Preview: NXT TakeOver: War Games II (11/17/18)

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NXT brings its second annual War Games pay-per-view, live on the WWE Network from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on the 17th of November. The card last year did not disappoint with three teams fighting it out in the first reincarnation of WWE’s version of the old WCW creation: War Games. The winners of last year’s main event, the Undisputed Era, are back again, this time clashing with the NXT North American champion, Ricochet, the NXT UK champion, Pete Dunne, and the No. 1 contenders for the NXT tag-team titles, the War Raiders.

Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano

Photo: WWE

A recent convert to the dark side, Johnny Gargano, looks to finish what he started with Aleister Black after a heinous assault outside of the Full Sail arena a few weeks ago. Gargano claims that he did it because Aleister was getting in the way of him and Tommaso Ciampa, but Johnny Wrestling may have ticked off the last man in NXT that you would want to tick off.

Aleister has been presented as a mega-star in the build-up to this match, laying out everyone and anyone who has gotten between him and Johnny Gargano. The pair last met only three months ago on an episode of NXT with the match leading to a triple-threat match for the NXT championship being announced for TakeOver: Brooklyn IV before Aleister’s untimely (real-life) injury. This match should be hard-hitting and brutal, keeping with the storyline so far. However, it is hard to see Johnny Gargano losing clean so early in his heel run.

Black was a major part of last year’s NXT TakeOver: War Games show as well, stealing the show alongside the Velveteen Dream in an instant classic of a match.

NXT Women’s Championship: Shayne Baszler (c) vs. Kairi Sane (2-out-of-3 Falls) 

Photo: WWE

The latest chapter in Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler’s storied rivalry comes with an added twist after involvement from Baszler’s MMA buddies, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, in the duo’s last match at WWE Evolution in October helped the Queen of Spades become the first 2-time NXT Women’s champion.

Kairi was also in the NXT Women’s Championship match last year at TakeOver: War Games, losing out to Ember Moon in a fatal-four-way match for the vacant title.  Baszler would go on to defeat Moon to win the title from the current RAW superstar at TakeOver: New Orleans.

This year for Kairi, it will be a matter of how and when and not ‘if’ Baszler’s cronies will get involved again and how she plans to fend them off that decides the outcome of this match. This may be one of the most unpredictable matches on the show with plenty of potential directions for creative to go into post-TakeOver. The two have great chemistry together and it will be interesting to see whether Kairi’s good friend and new NXT signing, Io Shirai,  will get involved to neutralise Duke and Shafir in the near future.

NXT Championship Match: Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Velveteen Dream

Photo: WWE

It is hard to believe the Velveteen Dream is still only 23 years old. Patrick Clark has come a long way from a promising and passionate WWE fan on Tough Enough. It is hard to see him winning the title here, especially with Johnny Gargano and Aleister Black likely to return to the title picture after their grudge match and the history between the three men.

After weeks of back and forth on the mic, with Velveteen Dream accusing Ciampa of being the one behind the attack on Aleister Black, this will be his first televised NXT Championship title shot. Ciampa is in the middle of cementing his title-run after it came almost out of the blue on an episode of NXT way back in July. The Sicilian Psychopath upset Black after Johnny Gargano’s well-intended (at the time) intervention cost Black the title then. For the Velveteen Dream, he’ll be hoping that the ‘dream’ comes true.

It is hard to see a character like Ciampa winning clean over an athletic, up-and-coming star like the Velveteen Dream so it will be interesting to see if Lars Sullivan gets involved after his run-ins with the Dream over the past few weeks.

War Games: Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, & Roderick Strong) vs Ricochet, Pete Dunne and the War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe)

Photo: WWE

After making its WWE Universe debut last year on this PPV, the War Games match adds an extra element of uniqueness (as if it was needed) to WWE’s already immensely good ‘developmental’ brand.

It is hard to believe that Adam Cole and co. have been running roughshod over NXT for only one year now because it feels like they have been an integral part of the brand for years. Fitting in like a glove, Cole, O’Reilly, Fish and with the addition of Strong, the Undisputed Era is at full strength right now.

Last year, Strong was in the opposition in the War Games match, teaming up with the Authors of Pain in an odd pairing as the greater goal of taking out the Era took centre stage. One year and one betrayal of Pete Dunne later and Roderick Strong has fitted in perfectly in the Undisputed Era. After weeks of behind-the-back assaults, uncontrollable brawls and chaos, the eight men finally put an end to it inside two rings and a steel cage.

One member from each team will start the match while the remaining members are locked inside a shark cage at the entrance ramp. After an initial five-minute interval, one member from each team is allowed to enter the match before the interval is reduced to three minutes. The match can only end after all members from both teams have entered the cage and the finish must come via pinfall or submission. If any member leaves the cage, their team automatically loses War Games.