The final build to WarGames takes place on tonight's NXT.
Tonight's show will feature two ladder matches to determine which teams will get the entrance order advantage in Sunday's WarGames bouts. Kay Lee Ray will face Dakota Kai in the women's advantage ladder match, while a fan vote will determine the two participants for the men's advantage ladder match.
Io Shirai, Raquel Gonzalez, Cora Jade & KLR will take on Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, Jacy Jayne & Kai in the women's WarGames match on Sunday. The men's WarGames match will be Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne & LA Knight vs. Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Tony D'Angelo & Grayson Waller.
A tag team number one contender's match is also set for tonight's show. Kyle O'Reilly & Von Wagner vs. Legado del Fantasma's Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde will determine Imperium's NXT Tag Team title challengers for Sunday.
Joe Gacy is challenging for Roderick Strong's NXT Cruiserweight Championship at WarGames. Tonight, Gacy will host an "all-inclusive invitational."
Plus, Cameron Grimes faces Andre Chase, Edris Enofe debuts, and MSK continue the search for their shaman. Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Cold open, meaning no canned intro. Just a live shot from the CWC, almost as if it is being joined in progress. Opening the show is a ladder match to determine the War Games advantage, but first a pull-apart brawl to begin things with a bang.
Dakota Kai is joined by NXT Women's Champion Mandy Rose and the NXT Tag Team Champions, Gigi Dolan and Jacy Jayne. They all are the heel side of the women's War Games match. Kay Lee Ray is joined by the babyface side of the War Games match, which includes Io Shirai, Raquel Gonzalez and Cora Jade.
Moments into the show the two teams meet on the entrance ramp. It has the makings of a Gordon Solie Pier Sixer to open the show. A powder keg waiting to ignite, and then boom. Exploded into a wild brawl.
Kay Lee Ray defeated Dakota Kai in a ladder match to win the War Games advantage
KLR climbed a ladder to unhook a briefcase and win the match. Thus KLR's team wins the advantage going into War Games. This ladder match was so much better than the last ladder match on NXT. Probably the best women's match on NXT in months. Most assuredly the best match on this show.
They took some big bumps, but nothing too crazy. Some parts gave me vibes of All Japan Women from back in the day. Maybe it was the double stomps. More on those in the recap itself.
As a huge brawl erupts on the ramp, that's also basically the start of the match. Officials pour out to separate the two teams. When the dust begins to settle, Kai is throwing KLR into a ladder in in the aisle leading to the ring. KLR fires up and springboards into a flip dive to the outside.
KLR was on fire until Kai sent KLR twisting into the ring steps. Kai was acting crazy again, and laughing maniacally as she dragged around the ladder. KLR cuts off Kai's glee with a tope suicida. Kai is suplexed onto the ladder. She cursed in pain. That was bleeped out.
Kai recovered quickly. She and KLR took turns climbing the ladder and reaching for the briefcase above. Kai hit KLR with a face wash. KLR ends up tied in a tree of woe, and Kai leapt off the top rope to deliver a double stomp on KLR.
The match goes through a split screen commercial break. Kai was working a leg as the show returns from the break. KLR counters to deliver a Gory Bomb that sent Kai crashing onto the announce desk.
Slugfest on top of a ladder in the middle of the ring, and KLR takes a big bump off the ladder. Kai jumps from high atop the ladder for a double stomp from the heavens. KLR is up quickly soon after, and Kai tied in a tree of woe on the ladder. KLR superkicks Kai, and then KLR climbs the ladder to unhook the briefcase.
So the babyfaces get the advantage heading into War Games. That is not how War Games usually works, but whatever.
Santa Claus tries to sell me WrestleMania tickets in an ad. Good luck with that.
Grizzled Young Veterans were trying to break into Briggs and Jensen's locker when Jacket Time stumbles into the scene. Briggs and Jensen walk in, and Grizzled Young Veterans flee, leaving Jacket Time to take the heat. This was supposed to be comedy I think. Just seems dumb to me.
Cameron Grimes defeated Andre Chase
Grimes was in peril until a comeback and a Cave In for a pinfall victory. This was like Grimes getting a win over Brooklyn Brawler on Superstars of Wrestling many decades ago. After that came a another tired old idea, but from Monday Night Raw in the 2000s instead.
Duke Hudson cut a promo from a perch over the ring, as Grimes looked on. Hudson had pictures of Grimes with various different ridiculous haircuts. Finally came a picture of Grimes with a bald head, which is kind of the idea with a hair match and whatnot. Grimes gets angry and tries to shave Chase's head, but one of Chase's students saves Chase.
Grimes tells Chase he is going to shave him bald. I was very much interested in the hair match before this segment, but this segment makes me less interested.
Next up is arguably the best character development in weeks. A vignette profiled Edris Enofe. This was great. Talks about him proving haters wrong since childhood, and Enofe details his military service. Enofe has a match later in the show.
Ring announcer Alicia Taylor is in the ring with the new school men's War Games team, called Team 2.0. It's promo time. Dragged on forever. Said a lot without saying much at all. Taylor finally tries to save the segment by beginning to announce who from the new school team will compete in the match tonight against a member of the so-called Black-and-Gold Team. Apparently there was an online poll to decide, and Bron Breakker won the poll. Breakker is now set to face Johnny Gargano in a ladder match.
Gargano enters the scene to cut a promo where he called Breakker the "big bad booty nephew." The crowd chanted that back to Gargano. Breakker was asked by Gargano to leave his team in the back tonight, making the match just one-on-one in a ladder match. Breakker said he would galdy kick Gargano's ass, and that looks to be the main event for tonight.
MSK were in a car, and the GPS gimmick says they are close to their destination. As they arrive the GPS gimmick cursed at them, like if the car from Knight Rider talked like Stone Cold. MSK get out of the car and they knock on a door. They are blinded by a light, and they realize it is him. They were in awe, and end scene. To be continued soon.
Kyle O'Reilly & Von Wagner defeated Legado del Fantasma (Raul Mendoza & Joaquin Wilde with Elektra Lopez & Santos Escobar)
Wagner pinned Wilde in a match that was mostly boring until the finish. The winners go on to challenge Imperium on Sunday for the NXT Tag Team Champioship.
While there is good wrestling in this match, it was a channel changer. Xyon Quinn walked out to ringside as the show went to a commercial break, which was the most interesting part of the match so far. Except maybe for O'Reilly. He's really good if you didn't know. Like really freaking good. Pitty he is stuck in this wacky team. Maybe it can be Ax and Smash time again one day.
After a commercial break, Quinn brawls with Escobar as they exit stage right. O'Reilly is worked over until he makes a hot tag to Wagner. House cleaning by Wagner as the heels bump and feed for him. Mendoza with a wickedly cool double springboard into a missile dropkick, and that cuts off Wagner.
O'Reilly trade strikes with Wilde and they also trade counters in the best sequences of the match. Wagner with a low bridge breaks up the heel team's finisher. Double team moves by Wagner and O'Reilly that concludes with a high/low combo. Wagner then pins Wilde to win the match.
Wagner and O'Reilly in winning the match earn a title shot on the War Games card where they challenge Imperium.
Another Tiffany Stratton vignette. She is rich. We never see her face, but we know she is a rich daddy's girl. Whatever.
Joe Gacy's All Inclusive Invitational
Good grief, it's Joe Gacy. Must we?
Long Gacy promo. Good freaking grief.
This was basically a public workout or exhibition style match. Gacy runs a gauntlet to face three enhancement wrestlers. After beating the first jobber, Gacy is about to wrestle a woman wrestler since it is all inclusive.
Malcolm Bivens interrupts the match, saving this segment in the process. Bivens is flanked by Diamond MIne, which includes NXT Cruiserweight Champion Roderick Strong. Gacy has a match on Sunday as the challenger against Strong in a title match.
Bivens cut a promo on Gacy, and Gacy says he's wants to talk to Strong one-on-one. Strong gets into the ring to face Gacy. Strong says he is tired of talking, and he decks Gacy with a punch. Gacy with a counter does a handspring into the ropes like he is Kushida, and he hits Strong with a lariat.
Solo Sikoa was being interviewed by McKenzie Mitchell when Sikoa is confronted by Boa. Sikoa tells Boa he is on his own because Sikoa cannot speak Boa's language. Terrible character development, but whatever.
Solo Sikoa defeated Edris Enofe
Enofe is introduced with such an excellent vignette earlier in the show, yet he is beaten clean in this match. Go figure. At least Enofe got a cool entrance, and he even came out second like he was a star. Then he lost the match. Whatever. At least the match itself was good for what is NXT 2.0.
Enofe got to shine, but Sikoa cut him off with a Samoan Drop. Sikoa then leapt off the top rope with a Superfly splash, and he covers Enofe for a pinfall.
Boa runs in after the match to attack Sikoa. Boa applies a death grip like he is Meng, and Sikoa is trapped. Enfore jumps in to make a save, and Enofe is then caught in the death grip. Sikoa manages to run off Boa.
Indi Hartwell gets a call from the hospital saying Dexter Lumis is missing. Persia Pirotta tells Hartwell their match is up next. There is no time to worry about a missing husband, there's wrestling to do. The show must go on I guess.
Elektra Lopez is outside the building having an enchanted moment with Xyon Quinn. She wishes he could not fight with Escobar, but she wishes Quinn luck in his upcoming match. They have little chemistry together, but Lopez and Quinn are supposed to be attracted to each other romantically. At least that is the tease anyway.
Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta defeated Yulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz
Hartwell is in storyline distracted again this week. Even more so this week since Lumis is apparently missing from the hospital. Hartwell still has a wrestling match to wrestle, so she went to wrestle. She was worked over, but Pirotta cleans house after a hot tag. Pirotta delivers a sit-out cutter bomb, and she wins the match for her team.
A vignette introduced Draco Anthony. He was at a cafe, and he seemed to be drinking coffee. Anthony says his actions speak louder than his words. This vignette did him no favors. He looks like an interesting guy too, so they course give him a bland vignette.
Bron Breakker defeated Johnny Gargano in a ladder match to win the War Games advantage
So we get Gargano against Breakker in a ladder match with no build, and it is also Breakker's first ever ladder match. No build. Plus this plays into a new school vs. old school feud. That is WCW in 2000 levels of bad booking. But whatever. The match was good thanks in large part to Gargano's leadership.
Whereas the women's match ladder match earlier on the show began with spots involving the ladder, the men's match built to the ladder becoming involved in the match. The men's match might have better ring psychology, but the women's match was much more of a spectacle.
Breakker looks strong, and Gargano looks cunning as they fought to climb the ladder. Tope by Gargano sends Breakker over the announce desk just before the show cut to commercial. The brawling at ringside continued during the break, and Gargano drags a ladder back into the ring.
Gargano shoves a ladder over. and Breakker was supposed to take some sort of big bump. Yet he messed up. At least I think he did. It looked bad no matter what. No one will likely remember to the botch, especially after the next spot.
Breakker with an overhead belly-to-belly Steiner suplex sent Gargano crashing into a ladder. Breakker went for a flying elbow drop off the ropes, but no water in the pool. Gargano moves, and Breakker crashes into the ladder. Looked both awkward and painful.
Breakker is baited into being rammed face-first into the ladder. With the ladder perched on the top rope, Breakker lifted the ladder with Gargano on it. That led into a Terry Funk spot from Barely Legal, but this time it was a green Breakker with a ladder on his head instead of a hardcore legend. The Funker did it better of course.
Gargano was measuring Breakker for a superkick. Breakker flips off Gargano by giving him a middle finger salute. Gargano nails Breakker with a superkick of doom. Breakker goes down like a ton of bricks.
Breakker came back with a super Frankensteiner off the top turnbuckle. Breakker sets up a ladder, but Gargano cuts him off. They go on to fight atop the ladder, and Breakker is smacked in the face by the hanging briefcase. Breakker still manages to pull Gargano off the ladder, and Breakker catches Gargano in mid-air to deliver a powerslam. Breakker then unhooked the briefcase to win the match.
Team 2.0 now goes into War Games with an advantage over the Black-and-Gold Team. The teams run in after the main event for a huge brawl as the show goes off the air. So the show began with a brawl and it ends with one.
If this go-home show was supposed to peak interest ahead of War Games, it likely failed in that regard. In the immortal words of Vinny V, "It was a show." However, check out the ladder matches. Especially the women's ladder match with Kay Lee Ray against Dakota Kai, which was pretty dang great. Skip everything but the ladder matches.