by Frank Lucci
Houston’s Takeover seemed to be on a pretty clear path, until somebody in WWE (Triple H) got a huge nostalgia trip for classic WCW and decided to make this into a War Games-themed event. That combined with NXT having a future taping in the same building as one of WCW’s shows and the resurrection of Starcade as a live event proves that The H man really, really, reallyyyyyy wants to turn back the clock to the early 90’s.
This has been met with some mixed results (see my live reading of the revamped War Games rules and Chris’ reaction on the latest episode of Manopera!), but it is a TakeOver, so it should be pretty rad. Now if only WWE would put Gargano vs. Dunne for the UK Championship on the main show because WHY WOULDN’T YOU DO THAT WE ALL WANT IT WHY ARE YOU MAKING US WAIT A WEEK YOU MONSTERS??? I’m Spaceman Frank and here are my NXT Takeover: War Games predictions.
Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan
Kassius “Player Coach” Ohno gets his first singles match on a Takeover, taking on the suddenly ascendant Lars “Human Gargoyle” Sullivan. Granted, much of the people on this card can be considered “suddenly ascendent” but Sullivan, in particular, seems destined for something bigger. He is very much NXT’s Braun Stroman, and I can see Vince getting one look at him and penciling him into a main roster run before he is truly ready. But hey Stroman was not day one ready, and look where he is now.
Meanwhile, Ohno is putting his undefeated streak on the line, but really he is here to make himself look good while losing to the newest NXT freak. I just wish we got a more substantial feud for this along with Ohno getting more chances to show his stuff. A good little match that isn’t as good as Gargano vs Dunne BECAUSE NOTHING WILL BE EVER that sees Sullivan getting the win.
Aleister Black vs. The Velveteen Dream
Before this feud began I would have thought there would be no way this could have pushed my interest at all. However young Patrick Clark has made the most of a gimmick that could have gone very poorly very quickly. He commits to the character and adds just the right amount of uncomfortable to keep it PG. Meanwhile Black is the perfect foil for him, as the zen-like guy who refuses to give attention to the Dream. One minor flaw I see in this is that Back obviously craves attention too, since he is covered in tattoos, rises from the smoke during his entrance, and sits in the ring with spotlights on him. Do not tell me you’d not like attention seekers and do that stuff. Anyway, Aleister is the vet and Clark was born in 1995, so Black will defeat The Velveteen Dream like he was The Velveteen Rabbit and Black was Scarlet Fever.
Ember Moon vs. Peyton Royce vs. Nikki Cross vs. Kairi Sane (Fatal Four Way for the Vacant NXT Women’s Championship)
How mad must Sane be? She wins this epic Mae Young Classic, beating some of the best in the world, and gets to be 25% of the match for Asuka’s forfeited championship. I would have made this a one on one match with Kairi facing the winner of an NXT only tournament to make things a little more even. That being said, this is a pretty good field of women who represent the future of the women’s division in NXT and beyond.
It is easy to write Royce right off the gate here, and while I think she has the least chance of winning I am curious to see if we see a serious Peyton make a run during the match. Moon would be an obvious choice as next champ since she has frequently been in the title picture, but honestly, I think Cross has eclipsed her (see what I did there?) in popularity. But all in all, I do not see the Sane Train being derailed despite the gap from the Mae Young Classic to now. She is too good, too adorable, and too badass to not get a chance to carry the belt.
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas w/ Zelina Vega (NXT Championship Match)
Perhaps the match most screwed over by the inclusion of War Games sees McIntyre bypass most other logical challengers and face the out of nowhere Almas for the belt.
This is a big high risk/high reward match for both, and they really need a strong showing to not make this a dud.
To be fair, Drew has been putting on some very solid matches during NXT’s weekly show, and Almas has been doing much better character work as a heel. Vega has also been a revelation as the female manager who not only mixes it up on the mic and (gasp) gets involved in matches in the same way a man would. She is perhaps the most complete person involved into the match, and if she gets into the women’s division I am all for it.
Since Almas is pretty much filler since every other main eventer is busy I do not see him winning. I just hope D-Mac gets a proper program before his main roster jump back to WWE.
Authors of Pain with Roderick Strong vs. Undisputed Era vs. Sanity (War Games Match)
The rules for this match…suck. Shark cages, wildly unfair rules, and way too much complications make this simple match into a Mario Party minigame. How could they decide this is the best way to what could be an old-school formulaic match (heels get numbers advantage, face shows up to save the day, repeat until all people are in the ring) into a big old cluster?
I can see Strong being the one guy being left along valiantly trying to hold his own until AOP shows up and has a weird Big Damn Hero moment. Meanwhile, I’ll bet my excellent Scary Jesus Rock Star beer that Undisputed Era gets the early numbers advantage.
I cannot say I am super excited for this match, but I should not be bad. My pick for a winner would be Sanity, since I see Strong and the Era’s feud building from here and the tag champions sneaking in a win.