Saturday, 18 November 2017

NXT TakeOver: WarGames Preview

The major advantage of NXT only doing four or five TakeOvers a year, we don't get B shows from them. This Saturday, 18th November, sees NXT taking over Houston for WarGames, a show that has a lot riding on it as everything since Brooklyn II has been building towards it. 19.30 (or 00.30 on 19th November for us Brits), you can make your way to the Award Winning WWE Network to watch Sam Roberts, Charly Caruso & Booker T discuss the evening's entertainment. Luckily for you, you can skip that half hour of rambling discussion because we here at ATPW think we can do a better job of hyping up a show than the professionals, but before we get into it, let's take a moment to enjoy this show's themes, courtesy of Power Trip & Yorkshire's own, Marmozets.

Aleister Black vs Velveteen Dream

Back in 1999, Destiny's Child sang 'Say my name, say my name, if no one is around you, say baby I love you, if you ain't running game'. Now, Patrick 'Velveteen Dream' Clark may have been just four years old when that song was released but clearly, it has informed his worldview as to say his name is all he wants from Dutch shitkicker we once called Tommy End but now call Aleister Black. After a win over Hideo Itami (where are you, Hideo? We miss you) at Brooklyn III, Black would come to the ring to talk about what was next, only for Dream to crash his black metal party. Since then, Dream has been following Black round like a bad penny, ruining matches Black was going to have with a debuting Lio Rush (Clark's former tag partner on the indies) and generally picking up heat purely by acting like Prince because he's not Prince, no one is. The build for this one has been fantastically entertaining and is definitely worth going back and watching the past two months of NXT for, prepare for lots of commentary talking about 'mind games' as these two have been continually trying to invade each other's psyche. Good money would suggest that Black continues his undefeated streak but I wouldn't discount a reunion of Dream and Rush leading to the first major loss of Black. Either way, I have a feeling we could be in for a real treat here.

Kassius Ohno vs Lars Sullivan

"Who is Lars Sullivan?" I hear you, the casual watcher of TakeOver events only, ask. Sullivan, formerly known as Dylan Miley, is a 29 year Old, 6"3, 303lb Colorado native that many have referred to as the next Braun Strowman. Since his debut, back in May, he's been running through failed tag partners and puny opponents like no-one's business, including treating No Way Jose like he was a cruiserweight. But now, he has actual competition in the form of the knockout artist, the PWG champion, the wXw champion, the CZW champion, the man we used to call Hero, Kassius Ohno. Ohno, at 6"4 and 270lbs, has a small height advantage but loses out by a good 30lbs but so far, almost all of Sullivan's opponents have either been significantly smaller or similarly inexperienced but Ohno is not only similar in stature but a veteran of the scene who knows a thing or two about playing the bully in the ring so is perfect to show Miley how to have a match longer than a few minutes. Now, easy logic would suggest Ohno continues his player coach and gives Sullivan the rub here but I wouldn't count out Ohno just yet, mostly because Ohno vs McIntyre or Almas could be incredible. For what happens in the match, elbows probably.

NXT Women's Championship Fatal Four-Way - Kairi Sane vs Ember Moon vs Nikki Cross vs Peyton Royce

I swear we haven't already seen this match. Yes, we had Asuka vs Peyton Royce vs Nikki Cross at TakeOver San Antonio but the fourth in that match was Ruby Riot, then when Asuka was due to fight Moon, Cross & Riot for the title, Moon got injured. Then Asuka got injured and we saw the longest WWE Women's title run of all time end not with defeat but resignation, though we don't know it wouldn't always be that way. Still, Asuka's promotion to RAW has given the rest of the division the chance to exceed their current status, with first up being the nearly woman Ember Moon, the crazy one Nikki Cross, half of the Iconic Duo Peyton Royce and the owner of one insane elbow Kairi Sane. Now as a fatal-four way, we have some interesting mechanisms at play, in that Sane and Moon both will have to go up top to hit either the aforementioned elbow or the Eclipse corkscrew stunner, where Cross and Royce's Swinging Fisherman Neckbreaker and Uuuooohhh Bridging Fisherman's Suplex will require the opponent to be grounded but most importantly, all four usually go for pinfalls so don't expect much in the way of tap-outs here. At this point any of them could take the title, my bet would be on Cross purely because she already has a built-in feud with Riot to transition to after TakeOver but you can't count out the other three, any of them would make worthy champions. In terms of match quality, history has shown this will either be great or a fucking mess, let's hope it's the former.

NXT Championship - Drew McIntyre (c) vs Andrade 'Cien' Almas (w/Zelina Vega)

If the Bloody Mountain won't come to El Idolo, El Idolo must come to the mountain, look him in the eye, like a man, and ask for a match. And there we go, ou now never need watch a Drew McIntyre promo again. All jest aside, the build to this match has been fascinating, especially as clearly the original plan was to have McIntyre v Adam Cole but the introduction to the Houston card of the War Games match changed things. Sure they could have put Drew into that match aswell in place of Roderick Strong but we'll get to Roddy in a second. So, this match, the battle of the Scottish giant and his Futureshock DDT- Claymore yakuza kick versus The Shadow with his El Idolo hammerlock DDT and corner double knees. This match comes down to one thing, the involvement of Zelina Vega. Since Vega (née Thea Trinidad) invested heavily in Almas stock, said stock has certainly risen with wins over Johnny Gargano, Roderick Strong, Oney Lorcan & more. It.'s interesting how little of the storytelling has actually been invested in Drew McIntyre considering it is with great sadness I say that I don't see Almas walking out with the title this night. As much as I have criticised McIntyre in the past and am ready to admit, he has stepped his game up on the promo front since becoming champion, appearing every inch the right man to put at the front of your brand, it has been Almas & Vega who have really lead this angle, appearing motivated and rewarded for it with the crowd getting not so much behind him but being willing to boo him which is the equivalent of winning anyway with Full Sail. But this isn't TakeOver Houston anymore, it's TakeOver WarGames, and with the War Games match most likely taking the main event, I cant see them giving away a title change not on the main event, especially when this will be McIntyre's first official title defence (unless he loses to Adam Cole at a house show before hand). I hope I'm wrong as no-one's been more deserving than Almas. That said, if this match isn't great, I'll be surprised.

War Games Match - SaNItY (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain) vs Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) & Roderick Strong (w/Paul Ellering)

So as of writing this, Adam Cole is still not NXT champion so this match is going ahead as planned. For the last time in this article, let me take you back to the Undisputed Era's debut at Brooklyn III as after SaNItY had claimed the tag titles as their own, in would come Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish and kick everything they could. At this point we knew that there would almost certainly be a triple threat match down the line, this especially became clear as in the run-up to this TakeOver, the Era have raised hell causing DQ finishes all over the shop, recruiting Taynara Conti to screw over Nikki Cross only to dump her after she'd done the job, generally being shits. They've also been trying to recruit one Roderick Strong to their cause, arguing that he's been having a crap couple of months and they could all have each other's backs but when it came down to it, Roddy would choose to in fact save the Authors of Pain from a beatdown.  Now, is Roddy just in the match because AoP needed a third man? Probably, but it makes sense in a way as Strong has history with all three men in the Era (with O'Reilly having beat Cole for the PWG Championship, Strong having beat O'Reilly and Fish having also been there) but also it makes sense that even if they are de-facto faces in the feud now, Strong spent so long fighting against SaNItY that I like it on a level of consistency that he would still be up for beating up the crazy lads. But what of the match itself? Well, this isn't like War Games matches of old, for one thing, there's no roof to the cage, reports are that the teams will be in Shark Cages until they're allowed into the match and until everyone's in the ring/s, there'll be no pinfalls. Writing a preview for this match is tantamount to writing 'I expect everything to go completely and consistently off the rails', it's difficult to preview something where literally anything could happen, (UPDATE: especially as Cole was busted open at a house show and required stitches). I would expect us to see the New kids on the block, the Undisputed Era to walk away with the victory here to set up for them getting a Tag Title show proper in January but it can't be ruled out the pack mentality of SaNItY. If the makeshift unit of AoP & Roddy win, well, that would just prove I'm not very good at guessing things.

Further Predictions

So we already know from this week's NXT that the pre-TakeOver NXT matches will be Ruby Riot vs Sonia Deville, which if there's any sense will be a solid win for Ruby Riot, giving her a much-needed boost especially as we've still not had that singles match of Riot v Cross which who knows, could be a women's title match. There's also a UK Title match with Johnny 'Wrestling' Gargano becoming the first American to contest the title against the current holder, 'The Bruiserweight' Pete Dunne. While we need not discuss that match at length yet (because let's face it, Pete's bringing that title back with him), what this brings into question is what does this mean for Gargano's Ab-Off with Shawn Michaels? If they cancel the Ab-Off, I cancel my subscription, simple as that. Beyond this, what to the tradition of launching the next big name on NXT via crowd appearance or interference? Well, I would guess that the most likely call this time around would be recent member of the Five-Star Club, Donovan Dijak but who knows? It could be Ricochet, it probably won't till his non-compete clause from Lucha Underground is up but still, let's wait and see what happens.

Article by Jozef Raczka (@NotJozefRaczka)

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