In the final episode of NXT before WarGames this Sunday, we heard the final words from both Undisputed Era and Team McAfee before their match. An advantage going into the Women’s WarGames match was at stake, Grizzled Young Veterans made their return against Imperium, Jake Atlas battled Tony Nese, and Damian Priest teamed up with one of his opponents this Sunday in the form of Leon Ruff. We also same Cameron Grimes in action, a surprise student at Thatch-As Thatch Can, and plenty more.
Damian Priest & Leon Ruff vs Legado Del Fantasma (Santos Escobar & Raul Mendoza)
Johnny Gargano was on commentary at ringside as the match got underway. Leon Ruff started things off by using his speed to try and gain an advantage, but after he ate a big knee from Santos Escobar, Priest tagged himself in. He dropped a back elbow on Mendoza, then beat him down at ringside. Priest was distracted by Ghostface who was watching at ringside, which allowed Escobar to dive over the top rope and send Priest into the barricade.
Back in the ring, Mendoza and Escobar swapped tags whilst striking Priest in the centre of the ring. Escobar knocked Ruff off the apron whilst Mendoza almost got a tag after hitting a lionsault. Legado Del Fantasma wouldn’t let Priest get back to his feet thanks to some well-placed kicks to his knee and a calculated leg lock. This was tag team strategy at its best.
Escobar’s vicious knees found their way into Priest’s abdomen, then tagged in Mendoza who continued to work on Priest’s right knee. In a moment of respite, Priest hit Mendoza with a flatliner and reluctantly tagged in Ruff. Ruff came in and hit a hurricanrana on Escobar, then a neckbreaker until Mendoza took back control of the match. The Archer of Infamy tagged back in and hit a flapjack on Escobar, then a huge forearm on Mendoza.
Mendoza walked the rope but caught an uppercut from Priest. Priest hit The Reckoning, then Ruff dropped a frog splash on Mendoza to pick up the victory. This was a pretty decent match, managing to showcase how technically sound Legado Del Fantasma is as a tag team, whilst also building up the triple threat match at WarGames for the NXT North American Championship.
Winners: Damian Priest & Leon Ruff Rating: 6.5/10
August Grey vs Cameron Grimes
Grimes went straight after Grey. landing some impressive strikes and a big Irish whip into the corner. Grey answered back with some punches and a dropkick, followed up with a neckbreaker. Grey walked the ropes and flew with a modified moonsault for a two-count. Grimes hit a twisting side slam and Cave In to pick up the win, but August Grey showed some promising steps going forward.
After the match, Grimes said Lumis was making a mistake by accepting a strap match with him at WarGames as he started to whip Grey with a strap he attached to the ropes. Lumis appeared as Grimes continued to run his mouth. Lumis whipped Grimes with the strap, but before he could do anything else, Grimes ran off screaming in agony.
Winner: Cameron Grimes Rating: 6/10
Jake Atlas vs Tony Nese
Jake Atlas flew around the ring, then hit a suicide dive on Tony Nese. Nese hit a couple of knees into Atlas’ stomach and a suplex as Pat McAfee, Pete Dune, Danny Burch, and Oney Lorcan were shown pulling up in the parking lot. Atlas clotheslined Nese, then threw him over his head. A German suplex and a forearm followed, almost getting Nese the win. Nese flew over the rope and yanked Atlas onto the top rope, climbed back in and kicked Atlas’ chest, but only picked up a two-count.
Atlas dropped Nese, then finished him off with a cartwheel DDT for the win. Outside the ring, McKenzie Mitchell interviewed him. Atlas talked about taking three steps back, but only one step forward. He talked about fighting his way back up from being beaten down, and his victory tonight was just the beginning. He made it clear that the NXT Cruiserweight Championship was in his sights.
Winner: Jake Atlas Rating: 6/10
For The Brand
Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Danny Burch, and Oney Lorcan headed to the ring. McAfee paid his respects to Pat Patterson, before talking about the other end of the respect spectrum: the fans and Undisputed Era. He talked about the lame video from earlier in the night featuring a night out with UE. McAfee mentioned how he built his team with lots of money – more money any of the fans will ever see in their entire life. He focused on Pete Dunne, talking about how he is the longest-reigning UK Champion of all time, and how he gave his team the advantage heading into WarGames.
McAfee continued to slam the fans, saying that as they are watching from the basement of their mum’s house, they’re gonna see Undisputed Era get destroyed. They promised to end UE this Sunday, and that wasn’t undisputed, it was a promise.
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel)
The Grizzled Young Veterans have finally arrived in NXT after a hiatus, but before they got the match underway with Ever-Rise, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel ran in and attacked Chase Parker and Matt Martel. Barthel talked about how Imperium are here to put the tag team division back in position, but they would start by putting GYV in their place. Gibson started off against Aichner, but Barthel tagged in and attacked Gibson.
Drake cushioned the Irish whip for Gibson in the corner which allowed Gibson to launch into an attack on Barthel. Drake tagged in, but Barthel beat Drake down. He tagged in Aichner who threw him into Barthel’s boot, followed by a belly-to-back suplex. Gibson tagged in and took out both of Imperium, but Aichner took control of Gibson. The action spilled outside as the ref had to break it up.
Back in the ring and Drake hit a spinning heel kick, but Gibson could only get a two-count. Both teams continued to wage war on each other, with Imperium connecting with a double dropkick in the corner. Barthel hit an air raid crash on Gibson and almost grabbed the victory. Aicher’s strength was on full display as he deadlifted Drake after a hanging vertical suplex. As the match came to a close, Aichner hit everyone with High Fly Flow at ringside, but Ever-Rise returned and attacked them all. After the match, Ever-Rise got in their car and bragged about what they had just done.
Winners: Double Count-Out Rating: 7.5/10
Raquel Gonzalez vs Shotzi Blackheart
Much like last week’s main event, it was now the women’s chance to get an advantage at WarGames in a ladder match. Gonzalez knocked Blackheart outside then went to grab a ladder. Blackheart rammed Gonzalez into the ladder, then climbed in the ring and dived at the ladder, kicking it into Gonzalez’s face. Blackheart went for a diving crossbody, but Gonzalez grabbed her and dropped her onto the tip of the ladder that was balanced on the apron.
Shotzi locked in a headlock, but Gonzalez climbed the steel steps and rammed her into the turnbuckle. Shotzi moved out the way of a big boot which caused Gonzalez to get her foot stuck. Blackheart grabbed her trapped leg and swung it into the steel steps. After climbing on the barricade, Shotzi hit a Coffin Drop onto Gonzalez. Both women got to their feet. Gonzalez threw Blackheart into the barricades, then grabbed the ladder. She slid it into the ring, but Blackheart attacked her from behind. Back in the ring and Gonzalez drove the ladder into Shotzi’s stomach three times. Shotzi fought back and managed to DDT Gonzalez into the apron.
The strength of Gonzalez reared its ugly head once more as she dropped Shotzi face-first into the apron, then drove the steel steps into her stomach. Gonzalez tried to climb the ladder, but Shotzi followed her up. They both fell off the ladder, but got up and attempted to climb it again until Blackheart pushed it over. Gonzalez rested on the ladder set up in the turnbuckle, and Shotzi drove her body into her.
Outside the ring, Shotzi jumped on top of Gonzalez and knocked her over. On the elevated stage where LeRae’s team were watching from, Indi Hartwell placed a ladder next to it. Team LeRae ran down, but so did Ember Moon and Rhea Ripley. In the ring, Hartwell climbed the ladder but Shotzi knocked her off. Gonzalez ran in and hit her with a lariat. Gonzalez tried to climb the ladder, but Io Shirai ran out and jumped on her.
There was chaos everywhere. Shirai hit a moonsault on all the women fighting at ringside which left Shotzi free to climb the ladder and grab the briefcase. Team Blackheart end up with the advantage, going into WarGames. The show ended with Team Blackheart, including the fourth and final member Io Shirai celebrating in the ring.
Winner: Shotzi Blackheart Rating: 8/10
What Else Went Down
– A video aired of Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, and Rhea Ripley fixing up their war machine for WarGames. Ripley showed off the back of a car where it felt like a nod to Pulp Fiction. Shotzi saw something she loved as whatever it was glowed gold.
– A video package aired highlighting Undisputed Era’s recent troubles with Pat McAfee and his cronies. UE were in suits talking about their begins and where they are now. It was beautifully edited, with all members talking about how they’d never faced anything like this before. Adam Cole said they were not focused on hurting them, but they were focused on making them UE’s bitches. Damn, I am hyped for this.
– Candice LeRae and her WarGames team were being interviewed backstage. She said her team were more than ready to win at WarGames. Raquel Gonzalez said they were going into Sunday with an advantage, and Shotzi Blackheart was going to feel like she got hit by a tank.
– A video aired of Xia Li and Boa forcing themselves to hold their breath in a tub of water as their master kept telling them to do it again and again, faster and faster. They were then dressed, bowing in front of the cloaked mystery woman as they were attacked with kendo sticks. What is going on with these two? I’m enjoying this angle a lot, and I’m keen to find out exactly who this mystery female is.
– Yawn. Another episode of ‘Thatch-As Thatch Can’ aired, with Thatcher talking about a lesson in distraction. Thankfully, Ciampa was stood in the ring. He said he wasn’t there to learn, he was there to teach. Thatcher said he didn’t want any trouble, but attacked Ciampa anyway. “Lesson one, don’t be an ass,” said Ciampa after fighting back. Thatcher’s actual student for the match attacked Ciampa from behind, which allowed Thatcher to beat him up. He locked in the guillotine choke and put Ciampa to sleep. Backstage, Thatcher said Ciampa would learn about respect on Sunday.
After The Bell
The final NXT before WarGames was all about laying the final bricks for the PPV, and for the most part, it was a solid show. The Undisputed Era promo was great, but so was the McAfee segment. This match has the makings to be one of the best matches ever seen at WarGames. I just hope it lives up to the hype. As for the women, Shotzi Blackheart and Raquel Gonzalez put on a decent main event. There was never any doubt that Io Shirai would be the final member, but having her come down to even the odds made the match tonight even better.
I’m still not massively hyped for the NXT North American Championship match, but Leon Ruff was pretty good tonight. I can’t see him winning at WarGames, but stranger things have happened. Camron Grimes vs Dexter Lumis should be a great match come Sunday, but I’m a bit bored of their back and forth now. Hopefully, after it’s done, we’ll get to see both men in the North American Championship picture.
No matter what Ever-Rise do, I just can’t get on board with them. They’re glorified jobbers. I’d rather see GYV and Imperium feud without their inclusion, but for some reason, NXT loves the underdog. It looks as though we’re getting Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher at WarGames now. Both guys are tough, so we should see one hell of a match unfold this Sunday. Finally, Jake Atlas deserves a shot at the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. Santos Escobar is a superb athlete, so to see these go toe-to-toe with a belt on the line has all the hallmarks of a classic.
NXT TakeOver: WarGames Final Match Card
- Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher
- Strap Match: Dexter Lumis vs Cameron Grimes
- North American Championship Triple Threat Match: Leon Ruff (c) vs Johnny Gargano vs Damian Priest
- Women’s WarGames Match: Team LeRae (Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, Raquel Gonzalez, & Dakota Kai) vs Team Blackheart (Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley, & NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai)
- Men’s WarGames Match: Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly, & Bobby Fish) vs Team McAfee (Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Danny Burch, & Oney Lorcan)
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