On 19th November, WWE aired NXT TakeOver: WarGames, live from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The evening's main event was a writer who does play-by-play's worst nightmare, a War Games match between current NXT Tag Team Champions SaNItY, current upstarts The Undisputed Era and the intriguing team of Authors of Pain & Roderick Strong. In a card also featuring Drew McIntyre defending his NXT championship against Andrade Almas, singles encounters from Lars Sullivan & Kassius Ohno and Aleister Black & Velveteen Dream and a Women's Title Fatal-Four Way. Even without the promised Ab-Off between Johnny Gargano & Shawn Michaels, this is still one of the strongest cards on paper that NXT has produced but, as always, was it any good?
We open on a video package, cutting between clips of the competitors, War Games matches of old and also footage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt declaring war on the axis after Pearl Harbour. I bet FDR would love to know that his words upon the death of thousands are effectively being equated with a few lads being paid to throw each other at metal.
Lars Sullivan def. Kassius Ohno via pinfall // 5:45
What better opening than a couple of big lads hitting each other? This match takes place in the left ring, immediately, they run at each other with Sullivan powering Ohno to the corner, Ohno hits an elbow and a boot and another elbow, out in the ring and they run the ropes with Ohno going for a shoulder tackle but Sullivan shakes it off before hitting a tackle of his own, on the ground, he hits knees to the back, knocking Ohno out of the ring, Sullivan follows hitting a diving shoulder tackle off the apron and dropping Ohno back onto it with a Gorilla Press, back in the ring and Sullivan hits an Irish whip but Ohno retorts with a boot and an enziguri, he kips up into a clothesline from Sullivan, whipped to the ropes, Ohno flips over, hits a boot, runs back in straight into a pop-up powerslam from Sullivan for a 2, Sullivan goes up top for a diving headbutt but Ohno dodges, Ohno lays into Sullivan with boots and elbow including two rolling elbows to the back of the neck and a cyclone kick for a 2, on the floor, Ohno hits somps and boots before a standing senton but Sullivan is up at 1, on their feet and the two lads trade elbows with Ohno getting the better and hitting a Death by Elbow, he goes for a second but Sullivan catches him with a Freak Accident for the pin. This was exactly what it needed to be, it was a short sprint with two big lads doing big lad things to each other. Ohno made Sullivan look like the monster they want him to be but managed to push Sullivan further than anyone else so far which kept him looking resilient. No one expected in his first TakeOver match for Sullivan to deliver a mat classic but what we got was a fun, energetic opener. More of this, please.
The Undisputed Era are backstage discussing plans when William Regal comes up to them, apparently to tell them the rules of a War Games match. Did no one think to brief them more than an hour ahead of time?