Updated: Mar 23
Even though when William Regal sauntered to the ring to establish order amidst the chaos of the three brawling teams during NXT 418 we knew what was coming, it still got the TV viewers in a state of delirious joy...and the reception from the Full Sail faithful told you everything you needed to know...
WAR GAMES IS BACK!
The staple of NWA and WCW for so long is finally making its much anticipated return, and it has its own PPV (technically!)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m cautious in my anticipation, WWE have an unfortunate knack of bungling the simplest of things (Bayley, Bobby Roode and the main roster debut of Pete Dunne to name but a few) but on the other, more optimistic hand, it’s NXT, when do NXT ever put on a bad show?
Sidenote: I’m still incredibly annoyed at the choice of pre-show match, but I’ve bemoaned this decision a lot since I found out so I’m simply going to state that I believe PETE DUNNE will retain his UK Championship and quietly move on to the rest of my predictions...
Match #1 - Kassius Ohno vs. Lars Sullivan
I’m really hoping that I can see past the fact that this is quite possibly the match keeping Pete Dunne vs. Johnny Gargano off the main card.
The match itself has had very little build, Ohno wants to be seen as more of a main event player as he embarks on a small winning streak and wants to prove to General Manager William Regal that he is capable of being the face of NXT - to do this, he wants to go through Lars Sullivan.
I feel like the story is definitely there more for SULLIVAN to come away from this as the victor for several reasons; the first being that Ohno is an established name and it certainly won’t hinder him if he eats a pin. Secondly, Sullivan is at the fledgling stage of his singles career, having turned viciously on all his previous tag partners, he now needs a victory over an established name. Ohno is that name! Both Ohno and Regal sold Sullivan’s power and the fact he is “like a battleship” well in their promo and I feel this only adds to the fact that Sullivan will walk away with the victory!
Match #2 - Aleister Black vs. The Velveteen Dream
This feud has proven me completely wrong!
From the moment Black walked to the ring for the first time, I thought he lent himself to being a star - a not-so-future NXT Champion. What I couldn’t see was how, after great matches with Hideo Itami and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, a feud with the camp and untried Velveteen Dream would aid his character!
Oh how wrong I was! Patrick Clark, the man behind the second prettiest flying elbow in NXT, has oozed so much charisma during this feud, has been so intense in his stand-offs with Black and has been so unflinching in his desire for Black to see him as an equal, that his stock has risen tenfold in my eyes. As for Black, he still looks like a dominant force, and his kick to take the microphone from the hand of Dream was simply beautiful!
Don’t get me wrong, ALEISTER BLACK is winning this, he has to! He’s not going to suffer his first loss in WWE to The Velveteen Dream, but it will be an excellent match, one in which Black will continue his impressive trajectory toward the NXT Championship, and Velveteen Dream can walk into his next feud with his head held high!
Match #3 - Peyton Royce vs. Kairi Sain vs. Ember Moon vs. Nikki Cross
Asuka being an undefeated Champion for 500+ days certainly came with its problems for WWE - How on earth do you break a streak like that? Who does it? To this day, if it hadn’t been for the unfortunate timing of Asuka’s injury, I think NXT creative would still be pondering the same thing!
Unfortunately, NXT has another problem now - who succeeds Asuka?
Look at the four competitors in this match-up, all of them are excellent in the ring and are huge stars in the making already, and I could see the belt on any of them.
I wish it could be Peyton Royce as I think her and Billie Kay sharing the title and ‘free-birding’ it, would bring something brand new and unseen to the belt. However I think both Kay and Royce, with the recent influx of Mae Young Classic competitors to the NXT roster, may be headed to the main roster sooner rather than later.
Kairi Sain, though absolutely stunning in the ring, has the unfortunate problem of being both brand new to the roster on the back of the Mae Young Classic (I feel giving the title to a competitor from the MYC straight away would be a disservice to the women already on the roster) and also being of the same nationality as Asuka! Will the WWE have two Japanese Champions one after the other? I doubt it. I do think Sain will be protected though, there is absolutely no way she is eating the pin here!
Which leaves Ember Moon and Nikki Cross, and I’m going for NIKKI CROSS!
The woman coming into this match with the most momentum is Cross without a doubt and giving SAniTy another belt would cement them as the dominant faction they already look like being!
Moon’s time will come, but there are potential programs that NXT have hinted at with Mercedes Martinez and Ruby Riot which could occupy her time - the former feud of course based on Martinez’s comments about Moon’s inability to get it done in the big matches - why not carry this on after this Takeover?
Match #4 - Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Andrade 'Cien' Almas
This match, in my humblest of opinions, is probably the lock of the night. There is just no way that they are having Drew drop the title already, not with a potential feud against Adam Cole for the title on the horizon. It’s a money match and the WWE will know this.
What this feud has done, is elevate the stock of Almas. He is a main event player now; gone are the days of tranquilo, and here are the days of Zelina Vega. Together the pair are focused and clinical, which is the facade I prefer most for Almas (his two vicious beat downs of McIntyre in the lead-up to this Takeover have been savage!) and I think big things are in store for him, so long as the WWE keep him with Vega; that woman is brilliant.
However, I think it is still too early for Almas to be crowned the main champion, so as I stated earlier in the entry, I’m going for DREW MCINTYRE to retain.
Match #5 - SAniTy vs. The Undisputed Era vs. The Authors of Pain & Roderick Strong
The excitement I feel for this match is second only to how I felt when Bray Wyatt pinned AJ Styles for his first WWE Championship.
The fact that War Games is back at all is unbelievable and a cause for much excitement, just look at the people in the match! This has the potential to be absolutely brutal (in a way that conforms to the WWE’s strict PG-Era guidelines of course) and to bring out the very best in these teams.
To start with, I don’t think the victory should go to The Authors of Pain - though it should be very entertaining watching them launch Fish and O’Reilly around the ring and into the walls of the cage. My reason is that, after Survivor Series, there will be a spate of NXT call-ups and Authors of Pain are probably high on that list. What else can they achieve in NXT? They’ve beaten the best and held the championships, get them on the main roster into a feud with The Bar; tell me you don’t want to see that!
That leaves SAniTy and Undisputed Era, and I’m predicting a victory for the ex-Ring of Honor guys, THE UNDISPUTED ERA. Why you may ask? Well, let’s insert a smidge of fantasy booking into this prediction! The Undisputed Era are at a complete height and weight disadvantage; Akam and Rezar are wardrobes with arms and Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe of SAniTy are no Borrowers either. They’ve been shunned by would-be bestie Roddy Strong and they’ve just been told they are taking part in a match that is ‘so dangerous it hasn’t been used in 20 years!’ They need a contingency plan, and trust me, they will have one! His name? ...Donovan Dijak!
Not only do I predict a win for Undisputed Era, but I predict a new member joining them, and a debut for the 6”8 behemoth from Ring of Honor! What a way to legitimise your faction even further! And there you have it, my predictions for Takeover: War Games: SULLIVAN, BLACK, CROSS, MCINTYRE and the UNDISPUTED ERA.
This Takeover, as I say seemingly for all Takeovers, has the potential to be incredible, especially the history-making main event which is certainly going to live long in the memory. My only concern is how WWE are going to package this vicious match stipulation in a PG environment, and if we will receive a watered down version of the match that so many wrestlers still quiver at the very thought of. Either way, good or bad, it’s going to be a night to remember!