wrestling / TV Reports

Kevin’s NXT TakeOver: War Games 2019 Review

November 23, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NXT TakeOver WarGames - Teama Ciampa Wins Kevin Owens
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Kevin’s NXT TakeOver: War Games 2019 Review  

NXT TakeOver: War Games
November 23rd, 2019 | Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois

I was out today and missed the pre-show. I’ll watch Garza/Scott back later but this review will focus on the main card.

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War Games: Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, Kay Lee Ray & Shayna Baszler vs. Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Rhea Ripley & Tegan Nox
Rhea Ripley feels like a major star in the way that not many other people do. Dakota Kai replaced Mia Yim, who was mysteriously attacked on the Kickoff Show. Candice LeRae started against Io Shirai. It was another awesome installment in their rivalry. Bianca Belair made it 2-1 but the match really got going when Rhea Ripley entered fourth. She brought the weapons into play the changed the mood. Kay Lee Ray was next and brought in more weapons, leading to a huge Tower of Doom spot onto a pile of chairs. And then Bianca followed it with a 450 splash. That’s a taste of how this match went. Dakota Kai we supposed to be next in but she stopped, turned, and laid out Tegan Nox with a big boot. Dakota continued the attack, slamming the cage door on Tegan’s surgically repaired knee. Dakota even hit William Regal when he came out. That segment was so well done. Now down 4-2, Team Rhea was in trouble. Candice and Rhea did well to fight back and got in a lot of hope spots. I loved the moment of Rhea and Shayna doing dueling hanging submissions. Io’s moonsault off the cage was great, as was Candice wailing on Bianca with a kendo stick. There was so much great here. In an incredible finish, Rhea countered the Kirifuda Clutch by handcuffing herself to Shayna. The shocked champion then got hit with Riptide onto chairs, giving Team Ripley the upset in 29:37. That was the best War Games match NXT has done. It was brutal, had great spots, and told a fantastic story. The Dakota turn was memorable and the comeback from down 2 on 4 was done in a way that made sense and didn’t seem cheap. Tremendous. [****½]

Imperium was shown in the front row.

Number One Contender’s Match: Damian Priest vs. Killian Dain vs. Pete Dunne
The winner faces Adam Cole for the NXT Title at Survivor Series tomorrow. A lot of this was your typical triple threat fare. The two heels and big guys teamed up to beat down on Pete Dunne. Once he was out of the picture, they went at it themselves. Things picked up when they went outside and Dunne got dropped on a table followed by Dain diving onto and crushing Priest. From there on, this was fast paced and filled with big spots. But it still felt kind of hollow. I think it went too long. Not that 19:58 is overly long but it is when the outcome seems obvious. I couldn’t imagine Priest or Dain in a Big Four PPV singles match so taking so long to get to Dunne as the winner felt unnecessary. Still, it had a lot to like going for it. Dain hit a senton with Dunne on his back onto Priest. Dain fell outside but Dunne grabbed the leg to score the three. Very good stuff but a bit long and lacking in drama. [***½]

Finn Balor vs. Matt Riddle
This match oddly doesn’t feel like the big deal that it should. I’m not sure why. Lots of good exchanges and some hard strikes in this one. Riddle always brings that but Finn had extra snap behind some of his shots. Even his baseball slide looked pretty stiff. Riddle got a pop for doing some Goldberg spots like the Spear and Jackhammer. There was just something about this that didn’t quite click the way I wanted it to. A lot of the stuff they did was fine but it didn’t have much feeling behind it. When Balor got his knees up on the Floating Bro it started to improve. They went into a series of counters that was the highlight of the match. But that segment wrapped quickly and Finn won with 1916 in 14:23. I liked this but wanted to like it more. Everything they did was smooth but it was missing that extra something to make it special. [***¼]

War Games: Dominik Dijakovic, Keith Lee, Kevin Owens and Tommaso Ciampa vs. The Undisputed Era
Ciampa didn’t announce his fourth team member. He came out with the old Psycho Killer mask and that was enough for me. Ciampa started against Roderick Strong. Their exchange was pretty basic, with Kyle O’Reilly entering next. They had the advantage until Dijakovic hit the ring. He had a fun spot where he just kept leveling a rebounding O’Reilly. Bobby Fish was next followed by the fantastic run of Keith Lee. War Games should be a series of hot tags and Lee is perfect for that role. Adam Cole headed straight to get a table and bring it into the mix. It backfired as Cole was sent through the table in short order. Team Ciampa faced off despite being down 4-3 and held their own. The buzzer went off and the fourth member was KEVIN OWENS! The pop was insane and Owens wore his original NXT gear. From that point on, the crowd was way into this and the action picked up. Big moves, close calls, and some great moments. The Panama Sunrise on the steel in between the two rings was insane. The match ended with a trio of massive spots. Owens frog splashed O’Reilly through a table, Lee powerbombed Fish through one, and then Ciampa hit an absurd Air Raid Crash off the cage on Cole through two tables. Insanity. Team Ciampa wins in 38:28. I’d call this pretty damn great. The thing that held it back was that some of the early stuff was kind of just there. Up until Keith Lee’s hot tag, it was just a pretty good tag. But things picked up there and went nuts. [***¾]

8.0
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
You want an example of how incredible NXT is at this TakeOver stuff? This 8/10 score is one of their worst TakeOver efforts in years. And this show rocked. Balor/Riddle was the worst thing and it was still good stuff. I liked the triple threat. Both War Games matches were strong, with the women’s one being an all-time great.
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