches her, followed by the super reverse hurricanrana to Ray for the huge crash. LeRae and Belair stand up, only to have Shirai moonsault onto both of them (Mauro: “MAMA F’ING MIA!”) for an even bigger crash. Ripley loads up a trashcan onto two open chairs but stops to knock a trashcan into Ray’s face. That lets Baszler grab the Kirifuda Clutch but Ripley escapes and cuffs them together. Baszler’s big kick misses and it’s Riptide through the chairs to pin Baszler at 27:26.
Rating: B. This was definitely better on a second watch with the additional camera angles showing me a lot that I didn’t see before (including the handcuffs all together). Ripley continues to look like the star of stars and I don’t see how they can’t put the title on her soon. At the same time though, it’s going to take a long time for me to get my head around two women, including one who started the match, beating four, including two champions, at the same time. That’s a lot, and some of the villains just disappeared for long stretches. It’s not some horrible idea or completely unacceptable, but it’s going to take some time.
Ripley and LeRae pose as Baszler knows she’s in big trouble.
We recap the triple threat #1 contenders match. Damian Priest and Pete Dunne were having a match when Killian Dain stared Dunne down. Dain would attack both of them and a three way feud broke out. The match was turned into a #1 contenders match with the winner getting an NXT Title shot at Survivor Series.
Imperium is here.
Pete Dunne vs. Killian Dain vs. Damian Priest
The winner gets Adam Cole tomorrow night. Priest is in Outsiders inspired gear for a nice (and rather random) touch. They all miss some shots to the head to start and stare each other down until Priest sends Dunne outside. With Dain down in the corner, Dunne comes back in to kick away at Priest’s legs. Dunne stomps on Dain’s arm but gets hit in the face by Priest for his efforts. Priest’s big step up flip dive is cut off by Dunne and Dain crossbodies Priest down.
For a bonus, Dain Michinoku Drivers Dunne and sits on Priest’s face at the same time. They head outside with Dain Samoan dropping Priest and Dunne hitting a fall away slam on Dunne at the same time, just to show off a bit. Back in and Dain gets double teamed as Dunne and Priest get smart for a change. A suplex puts Dain down and Dunne steps on the fingers to some well received applause. Dunne goes for a triangle on Priest but Dain grabs the fingers, setting up a double powerbomb to plant Dunne hard.
The monsters slug it out so Dunne comes back in to hammer on both of them as he just likes to fight. A double stomp onto a hand of both sends everyone into a series of strikes until all three go down. As the other two fight, Priest heads up top for a flip dive and it’s the South of Heaven chokeslam for two on Dunne. Priest isn’t done though and drops Dunn onto the announcers’ table, only to get taken down by Dain’s dive. A Cannonball sends Priest through part of the barricade and everyone is down again.
Dain is back in with a backsplash to Priest but the Vader Bomb is broken up with a kick to the head. A Razor’s Edge (impressive one too) drops Dain with Dunne having to dive back in for the save. Dain is sent outside again so Priest hits the big dive over the top. Dunne isn’t about to be outdone and hits a moonsault off the top onto both of them. It’s Dunne and Priest heading back inside to slug it out but Dunne can’t hit the Reckoning. The chokeslam is countered into a cross armbreaker and Priest certainly appears to be tapping.
Dain makes the save and hits a One Winged Angel for two on Priest. Dunne somehow gets Dain up for the Bitter End so Priest has to kick him in the head for the save. It’s Priest back up for a kick to the head for two on Dunne though, with Dain literally falling onto them for the break. A chop block sends Priest to the floor, leaving Dunne to superplex Dain. The Bitter End hits Priest with Dain’s backsplash making another save. Dunne grabs the choke on Dain, who backsplashes onto Priest, only to have Dunne shove Dain away to pin Priest at 19:57.
Rating: B+. I had a great time with this one as they were working hard the entire way and hitting one big spot after another. This didn’t feel anywhere close to twenty minutes and that made for an entertaining match. Dunne was the pretty obvious winner as the monsters split the difference, but that doesn’t mean it was any less entertaining. Heck of a fight here and Dunne vs. Cole should be even better.
Takeover: Portland is on Sunday (that’s a new one) February 16.
We recap Finn Balor vs. Matt Riddle. Balor returned to the promotion a few weeks back and turned on Johnny Gargano. The big explanation was that NXT isn’t as tough as it used to be. Gargano was hurt, so Riddle is taking his place to fight for the modern NXT’s honor.
Matt Riddle vs. Finn Balor
To keep up as a heel, Balor has to avoid the pose in time with his song. Feeling out process to start with Riddle taking him down by the arm but getting stacked up for two. That means a standoff and we reset early on. They head to the mat and with Riddle pretty clearly more dominant, Balor dives over to grab a headlock. Riddle rolls the northern lights suplexes but gets pulled straight down into the chinlock. Seemingly tired of the holds, Balor stomps away in the corner….before grabbing the chinlock again.
Riddle gets sent outside for the baseball slide, with one boot NAILING him in the jaw for a great visual, made even better by slow motion. That just seems to wake him up as he hits a kick to the face into a Broton for two. The running forearms are blocked by a raised boot in the corner though and a forearm keeps Riddle in trouble. Riddle is right back with the ankle lock so Balor finally gets over to the rope for the break.
Balor’s German suplex doesn’t really work so Riddle knees him in the head and gets two off his own German suplex. There’s the ripcord knee but Balor shrugs it off again and hits the double stomp to stay on Riddle’s ribs. A spear cuts Balor down though and it’s a Jackhammer for two and the GOLDBERG chants are on in full.
Balor is right back up with an inverted 1916 for his own two but Riddle Bro to Sleeps him right back. The Floating Bro misses though and Balor dropkicks him into the corner. The Coup de Grace is pulled straight down into the Bromission (that was sweet) but Balor rolls out. Riddle goes for the knee again but gets pulled into 1916 for the pin at 14:24.
Rating: B-. This was good but not quite as awesome as I was expecting. They never hit that next gear which you would expect them to be able to reach. Riddle losing here makes sense as he’ll likely get his big moment at Survivor Series. Balor needs the win more as he’s freshly back in NXT and can move way up the ladder, but he needed to win here to start him on the right path. Good match, but not great.
We recap the men’s WarGames match. The Undisputed Era holds all of the titles but Ciampa is back to get the NXT Championship that he never lost. Lee and Keith Lee and Dominick Dijakovic are as hot as anyone in WWE at the moment so they’re joining in, but they still don’t have a fourth man. Ciampa telling the title that it has to wait because Daddy’s going to war was outstanding and made Ciampa seem even stronger than he was coming in.
Team Ciampa vs. Undisputed Era
There is no fourth man for Team Ciampa to start as the waiting continues. The Era has the advantage because they’re the villains and NXT knows its WarGames history. Ciampa, sporting the war paint, and Strong are starting things off with Ciampa holding his crutch before the bell. Fans: “DADDY’S HOME!” Desperate to fight, Ciampa throws him the crutch and the war is on in a hurry. Ciampa stomps away in the corner and sends him into the cage, only to have Strong come back with a backbreaker.
They head over to the other ring with Strong being dropped ribs first over the top rope. Ciampa unloads with right hands in the corner and there’s a running knee to the face to make it worse. A hard knee knocks Strong silly again but he’s able to break up Willow’s Bell. Back in the other ring, Strong has to fight out of the Fairy Tale Ending and hits double knees to the chest. They slug it out some more until O’Reilly comes in to make it 2-1.
The knees and kicks to the chest drop Ciampa as the fans are ready to bask in some glory. O’Reilly holds Ciampa on the ropes for the running forearms from O’Reilly. The beating continues until Dijakovic ties things up and starts hitting people rather hard. Dijakovic throws O’Reilly onto Strong but it’s too early for Feast Your Eyes. Therefore, Strong gets thrown into the cage over and over for a consolation prize. O’Reilly gets the same and Ciampa is back up to hammer away even more. Some right hands put O’Reilly down between the rings but it’s Bobby Fish to give the advantage back.
Fish gets to take over and it’s a High/Low to Dijakovic. Ciampa is knocked down as well and Fish insists that “WE GOT THIS COLE!” A lot of strikes have the good guys in trouble until it’s Lee coming in to wreck people in a hurry. Lee leapfrogs Fish and O’Reilly before crossbodying both of them to show off a bit. O’Reilly has to save Fish from a powerbomb and it’s time to triple team Lee as the Era has to get rid of him as long as possible. Ciampa is back up and makes the fired up comeback until the numbers get the better of him too.
Dijakovic slams O’Reilly into the other ring and it’s time for everyone but Ciampa to join them. Things slow down a bit until Cole completes the Era. He isn’t ready to come in just yet though as he pulls out a table, then another, then another, then another, then another, the another, with one of them being laid against the barricade and FIVE being sent inside. Cole still can’t get inside though as Ciampa shoves him through the table against the barricade.
Ciampa goes out to get him, which should have meant he left the cage and forfeited the match but maybe that only counts once everyone is in. Everyone gets into one ring for the cool visual and the fight is on. A low blow cuts Lee down but the time is up and it’s…..no one at first, as we wait on the Era to turn around so they can be shocked. It’s Kevin Owens (with his old Titantron and first NXT shirt) to complete the team to a huge hero’s welcome. Owens starts wrecking people, including a release sleeper suplex to O’Reilly.
Strong gets powerbombed onto O’Reilly’s back and it’s the big staredown with Cole. Owens tells Cole to suck it and hits the Stunner for two as Lee and Dijakovic are back up. They launch Strong over the ropes and into the other ring onto Strong. Willow’s Bell plants O’Reilly and it’s time to set up the tables. Lee hits the big dive onto almost everyone but O’Reilly comes in off the top with a knee to Lee’s knee, setting up a kneebar. That’s broken up by Dijakovic but Fish comes in with a moonsault.
The Fairy Tale Ending to Strong sets up the Swanton from Owens for two, meaning Cole has to make his own save. Lee heads up again but gets pulled down with a super Angle Slam. Ax and Smash gets two and there’s the High/Low to Dijakovic. Owens and Lee fight in between the rings with Owens not being able to hit the package piledriver. Cole however can hit a superkick and a (slightly delayed) Panama Sunrise for the huge knockdown. Fish and O’Reilly are up first and set up the tables but it’s Ciampa with Project Ciampa to O’Reilly.
Running knees to the face have the rest of the Era in trouble, including several to send Cole’s head into the cage. They head to the top and there is no way this can end well. Ciampa can’t hit White Noise but he can block the Panama Sunrise through the tables. It’s Cole heading all the way to the top of the cage and Ciampa joins him, drawing the PLEASE DON’T DIE chants.
Dijakovic sends Strong through a table but gets triangled by O’Reilly. They head to the table with Owens hitting a frog splash to drive O’Reilly through, leaving Lee to superbomb Strong through another. Cole and Ciampa stand up on top of the cage and it’s a SUPER WHITE NOISE OFF THE CAGE THROUGH THE TABLES to END Cole at 38:28.
Rating: A. This felt like the war that it was supposed to be and my goodness that finish. I don’t remember being that nervous since I saw Shane McMahon dive off the Cell. That was the big finish that the match needed and the whole thing was a great showcase of all eight guys. Awesome stuff and I got WAY more into it on the second watch than the first time around. Ciampa pinning Cole was the way to go here as it gives us a nearly guaranteed title match while also giving us the big finish. Great stuff here and it felt like war, which is hard to pull off.
Post match, Britt Baker, identified by name and as Cole’s girlfriend, is shown looking terrified as everyone is done. Team Ciampa pulls themselves up and poses to end the show.
Overall Rating: A. This one was a little shorter than most recent Takeovers and in a way, that is the best thing that could have happened. They had everything making sense and went hard the entire way, leaving us with four rather awesome matches. Survivor Series is NXT’s chance to shine on the big stage but this was their big show where they had to take care of things on their own. Another awesome show and more than worth seeing, especially with the somewhat shorter run time.
Team Ripley b. Team Baszler – Riptide onto a chair to Baszler
Pete Dunne b. Damian Priest and Killian Dain – Backsplash to Priest
Finn Balor b. Matt Riddle – 1916
Team Ciampa b. Undisputed Era – Super White Noise through tables to Cole
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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