With only one title match on the card and its primary champion sidelined due to injury, there was not much momentum entering the 2020 edition of NXT TakeOver: WarGames. But as is commonplace with NXT’s signature events, even TakeOvers without the strongest builds somehow exceed expectations.
That was indeed the case Sunday night as the WarGames matches that bookended the show both delivered in vastly different ways. The women’s match that opened the event was filled with brutality, including endless weapon usage and spots unlike we have seen before from them in this stipulation bout. The finish was a surprise for some viewers as it defied expectations. The main event men’s match saw a less surprising finish, and the action was toned down from a brutality standpoint. However, there was a greater focus on the wrestling aspect of the match, and the eight men absolutely delivered.
What went down Sunday night from the Capitol Wrestling Center in Orlando, Florida? Keep on reading for full results, analysis and grades from NXT TakeOver: WarGames.
NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2020 results, grades
Women’s WarGames – Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai vs. Candice LaRae, Toni Storm, Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez: Blackheart debuted her new and improved tank, but Moon and Kai started the match. Blackheart brought an entire toolbox into the ring, Gonzalez gave the heels the momentum with her size, and then Ripley came in to reverse it. Ripley brutalized Kai with weapons and then brawled with Gonzalez. Storm entered with kendo sticks and evened things out. Shirai and LaRae were the last two. Shirai slid two ladders in but kept being forcibly denied entry. Indi Hartwell attacked Shirai from behind outside and then locked the cage door, but Shirai soon appeared atop the cage, put a garbage can over her body and flew off onto everyone else below. She hit a moonsault on Gonzalez, but the heels broke the fall and then Kai put a trash can around Shirai and double-stomped her from the top rope, getting the can stuck on the champion’s body.
Moon hit a ridiculous Eclipse on Kai atop two standing chairs, and Storm followed with Storm Zero on Moon through a trash can. Blackheart placed LaRae between two chairs and flew off a ladder went a senton but could not recover for the fall. After some more back and forth, Gonzalez caught Shirai between the rings and hit her finisher one-handed slam through a ladder propped between the ring ropes for the final 1-2-3. This match was absolutely insane and proved it likely should have been in the main event. If the men top this, it will be an all-time show. Team Candice LaRae def. Team Shotzi Blackheart — Grade: A-
Finn Balor cut a pre-taped promo saying the time for team sports is over and all eyes will return to him and the NXT championship beginning on Wednesday’s NXT television show. Balor has been unable to defend the title due to facial injuries suffered in his last match against Kyle O’Reilly at the previous TakeOver.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher: Much slower and more methodical than the first match, Ciampa and Thatcher focused on mat wrestling and strikes. Ciampa went on a run with a superplex and nearly took Thatcher out with a chokehold, but Thatcher escaped with a German suplex. Ciampa chopped the hell out of Thatcher while stuck between the ropes and caught him with Willow’s Bell after locking in a guillotine for the win. This was brutal and violent, a huge change of pace from the opening match. Ciampa def. Thatcher via pinfall – Grade: B
Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes (Strap Match): Grimes attacked Lumis at the start after refusing to use the provided strap, opting for his own. He used the strap to fling Lumis over the barricade and back with Grimes actually holding the advantage for a while. Lumis eventually beat Grimes with the strap, but Grimes came back with chair shots. Grimes hit his Spanish fly-style crossbody on Lumis and looked headed toward a finish, but Lumis countered the Cave In and used the strap to trip Grimes face-first into a chair. He then hit his Silence chokehold for the win. I’m neither a fan of strap matches nor this feud, but this was far better than I expected despite that. Entertaining stuff. Lumis def. Grimes – Grade: B
Karrion Kross’ presence was felt with a vignette showing a vulture perched waiting to strike.
North American Championship – Leon Ruff © vs. Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano: Priest tried to convince Ruff not to get in his way early in the match, but Ruff kept refusing. Ruff and Gargano teamed up to try and take out Priest, but Gargano outsmarted both of them eventually. Ruff eventually paid for not avoiding Priest by eating a Razor’s Edge through an outside barrier that got the champion hauled to the back. Ruff eventually came back with a vengeance, including a flying senton to the outside and springboard cutter on Gargano. Priest hit a double flatliner, but Gargano tied him in the ropes. Priest saved Ruff a bit later, but Gargano kicked the champion’s head off. Priest was set to beat Gargano when a half dozen Ghostface masked men interrupted.
Priest eventually took them all out by flying over both ring posts for sentons, and Ruff nearly stole the win with a frog splash. Priest took out Gargano and Ruff with spinning kicks, but as he was about to beat Gargano with The Reckoning, another Ghostface smashed him in the back with a lead pipe. Gargano rolled through a pinning combination then caught Ruff with One Final Beat for the win. Austin Theory later revealed himself as the It was an exciting match filled with non-stop action, and the interference finish was completely expected given the booking over the last six weeks. You’re not going to get a top grade given those circumstances, but the action requires a lot of praise nonetheless. Gargano def. Ruff (c) via pinfall and Priest to win the title – Grade: B+
Men’s WarGames – Undisputed Era vs. Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch: Dunne and Kyle O’Reilly started. Lorcan was next followed by Bobby Fish as the action picked up with a ton of double teams. Burch brought a couple cricket bats into the ring that provided a major advantage, but Roderick Strong was a one-man wrecking crew when he entered, taking out all three opponents with suplexes and strikes. McAfee brought four tables in the ring labeled for each of the Undisputed Era members and put Strong through his with a moonsault. Adam Cole blinded the heels with a fire extinguisher and took them out, then countered Dunne’s Bitter End with a DDT. Cole drilled McAfee with a chair as the eight-man brawl began.
McAfee took out Cole’s knee and put him in the Figure Four as the other six men fought. The remaining three tables were all setup with Cole and Dunne working over each other. Undisputed Era powerbombed Dunne into Burch through the Cole table, but it didn’t take so Strong splashed them through it. Cole then threw McAfee off the ropes halfway across the ring through the O’Reilly table. Undisputed Era took shots on the other heels four on three, brutalizing them between the ropes and cage. McAfee tried to escape but Undisputed Era took turns on him. Cole was ready for a punt kick when the heels woke up. Cole hit Dunne with a flying neckbreaker and Strong nailed a superplex on McAfee with all eight guys down.
McAfee climbed the cage and hit a flying senton off the top, taking out the other seven. Dunne hit O’Reilly with the Bitter End for the first near fall with a last-second kick out. O’Reilly responded with a suplex on the steel between the rings for a 2.9 count of his own. O’Reilly went to finish Dunne, but McAfee took him out with a chair. McAfee then low-blowed Cole as he went for a chair shot, but Cole dodged the punt kick. Fish speared Burch through the Strong table and McAfee hit a superkick, but Cole caught McAfee with a superkick when he tried Panama Sunrise. Cole then hit the move only for McAFee to shockingly kick out at 2.9.
Lorcan sacrificed himself for McAfee and took Cole’s Last Shot finisher. Then Dunne came to his senses and hit the Bitter End on Cole into a standing chair, but Strong broke up the pin and hit his incredible backbreaker on Dunne. Undisputed Era teamed up to take out Lorcan with a High-Low finisher, and O’Reilly came through with his flying knee into a chair on Lorcan’s face for the pinfall victory in a stunning match. We talked about exceeding expectations earlier, and this did exactly that. It was slow at times, but the action really picked up in the finish. It was somehow better than the women’s match by the time it was over, which is quite an achievement. Undisputed Era def. McAfee, Dunne, Lorcan & Burch – Grade: A