Hey gang! With WarGames coming up quickly on the horizon (a week from this Sunday on December 5, to be precise), NXT has a lot of work to do to build the card for that event and maybe more importantly, set the two WarGames matches to headline the event. While the women's match is for the most part set, we're still waiting to see who the men will be entering the cage in their WarGames match. Let's see if we can answer some of this tonight on NXT 2.o.
We start things off actually interestingly, as during the WWE company intro, Grayson Waller interrupts it and demands they cut from the classic superstars to him in the ring, which they do. Waller rants about how he's a true superstar in NXT and then accuses the audience of booing real stars like John Cena, The Rock, Roman Reigns, and himself.
This then brings out the NXT Champion, Tommaso Ciampa, who's heard enough.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Grayson Waller
A good one here with very clearly defined roles for Ciampa and Waller and that helps the crowd really get into it. Waller really shines as an arrogant heel it seems, so this might be the road for him to follow going forward. I especially like his doing his own version of iconic finishers like the Stunner and the People's Elbow to get some extra heat. As a character that is all about being the face of a new generation and sticking it to the older one, that's a good bit of extra seasoning to help sell that.
They're actually given a good amount of time (15 minutes, which is really something on NXT 2.0) with this match and both men get to go on long stretches of being in control and getting their stuff in. Ultimately it's the veteran NXT Champ who takes it though after Ciampa hits Waller with Widow's Bell and then a Fairytale Ending for the pinfall and the win.
Despite the outcome, this was a really nice rub for Waller and made him look like a viable heel threat going forward. Good stuff!
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
We now go to a backstage interview with LA Knight, who takes joy in Waller's loss, until he's approached by Joe Gacy, who lectures him on his negativity. Knight shuts him down with an excellent verbal onslaught and again I'm left wondering how this guy isn't at the top of WWE right now?
Next, we see Toxic Attraction arriving at NXT earlier and talking trash about Cora Jade until they are joined by Dakota Kai, who just walks along with them creepily. They come across some debris on the ground and comment that it looks like someone's rage room and walk off. We then see Kay Lee Ray come out and continue with the mess she'd made.
Cameron Grimes hits the ring now, looking more disturbed and morose than usual. He speaks about rising up from his rough beginnings and finding success and he mentions that he kept growing his hair and beard throughout to remind himself of where he came from. Duke Hudson took that from him when he cut his hair on NXT 2.0 last week and he demands he come out and face him.
We then see Hudson at a barber, where he lectures Grimes that he shouldn't be mad because he helped him. Hudson declines Grimes' challenge, but Grimes raises the stakes and challenges him to a "Hair vs Hair" match at WarGames, which Hudson accepts.
We now go to a video promo from Pete Dunne where he hypes up his Triple Threat Match for the NXT North American title later tonight.
Next, we head to an interview with Indi Hartwell ahead of her match and she's asked for a medical update on her husband, Dexter Lumis. She says his hand is fractured and he'll be out of NXT for over a month.
We now get a video package hyping the NXT debut of Tiffany Stratton, who appears to be some super-rich girl character.
Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta vs Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter
A pretty crappy, short match here. Catanzaro & Carter are trying, but there's too much attempt at the story here. Hartwell is acting all distracted and disinterested, so the match has very little energy. There's a way to make this kind of story work in the ring, but it requires Hartwell not being the one in the ring for most of the match and then missing a big spot at the end to cost her partner, which unfortunately is not what happened here.
Winners: Catanzaro & Carter
We now get a video package of Santos Escobar and Legado del Fantasma, which transitions into their entrance.
But first, we go to the locker room to find Andre Chase giving an NXT tour to his class when he comes across Cameron Grimes, whom he insults, but Grimes just tells him to "go to hell" and walks away.
Santos Escobar vs Malik Blade
It's squash time as Escobar makes short work of NXT's favorite jobber in Blade.
Winner: Santos Escobar
After the match, Elektra Lopez takes the mic and mocks Xyon Quinn for turning them down, and says they're stronger than ever. Kyle O'Reilly and Von Wagner now come out and say they want a shot at the tag champs, which Wilde & Mendoza take issue with. The NXT Tag Team Champions Imperium then head out and mock both teams. They then say that neither team can beat them, so the two teams must face each other to determine who will face them at WarGames.
We now go to the locker room, where the WarGames team of Cora Jade, Zoey Stark, Io Shirai, and Raquel Gonzalez are all arguing with each other. Jade brings up that they need to work together and since Stark is injured, they need to find a fourth member.
Next, we have a backstage interview with Tony D'Angelo, where he says his gambling racket is doing very well and he has bet on Carmelo Hayes to retain the NXT North American title tonight.
NXT Women's Champion Mandy Rose vs Cora Jade
This match sucked. Very slow and sloppy-looking and that's not surprising, as there's no ring General in this one that can lead the other along. Both of their faults are on full display here and there's no veteran in there to cover them.
Eventually, Kay Lee Ray comes out with a baseball bat and starts hitting things at ringside with it. This distracts Rose and allows Jade to get a really ugly-looking roll-up for the win.
Winner: Cora Jade
We now go to a video of Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams ahead of the Triple Threat Match tonight.
From there, we go to another video, this time of Joe Gacy saying some wacky shit ahead of his match.
We now go to Cora Jade celebrating her win backstage with her WarGames teammates when Kay Lee Ray approaches them and informs them she's joining their team at the event.
We now head out to the ring, where Joe Gacy is waiting to face LA Knight, but when Knight enters, he's jumped from behind by Grayson Waller. The two men brawl into the backstage area.
Gacy then grabs a mic and is about to ramble, but he's interrupted by Diamond Mine. Malcolm Bivens tells Gacy this is for him disrespecting them on NXT 2.0 last week and Ivy Nile has a match now. Gacy says he doesn't respect Roderick Strong and that his name is an example of toxic masculinity and the Cruiserweight title is representative of body shaming.
Strong says he doesn't fear Gacy and doesn't care about his weight, so he challenges him to a title match at WarGames, which Gacy accepts. Bivens then sends the Creed Brothers after Gacy, but Harland appears behind Gacy to scare them off.
And now it's time for more of the stupid shit with MSK going around looking for their Shaman, who I'm pretty sure just got sentenced to 41 months in prison. They get busted by Cops and copy a scene from the Chris Farley film Black Sheep word for word.
Ivy Nile vs Yulisa Leon
As you can imagine, the physically impressive Nile destroys Leon here and submits her with a Dragon Sleeper.
Winner: Ivy Nile
Next, we go to a video package for Solo Sikoa.
We go backstage to find the Grizzled Young Veterans walking and talking, only to see Waller and Knight still brawling and a whole army of refs and officials trying to pull them apart.
From there, we go to a video package for Boa. Lots of that tonight.
Grizzled Young Veterans vs Briggs & Jensen
The highlight of the match is Wade Barrett calling Vic Joseph "the Duke of Douchebags" on commentary.
The match is whatever. It's pretty forgettable stuff and I think the producers know it, as in the middle of it, they cut backstage to find Waller and Knight STILL brawling around the arena.
Winners: Briggs & Jensen
Carmelo Hayes vs Johnny Gargano vs Pete Dunne – NXT North American Championship
This one is a fast-paced blast to watch. All three men are working at top speed throughout and making the most out of their screen time. They do some really fun stuff here, taking simple one on one moves and finding a way to incorporate the third man.
All good things must end though and this one ends when Dunne hits the Bitter End on Gargano and goes for the pin, Tony D'Angelo runs in to pull him out of the ring. This gives Hayes the opening to climb the turnbuckle and hit Gargano with the diving Axe Kick to get the pinfall and retain.
Winner and still Champion: Carmelo Hayes
After the match, D'Angelo is celebrating ringside with Williams, when the still-brawling Waller and Knight tumble out and run into them. D'Angelo starts fighting Knight until Dunne gets him from behind and throws him in the ring. Everyone starts fighting in the ring now.
Williams & Hayes put Gargano's arm in a chair (like they did to Dexter Lumis last week) and Hayes goes to the turnbuckle to dive onto it, but Tommaso Ciampa heads out with a chair and starts taking out all of the young stars, who retreat as the veterans stand tall in the ring.
They all shout at each other until Bron Breakker enters and joins the young guys at the entrance. He screams "WAR GAMES!" and they charge the ring. We've got a Donnybrook here to end the show and it appears we've got our teams for the men's match at WarGames.
Alright so, a strong opening and a strong ending to the show. The middle? Well, that's where the water got a bit murky. I've said it before and I'll say it again here: NXT 2.0 should maybe just be a one hour show. It seems like there's some really strong central stuff there, but having to fill two hours is just too much and that gives them an excuse to include really dumb comedy stuff and put some people in matches that aren't ready for TV yet.
I don't see them making that change, but in my opinion, it would lead to a stronger beginning to end show every week if they trimmed the fat and made it one hour.
Less is more.
Till next time friends!