NXT TakeOver: WarGames
November 18, 2017
Toyota Center
Houston, Texas

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

Andy LaBarre: ½ of the Fighting Network FRIENDS, lover of garbage matches and interested in crummy independents. Struggles to remain objective regarding El Idolo. Hasn’t seen most AJPW classics, but loves the Berzerker. @trillyrobinson on Twitter

Alex Wendland: Editor and writer for Voices of Wrestling, once the site’s NXT guru now a column mercenary. @AlexWendland

Lee Malone: Voices of Wrestling Irish wrestling correspondent, host of a soccer podcast @12yardsout and find me and all my wrestling takes @Malone_713

Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan

Andy LaBarre: Good for the man formerly known as Chris Hero to get on Takeover while just kind of spinning his wheels on TV, but man he is gonna get squashed here. I get that he’s the big good guy on the roster that isn’t Drew McIntyre, but man, Lars literally laughed at him on the go home show. Lars is fuckin’ awesome in this role of monster and even though I’m not sure he will ever have a brilliant work rate match ever in his career, he’s my favorite monster in a while. Hero will probably sneak in a rolling elbow at some point and Lars will shake it off. I don’t think it will be a 2-minute squash, but I don’t think it goes much more than like six minutes. The real story isn’t “Can Ohno pull it out?” it’s “Who the fuck can NXT build to actually beat Lars?”  Prediction: Lars Sullivan

Alex Wendland: This will be Lars Sullivan’s first proper test, but Kassius Ohno will keep his role as gatekeeper in falling to the newcomer. Expect some hard hitting, big slams and perhaps a busted lip. Prediction: Lars Sullivan

Lee Malone: Remember when Chris Hero was tearing up the indies? That seems like sooo long ago and just getting onto a Takeover is an accomplishment at this stage for Ohno. I am looking forward to this as it should just be two big lads hitting each other hard. Sullivan has a unique look and I enjoy him as the monster who just won’t stop even after he has won. Expect Sullivan to win but would love if Ohno snuck a victory to signify the start of a move up the card for the former Hero. Prediction: Lars Sullivan

Aleister Black vs. The Velveteen Dream

Andy LaBarre: The Velveteen Dream is a gimmick that could go all the way. Aleister Black is a gimmick (and wrestler) that could go all the way. The build to this mid-card match has been one of their best built feuds in some time and a bit unique on the whole. The Velveteen Dream isn’t trying to get into the head of Black to take his title, he isn’t fighting him because of a past relation, he’s just in his head and wants to beat him because he’s been unbeatable. Don’t get me wrong, Black will stay unbeaten here, but the way that Dream has just been in his head, and been an obsessed asshole about it has been fantastic. I hope Velveteen Dream continues to improve in the ring, because he’s got something. Black has it all, however – and I’m hoping we get to see him actually have some long matches soon. This should be good. Prediction: Aleister Black

Alex Wendland: Aleister Black seems destined for a marquee spot at the WrestleMania takeover while The Velveteen Dream…doesn’t. I’ll be the first to admit that I genuinely enjoy Dream and his schtick–and definitely the lift he gets on that elbow drop finisher–but it just isn’t his time. That’s a character you can heat up and cool down at a moment’s notice whenever you need a spot filled. Prediction: Aleister Black

Lee Malone: The build to this match has been absolutely perfect. Dream has been established as man to be reckoned with while Black has lost none of his aura. So long as this is not a total squash victory for Black, Velveteen Dream will come out of this feud in a much better position than he was when it began. Everything about the presentation of Aleister Black since his debut has been superb and he seems like an absolute can’t miss superstar who is ready to go now. The darkness will prove too much for the Dream to overcome but a loss to Black will do no harm to the Dream.  Prediction: Aleister Black

NXT Women’s Championship
Ember Moon vs. Kairi Sane vs. Nikki Cross vs. Peyton Royce

Andy LaBarre: All logic and convention out the window, I don’t want to put the title on Nikki Cross here. Her character work has been mostly good, even if it is a character that I am not particularly fond of. Ember has almost no character (and honestly was pulling HARD for Sonya Deville to win the 3-way match to qualify for this). Sane is great, obviously and should be the star of the match, but I do have to think that if she is the primary babyface of the Women’s division right now, she’ll win title at Wrestlemania or (somehow) not until Summerslam. I don’t care about the rumours of the Iconic Duo going up to the main roster – because I don’t want them to, ever. Seriously. I want the best for them, but character-wise they are a highlight of just about any show they are on. I WANT Peyton to win, even if she has cooled off. It’s a multi-person match, it’s the only way she can. She can lose it at the next Takeover to Nikki (or Ember if we want a ****½ WM weekend match with Sane), but I don’t know, the Iconic Duo should be rewarded for just a short time. Give it to Peyton. Prediction: Peyton Royce

Alex Wendland: Isn’t it wild how tight the storytelling is on NXT? This isn’t rocket surgery, guys.  There’s a power vacuum in the newly Asuka-less NXT women’s division and there’s a race to fill it. Honestly, this really would be the only type of situation in which there would be a multi-person title match in the WPW (Wendland’s Perfect Wrestling). It’s too soon for Kairi Sane, neither Ember Moon nor Peyton Royce have the necessary momentum to lead the division. Who does that leave? NXT’s resident queen of unpredictable violence.  Prediction: Nikki Cross

Lee Malone: I am going to go way out on a limb here and predict this will be not only the best match on this show but it could very well be the best multi-person match of the year. All four of these women are more than capable of producing a great match and I think in the post-Asuka world that is the current NXT Womens division all four will be out to prove they are the new standard bearer for much celebrated division. Peyton seems main roster bound soon, Kairi doesn’t need to win the title yet having just won the MYC and Ember could probably do with a heel turn having failed as a face challenger so often already. This leave Nikki as the logical winner for me. Prediction: Nikki Cross

NXT Championship
Drew McIntyre © vs. Andrade Almas

Andy LaBarre: Drew’s going to win here because Drew is going to be a big deal. Right now though, Drew does not feel like a big deal. His match with Roode and the build to it didn’t seem like a big deal. His title run so far hasn’t felt like a big deal, and his match here with Andrade actually does feel like one. But there is one reason for that: Zelina Vega. Zelina has rocketed to the top of NXT and I will say here right and now: Zelina Vega is the best character on NXT TV week in and week out. It’s nothing unique, she’s just a heel manager, but it has breathed life into Andrade Almas in a way he badly needed, because he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world and now he is acting like it. I don’t particularly care for babyface Drew, nor have I been particularly impressed with his NXT run so far (yes the Oney Lorcan match was great but Oney Lorcan is always like 5 stars), but this should be a match that truly delivers. While NXT booking patterns would suggest a Drew McIntyre/Adam Cole face-off soon, I’m going a different direction. Almas wins, Almas becomes a super heel champ. Almas faces the best babyface in the company down the road – a man he has beaten twice – Johnny Gargano, giving even MORE levity to his eventual showdown with Ciampa. Whatever, I’m a nerd. I fuckin’ love Almas and Vega and I really like McIntyre, so hopefully we all win. I can’t be objective. Prediction: Andrade “Cien” Almas

Alex Wendland: If there’s a cobbled together build on this card (there isn’t), it would be this one. But the title match on the card is really a product of title rankings rather than a personal issue. With so many personal issues on this card, making the title fight a battle of rankings makes perfect sense. Andrade Almas has been winning match after match since pairing up with Zelina Vega and has earned a shot at Drew McIntyre’s championship. That said, I don’t think McIntyre has emptied the tank since coming back into the WWE fold. I hope Almas increases the pace and brings out the best of McIntyre, which we saw on his excursion. I don’t suspect Almas will win, however, because I do suspect he’ll be moving up soon. Prediction: Drew McIntyre

Lee Malone: I am going to hold my hands up for the longest time I did not understand the hype behind Almas but he has been amazing since linking up with Zelina Vega. The whole act has been a revelation and El Idolo has more than held up his end of the bargain with some phenomenal matches against Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong. Drew is the perfect champion for NXT right now as he doesn’t need to be the focus of every show as he has a presence that you can fully believe that he is the best in the company without being repeatedly told so. Drew carries himself like a champion and this match with Almas is his chance to show the “Universe” exactly what he can do in the ring and what he had been doing while he was away from WWE. Like Alex above I think Andrade and Zelina are main roster bound very shortly and Drew is heading toward a collision with Undisputed Era. Prediction: Drew McIntyre

WarGames Match
The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) and Roderick Strong vs. Sanity (Alexander Wolfe, Eric Young and Killian Dain) vs. The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly)

Andy LaBarre: This match isn’t going to be like a regular War Games match and the changes in the rules stink, but still – War Games logic says that the good guys always win. Adam Cole has been less than impressive since his debut, Bobby Fish has been working his ass off and Killian Dain is the best wrestler in the company that never gets a damn match. I could do without the rest of Sanity ever in my life, but I get that they resonate with a certain segment of the fanbase. Sanity would be fine up on Smackdown, but truthfully their act doesn’t even feel big enough for NXT TV. I’m going with my heart once again and saying that my dude Roddy Strong finally gets a big highlight here and somehow sneaks out the “against the odds” victory, specifically over the Undisputed Era. AoP, as the biggest threats in the match will be neutralized by both teams – but Roddy will survive! Wishful thinking? Sure – but man I like to feel good and Roderick Strong having his Dolph Ziggler Survivor Series type moment would be killer. Prediction: AoP & Roderick Strong

FOLLOW VOICES OF WRESTLING’S WAR GAMES WEEK PROJECT at voicesofwrestling.com/category/vow-latest/reviews/war-games-week-the-matches-beyond/ 

 



Alex Wendland: While WarGames coming back is undeniably exciting, this match feels like an act change rather than a grand finale. Rather than a reign of terror or long term feuding, these trios seem to have been picking their spots. I know there are formidable gaps between Takeovers, and this one is in Dusty’s old stomping grounds, but another couple of months could’ve given them time to up the intensity and urgency. All that considered, this is a fun combination of wrestlers squaring off in the return of a legendary match–those are all good things! With Akam and Rezar possible going up to the main roster, I suspect Roderick Strong will be isolated and ultimately the fall guy while Sanity serve as springboards and glorified spot guys. The Undisputed Era/Roddy Strong story continues and Sanity gets to go a separate way with the tag titles. Prediction: The Undisputed Era

Lee Malone: War Games is back and despite my lukewarm review of War Games 91 I am extremely excited that WWE have finally revived Dusty Rhodes greatest creation. Yes the setup was rushed and doesn’t make total sense with AOP and Roddy being a WCW like thrown together combination but really who cares. It’s War Games and we should all enjoy it for what it is. There really is only one logical option for winners in this one as The Undisputed Era need to be established as a dominant force in NXT. Adam Cole makes the most sense as Drew McIntyres next challenger while O’Reilly and Fish can split off into a feud with Roddy and a partner of his choosing so Cole scoring the winning pin makes sense to me. Sanity will bring their usual mix of gurning faces and wild spots while AOP feel like they are here just because Roddy needed two people to team with. I have high hopes for this one to be a wild out of control brawl and without a doubt somebody will do something insane to make this a truely memorable first ever WWE War Games. Prediction: The Undisputed Era