NXT WarGames Recap: One Of The Best WWE Pay Per Views Of 2021

Hey gang!  With it being since August that NXT has put on a proper weekend night Pay Per View event, there was definitely an eagerness in the fanbase to see the NXT stars on a big stage again.  But with it now being the NXT 2.0 era and this not being an old-fashioned NXT TakeOver event, could this live up to the year-stealing Pay Per View events of NXT-past?  Well, let's take a look at NXT WarGames to find out!

WarGames: NXT Announces They're Bringing Back The Iconic Match
The official logo for the 2021 NXT WarGames event, courtesy of WWE.

We have two different WarGames matches to see on this show and it kicks off with the women's match.

Women's WarGames Match

NXT WarGames Recap: The Best WWE Pay Per View Event Of 2021
Cora Jade, Kay Lee Ray, Io Shirai, & Raquel Gonzalez vs Toxic Attraction & Dakota Kai in NXT WarGames, courtesy of WWE.

We kicked things off on a high note here with a really fun WarGames match.  Gigi Dolin, Io Shirai, and Raquel Gonzalez got the best offense spots, with Shirai, in particular, doing some really cool and creative stuff with trash cans.

But the star of the match was Cora Jade, who took the biggest risk of the match when pretty early on, she hit a Senton Bomb off the top of the cage through a table.

Now, the move itself was a great visual, but it's the story she told after that is really worth noting here.  She landed the flip in such a way that in real-time looked a bit off, but was actually hit just right so she could sell a separated shoulder (that Shirai would snap back into place to keep her in the fight).  The story injury kept her off on her own, hiding from predators for the rest of the match, but in the end, she saved her team by breaking up a near-fall and then got the roll-up and pinfall out of nowhere to win it all.

The roll-up at the end didn't look that great on TV and it would have been better with a tad more build-up.  But it was definitely a big moment to get Jade over and a fun match to watch.

Winners: Kay Lee Ray, Cora Jade, Io Shirai, & Raquel Gonzalez

NXT WarGames Recap: The Best WWE Pay Per View Event Of 2021
The Women's WarGames Match Winners, courtesy of WWE.

Imperium vs Kyle O'Reilly & Von Wagner – NXT Tag Team Championship

NXT WarGames Recap: The Best WWE Pay Per View Event Of 2021
Imperium vs Kyle O'Reilly & Von Wagner for the NXT Tag Team title at NXT WarGames, courtesy of WWE.

This was a fun one and a good alternative to the weapons-filled spot-fest we just saw.  More importantly, though, this match was an absolute star-maker for Fabian Aichner, who had all of the big jaw-dropping moments here and seized his moment on a bigger stage to light up the crowd.

We knew going in that Aichner was very much a Cesaro-like wrestler: an incredibly strong man in great shape who is a very talented technical performer.  But in this match, we got to see him take things to all-new levels.  Seeing a man of his size gracefully pull off a springboard moonsault and then a running vaulting Frog Splash to the outside was simply stunning.

It was a fun match that told a decent story with a lot of good near-falls towards the end, but it has to be noted that Von Wagner is the weak wheel of the four here and it's 100 percent due to inexperience.  He's not bad, he's just not ready for these kinds of matches yet and was pretty exposed out here.  The other three men were working at breakneck speed and whenever he entered, it was as if they knew they had to drop it all down to meet him.  He's still very young and has potential, but he's just not ready for this stage yet and they aren't doing him any favors by making him look not great next to others.

Eventually, Imperium hits the Imperium Bomb to retain their titles, but after, Von Wagner inexplicably tries to turn on O'Reilly, who dodges his attack and takes out Von Wagner, before hitting him with the hand gesture of The Undisputed Era while yelling "this is a brotherhood!" and then the DX crotch chops for good measure.

So, as many know, O'Reilly's contract is up and we're possibly, if not likely, watching his last week in NXT here.  By him hitting the Undisputed Era taunts while his former teammates Adam Cole and Bobby Fish are in AEW and waiting for him, it might be telling where he's heading.  Or it's a nice bit of WWE subterfuge.  Either way, later in the show in a backstage interview O'Reilly demands to face Von Wagner in a steel cage match on Tuesday's NXT 2.0, which might be his way of putting over Von Wagner on his way out.  We'll see!

Winners and Still Champions: Imperium

NXT WarGames Recap: One Of The Best WWE Pay Per Views Of 2021
Imperium retains the NXT Tag Team titles at NXT WarGames, courtesy of WWE.

Cameron Grimes vs Duke Hudson – Hair vs Hair Match

NXT WarGames Recap: One Of The Best WWE Pay Per Views Of 2021
Cameron Grimes vs Duke Hudson in a Hair vs Hair match at NXT WarGames, courtesy of WWE.

Alright, so this whole storyline has been pretty thin and at times, downright silly.  The only reason it has even somewhat worked is due to the talent and charisma of these two men and that's it.

The match itself is fine.  It's a very solid singles match and both guys come out of it looking strong, especially as Grimes grabs Hudson's tights in the roll-up to get the pinfall and the win.

After the match is over, they get set up for Grimes to shave Hudson's head, but Hudson fights back for a bit, and for a moment, it looks like he might actually escape the punishment.  Grimes rallies and hits the Cave In on Hudson though, puts him in the barber chair, and shaves his head.

Winner: Cameron Grimes

NXT WarGames Recap: One Of The Best WWE Pay Per Views Of 2021
Cameron Grimes wins the Hair vs Hair match at NXT WarGames, courtesy of WWE.

Roderick Strong vs Joe Gacy – NXT Cruiserweight Championship

NXT WarGames Recap: One Of The Best WWE Pay Per Views Of 2021
Roderick Strong vs Joe Gacy for the NXT Cruiserweight title at NXT WarGames, courtesy of WWE.

This was the weakest match of the night, though that's not to say it was a bad match, it just never really got going.  Strong and Gacy didn't have the greatest chemistry here and it never felt like there was that desperation to win from either that you always want in a title match.

The most interesting moment comes late in the match when Gacy's monster apprentice Harland grabs Ivy Nile at ringside and lifts her into the air, but Gacy calms the big man and has him lower her safely.  Gacy then hits the ring and nails Strong with a Gutwrench Powerbomb, but it's not enough for the pin.

Strong rallies with a big knee to the face of Gacy and then Strong hits the End of Heartache for the pinfall and the win to retain.  Kind of a surprising outcome here.  Most fans assumed Gacy was going to take the title and turn it into something else because otherwise the story doesn't make a lot of sense and wound up as kind of pointless and… oh.

Winner and Still Champion: Roderick Strong

NXT WarGames Recap: One Of The Best WWE Pay Per Views Of 2021
Roderick Strong retains the NXT Cruiserweight title at NXT WarGames, courtesy of WWE.

Men's WarGames Match

NXT WarGames Recap: One Of The Best WWE Pay Per Views Of 2021
Team Black & Gold vs Team 2.0 in the men's WarGames match at NXT WarGames, courtesy of WWE.

It's main event time now, as the team of NXT veterans takes on the team of NXT young guns inside WarGames.

I thought this match was a total blast.  It was just pure fun to watch and everyone involved got at least one great moment to shine.  It was intense and violent (as it should be) and it truly felt like it was a big blowoff to end a big story.

Grayson Waller might have earmarked himself as WWE's next big daredevil after this one, as he was a part of arguably the two most visually-stunning moments, first taking a Super Belly-To-Belly Suplex off of the top rope from LA Knight through a table and then giving Knight a receipt by putting him through a table with a Diving Elbow Drop from the top of the cage that looked almost identical to the iconic one "Macho Man" Randy Savage used during his career, but with some extra NBA Dunk Contest flair.

The heart and soul of the match was Johnny Gargano though, as like Kyle O'Reilly, his contract is up and it felt as though this was his swan song in NXT.  From using his old solo theme to wearing an outfit that was a hybrid of all of his fan-favorite TakeOver attires, this was all pretty telling that we might be seeing the final chapter of "Johnny Wrestling" in NXT.

And he didn't disappoint in the match either.  After getting busted open early on, he battled through to the end, finding himself involved in a number of the match's best moments.

Spots aside though, if this was the last battle in NXT for Gargano, then it's only fitting that a large part of the match was devoted to his reunion with his old DIY partner and then longtime adversary, Tommaso Ciampa.  In many ways, the long story of Gargano and Ciampa is the backbone of NXT, at least in the former Black & Gold era.  They started as best friends and as a powerful tag team, only for Ciampa to turn on him and give way to one of the most heated rivalries in recent wrestling history.

And then tonight inside WarGames, for maybe the final time they'll share a ring together, they became that team again and DIY was reborn, pulling off all of their beloved moves and moments that lit up the crowd.

But it was Ciampa's current adversary that changed the course of the match.  Bron Breakker served as the powerhouse difference-maker for Team 2.0 and for much of the battle, took on multiple men by himself.  It's becoming more and more clear with each passing week that Breakker is the future face of WWE and with performances like here, it's also becoming more clear that he is up to the challenge.

Breakker absorbed everything DIY and Ciampa himself could throw at him and gave it back in the form of Frankensteiners, spears through tables, and eventually, a big Gorilla Press Slam to Ciampa to earn the pinfall and the win for Team 2.0.

Winners: Team 2.0

NXT WarGames Recap: One Of The Best WWE Pay Per Views Of 2021
Team 2.0 wins the men's WarGames match at NXT WarGames, courtesy of WWE.

And that's it for the 2021 NXT WarGames event, which I had a lot of fun with.  I've said many times that when it's just wall-to-wall wrestling and very little silly stuff, NXT is still a lot of fun to watch, and events like these highlight that.  It accomplished its goal in making the young stars of the next generation look like stars, while still keeping the veterans viable.

No bad matches, some star-making performances, and some awe-inspiring action in big matches.  Nothing to really complain about there as a fan.

I think this was one of the best Pay Per View events WWE produced this year.

Till next time friends!

2021 NXT WarGames

WarGames: NXT Announces They're Bringing Back The Iconic Match
Review by Ryan Fassett

8.5/10
This show was fun, start to finish. By focusing solely on wrestling matches, they allowed the stars of NXT to show the best of themselves on a big stage and no one disappointed. Both WarGames matches were great fun, while we got a stand-out performance from Fabian Aichner in the Tag Team title match. If NXT just focused on matches from now on with only minimal outside stuff, the overall product would look much, much better.

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About Ryan Fassett

As a lifelong fan of movies, comics, wrestling, and collectibles, Ryan is excited to share his thoughts on all of it with you. He is also an active filmmaker and published comic book writer, along with being a connoisseur of soda.
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