Two rings. One cage. WarGames! As 2020 draws to a close, the one gimmick night of the year for NXT takes centre stage. Two WarGames matches and a hat-trick of intriguing bouts provide line-up for the final TakeOver of the year. Our King Of The Ring, Andy Spoors, gives us the lowdown on what to expect.
Unlike Raw and SmackDown, NXT has only one night of the year dedicated to a gimmick match. But in true black and gold fashion, it is one hell of a gimmick. Always looking to push the envelope, in 2017 NXT brought back one of NWA and WCW’s best ideas in the shape of WarGames.
Following on from last year’s successful women’s WarGames match, 2020 sees another double helping. Team Candice (consisting of Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez) take on a very strong looking Team Shotzi (Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai)
Last year’s match showcased some spectacular set pieces by the women’s division but after arguably the best year of any female roster in the world, expect fireworks. Every individual involved here has put effort into not just their in-ring abilities but their entire presentation and for that the WWE Universe should be excited for the potential match of the year. No-one will want to rest on their laurels in a brand known for raising the bar at any given opportunity.
It’s been an odd year for the Undisputed Era. After dominating NXT for years, it feels like everyone’s favourite quartet has been somewhat lost in the shuffle in recent months. Constant rumours of a split have not yet come to pass, but a break-out moment for Kyle O’Reilly at TakeOver 31 reminded everyone of the talent UE possesses.
It is odd then, to witness a new power run roughshod over the rest of the roster. Even more so, when that power is led by an ex-NFL punter, Pat McAfee. Sure, McAfee put on a hell of a performance against Adam Cole at TakeOver 30 so it maybe should have been obvious he’d be bitten by the wrestling bug for another run.
But becoming a regular sight each week at the Capitol Wrestling Center and leading Pete Dunne as well as Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch was definitely unexpected. 2020 will mark the fourth WarGames match for Undisputed Era, who have only been victorious in one match so far. It feels like tradition, but one that will inevitably need to end if the four men want to progress in their careers.
Most will be expecting some sort of twist in the tale before the night is over, but a call to Raw or SmackDown is just as likely. Either way, the Undisputed Era feels closer than ever to ending.
Elsewhere, a triple threat match for the North American Championship pits current champion Leon Ruff against the previous holders in Johnny Gargano and Damian Priest. Only a convincing win for Ruff will get the critics off the shoulders of the fledgling Superstar. Some stellar heel work by Gargano has made the championship more relevant than it has felt in a little while but Priest has undoubtedly raised his stock immeasurably in the past six months.
A veteran vs up and coming talent storyline, sees Ciampa looking to teach Timothy Thatcher a lesson in humility and respect. After owning 2018 and 2019, Ciampa’s new role of grizzled locker-room leader gives him the opportunity to put shine on those needing direction. It’s still possible Ciampa will make his way back to his beloved Goldie (The NXT Championship), but the Pyscho-killer has a long path ahead of him to get there.
With Finn Balor nowhere to be seen (still recovering from a fractured jaw), the last spot goes to the culmination of the entertaining feud between Dexter Lumis and Cameron Grimes. The added stipulation of a strap match gives both Superstars a chance to show their fantastic character development. Both have bright futures and will no doubt feature heavily in the coming years on NXT.
A special shoutout to the incredible choice of soundtrack for tonight’s event. After last month’s use of AC/DC the old school vibe continues with Black Sabbath’s War Pigs.
Rushonrock Predictions and Full Card
The Undisputed ERA vs. Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch (WarGames Match)
Andy: Team Pat
Team Shotzi vs. Team Candice (WarGames Match)
Andy: Team Shotzi
NXT North American Champion Leon Ruff vs. Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano (Triple Threat Match)
Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes (Strap Match)
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher