NXT Women Steal The Show At WarGames
By Ryan Satin
FOX Sports WWE Analyst
NXT TakeOver: WarGames delivered two brutal cage matches on Sunday, but the women of NXT stole the show.
In all honesty, going into the event, I already expected the women’s match to be the highlight of TakeOver. This is mainly due to NXT having the best women’s division in all of wrestling right now, at least in my opinion.
The NXT team should be commended for the work they’ve put into building multiple strong female characters in recent months.
Shotzi Blackheart has catapulted from random Raw audience member during the PC era shows to rapidly rising star in the company by proving she can make anything entertaining.
Whether it’s hosting Halloween Havoc, making the audience feel an emotional connection to her tank or putting on a great match, Shotzi delivers.
This was on full display Sunday when she brought her team to the ring in an updated tank which can now shoot an American Gladiators-esque missile from the front.
Yes, I’m aging myself with that reference.
Shotzi brought the intensity during the match as well, as evidenced by this senton from the top of a ladder.
Ember Moon is another competitor who, prior to the match, has had a strong push since returning from injury.
This new fire she’s had on TV in recent weeks was only magnified inside of the dual-ring cage setup, as “The War Goddess” made it clear from the jump that she planned to live up to the moniker.
The handspring forearm in the corner. The fancy footwork and speedy maneuvers against her opponents.
The Eclipse to Dakota Kai through two chairs.
All of this made Ember Moon look incredibly dominant throughout the match, even in defeat, to continue the impressive showing she’s had on TV the past few weeks.
Candice LeRae is another example of the strong women’s division NXT has to offer right now.
While some may have been skeptical about her lovable character being turned into a villain, the wife of Johnny Gargano has made it work thanks to their heel antics as a couple.
Her new protege, Indi Hartwell, has been getting over via association with the Garganos as well. That continued in the WarGames match when Indi locked Io Shirai out of the cage in villainous fashion.
Hartwell has been showing real promise with her character work in recent weeks making the young wrestler one to look out for in 2021.
Lastly, the brute force Raquel Gonzalez showed throughout the match helped build her up as a future threat to Io Shirai’s NXT Women’s title.
Gonzalez has proven she can go in the ring time and time again. She’s also paid her dues while acting as the enforcer for Dakota Kai and will serve as a fresh challenger to the NXT Women’s title.
This match also included the moment of the night, courtesy of Io Shirai, when she finally entered the cage by happily leaping off the top while wearing a garbage can.
None of this high praise is meant to take anything away from the men’s WarGames match at the end of the show either.
Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong put on a hell of a match with Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch.
All eight men deserve praise for putting their bodies on the line for our entertainment in such a high-risk match.
Undisputed Era playing babyface in what has become their signature match was a welcome change this year.
It was nice to not feel like a smark for cheering them on for once.
Unfortunately, to me, it felt like the main event suffered from not having an arena filled with people reacting to all the spots.
Pat’s partners continually stopping him from entering the match when it was their team’s turn would have received tons of heat from the audience each time it happened.
There would have been a HUGE pop when Undisputed Era finally got to team up on McAfee alone.
The look of shock from the crowd when Pat did a Swanton Bomb off the top of the cage would’ve been amazing.
Same for when he kicked out of the Panama Sunrise.
Unfortunately, all of these moments which relied on crowd reactions were slightly hindered without a full audience in attendance.
Seeing as how we’re used to the lack of an audience by now, however, I realize this was no fault of the performers and still enjoyed every bit of the men’s match. It was great.
It just felt as though the women raised the bar to such a high level from the start that it became hard for anyone to follow.
Some additional thoughts on the show:
- Finn Balor and Karrion Kross returning to NXT should be a big boost for the next few weeks of television.
Kross was the highlight of the brand before suffering an injury that forced him to relinquish the belt.
Considering he never lost the NXT Championship, and the person who injured him is now on Raw, a showdown with Finn in the near future seems almost certain.
This feud has money written all over it and could likely stretch for months if mapped out correctly.
Balor is one of the best in-ring competitors in all of WWE and a lengthy program with Kross could be the shot of injection needed for the NXT title to feel hot again.
- Timothy Thatcher and Tomasso Ciampa might not have had the most compelling build to their match heading into the event, but these two competitors made up for it with brutality.
This was one of those matches where you could feel each punch, each kick and each move through the screen.
Ciampa may be slightly spinning his wheels in NXT at the moment, but storylines didn’t matter here.
The match felt like two guys in “Fight Club” beating the crap out of each other just to feel a rush.
In the end, their mutual respect for each other said everything that needed to be said about how enjoyable the match was.
- Leon Ruff is a surprise star.
When done right, seeing an enhancement talent level up in front of your very eyes is such a rewarding experience as a fan.
Ruff might not have retained his title, but there’s no denying he’s over with the audience in a big way now.
It’s possible he may not stick around the North American title scene now that this story is complete. If that’s the case, I’d love to see him put into a Cruiserweight title program ASAP.
Santos Escobar has been an effective heel while holding the belt.
Having Leon, an effective babyface, chase him for a title shot by wrestling the other members of Legado Del Fantasma over the next few weeks could be a good way to to utilize his character until the next TakeOver.
Do you agree or disagree with my takes? Hit me up on Twitter @RyanSatin and let me know!