A ladder match with WarGames implications headlines tonight's Thanksgiving Eve episode of NXT.
One member of Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish) will take on Pete Dunne in a ladder match tonight to decide which team will get the advantage in the men's WarGames match at TakeOver. Undisputed Era and Team McAfee (Pat McAfee, Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch) are facing off at NXT TakeOver: WarGames on Sunday, December 6.
The women's WarGames match will see Shotzi Blackheart and three partners take on Candice LeRae and three partners. Tonight, LeRae will face Ember Moon in a singles match. Moon & Toni Storm defeated Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez last week, but LeRae and Indi Hartwell helped Kai and Gonzalez attack Moon and Storm after the match.
Kevin Owens will be on tonight's NXT as a guest commentator, filling in for Wade Barrett. Owens will also host a KO Show segment with NXT North American Champion Leon Ruff as his guest.
After losing to NXT Women's Champion Io Shirai last week, Rhea Ripley will address the NXT Universe tonight. Kushida vs. Timothy Thatcher is also set for tonight's show.
Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
The show is opening with a singles match that involves particpants in the women's War Games match.
Candice LeRae (with Indi Hartwell) defeated Ember Moon
LeRae pinned Moon after interference by Hartwell. Others got involved after the match, including Toni Storm. She went on to turn heel on Moon. The match was good despite the outside interference.
LeRae early on wanted a timeout. However, there are no timeouts in pro wrestling. So Moon dropkicked her out of the ring. Moon then sent LeRae crashing into the announce desk.
After a fallaway slam in the ring, LeRae went outside again. LeRae tried to flee, but Moon chased her down. LeRae cut off Moon when they got back into the ring, and the tide briefly turned for a few moments.
Moon landed a kick for a near fall. LeRae countered into an small package for a two count. She hit Moon with a lariat for another two. Moon kicked out again a moment later, and Moon soon fired up to rally.
Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez came to ringside as the show cut to its first commercial break. LeRae took advantage of a distracted Moon during the break, and then LeRae began to work her over.
LeRae applied the Gargano Escape after the show returned from break. Moon tried to break the submission hold, but LeRae caught her in sleeper. Moon countered, and then Moon made a comeback.
A suplex combo led to Moon going for her finisher. Hartwell jumped into the ring to cause a distraction, and Hartwell made a sacrifice by taking The Eclipse from Moon. LeRae superkicked Moon, and then used Wicked Stepsister before scoring the pinfall.
Kai & Gonzalez got into the ring after the match to attack Moon. Toni Storm came out seemingly to make a save. Instead, she turned on Moon. Storm attacked her, and then she threw Moon into the ring steps. Storm rolled Moon back into the ring with the heels. They left Moon laying, as Storm looks to court a spot on the heel team for War Games.
A great vignette highlighted El Legado del Fantasma.
Kyle O'Reilly to represent Undisputed Era in tonight's main event
Undisputed Ere entered the arena for an in-ring promo. A clip before their promo showed Pat McAfee cutting a promo on his podcast. McAfee said he would not be there tonight.
Adam Cole began with a question: "Do we look dead to you?"
McAfee said his faction killed Undisputed Era. Cole said they heard that before, but they are still here. He called McAfee a coward for not being there tonight. Cole talked about how much he will enjoy facing off against McAfee in War Games.
Kyle O'Reilly chimed in to say it was fun beating up McAfee's faction last week, Roderick Strong said he agreed. Bobby Fish also nodded his head.
Cole said they had to focus on tonight. Pete Dunne was chosen as to represent McAfee's faction. O'Reilly, who Dunne turned on at Halloween Havoc, said he wanted the match. Everyone else agreed, so main event tonight is set with a ladder match between Dunne and O'Reilly.
Candice LeRae in a backstage interview announced her War Games team as herself, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez, and Storm.
In a pre-tape ad spot, LeRae and her husband, Johnny Gargano, plugged merchandise and Black Friday.
Kushida defeated Timothy Thatcher
Kushida won via submission using an armbar. They had a great wrestling match.
Ciampa before the match walked down to ringside dragging a steel chair. Ciampa would sat in the chair at ringside to watch the match.
Ciampa looked on as Thatcher and Kushida grappled and exchanged holds. The paced quickened when Kushida landed a cartwheel into a dropkick. He went for a kick, but Thatcher blocked it. Thatcher then targeted a leg before the show cut to a commercial break.
Kushida was making a comeback when the show returned from break. Thatcher cut him off, but Kushida still fought back. Kushida applied the Hoverboard Lock, but Thatcher countered into an armbar of his own. Kushida with a counter to apply an armbar. Thatcher countered into ankle lock, and Kushida counters that into an ankle lock of his own.
Kushdia with a bridging cradle got a near fall, but Thatcher caught him in a sleeper hold. Kushida with a counter sent Thatcher outside the ring. Thatcher was bleeding from the nose.
Thatcher took a shoulder breaker on the floor. Kushida went to work on the arm, peppering Thatcher with kicks. Thatcher came back with a suplex. Ciampa suddenly stood up, and he slammed the chair closed. The loud bang helped distract Thatcher, and Kushida trapped him in an armbar. Thatcher tried to free himelf, but he was instead forced to tap out.
KO Show with special guest Leon Ruff
Ruff, who is the reigning NXT North American Champion, joined Kevin Owens for a talk show segment. Owens threw to a clip from a few weeks ago when Ruff won the title. The clip showed the title belt falling off Ruff, and it landed around his ankles. Ruff was embarrassed by the clip being shown. Owens joked that the same thing happend to him when he won the NXT title. The joke being that Owens has a much larger waistline than Ruff.
Owens changed the subject by asking Ruff what the title meant to him. Ruff said the title meant a "yes" to every "no" he has received on his way coming up. He wanted to be an inspiration. Owens congratulated Ruff on winning the title, and Owens said Ruff should be proud of himself. Owens went on to tell Ruff to needs to talk about himself with more conviction in your voice. Owens encouraged Ruff.
Ruff became fired up by Owens' pep talk. Ruff exclaimed that he twice beat Johnny Gargano. Owens told Ruff when you say someone's name on the KO Show, they normally appear. Sure enough, Owens was right. Out came Gargano to confront Ruff.
Gargano as he got into the ring was cutting a promo on Ruff. Owens offered him a chair, because he was a good host. Gargano yelled that he did not want a "stupid chair" as he hurled it out of the ring. Another chair was passed to Owens, and he offerend the new chair to Gargano. He screamed about not wanting a chair. Owens said the chair was not for Gargano. He had a hunch someone else would join in.
Gargano then turned his attention back to Ruff. Gargano proclaimed himself the rightful North American Champion, and Gargano blamed Damian Priest for his loss to Ruff. Owens chimed in to say he already warned about what happend when someone is name dropped. Sure enough, Priest enters the scene.
Priest cut a promo saying he was better than Gargano. Owens interrupted to ask Priest if he need a chair. Priest politely declined, and Owens asked himself why he keeps brinnging all these chairs.
Gargano shoved Ruff into a chair, and Ruff got in his face. Priest then told Ruff he had yet to receive a rematch for the title. Priest reminded Ruff that he vowed to defend the title against both Priest and Gargano.
Owens remarked that it was too bad NXT did not have Teddy Long, so he could come out and book the match. Owens then said he remembered NXT had someone for that. Cue William Regal. He booked a triple threat match for the North American Championship at TakeOver.
NXT Champion Finn Balor cut a promo in a pre-tape vignette.
Shotzi Blackeart cut a promo about War Games as Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" played in the background. The classic rock song is the theme for War Games.
Cameron Grimes defeated Jake Atlas
Grimes pinned Atlas after the Cave In. They had a good match, albeit too short.
They quickly built to a fast pace, and they went back-and-forth. Grimes then delivered the Cave In, and he covered Atlas for the pinfall.
Dexter Lumis appeared out of nowhere, and he popped up behind Grimes. A frightened Grimes recoiled in fear. Grimes fled the ring, but Lumis was not done. He threw to a video package on the LED screens. It was a video making fun of Grimes beind scared.
Lumis also had the blindfold sack from last week, and he reached into the bag to pull out a long strap. Regal later on made the match official. Grimes faces Lumis in a strap match at TakeOver.
Rhea Ripley attacked during speech
Ripley said he hug last week with Io Shirai was not part of a send-off, despite speculation otherwise. Ripley said she was still in NXT, and she vowed to win the NXT Women's Championshiop. Candice LeRae interrupted her, and LeRae was joined with Toni Storm.
Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez then joined them on the stage. Gonzalez was carrying Shirai over her shoulders, presumably having been attacked by the heels. Those heels surrounded the ring, and they closed in Ripley. They beat down Ripley, and they pummeled her.
Xia Li and Boa in a skit went to a warehouse where they pleaded for forgiveness and mercy. Their plees were aimed at a mysterious figure clad in a cloak. The cloaked figure marked their hands. That looked like the weirdest night club I've ever seen.
Grizzled Young Veterans Return
Ever-Rise (Chase Parker and Matt Martel) were in the ring for a match when they were attacked by Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake and Zack Gibson). They laid out Ever-Rise. The assailants cut a promo, and they vowed to become the number one contenders.
LeRae in a backstage interview announced that next week on NXT is Raquel Gonzalez against Shotzi Blackheart. The match determines who gets the advantage in the women's War Games match. Hartwell was with LeRae, and Hartwell was wearing a neck brace after taking The Eclipse earlier in the show. LeRae helped her into a waiting car. Someone dressed in a Scream costume was sitting in the back seat. So Gargano, LeRae, and Hartwell were seen along with the Scream character. So someone else is part of their group.
Pete Dunne defeated Kyle O'Reilly in a ladder match to win the advantage for War Games
Dunne won the match by climbing ladder to reach a briefcase hanging above. The win gives McAfee's team the War Games advanatge. A masked man ran in at the finsih to help Dunne win the match.
On a side note, Dunne is so freaking shredded right now. He looks lean and mean.
They started with a slugfest before the bell. Just as the match began and the action was rising, the show cut a commercial break. They were still brawling when the show returned from break. A ladder came into play, and it was used outside the ring. A ladder was bridged between the ring apron and the barricade. That would later factor into the match.
O'Reilly took an ugly bump when Ripley shoved the ladder as O'Reilly tried to climb. O'Reilly moments later was powerbombed into a ladder. The fight continued as they fought near the ladder bridge.
They built to Dunne suplexing O'Reilly through the ladder, and it broke into pieces beneath their weight. Dunne further worked over O'Reilly as he stomped on him, and Dunne targeted a hand. He used the ladder as a weapon to punish the hand.
Dunne went to hit O'Reilly with a chair, but O'Reilly at first blocked it. O'Reilly went to throw a punch, but he hit the chair instead with his injured hand. Nevertheless, O'Reilly was still able to rally. He caught Dunne in a guillotine.
O'Reilly gave Dunne a brainbuster on a ladder, and O'Reilly climbed the turnbuckles. He leapt off, but O'Reilly missed a flying kneedrop. O'Reilly crashed into the ladder, allowing Dunne time to climb the ladder. O'Reilly pulled Dunne off the ladder using an ankle pick.
Dunne threw a kick, but he hit the ladder instead with the same injured knee he was seeling throughout the match. They traded strikes, and that led to a tug-o-war between the ladder. Dunne was struck by the ladder, and he went down.
They both climbed the ladder, and the traded punches atop the ladder. Dunne reached the briefcase hanging from the rafters. O'Reilly climbed up to cut him off, and O'Reilly reached for the ladder. Dunne grabbed O'Reilly's fingers, and he did the finger break spot. O'Reilly fell off the ladder selling his hand. O'Reilly still managed to shove the ladder, and Dunne fell off.
A double down led to O'Reilly again climbing the ladder. Dunne fetched a chair, and several times he hit O'Reilly with the chair. Looking to climb the ladder, Dunne went up the rungs. O'Reilly tipped the ladder over, and Dunne took a Nestea Plunge onto another ladder leaned in a corner. That was a crazy bump.
Someone wearing a mask ran in to shove a ladder over, causing O'Reilly to take a big bump out of the ring. He went over the rope, and he crashed into the announce desk. Dunne easily climbed a ladder to pull down the briefcase. He won the match, and Dunne also wins the War Games advantage for his team.
This was a pretty damn good episode of NXT.