Fair or unfair, NXT specials going forward will always be compared to the TakeOver events of the past. WarGames, the first pay-per-view of the 2.0 era, was essentially a tale of two cities. The two cages matches and the tag title bout were reminiscent of the Black and Gold regime. Everything else felt like something from an episode of the brand’s contemporary offerings.
Inexperience, green, words that could have haunted the WarGames matches did no such thing. The most inexperienced of the women, Cora Jade, put on a star-making performance. A Swanton Bomb off the top rope through a table came with a landing that looked all too real.
Jade sold her left shoulder, and many people believed she was legitimately hurt. Io Shari fending off the medics and popping Jade’s shoulder back in alignment was a two-pronged attack.
It not only gave us a thumbs up that Jade was ok but the grit and vulnerability in the moment served as a form of storytelling that doesn’t exist in the realm of sports entertainment. A one-armed Cora crawling over and pinning Jacey Jayne was the icing on the cake.
Imperium retained the NXT Tag Team Titles over Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner in a tremendous outing that…GREAT CEASARS GHOST; where did Fabian Aichner come from? Who knew he could fly? Who knew he was that good? Marcel Barthel is a consummate performer, but Aichner raised his stock in a fashion that didn’t subtract but added to the match.
O’Reilly took the pin, saw Von Wagner’s telegraphed heel turn coming, and laid him out. It was an excellent role reversal of sorts considering anyone watching can tell that Von Wagner is not a babyface. Everyone assumed he would turn and injure O’Reilly on the way out.
O’Reilly’s rescheduled swan song will occur tomorrow night in a cage match against Wagner.
Poker guru Duke Hudson got his head shaved, and the Cruiserweight Title received a stay of execution, which were more suited for weekly television than a pay-per-view. The angles and matches were drenched entirely in 2.0 batter, rife with a brand desperate to erase the past but struggling to find an identity.
Loud jacket aficionado Ikeman Jiro ate too much food and took a shit. There’s no punch line here.
CFO$’s Rebel Heart gave everyone the feels as Johnny Gargano unretired the entrance song synonymous with “Johnny TakeOver.” Carmelo Hayes was Gargano’s dance partner in the opening frame of a WarGames match that got better with each entry.
Like the women’s match, weapons, tables, crazy spots, and great action ensued in a manner where the new class known as Team 2.0 held their own while measuring up to the big brother quartet of Team Black & Gold.
WWE deviated from script in terms of massacring the exiting talent in Gargano. Instead, rising star Bron Breakker pinned NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa to set up their anticipated rematch. A refreshing finish.
Final Thoughts: For a show that spent three hours telling the audience to look ahead and ignore the black and gold shadow behind them, WarGames seemingly sacrificed the four most prominent stars of the 2.0 era.
Let’s throw a flag on that play.
Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller, and Tony D’Angelo were booed. However, all save for Breakker are heels anyways. While the son of Steiner fought for the unpopular team, he’ll be back to being cheered by Tuesday.
Io Shari has been main roster ready for a while now, and Kay Lee Ray’s performances over the last six days prove she’s also ready. Cora Jade’s MVP performance could pay dividends if appropriately handled. She already has a win over NXT Women’s Champion Mandy Rose. Now, they get to run it back in an even more anticipated match.
WarGames was a fun show that accomplished many things while failing to establish the most essential item. What is NXT 2.0? Perhaps, that’s too much to ask of one event, but if you read between the lines, one thing is clear. NXT is no longer a brand. Not in the way it was before.
Development is the name of NXT’s game. A minor league circuit dressed in major league clothing.
-NXT WARGAMES RESULTS 12/6/21
WarGames: Kay Lee Ray, Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai, & Cora Jade defeated Dakota Kai & Toxic Attraction (Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, & Jacy Jayne)
NXT Tag Team Championships: Imperium (Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner) defeated Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner to retain
Cameron Grimes defeated Duke Hudson in a Hair vs. Hair Match
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Roderick Strong (w/ Diamond Mine) defeated Joe Gacy (w/ Harland) to retain.
WarGames: Team 2.0 (Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Grayson Waller, & Tony D’Angelo) defeated Team Black & Gold (Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne, & LA Knight)