It’s been a wild journey, but we’re finally here. NXT Takeover: WarGames.
We’re basically guaranteed a phenomenal show tonight. WWE NXT on the USA Network has been killing it week after week in the build-up to this Network special, and given the names on the card I would be utterly shocked if it’s not one of the best shows of the entire year.
It’s more than just the matches, though. Will we see interference from Raw or Smackdown brands here tonight, on the eve of Survivor Series? Who will the mysterious “fourth man” be inside WarGames? Will anyone be physically healthy enough to actually wrestle at tomorrow’s pay-per-view by the time this is over? We’re gonna find out. As always make sure you join us for live coverage tonight kicking off at 6:30 PM ET.
ISAIAH SWERVE SCOTT vs. ANGEL GARZA
This is going to be good. Goodt, as Booker T would say. Swerve and Garza will kickoff Takeover this evening on the pre-show, and while it’s a cold matchup announced at the last minute, I am nonetheless looking forward to it. Sometimes all you need to tell a good story is two young, up-and-coming guys who both want to make a name for themselves.
There are some considerable similarities here too. Both had seasoned independent runs, although Swerve is probably the more well-known of the two, winning gold in CZW, EVOLVE, MLW and Lucha Underground. Garza started in 2009, Swerve in 2011. They were both signed by WWE around the same time, and debuted before NXT crowds within one day of each other.
Scott’s charisma is immediate and obvious to, I imagine, anyone who has ever seen him perform live. He was always going to be a success in my mind, but Garza is a different story. Maybe it’s just that I didn’t watch as much of him before he arrived, but I was floored by his character work during his debut matches in the NXT Breakout Tournament. He jumped off the screen.
This is going to be a total battle of personality. I’m not sure either has an edge, to be honest with you, but I think I’m going to give the ole’ prediction to Garza sneaking out the win by some sort of nefarious means. They should run it back on Wednesday and give Scott his win back, or potentially even set up a bigger grudge match.
MATT RIDDLE vs. FINN BALOR
This is going to rock so damn hard. The “Original Bro” is white hot right now, while Balor is perhaps more intriguing than he ever was as a Raw or Smackdown Superstar.
It’s unfortunate that this match was thrown together as a way to salvage Balor’s direction heading into Takeover, as he was suddenly left without an opponent when Johnny Gargano suffered an injury in the same angle in which Finn turned heel. I say “unfortunate” only because I would love to see what kind of program they could have come up with given proper time and intention.
But herein lies the power of NXT. The brand feels so hot right now, and both stars have so much momentum behind them that it almost doesn’t matter. All fans really want is to see these two beat the absolute hell out of each other. It’s a rare, totally fresh match.
It’s also pretty incredible that Matt Riddle doesn’t feel in any way outclassed or over his head, despite the fact that he’s been wrestling for a grand total of four years, and his first six months or so in NXT, while good, weren’t exactly what I would call explosive. I think the turning point, the road to him really being a top star for the brand, started with his match against Roderick Strong at Takeover XXV. By the time he met Adam Cole for the title on the Oct. 2nd two-hour USA Network debut, his momentum was a powder keg, and that crowd the fuse. Boom.
Click Here: highlanders rugby jersey
As for who wins this, I’ve got no idea. The odds are probably in favor of Balor walking away victorious, because given the original, intended matchup I don’t see Gargano going over. But they’ve certainly had enough time to change creative, and Riddle’s popularity has skyrocketed of late. It would be an upset, and a pretty significant win for his career, but it’s not even that big of a stretch.
PETE DUNNE vs. DAMIAN PRIEST vs. KILLIAN DAIN
Despite Pete Dunne having an obvious size disadvantage against two very large men, I still think he’s the favorite to win by a pretty wide margin. If there were no stakes it could go any way they want, and as long as the match was good I don’t think anyone would really mind; but that’s not the case here.
The winner goes on to Survivor Series the next night to face Adam Cole for the NXT Championship. That’s a huge spot for the black-and-yellow brand. Whoever wins has to basically put on a “Takeover Level” match on a major WWE pay-per-view, with an opponent whose body has almost literally been through hell this week in Adam Cole.
I have nothing against the others, and indeed I was a big fan of Punishment Martinez in ROH so I definitely want them all to succeed, but this spot should go to Dunne. If for no other reason than he’s deserved it. I know he’s only 26 so there’s clearly no rush, but from his raw talent to the way he carries himself, the Bruiserweight should already be a major star on Raw or Smackdown.
Plus, how the hell is he supposed to make a proper entrance without a belt to put in his teeth?
WARGAMES: THE UNDISPUTED ERA vs. TOMMASO CIAMPA, KEITH LEE, DOMINIK DIJAKOVIC & ???
Who is the fourth man? That’s the question.
I’m pretty sure we’re all in agreement that this one is going to come down to The Undisputed Era in the ring delivering a 4-on-3 beatdown, leading to the mysterious fourth man revealing himself in the 11th hour to save the day. They’ll probably play up on commentary that they’re not even sure if the mystery partner will show up at all.
I have no doubt the opposition goes over here. It’s definitely the right call, because they can immediately set up four new contenders to the various championships, in programs that play out on television across the next month or so. Assuming Cole retains at Survivor Series, which admittedly is a big assumption, there is still unfinished business between him and Ciampa that seems like the right direction. Given Lee and Riddle were originally working as a tag team, that’s probably who was set to challenge for the tag titles post-Takeover as well.
I have no concrete theories. It has to be big. If it were any other WWE show they could get away with not delivering a major surprise, because fans are more conditioned to expect that at this point, but not here. Not at Takeover, and not in Chicago. If it wasn’t BIG they could have simply announced the fourth man weeks ago. I don’t know what options are out there. Balor already made the jump. Daniel Bryan? Seth Rollins?
I’ve heard some pitch Marty Scurll but I think there’s about a 2% chance of that happening at best, and he would have had to bail on promises made to Ring of Honor management that he would work Final Battle. Oh, and also he’d have to not re-sign with Ring of Honor or jump to AEW, which seems like the much bigger issue here.
WAR GAMES: SHAYNA BASZLER, IO SHIRAI, BIANCA BELAIR & KAY LEE RAY vs. RHEA RIPLEY, CANDICE LERAE, TEGAN NOX & MIA YIM
I don’t really have a lot to say about this one, or any grand predictions to make. It’s just a really great collection of incredible athletes, a few who have just ridiculous amounts of charisma, some very clearly babyfaces, some very clear heels, and one really hot program. Good against bad. I just want to see some badass ladies kick some ass inside a steel cage. Hell yeah!
If I had to make a prediction I’m always going to go with Shayna Baszler, because the “Queen of Spades” has proven to be the smart money every time she’s in the ring. Seriously – who the hell is going to beat her?
There’s also the Dakota Kai factor, I suppose. She was left off the team and basically told “sorry you just don’t make the cut”, which let’s face it, doesn’t happen in professional wrestling unless someone is turning heel. Assuming this match doesn’t go on last, they could have Kai cost Tegan Nox the match at the end. I actually thought that might happen going all the way back to their seemingly random tag team match against the Kabuki Warriors last month. They didn’t need to put them together out of the blue, unless it was for a reason.