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Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Much Later Than Live NXT TakeOver: WarGames 11/23/19

I had a co-worker's 50th birthday party to attend earlier in the evening, so couldn't get a reasonable start to this one. But it's not tooooo late and I'm all partied out, so let's see if this WarGames is going to be decent.

Rhea Ripley/Candice LeRae/Tegan Nox/Dakota Kai vs. Bianca Belair/Kay Lee Ray/Io Shirai/Shayna Baszler

ER: I really was not feeling Candice in the opening minutes of this, didn't think most of her offense looked good; but I really enjoyed everything being done to Candice, and that's important. Shirai boots her with a big missile dropkick, Belair cracks her with an elbow, powerbombs her several times, throws her into the cage with LeRae sliding uncomfortably down the metal, really everything done to punish LeRae works. But once Ripley gets in, takes a long time grabbing the same exact weapons you've seen for decades now, we build to several dumb uses of them. I think your work should be able to stand alone in a match like War Games, and going to trash can shots and propping up chairs and having everybody make increasingly stupid decisions to get into a big tower in the corner, just comes off lazy. Even when the end result is LeRae getting the back of her head whipped into a pile of chairs,  it still feels like they spent way too much time on dumb bullshit. I didn't anticipate the Kai turn, but I also am not an avid TV follower and Kai has never done much for me anyway. I do like how Kai kept running back to repeatedly attack Nox. Belair is I think the only person making strikes and weapon shots mean something. There has been a comical amount of bad hockey fight spots in the match, and here's Belair finding three different cool ways to make a trashcan look dangerous. Belair is really the mega star of this match, and it's kind of crazy how much of a non-factor Shayna was after getting into the ring. Shayna is in the ring for 2 minutes and then sells on the mat for the next 10. But Belair just won't quit, she's whipping the hell out of Ripley, jumping around like she's getting swarmed by ants at a picnic when LeRae is whipping her, in with a great nearfall save, tasked with catching Shirai on an ill-advised top of cage moonsault, Belair was just EVERYTHING in this match. Mauro Ranallo was expectedly unbearable, and my least favorite Mauro moment is when he described a "top rope avalanche poison rana" by LeRae as "desperate". I will not be able to understand how doing a move that you have done before, here performing it when your opponent gave you the opening and it could lead to a win, is "desperate". Shitting your pants and smearing Kay Lee Ray with your own shit would be a desperate move. That is the move of someone with zero options left. But performing a complicated reverse rana? That seems like someone very much in control of things. Shayna stopped selling long enough to lose the match, just a bizarre misuse of her, but Belair's performance made me overall like this match despite not liking a TON of directions this mess went.

Damian Priest vs. Killian Dain vs. Pete Dunne

ER: This was a much too long 3 way that had the problems nearly every 3 way has, and could have ended earlier after a few specific spots and been better for it. I'm a Damian Priest novice and will probably opt to stay that way. Priest feels like a better version of Matt Taven, which means he is a worse version of just about anyone else. He's not good at occupying himself, forced Dunne and Dain into unlikely scenarios just to get his shit in (most egregious is Dain having to get up way too quick so he can be ready for Priest's spinny kicks), he's the guy who is always too early or too late to his marks. Dain had a real nice match, kind of got stuck in the thankless role of getting shunted aside so we can continue to watch Dunne/Priest have zero chemistry together, or have his very good offense shrugged off early so we can get to more stupidly chained 3 way moments. But Dain had cool stuff, leveled Priest with a dive, did a bombs away on Priest while hitting a Michinoku Driver on Dunne, and was the guy who was actually bringing something a little rough edged to the dance fighting of Priest and Dunne. The finish I thought was pretty dumb, with Dunne getting Dain in a backpack choke, leading Dain to leap onto Priest while wearing Dunne...but then Dunne just shoves Dain away and gets the pin. This match was filled with moments of "Wait why is that guy selling so long...wait why is that guy selling nothing at all?" (much like that War Games we just sat through) but damn did that finish come off dumb as hell to me.

Matt Riddle vs. Finn Balor

ER: I dug a bunch of this, while this also made this the third ending of the night that I just really did not like at all. I haven't read what anyone else has said about this show, but I cannot fathom logging on tomorrow to find out the rest of the internet thought this was a night of the sickest finishes. These matches finishes have been fucking terrible to me. I liked too much of this to shit talk too much, as these two were super complementary wrestlers breaking out some wild stuff in their first ever match of any kind opposite each other. I really dug all the submission stuff, and liked how Balor was actually lacing in some nasty stuff to rub Riddle's face into it. That baseball slide dropkick was just plain mean, and we even got a very special All Japan Comm Tape slo mo shot of Riddle's mouth going all rubber face mask after eating that boot. Now, it left me a little cross when Balor sent that boot straight into Riddle's teeth, but then bumped noticeably early the first time Riddle went for a big kick. I mean you gotta give and get, and luckily Riddle made him pay with some nice throws (his early Karelin lifts will always look cool), and I like how he just showed Balor how shit his German was by hopping up, hitting that V trigger, then dumping him with his own German. Riddle catching a Pele kick was probably my favorite part of the match, as it turned into an actually good ankle lock sequence, something I could have actually bought as the finish - and would have loved for it to be the actual finish. Riddle caught that Pele kick perfectly, twisted that ankle, sent an axe kick down into Balor's kidneys, grabbed the other ankle when Balor gave it to him, and I just really wanted that to end things. Balor was actively good at selling that ankle, and I even got into all the performative shit like Balor coming up lame while getting thrown into the ropes, because Balor was actually doing it really well! Now, obviously, that ankle selling went WAY out the window when it came time for Balor to do a double stomp of the top, and...I can't speak for everyone here, but I, if I was limping badly on an ankle, unable to even run, able to put no weight on it....and then I was given the opportunity to jump as high into the air as I could, and stick a landing right on my Kerri Strug'd ankle...I probably wouldn't take it. But Balor cannot WAIT to jump as hard as he can right onto that ankle, a man literally incapable of coming up with ANY other offense to do to Riddle, a man so set in his ways that he is obviously going to just jump into the air and land upright. I don't think Balor needed to win this match, and I didn't like that he did, and I didn't like the stupid double stomp because man what the fuck.

Roderick Strong/Kyle O'Reilly/Bobby Fish/Adam Cole vs. Keith Lee/Donovan Dijakovic/Tommaso Ciampa/Kevin Owens

ER: This came off like a big, bloated, overly dangerous indy War Games, and I mean that in a good way. I like the regional indy flair it had: An oafish giant, an anti-hero team captain wearing weird facepaint, a big man taking stiff shots to the side of his cinderblock dome, guys going through tables at awkward angles, and just the way the big moments kept inching up bigger and bigger, bumps getting dumber and harder. Some of the prop set up was too focused and mapped, but at times it added to the cheap charm of them being big stage backyarders pushing their limit. I really loved the first 5 minutes, Ciampa vs. Strong. I thought the match did get weaker once we got the tables integrated, but the first 5 minutes were those two really laying in stiff strikes and constantly pushing pace. Ciampa hits a wicked kneelift after tying Strong up in the corner, and it was the start of a really great match long performance for Ciampa. Keith Lee is a super fun wrecking ball, takes a few big ass bumps, and deals with multiple moments of Undisputed teeing off on the side of his head. Lee is a great Hulk to sit there and be slowed by hard shots to the ear. Owens got a good reaction and seemed to feed off it, turning in a real spirited performance with dangerous bumps, including my actual favorite use ever of Adam Cole's bunny hop flipping piledriver. I really loved the struggle the two of them went through, fighting on the metal plate joining the two rings, like they were fighting on a stadium's catwalk in a Bond movie or something, and they way they fought over it I had no clue who was going to be dumped on their head. It went long, but it felt like it ramped nicely, felt closer to real epic than faux epic.

ER: I really didn't like the finishes of the first three matches, but the PPV ended on a decent note for me because I liked each subsequent match more than the last. I was majorly disappointed in the women's War Games - fantastic Bianca performance aside - and the three way felt clunky during all the Priest/Dunne moments. Riddle/Balor was very fun for much of the duration, and the main event delivered better than I was hoping. So it kept getting more enjoyable as it went on, which will make it seem better than it was in hindsight. But it was still one of the weaker TakeOvers I've watched.

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Blogger Yerfuneral said...

I went in to this show with low expectations with so many War Games participants having to do double duty with Survivor Series, NXT filling in 2 hours of wrestling per week, and with the Wednesday War feeding in to over exposure for me where bit more tired of seeing people. Takeover isn't that special and less of a showcase for folks as it usually is.
Will it feed into what I think it is going to be or be a surprise show?

1) Swerve vs Garza (? think that was the other guy lots of cruiser guys I don't know)

Solid cruiserweight opener. Showcase I guess for future Lio Rush opponents. Though my mind was preoccupied with what the story line bombshell effecting the true opening match meant.

2) Women's War Games

Overall I thought this was a fun match and besides the setting up weapons moments and Io doing the moonsault didn't feel it was the choreographed dance of violence I expected. Probably my match of the night.

LeRae as expected by me when went in first figured she would be a bit of a punching bag with all her past matches with men and more exposure to what a match like this could bring.

Io unfortunately I was stuck on when is she going to go to the top of the cage to do her moonsault. Once Kai and Nox were out of the picture was hoping when she went for that moment she would end up being sent out of the match herself over the top to bring the numbers bit more even but they decided to go more towards were trying to build up Ripley here.

Ripley whether purposely or by chance has really been built up well during this whole invasion and build up to War Games. Unfortunately this match didn't really build up but fortunately didn't kill what was built either. There was so much potential for her and this match when she handcuffed Baszler but that quickly led to the end. Hoping for a better showcase in the Survivor Series match.

Baszler was pretty much missing the whole match which is hard to do when you got a cage match. They did a bit too much to protect her for her Survivor series match but understandable when you got to protect possibly the match that could really start off a build for Horsewomen vs Horsewomen.

Kay Lee Ray was a mystery factor since I don't watch the UK and only know her from I believe Mae Young Classic. She was another bump machine which is fine.

Nox was happy to not see the ring. I would have been worrying about her the whole match like Fish in last years men's match. Things can go so wrong in something like this.

Kai, I was not surprised but at same time thought the turn wouldn't take place until sometime in the actual match and anger taken more towards Ripley over the whole selection process for the team and for taking her place as Nox tag partner on one of the main shows.

Belair was the star though. I don't even think she is on the Series team which makes no sense after she in the invasion story took out Brookes and Carmella on her own. The uniqueness of the hair and her athleticism is always appreciated and she used them to the best of her ability in this.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Yerfuneral said...

3) Three way to decide who gets a NXT Title shot at Survivor Series

Dunne in my head was going to likely be the winner so that makes something like this underwhelming from the start but this is NXT so was hoping the match would still be something.
I liked how pretty much all three were constantly in the action as pretty much one guy would use one guy as a weapon against the other so no one was missing.
Unfortunately we got a cruiserweight against two way bigger guys and two guys I don't care for.
Priest not shaking off what I didn't like in what I saw in ROH and Dain I need some personality from a single wrestler. He was fine as muscle in Sanity but as singles at this point I can't help think we are just getting Mr. Nikki Cross getting ready to move him to Smackdown to help our married folks.
I was hoping to be wowed like Dunne's 3 way with Strong and Dream but got nowhere close.

4) Riddle vs Balor

WWE stop trying to convince me that Balor is going to be something different whether it is 'The Demon' or 'Prince'. I just get disappointed every time.
I never saw one lick of Balor's NJPW work and not sure why convinced myself would see anything different.
The match itself came out fine. I got what I wanted something leave me guessing though Riddle to much of a run of dominance near the end that just spelled out who was going to win.
I continue to grow a likeness for Riddle and been liking his teaming with Keith Lee. I liked the Goldberg exchange in the middle of the match had me belly laughing and thought it was a good wink then the announcers had to screw that up talking about it.

Since as I write this Eric hasn't gone into the main event I will leave my final thoughts here.
Unfortunately found this a rather lackluster card. Though not into cruiserweight title this show could have at least one match that meant something. Yeah the belts are just a prop but at least something is at that stake. Nothing really felt like meaning anything in big picture though they through in stuff like heel turns, mystery wrestlers, and #1 contenders.
With so many having to do double duty and with a widely available regular show the hunger to seize that one quarterly moment is kind of gone. Hoping I am wrong on that point about the wider weekly show and hope February Takeover reignites.
That show I believe is in Oregon so hopefully can make it out if they have a build up show in the bay area since NXT is still my fave WWE product.

2:15 PM  

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