Has it really been twenty years since we last saw a WarGames match? Maybe it just feels more recent because I’ve been re-watching the old ones on the network. Whatever the case, we can all be grateful that Triple H doesn’t have the same hangups about using concepts he didn’t have a hand in creating that his boss does and is actually willing to give wrestling fans something they want to see. Even though it might not quite be the WarGames of old, I’m still pretty darn stoked to see the return of the dreaded double cage. So without further ado, let’s break it down…
NXT Championship Match
Kairi Sane vs. Ember Moon vs. Peyton Royce vs. Nikki Cross
Preview: Asuka’s move to the main roster has left quite a void in the NXT women’s division, but this match is great opportunity for one of these talented ladies to step up and fill it. Ember Moon is in the midst of a Hirooki Goto-esque “can she win the big one?” storyline, while Nikki Cross has been a thorn in her side every step of the way, making for an exciting rivalry between the two. Kairi Sane is of course fresh off of winning the Mae Young Classic and probably has the most momentum of the four going into this match; she got a great presence, a killer move set and her flying elbow drop is neck and neck with Moon’s eclipse for most devastating finisher in the women’s division. As for Peyton Royce, why she’s in this match instead of the vastly more talented Ruby Riot is anyone’s guess.
Prediction: I really hope Moon takes this one; it would be the perfect big win to cap off her storyline for 2017. That said, I have a bad feeling that they’re going to prematurely pull the trigger on trying to mold Sane into Asuka V2.0.
Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream
Preview: The dichotomy between Aleister Black and Velveteen Dream makes this one of the most interesting feuds in NXT. The dark, mysterious antihero Black has been impressive every time out and Velveteen Dream becomes more and more entertaining as he continues to get comfortable with his flamboyant heel character. As much as I enjoy Black’s in-ring work, he’s in desperate need of some character development, and this rivalry has at least started to give us a little bit of insight into what makes him tick. It’s important to keep up the mystique that surrounds him, but it’s also important to give fans something they can latch onto, and a few long-term feuds could go a long way towards further establishing Black as a favorite. Also, Dream has for the most part only been involved in squash matches, so this is a great chance for the up-and-comer to show what he can do against one of the company’s top talents.
Prediction: If Aleister doesn’t kick Dream’s head off, I’m never watching pro wrestling again. That said, I hope this is just the beginning of a longer rivalry.
Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan
Preview: I’m legit terrified of Lars Sullivan. He’s got the body of a monster heel and the vocabulary of Nick Bockwinkel. It’s a combination of brains and brawn that you don’t see often in pro wrestling and it’s great to see a monster heel being allowed to show his intelligence instead of behaving like a brainless beast. Ohno has had some good matches since returning to NXT earlier this year, but at the moment he seems to have gotten a bit lost in the shuffle; this could be the start of a good rivalry for him given that he’s one of the few wrestlers in NXT that isn’t giving up too much to Sullivan in the way of size and power. Sullivan’s powerhouse style pitted against Ohno’s penchant for hard-hitting strikes should make for an interesting clash of techniques.
Prediction: Ohno’s got fighting spirit in spades, but I don’t foresee anyone being able to stop Sullivan anytime soon.
NXT Championship Match
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Andrade Almas
Preview: I for one couldn’t be happier to see Andrade Almas in the NXT title picture. Ever since turning heel he’s been a force to be reckoned with, putting on great matches with all comers. Some wrestlers are just natural heels and Almas’ improvement in terms of character development, match quality and just about any other aspect you can think of is proof positive of this. Drew McIntyre has also improved vastly since we last saw him in a WWE ring; his time spent in the indies allowed him the opportunity to hone his craft and find his character, both of which were lacking when he was a part of the main roster. Whereas his first WWE run was middling at best, his return as a part of NXT has established him as a worthy champion and a legit badass; his style isn’t flashy by any means, but it is hard-hitting and believable.
Prediction: Look for McIntyre to retain, but also look for Almas to put up one hell of a fight.
The Authors of Pain and Roderick Strong vs. Sanity vs. The Undisputed Era
Preview: I’m a little bummed that they changed the rules, but considering that it’s been two decades since we’ve seen a WarGames match, I’ll take whatever I can get. I’m also not entirely sure who babyfaces are supposed to be in this match; TUE, AOP and Sanity are all heel teams with Roddy being the lone face, although it could be argued that Sanity have been showing some face tendencies of late. The Undisputed Era have been running roughshod over pretty much the entire NXT roster since their debut as a team back in August; in the process they’ve made enemies out of The Authors of Pain, Roderick Strong and Sanity, so it will be interesting to see if Sanity and AOP will put their differences aside long enough to gang up on Cole, Fish and O’Reilly. I’ve got to admit I was hoping that Roddy was going to join the group a few weeks ago, but of course there’s always a chance that he may turn during the course of the match ala Curt Hennig at Fall Brawl ’97.
Prediction: This match is either going to be totally amazing or a total clusterf**k, but either way, The Undisputed Era is coming out on top.