The main event of this year’s WarGames is one of the most personal we’ve ever seen. Undisputed Era are going into it with a disadvantage, but don’t count them out just yet. Team LeRae have been a thorn in Shotzi Blackheart’s side for a while now, but with Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley, and Io Shirai at her side, it’s going to be a war. Leon Ruff looks to defend his North American Championship against Johnny Gargano and Damian Priest, Tommaso Ciampa is hoping to teach Timothy Thatcher a lesson of his own, and Cameron Grimes wants to end his rivalry with Dexter Lumis once and for all. It’s time to take a look at what happened in the final NXT PPV of the year.

Women’s WarGames Match: Team LeRae (Toni Storm, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez, & Candice LeRae) vs Team Blackheart (Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley, Io Shirai, & Shotzi Blackheart)

Dakota Kai and Ember Moon started the match off for their respective teams. Kai jumped on Moon’s back but Moon jumped to the ground and dropped Kai, then followed it up with some vicious attacks, including a standing senton. Kai grinded Moon’s face against the cage, stomping on her head until Moon got back to her feet and suplexed her into the cage. She then dived into Kai against the cage, hurting her own neck in the process. Kai landed the Kairopractor off the turnbuckle after some short snappy kicks.

Shotzi Blackheart entered the match.

Shotzi grabbed a crowbar and a toolbox from underneath the ring, then entered the structure and beat the hell out of Kai. She got her leg caught which allowed Kai to ram her head into the cage, then smashed Moon’s face into the cage as well. Blackheart came back and snap suplexed Kai into the turnbuckle of the second ring. Moon put Kai on her shoulders which allowed Shotzi to hit her with a missile dropkick off the top turnbuckle.

Raquel Gonzalez entered the match.

Moon and Shotzi went straight after Gonzalez, but her power was too much for them. She took out Moon, then slammed Shotzi into the cage. Kai booted Moon as Gonzalez slammed her into the mat. Kai then jumped off the ropes of one ring to the ropes of the next and flew through the air, taking both Moon and Shotzi down.

Rhea Ripley entered the match.

Ripley used some big kicks to wipe out Gonzalez and Kai, then decimated Kai with a couple of knees and a dropkick. She picked Kai up again and slammed her into the mat. In the other ring, Shotzi and Moon were beating down Gonzalez. Ripley reached for a mallet from the toolbox and struck Kai with it. She headbutted Kai a couple of times, then threw her into the cage. Ripley and Gonzalez went at it, brawling across both rings as the clock counted down.

Toni Storm entered the match.

Storm grabbed a kendo stick then hit a German suplex on Ripley. Gonzalez grabbed Ripley as Storm hit her in the stomach with the kendo stick. Team LeRae were dominating. Storm whipped Ripley into the turnbuckle and suplexed Moon. She smashed the kendo stick across Moon’s back and stomach. In the other ring, Kai slammed Ripley into the cage. All six women ended up on the two opposing turnbuckles. Gonzalez and Storm hit a double suplex on Shotzi, and Moon drove Kai’s face into the mat off Ripley’s shoulders.

Io Shirai entered the match.

As Shirai ran down, she picked up a ladder from underneath the ring, but Gonzalez shut the door to the structure. Shirai hit Gonzalez’s fingers with a kendo stick but got kicked off the apron by her to the outside of the ring. Shirai got knocked with the ladder in the sternum and into the barricade. Gonzalez held a steel chair as Shirai dropkicked her in the face but still couldn’t get in the ring. She tried to climb the cage, but Gonzalez powerbombed Shotzi into her, knocking her to the ground once again.

Candice LeRae entered the match.

LeRae ran out and stared down Shirai. Indi Hartwell jumped over the barrier and attacked Shirai from behind. Shotzi was smashed with kendo sticks from LeRae, Kai, and Blackheart. LeRae went for the pin, but couldn’t as Shirai was outside. Team Blackheart fought back, and all women went at it. Out of nowhere, Shirai appeared on the top of the structure. She put a trash can over her head and dived onto everyone in the ring. After a few seconds, Team Blackheart gained full momentum, working extremely well together. Shirai hit a moonsault and almost got a pin. Moon got caught in a submission hold, as did Storm when Shotzi locked one in, but Candice broke it up. Shotzi went nuts with a kendo stick on LeRae and Storm, but Kai smashed Blackheart across the back with a chair.

Kai double-stomped Shirai off the top rope with a trash can over her body then went for a pin, but it was only a two. Chaos erupted everywhere. Moon rammed Kai’s head into two steel chairs set up in the middle of one of the rings, then hit the Eclipse through both of them. She went for a pin, but Storm broke it up. Storm then hit Storm Zero on Moon through a trash can. Shirai broke up the pin and dropkicked her as Ripley held her in a half cloverleaf. LeRae superkicked Ripley in the face as she held a trashcan lid. Both captains fought at the top of the ladder until Blackheart pushed her off into a pile of chairs. Shotzi jumped off the ladder onto LeRae, but The Poison Pixie held up a chair which hurt Blackheart on impact.

Shirai hit a moonsault on Kai, but Storm charged at Ripley and broke up the count. Gonzalez powerbombed Shirai off the top turnbuckle into a ladder that was balanced on two chairs between the two rings. She jumped down and covered Shirai to get the victory for Team LeRae. An utterly brutal end to a vicious match. Superb performance by all women, and an amazing start to this year’s WarGames.

Winners: Team LeRae Rating: 9/10

Tommaso Ciampa vs Timothy Thatcher

Thatcher managed to work on Ciampa’s limbs early on. Every time Ciampa broke out, Thatcher was there with another lock. Ciampa booted Thatcher’s back, then clubbed at his chest. He rammed Thatcher’s knee into the mat with force and threw him outside. Thatcher slid back into the ring, and as Ciampa climbed in he got caught with an elbow to the face. After a couple of uppercuts and a suplex, Thatcher wrenched at Ciampa’s head until he got a foot on the rope. Thatcher slammed Chiampa’s throat into the apron and elbowed him there as well. Back in the centre of the ring, Thatcher beat the hell out of Ciampa with some big uppercuts, again wrenching at his neck.

Ciampa fought back with some kicks, but Thatcher slapped him to his knees. He went for a double underhook suplex, but Ciampa lifted him above his head and dropped him to the mat. They traded punches until Ciampa charged at Thatcher with his head, knocking both men to their knees. Ciampa hit a succession of clotheslines with a final one in the corner. Ciampa managed to hit a superplex on Thatcher, but only got a two-count. Thatcher tried to choke out Ciampa with a guillotine lock but managed to charge at the ropes and knock them both out of the ring.

They only just climbed back in the ring before the referee counted to ten. Ciampa hit a running knee and choked Thatcher within an inch of his life. Blood poured from Thatcher’s ear as Ciampa held the lock in tight. Thatcher managed to break the hold with a German suplex. He hit another German suplex on Ciampa’s injured neck. Both men stood on the apron as Ciampa ate a forearm, and as he stood up, Thatcher pulled both his arms outside as Ciampa’s neck rammed into the top rope. Ciampa chopped at Thatcher’s chest as he stood on the apron, then booted him in the gut. He hit Willow’s Bell and picked up the victory. Another excellent match and a great performance by both guys. This was easily one of Thatcher’s best matches since coming to NXT, and an important victory for Tommaso Ciampa.

Winner: Tommaso Ciampa Rating: 8.5/10

Strap Match: Dexter Lumis vs Cameron Grimes

Cameron Grimes attacked Dexter Lumis before the strap was attached. He whipped Lumis into the barricades, then wrapped the strap over his mouth as he lay against the apron. Back in the ring, Grimes tried to whip the strap against Lumis’ back, but Lumis hit a Lou Thesz press. Lumis attached the strap to his hand and the bell finally rang. He threw Grimes into the turnbuckle and hit a big clothesline. Grimes slid out the ring. He tried to climb over the barricade, but Lumis pulled him down and hit an uppercut into his face. He whipped Grimes into the barricade on both sides of the ring. Grimes managed to pick Lumis up and throw him over the barrier, but Lumis reappeared only to eat a big kick. Grimes pulled Lumis back to the outside of the ring and booted him in the face.

Grimes placed a black bag over Lumis’ face and whipped him with the strap as he lay against the announcer table. Back in the ring, Grimes continued to whip Lumis with both straps, but out of nowhere, he hit a spinebuster. Lumis tried to wrap the strap around one of the steel pillars next to the turnbuckle, but Grimes pulled at the strap which pulled Lumis face first into it. He booted Lumis’s face as he stood on the apron, but Lumis pulled him off the apron as he sommersaulted onto the hard floor below.

Back inside, Lumis whipped Grimes’ back with the strap over and over again, then hit a big clothesline, however, Grimes launched Lumis into the turnbuckle with a German suplex. Grimes grabbed a steel chair and hit Lumis in the spine with it three times. He set the chair up and sat down, but Lumis pulled him up and connected with a fallaway slam. Lumis unloaded some punches, then climbed to the top rope, but Grimes managed to pull him down onto the mat. Grimes connected with a Spanish fly slam. He continued to whip Lumis’ back. He went for the Cave In but couldn’t connect. Lumis wrapped the strap around Grimes’ feet and pulled him down going face-first into the chair. He then locked in the Anaconda Vice to make Grimes tap out. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this match as much as I did, but it was brilliant.

Winner: Dexter Lumis Rating: 8/10

North American Championship Match: Damian Priest vs Johnny Gargano vs Leon Ruff (C)

Gargano superkicked Priest to the outside, then went straight after Ruff to try and pick up and early win. Priest tried to get back in the ring, but Gargano dropkicked him back to the outside. Ruff hit a hurricanrana on Gargano and followed it up with a dropkick. Priest threw Ruff away and beat down Gargano. Ruff came back over, but Priest did the same again. He dropkicked both Priest and Gargano. Gargano and Ruff worked together to knock Priest over the top rope. Gargano hit a suicide dive on Priest, then a springboard spear on Ruff, but only managed a two-count on the champion. Priest hit a Razor’s Edge on Ruff through the barricade and looked shocked as he fell to the floor. Ruff was carried away as Gargano and Priest went at it outside the ring.

Inside the ring, Priest hit a spinning heel kick, Gargano almost picked up the win after an elevated reverse DDT. Priest clubbed Gargano with both arms, then flew through the arm with a clothesline. Leon Ruff ran back down to the ring, jumping off Priest’s back to attack Gargano. He cannonballed off the top rope onto both Priest and Gargano at ringside. He hit a cutter on Gargano in the ring, but only got a two-count. Ruff was fired up, but Gargano ripped him off the top rope into the canvas.

Ruff managed to clothesline Gargano. After a failed pin attempt, he ran into Priest’s boot. Priest dropped both guys with a double flatliner. He charged at both men in the corner, then threw Ruff into Gargano. Ruff was then thrown into Priest by Gargano. Gargano tied Priest up between the ropes. Ruff almost got the victory with a crucifix bomb. He climbed to the top rope but missed the frog splash on Gargano. Priest broke free and stopped Gargano’s submission attempt, then hit a spinning knee on Gargano off the top rope.

Ruff was whipped into the ropes by Priest where Gargano superkicked him. Three Ghostfaces attacked Priest, but he managed to knock them out. Another three appeared, but Priest jumped over the rope and took them out. He then did the same again to three other Ghostfaces. Priest chokeslammed Gargano on the apron. Ruff hit the frog splash on Gargano, but Priest broke up the pin. Ruff ate a spinning knee from Priest, and so did Gargano. Another Ghostface appeared on the apron and hit Priest with a metal pipe as he was about to hit the Reckoning. Gargano hit Ruff with One Final Beat and picked up the win. What a superb encounter. Priest was on fire, but Gargano’s devious ways helped him reclaim the gold. Ruff was never going to win this fairly, but he put on a great show for his first NXT TakeOver. After the match, the Ghostface who hit Priest with the pipe revealed himself to be Austin Theory.

Winner: Johnny Gargano (New NXT North American Champion) Rating: 9/10

Men’s WarGames Match: Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong, & Bobby Fish) vs Team McAfee (Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Danny Burch, & Oney Lorcan)

Kyle O’Reilly started things off for UE whilst Pete Dunne did the same for Team McAfee. They both tried to get each other locked up on the mat. O’Reilly locked in a triangle choke, but Dunne broke out. Dunne locked in a triangle choke between the two rings, but O’Reilly got out. O’Reilly went for a suplex but Dunne landed on his feet and booted the back of his head. Dunne wrenched on O’Reilly’s fingers whilst putting pressure on his arm. Dunne stomped on O’Reilly’s fingers and booted him in the head, but O’Reilly managed to weaken him. As O’Reilly had a heel hook locked in, Lorcan ran down.

Oney Lorcan entered the match.

Lorcan chopped at O’Reilly’s chest. After a brief comeback, Lorcan and Dunne beat the hell out of O’Reilly. Dunne locked in a surfboard as Lorcan DDT’d O’Reilly into the mat. O’Reilly managed to connect with a dragon screw through the ropes on Dunne, then he climbed across the ropes and hit Lorcan with a knee, but Dunne dropped O’Reilly with a dropkick. Dunne and Lorcan locked in two submissions on O’Reilly. Thankfully, Bobby Fish came down to help his friend out.

Bobby Fish entered the match.

Fish hit a huge spinebuster on Lorcan after clearing the house. He threw Dunne over the ropes as O’Reilly hit him with a boot. UE doubled-teamed Lorcan with some excellent moves then did the same to Dunne. Fish dragon screwed Lorcan and went after Dunne as O’Reilly locked in a submission on Lorcan. Dunne and Fish fought on the turnbuckle as Burch came to the ring.

Danny Burch entered the match.

Burch grabbed a cricket bat and tried to hit O’Reilly with it. Dunne hit O’Reilly in the stomach with the bat, as Dunne attacked Fish with another one. O’Reilly locked in a heel hook on Burch as he was about to hit him again with the bat, but Dunne broke it up. Burch smashed O’Reilly over the back with the bat. Dunne then trapped O’Reilly’s knee with the bat and started to beat him up.

Roderick Strong entered the match.

The tag team champions went after Strong, but he fought them off. He hit a big dropkick on Lorcan and a back body drop on Burch. He took out all three members of Team McAfee until Lorcan launched him into the cage. O’Reilly was in bad shape as Dunne threw him into the cage. Fish and Strong were being attacked between the rings. Burch and Lorcan destroyed Strong and O’Reilly in one ring as Dunne beat the hell out of Fish. Come on Adam Cole. Unfortunately, Pat McAfee was next out.

Pat McAfee entered the match.

McAfee grabbed four tables and a couple of chairs from underneath the ring. Each table had a member of UE’s name on them. Strong’s table was set up first. The tag champs set Strong up on it as McAfee moonsaulted off the top rope through the table. Thank God Cole came out.

Adam Cole entered the match.

Cole grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed it over everyone, then hit Lorcan and Burch with a chair. He took out the whole of Team McAfee apart from Pat himself. Dunne managed to stand in-between Cole and McAfee. Cole and Dunne went at it. Dunne went for the Bitter End, but Cole countered with a DDT. McAfee grabbed Cole as he ran to the rope, allowing Dunne to hit him. O’Reilly then hit Dunne with a chair. As O’Reilly screamed at McAfee, Cole hit him with a chair. Both teams then went to war with one another. O’Reilly beat the crap out of McAfee as Strong and Fish took out Lorcan and Burch.

Fish locked in a sleeper on Dunne until Lorcan connected with a blockbuster. The tag champs hit their finisher on O’Reilly, but Fish broke up the pin. McAfee locked in a figure-four, but Cole reversed it as the other six guys fought in the other ring. Dunne managed to break it up, as Burch and Lorcan set the table up with Cole’s name on it. Stong and Fish fought the tag champs as Dunne locked in the armbar on Cole. Cole managed to reverse the Bitter End again with a neckbreaker onto his knee, almost picking up the win.

Cole set up the table for O’Reilly. Dunne was slammed into the table as Burch lay on top of it, but it didn’t break. Strong then hit a splash on them which eventually broke it. In the other ring, Cole pushed McAfee off the top turnbuckle into another table and crashed straight through it. As Dunne, Burch, and Lorcan were trapped between the ropes and the cage, UE took it in turns to attack them. McAfee stood alone against UE as they circled him. They beat the hell out of him, launching him into the cage multiple times. The rest of McAfee’s team came back to help Pat just as he was about to be booted by Cole.

Lorcan and Burch took out O’Reilly as Cole hit a neckbreaker off the top rope on Dunne. Strong hit a superplex on McAfee as all eight guys lay in the ring. They all got to their feet and slugged it out as McAfee flew off the top of the steel structure into everyone below. Dunne and O’Reilly got to their feet and traded punches until O’Reilly knocked Dunne off his feet. Dunne snapped O’Reilly’s fingers and hit the Bitter End, but he managed to kick out.

Dunne dragged him in-between the rings and went for a slam, but O’Reilly reversed it into a suplex. He went for a pin, but Dunne kicked out. O’Reilly set up a chair and placed Dunne’s head on it. He climbed the ropes but McAfee hit him with a steel chair. Cole then attacked McAfee. He picked up the chair but got hit with a low blow. McAfee went for a punt, but Cole got up and booted him in the face. Burch dragged Cole off the turnbuckle but ate a superkick. Fish then sent Burch through the table that was set up against the cage between the rings. McAfee attacked Cole, then climbed the turnbuckle. He jumped off but Cole connected with a superkick.

Cole climbed the turnbuckle and hit the Panama Sunrise, but McAfee kicked out. He went for the Backshot on McAfee but Lorcan pulled him out the way and got hit. Dunne hit the Bitter End on Cole on a chair, and Strong dropped Dunne with a flying backbreaker. O’Reilly flew off the turnbuckle and hit Lorcan who had a chair over his face. He then covered him for the victory. Undisputed Era were victorious after one of the best WarGames matches of all time.

Winners: Undisputed Era Rating: 10/10

What Else Went Down

– Finn Balor appeared in a promo telling everyone watching to enjoy WarGames because on Wednesday, “all eyes go back on the prince.” Yes, The Prince is returning.

– After the strap match, the lights flickered and a vulture sat on a perch at the top of the ramp. The big screen showed a clock on it, and we heard Karrion Kross say, “Tick Tock.” Could Kross be returning soon? I damn well hope so. Oh, how I’ve missed him.

– NXT New Year’s Evil was announced for January 6.

After The Bell

After a rubbish year for many of us, NXT delivered their best PPV of the year. The women’s WarGames match was a great start to the show, and the main event more than delivered. Undisputed Era were incredible, and I hope they get some gold back, starting with Lorcan and Burch’s tag team titles.

The North American Championship match was brilliant, but Austin Theory’s appearance at the end did nothing for me. He just doesn’t excite me as a performer, and he’s one of the most generic Superstars on the roster. Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher killed it, and the strap match between Dexter Lumis and Cameron Grimes was also pretty great. Thanks for everything NXT. After a turbulent year, you’ve ended on one hell of a high.

Stars of the Show: Undisputed Era Overall Rating: 9/10

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