NXT Takeover War Games 2018: Preview and Predictions

I’m sure you have all heard of the phrase ‘less is more’ right? Well never has that been more app than with this show. Yes, as you may notice there is only 4 matches listed for this show as opposed to the usual 5… BUT… just take a look at what we do have on this show!!! A rivalry that has very quickly become one of the most intriguing and captivating stories in recent NXT history, a match stip that has previously (in fact it was at the pre-Survivor Series Takeover 2 years ago) produced a match of the year candidate, a championship bout that sees one of the most incredible heels in WWE history against maybe the future of the company… and then… we have WAR GAMES!!! Sooooooooooooooo… lets get straight into my preview and predictions ahead of NXT Takeover: War Games 2018!!!

NXT Women’s Championship: Kairi Sane V Shayna Baszler (C) – 2/3 Falls Match

I’d have gone Sane as my long term champion and drop it later to Bianca Belair. I had that as pretty much a lock for the long term plans for the NXT Women’s title, but they appear to have gone against that completely. And the more I think about it and see it unfold, the more I’ve grown to like it. It makes total sense to have the supremely dominant Baszler as not only the first ever 2 time NXT Women’s Champion, it makes total sense for her to win it straight back after losing the title to a roll up so as to protect her, and it makes total sense to have Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke as Baszler’s running buddies, despite the fact Shayna is of course a badass and is far from needing any backup. Triple H has created a monster heel, and a very realistic and good one. Perhaps it is to the detriment of Kairi Sane, but she’s incredibly talented enough to be able to get over enough without being the champion. She’ll be fine. Unless she goes to main, then as is the case with anybody there’s always that chance they miss an open-net with her and she’s wasted. But lets worry about that later when we inevitably may have to. Nonetheless I’ve no doubt this will be excellent. Shayna is good, Kairi is better and she will help further cement Baszler as the top heel she is and needs to be. Who next for Shayna afterwards? There’s a few names to be honest: Candice LeRae, Bianca Belair, Deonna Purrazzo maybe even Io Shirai or Toni Storm perhaps? Whoever they go with will surely become an almighty big star by dethroning the Queen of Spades. But I wouldn’t mind if that didn’t happen for some time yet, as long as they continue to make Shayna’s momentum not feel boring and stagnated whilst maintaining her dominance.

Prediction: Shayna Baszler retains the NXT Women’s Championship

Johnny Gargano V Aleister Black

This is going to be good. Very, very good. Sit back on Saturday night and just enjoy this one boys and girls. I haven’t been as excited for a one on one match in NXT since Gargano’s matches with Andrade Almas and Ciampa earlier this year, both of which were 5 star classics. It’s amazing to me, and tells you all you need to know about how good a booker Triple H is, that this whole storyline came from a legitimate injury to Black that saw him miss out on the main event of Takeover: Brooklyn back in August. They explained Black’s injury on TV by saying he had been attacked from behind and laid out in the Full Sail car park area. And so after a series of various TV angles, acquisitions, investigations, questions and what became a pretty intriguing ‘whodunnit’ storyline that culminated in maybe the boldest thing you can do as a wrestling promoter. They turned their top babyface into a heel. In the same year he won the main event of the pre-Wrestlemania Takeover as the top good guy beating his mortal enemy Johnny Gargano it appears has gone Evil… or has he? Gargano has begun a social media campaign with the title ‘Johnny Gargano did nothing wrong’. His argument is that he was totally justified in attacking Black, because he was just another thing in between him and getting the NXT title off of Tommasso Ciampa. ‘Collateral damage’ I think Gargano described it as. An obnoxious, oblivious heel. Tremendous, absolute heat MAGNET. He forgets also it was he who ‘accidentally’ clocked Black with the title belt which led to Ciampa taking it from him in the first place. What’s funny with his opponent is that after a arguably underwhelming title reign he has returned to the spot he was in before winning the Championship. From the first time he re-appeared in an NXT ring after the attack and every time he’s appeared since Black is again a badass, not-to-be-messed-with, un-apologetic guy that people will love. After all why would you not love a tattooed guy who just kicks people in the head when he’s pissed off? All the ingredients here have made up for a great build (shout out to Nikki ‘knows a secret’ Cross for her part as she’s been typically-brilliant) to what SHOULD be an amazing match. Result wise??? Hmm… perhaps Candice will get involved to help her husband? Perhaps Nikki will help Black to even the odds? It all depends on what story they want to tell with Black and Gargano going forward. I wouldn’t mind either way but I will use the logic that Gargano has just ‘turned’ sort-of, and it is never a good idea to beat someone after they’ve just turned.

Prediction: Johnny Gargano wins

NXT Championship: Velveteen Dream V Tomasso Ciampa (C)

This a D R E A M match for me, as it is just for Velveteen to be getting a title shot in a singles match at a Takeover. But I just absolutely cannot see Ciampa losing the championship anytime soon, and not to the Dream here. Yes, Velveteen Dream is the future of the company, Yes he would become an even greater star should he win the title here, and it should be noted also that in the pre-War Games match last year we too had somewhat of a shock result when Andrade Almas won the title from Drew McIntyre this time last year. It would be a size-mic shock on an even bigger scale if there was a change here. Tomasso Ciampa… I can no longer find words as to how good this guy is at just being an asshole that is really good at wrestling. He wrestled for the first time in 2018 in the main event of Takeover: New Orleans in April and yet still having been inactive for the first 3rd of the year he could well end it as my superstar of the year. He’s simply been magnificent in every way. The match itself I’m optimistic about, Velveteen Dream has shown in pretty much all his previous Takeover matches that his matches are as good as his opponent is; so his matches with Black and Ricochet were excellent whereas his matches with EC3 and Kassius Ohno were… OK… so when in the ring with an in-ring general like Ciampa one would presume that this match-up SHOULD be fantastic. It would certainly be a great way to send Dream off to pastures new… maybe…

Prediction: Tomasso Ciampa retains the NXT Championship

”Undisputed Era’ (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) V ‘War Raiders’ (Hanson & Rowe), Pete Dunne & Ricochet – War Games Match

If you were previously unaware as to the history and magnitude of a War Games match, you’re in for a treat here. A classic old style 4 vs 4 encounter involving 8 incredibly talented guys. It only promises to be excellent. On one side you have the giant Vikings of Hanson and Rowe, alongside the Bruserweight Pete Dunne (who at this stage I don’t think I need to put over anymore a guy who has now been United Kingdom Champion for well over 500 days) and the North American Champion Ricochet (who I really don’t need to say how good he is) and you have a dichotomy that meshes together 4 contrasting performers but 4 guys all universally over as babyfaces that are prime to take on the UNDISPUTED best thing in WWE right now. And as good as the babyface team all are, the collective might of the Undisputed Era is something that really is a sight to behold. Adam Cole is awesome. Roderick Strong is awesome. Kyle O’Reilly is awesome. Bobby Fish is awesome. Together? Wow. as for the match itself you should expect plenty of brutality, Ricochet to jump off the structure, lots of weapons being used and at the end of it I would presume they have Era go over. Unless they plan on having War Raiders win the tag belts, Dunne to be UK Champion for another 500 days and Ricochet to trade in the North american title for the top prize, all of which COULD feasibly happen, then I don’t see why you would have the Undisputed Era as you main act of the show take the L in such a big match. Last years match saw Adam Cole pick up the win for his team in a match that really signified that this really is THEIR Era as they quickly won the tag titles and latterly of course Cole won the North American title on the same night Roderick Strong joined the crew. They really have gone from strength to strength as of late and with Ricochet as your North American title holder, it wouldn’t matter too much for now if War Raiders go on to win the tag titles, but my bold prediction for this match is that Adam Cole wins as the leader. And this is where we really begin the road to an Adam Cole NXT Championship title reign… you heard it here first…

Prediction: Undisputed Era win

Some tough matches to predict but that’s absolutely a good thing. I realize I’ve gone for all heels to win on the show but individually at least they make sense. Regardless of results either way… What a show this is going to be! Straight up it is going to be as amazing a show as NXT Takeover shows usually are. Good luck following this Survivor Series!!! Oh and because I know some of you wont be all to familiar with the concept, here is the full set of rules an regulations for the main event and show title-name match: (of course WWE can always change stuff as they so often do but as it stands this is how Saturday’s big match will go)

  • The War Games match consists of two teams of four participants (these numbers have varied down the years but this is the number for this match as has been most common, certainly in the early days of the format)
  • The match itself consists of two rings inside one giant cage (YES there will be 2 rings side-by-side for the entirety of the show and they will alternate in the earlier matches which ring they use).
  • The match begins with one member of each team entering the cage. After five minutes, a member from one of the teams (in this case it will be Undisputed Era who have the advantage after O’Reilly beat Hanson on this past weeks NXT TV show) enters the cage, giving his team the temporary 2-on-1 handicap advantage. After two minutes, a member from the other team will enter to even the odds for the next 2 minutes. Entrants alternate between teams every two minutes, giving the ‘winning’ team (Undisputed Era) the temporary advantage in terms of numbers, before giving the other team the advantage with the freshest man and even odds. Both of the teams will continue to alternate during the two-minute periods until all participants are in the ring. In the holding period the members of both teams whom are not in the ring/active were (at least year this was the case) will be in cages at the top of the ramp, but this could change in order to make it more of an excitement and mystery reveal as to who will come out and join the match next.
  • Only at this point will the match ‘begin’ for real and they can now go for pin falls etc. to try and win the match.
  • In last years NXT War Games a significant change was made to the original format as the cage itself had no roof and the stipulation was made clear that if one member of a team escaped the cage, his whole team would be disqualified (this was seen as a way to get heat on Adam Cole so that he couldn’t run away from his opponents, which was ironic given that he not only won the match but also did a dive from on top of the cage onto opponents below… expect something similar for Ricochet this year).

I think that just about covers it. One thing that is clear is it is going to be GOOD!!!

Josh.

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