Updated: Dec 30, 2021
Reverse Hipster's Review
Women's WarGames Match 8.7/10 B
The match started out a little sloppy and uneventful. However, when all the participants made it into the match, they told an excellent story. Cora Jade jumped off the top of the cage, she Swantoned her opponent through a table, and the crowd went crazy. However, Cora Jade appeared to dislocate her shoulder. I believe she didn't actually hurt her shoulder, but I was thoroughly worked. It was so believable that a relatively new wrestler would hurt themselves coming off the top. Then, one of the craziest spots of the year happens. Io Shirai dragged Cora away from the doctors, closed the WarGames cage, and popped Cora Jade's arm back in herself. The rest of the match was Cora Jade's team trying to protect her as the heels tried to take out the weak link. After a fierce battle, where everyone takes each other out, the unlikely hobbled hero Cora Jade got the winning pin with her uninjured arm. The crowd went from chanting you can't skate to cheering Cora Jade's name. This is how you make a star.
Imperium vs. Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner 10/10
This match was a masterpiece. Excellent sequences that flowed into each other. Everyone got a chance to be the star of the match at one point, but it was Fabian Aichner who stole the show. He reminds me of Cesaro, a do-it-all-superstar, with a fantastic set of moves and skills. The magic of the match was that it really brought me in. The action sequences were so well done that you really couldn't be sure who would win until the last second, and you're just along for the ride.
Cameron Grimes vs. Duke Hudson in a Hair vs. Hair Match 8.3/10
Grimes vs. Hudson was a good match. It was an action-packed match with a great story as well. The two gave each other everything they had, and naturally, Hudson tried to cheat again, but he got caught. However, Grimes cheated to win and didn't get caught. Grimes won, and once again, he outsmarted Hudson. Then, after Hudson tried to escape his punishment, he was bested again, and his head was shaved.
Joe Gacy vs. Roderick Strong 7.5/10
Strong defeated Gacy. I think this was the right result. However, the match was average, and the performance wasn't bad or wrong, and it just wasn't extraordinary. These two just don't have great chemistry.
Men's WarGames Match 8.5/10
This match had big spots that made the match enjoyable. However, it lacked the incredible storytelling of the women's match. However, it was entertaining to watch, and each new combination of superstars was used to create moments instead of a throw-away set up for the primary fight. Also, the end of this brutal war resulted in the NXT 2.0 guys going over. This was the right choice, and Bron Breakker was the perfect one to do it.
NXT WarGames Final Grade 8.6/10
Women’s War Games
Going into tonight, I felt like the women were at a disadvantage because their match had less story than the Men’s War Games, but their in-ring work leading up to the match was slightly better. Dakota Kai and Kay Lee Ray were the right people to start the match: their chain wrestling kept things interesting before other stars and weapons entered, and their veteran experience kept the match glued together. There were a lot of relatively new wrestlers in this match for me, but without a doubt, the person who made the biggest impact was Cora Jade. At 20 years old, she pulled off the spot of the night with a swanton from the top of the structure. I genuinely thought she hurt herself: her teammates called referees and officials over, and it looked like Ray was telling the opponents during the next sequence. NXT is incredible at blurring that line between work and shoot, but I kind of hate that a work-shoot injury can make you feel bad during a good match. It led to a great story for the match that Io Shirai popped Jade’s shoulder back in, her team was down a wrestler, Mandy Rose went mega heel targeting the shoulder, and Jade persevered to get the final pinfall. Some of the action in this match was sloppy, but they had creative and ambitious spots. If there was a story leading into this match, I think it would have been a contender for match of the night.
Final Grade: 7/10 Good
Imperium vs. Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner (NXT Tag Team Titles)
The NXT tag team division makes you wonder why WWE is hesitant to pull the trigger. With minimal build and a thrown together team of Kyle O’Reilly and Von Wagner, the tag team match slowly built to a tempo with cheers as loud as loud as the opening War Games match. It was a star-making performance for Fabian Aichner, who defied physics of a man his size with high flying moves, stopping on a dime, and diving to the outside. The right team went over in Imperium, and it allowed for a minute at the end of the match for the crowd to cheer for O’Reilly in what may be his last Takeover match.
Final Grade: 7/10 Good
Cameron Grimes vs. Duke Hudson (Hair vs. Hair)
I really liked the unique build to this match and experimental style to the poker segments and what they told you about both characters. I think this match did not hit Takeover levels of exciting though. I already knew Cameron Grimes was a great wrestler, but I do not feel like Duke Hudson rose to that level. Hudson still has the advantage of a good gimmick and has time to grow, the focus of this feud was the hair, and I think the right guy won.
Final Grade: 5/10 Average
Roderick Strong vs. Joe Gacy (Cruiserweight Championship)
I’m still new to NXT 2.0, so I can confidently say I don’t understand at all what was happening here. Joe Gacy’s gimmick is laughably bad in my opinion. When Fox news is praising you, you’re doing something wrong. The lack of nuance in Gacy’s inclusive persona is as over-the-top as WWE’s historic foreign heel trope. I don’t really understand Diamond Mine either. Roderick Strong is one of the best wrestlers in NXT on his own, so I don’t think he has a lot to gain from a hype stable. I think both guys looked good in-ring, but I couldn’t really get a grasp on what we’re doing here. I guess I’m glad Strong won here.
Final Grade: 4/10 Below Average
Men’s War Games Match
I think the expectation of this in my head was so high that it couldn’t quite live up to it, but the match was still great. This match forced me to think a lot about the legacy of Johnny Gargano: he had a three plus year stretch where four times per year, you knew he was having match of the weekend. It’s a testament to his storytelling ability, and I think that was on display here as well. Gargano opened with Carmelo Hayes and put on a Takeover quality match before anyone else even entered. The match slowly built to peak chaos as we got Grayson Waller impressing fans with all-out offense (I mean that table EXPLODED), Pete Dunne nonchalantly brutalizing opponents, Tony DiAngelo bringing in ALL the weapons and locking the next guy out, LA Knight climbing the cage to enter, Bron Breakker breaking his way into the cage, and Tommaso Ciampa making the match official. We got callbacks to Gargano-Ciampa with the crutch that Ciampa used to blindside Gargano, and the iconic DIY tag team offense. The story of the whole match was already told: the fans wanted black and gold NXT to pull it out, but NXT 2.0 was just a little too much to overcome. The finish was a fitting final chapter in Gargano’s NXT story. He sacrificed himself to give Ciampa a chance to win, but Ciampa was caught off guard and overpowered by Breakker. This match achieved everything it set out to do: gave closure to Gargano’s career, served as an end of an era, and brought in a new era by getting over four guys that we should expect to make waves in NXT 2.0 moving forward. My biggest gripe with this match is that they ended the show after showing the winning team celebrate. I would have also liked to see the agony of defeat. What did losing mean to the veterans on team black and gold? And of course, I would have liked to see a curtain call/send off for Gargano. Still, easy match of the night in my opinion.
Final Grade: 8/10 Great