Connect with us

Wrestling

NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2019: Wow. Just…Wow.

Advertisement

Published

on

WarGames is an interesting pay-per-view for the WWE, as is NXT TakeOver in general. On the Saturday before the WWE’s big four events, an edition of NXT TakeOver happens. The problem for WWE is that TakeOver is almost always better than the main brand pay-per-view that happens the next night. The time is tighter, the matches are better booked, and the talent is more hungry.

With a pay-per-view only happening four times a year, the superstars of NXT are always fighting for one of a precious few spots on the card.

NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2019 represented a huge change for NXT. It was their first pay-per-view event since NXT moved to a live two hour show on USA and became a full brand rather than a developmental one. They needed to deliver the best event they have ever put on to prove to fans that NXT is still the same high quality brand they’ve always been and they did.

Women’s WarGames Match

The opening match of the evening was the first women’s WarGames match in history. Originally a WCW match, NXT started using the format in 2017. The first two years were epic, featuring groups of male wrestlers beating the crap out of each other across two rings surrounded by a steel cage.

The women’s division delivered an epic match of their own, as they always do when given the opportunity to shine. Both teams were stacked with incredible talent going into the match, though Rhea Ripley’s teams lost Mia Yim to a backstage attack on the pre-show. Dakota Kai would take her place.

As the preliminary part of the match went on, Team Baszler was up with three wrestlers in the ring to Team Ripley’s two. The buzzer went off, allowing Dakota Kai to join the match. Instead, she turned on her own team by beating up her teammate and best friend, Tegan Nox. Neither woman joined the match. The heel turn was an absolutely brilliant piece of storytelling and left Team Ripley at a severe disadvantage.

WarGames, TakeOver
The remaining members of Team Ripley is cornered.

Everyone involved showed up and showed out. Kay Lee Ray was amazing, taking two huge bumps, including being swatted out of the sky with a garbage can. Io Shirai hit a beautiful moonsault from 20 feet in the air. Bianca Bel Air was a juggernaut of power and precision.

In the end, Rhea Ripley and Candice LeRae came out on top in an outstanding performance, despite taking on four opponents. This was one of the best-booked matches of the year, a brilliant piece of storytelling from start to finish.

Triple Threat Match

The next match featured a three-man fight to decide who would face Adam Cole for his NXT Championship at Survivor Series. Killian Dain versus Damian Priest versus Pete Dunne.

The match itself was refreshing due to its line up. This was the first singles TakeOver match for both Dain and Priest. While it wasn’t Dunne’s first time out, he is a huge fan favorite and always puts on incredible matches.

WarGames, TakeOver
Dain, Dunne, and Priest destroy each other.

The match-up delivered big, with each man getting the opportunity to shine. It sold both Priest and Dain as main event players in NXT perfectly. Ultimately, the fan-favorite Pete Dunne would win and go on to face Adam Cole at Survivor Series in a show-stealing match.

Balor Versus Riddle

Finn Balor is one of the stars who defined NXT and TakeOver as the brand grew into its own. His recent return was met with great joy, though his heel turn was not. This new Balor quickly instigated a confrontation with NXT’s resident stallion, Matt Riddle. It would have been nice to see him in the WarGames match but this match was most likely prompted by Johnny Gargano’s injury.

Riddle was also kind enough to take a break from egging Goldberg on to wrestle Balor.

WarGames, TakeOver
Finn Balor is victorious.

Regardless of which side of the line he’s on, Balor is one of the best wrestlers in the business. So is Matt Riddle. Putting these two together in a match was an outstanding choice. Doubly so when you consider that this was the only straight-up, one-on-one match on the card. It was a great match and hopefully only the start of their rivalry.

Men’s WarGames Match

The main event of the evening was the Men’s WarGames match, featuring the four members of Undisputed Era against Team Ciampa. Tommaso put together a team consisting of Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, and Matt Riddle. Unfortunately, Riddle had problems of his own meaning Ciampa needed a new teammate.

He cryptically said he reached out to someone, but not who or if they said yes. With all members of Undisputed Era in the ring, they watched the clock run down and waited for Ciampa’s final partner. After a few moments, Kevin Owens walked out to a huge roar from the crowd. The NXT alum accepted the invitation to get some payback on the Era.

While the women’s match brought in toys like chairs, garbage cans, and kendo sticks, the men brought the tables in. They used the tables to their full potential, with members of Team Ciampa finding fun and special ways to put the Undisputed Era through each table. Ciampa hitting Cole with an Air Raid Crash from the top of the cage through two tables to win the match was breathtaking, especially for Dr. Britt Baker, DDS.

WarGames, TakeOver
Britt Baker in the crowd at WarGames.

In case you weren’t aware, Britt wrestles for AEW and got on camera on the NXT pay-per-view with a killer reaction shot. She’s currently on the opposite side of the Wednesday Night Wars from her significant other, Adam Cole.

It was an unreal match, and the first TakeOver event for both Lee and Dijakovic. Both men delivered big, proving they belong on more pay-per-views. Filled with huge spots and great tension from Team Ciampa’s secret partner, this was the best men’s WarGames match to date.

WWE’s Best 2019 Pay-Per-View

NXT TakeOver: WarGames was, by far, WWE’s best pay-per-view event of the year. Every match was an instant classic, thanks in no small part to the announce team of Beth Phoenix, Nigel McGuinness, and Mauro Ranallo who sold everything perfectly.

On top of the high quality of every match, it was a breakout evening for many wrestlers. Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, Damian Priest, and literally every woman involved in their WarGames match proved they are some of the best in the business. If NXT needed to show fans that they’re still the same crew and still put on an amazing show despite an upgrade, they succeeded.

The winning men’s team.

NXT TakeOver: War Games III is a hard act to follow.

Ian is a freelance writer based out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who writes about pop culture. That includes movies, TV series, comic books, and wrestling. He has a day job at a wildlife rehabilitation facility, sleeps way too little, and buys way too many toys.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

Wrestling

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

One Versus All

Published

on

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

WrestleMania may be regarded as the Super Bowl of the WWE but of the other three major pay-per-view events, The Royal Rumble has often given us better matches over the years. Yes, the Survivor Series and King of the Ring have had their fair share of moments, but the Royal Rumble is without a doubt the second-biggest wrestling PPV on the planet.

What makes the Royal Rumble so exciting is how it sets up the most prominent storylines on the programming for the remainder of the year. The Royal Rumble is simply put, the start of playoff season and a steppingstone for WWE superstars to prepare for their big moment at WrestleMania. It really is a seminal event on the WWE calendar and has often launched the wrestlers to superstar’s status.

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

A Brief History of the Royal Rumble

Credit for the Royal Rumble can be given to Pat Patterson who came up with the original idea when brainstorming an event that would be bigger and better than the Battle Royale. The concept was simple really; unlike the Battle Royale which begins with all twenty participants in the ring, the Royal Rumble would instead start with only two superstars and have the remaining participants join the match every two minutes thereafter. And to up the ante, instead of having only twenty wrestlers, the Royal Rumble includes thirty superstars who battle it out for a title shot in the main event of WrestleMania (except for in 1992, when Ric Flair won the WWE Championship by winning the titular match ).

If you had to choose just one reason as to why the Royal Rumble is one of the most anticipated pay-per-view events, it would be because you never really know what to expect. Aside from anticipating who’ll come out next during the main event— and guessing who will eliminate who— we’re also left wondering who’ll make a long-overdue comeback after being away from the WWE for months – sometimes years.

We’ve seen big men like Kane eliminate eleven opponents in a row, and a superstar like Shawn Michaels become the first wrestler to win the Rumble after entering first. We watched Undertaker get locked in a casket and set on fire and we witnessed The Rock and Mankind battle it out in an “I Quit” match that temporarily led to a power failure and left the entire arena in the dark. There’s just no shortage of over the top moments at the Royal Rumble such as Kofi Kingston’s creative ways to avoid elimination or the surprise entrance by AJ Styles. The Royal Rumble is where dreams are made, careers are ended, and over the years, fans have witnessed some of the most intense rivalries take shape at the event.

History of the Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble is without question, an important PPV and has been a part of a tradition dating all the way back to 1988. We’ve seen many of the most iconic wrestlers win the multi-man brawl, including Hulk Hogan (1990, 1991), Ric Flair (1992), Bret Hart (1994), Shawn Michaels (1995, 1996) Steve Austin (1997, 1998, 2001), The Rock (2000), Triple H (2002), The Undertaker (2007), and John Cena (2008), to name a few. And we’ve seen plenty more superstars come close, but ultimately getting eliminated at the very last minute. Yes, it’s a simple concept but the Royal Rumble is also incredibly exciting to watch.

Apart from the titular main event, WWE’s annual January extravaganza has also given us some incredible matches in the undercard. From surprising sleeper hits to fast-paced tag team action to hardcore matches and strange gimmick matches— the Royal Rumble has time and time again, blessed wrestling fans with the perfect blend of great storytelling and in-ring action. As such, the event has given fans some classic matches over the years and many have stood the test of time.

Whether it’s the rumble itself or a high-tempo singles match, the list of great matches that took place during the Royal Rumble is rather long. Below is a list of the greatest Royal Rumble matches to date, with links to the full review of each match.

Simply click on the links below to read about whichever match interests you most and let us know in the comments, what you think is the greatest Royal Rumble match of all time.

Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series. You can find all the articles here.

  • Ricky D

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches

1) Royal Rumble 2003: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit

2) Royal Rumble 1992: The Royal Rumble Match

3) Royal Rumble 2000: The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (Tables Match)

4) Royal Rumble 2000: Triple H and Cactus Jack Street Fight

5) Royal Rumble 2001: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit (Ladder Match)

6) Royal Rumble 2007: The Royal Rumble Match

7) Royal Rumble 2015: Brock Lesnar Vs. John Cena Vs. Seth Rollins

8) Royal Rumble 1995: Diesel vs. Bret Hart

9) Royal Rumble 1998: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (Casket Match)

10) Royal Rumble 1999: The Rock vs.Mankind (“I Quit” Match)

11) Royal Rumble 2009: Jeff Hardy vs. Edge

12) Royal Rumble 2004: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels

13) Royal Rumble 1994: Yokozuna vs. The Undertaker (Casket Match)

14) Royal Rumble 1991: Sgt. Slaughter vs. the Ultimate Warrior

15) Royal Rumble 1991: The Rockers vs. The Orient Express

Continue Reading

Wrestling

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Diesel vs. Bret Hart

Published

on

Royal Rumble Diesel vs. Bret Hart

Royal Rumble 1995

“Big Daddy Cool” Diesel vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart

World Wrestling Federation Championship

The 1995 Royal Rumble was the eighth installment of the annual pay-per-view. It took place on January 22, in the USF Sun Dome located in Tampa, Florida and is remembered most for two things: Pamela Anderson’s one and only appearance in the WWE ring and Shawn Michaels becoming the first wrestler to win the Royal Rumble after entering first. But aside from that the iconic, game-changing ending in which Shawn Michaels dangled on the ropes, barely hanging on, before pulling himself over and eliminating the British Bulldog— there was another great match that is often overlooked.

It was the first WWE Championship defense of Diesel and it came against the face of the company, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart.

The storyline behind the WWF World Heavyweight Championship match began in 1994, when Bob Backlund with the help of Owen Hart, beat Bret Hart for the championship at Survivor Series. Three days later, Bob Backlund was scheduled to defend the title against Bret Hart at Madison Square Garden only on the eleventh-hour, Hart was replaced by Diesel. Despite spending most of the evening protesting the last-minute change in the card, Backlund was forced to square off against Big Daddy Cool who defeated Backlund in a nine-second match to win the World Title.

With Bret Hart looking to recapture the title, a match with Diesel was then scheduled at the Royal Rumble. It was a rare instance of two babyfaces assigned to compete against each other with the audience having to choose sides.

Unfortunately, the match ended in controversial fashion, but not without its share of drama and plenty of highlights.

Royal Rumble Diesel vs. Bret Hart

Diesel’s match with Bret Hart was a pivotal moment in his career. Not only was it the first time he had to defend the WWE Title on a PPV, but for someone who was often criticized as being over-rated, this match proved that with the right competition, Diesel could put on a great match while also telling a great story.  

It was a face vs. face, but Hart played the de facto heel for much of the match, going so far as slamming a chair on Diesel’s back and taking advantage of his injured knee by applying the figure-four leglock twice. The match itself lasted a good 28 minutes with plenty of finishers including Diesel’s Jackknife powerbomb and of course, Bret Hart’s signature Sharpshooter. It was physical; it was exciting, and it was an example of great storytelling thanks to the ongoing interference.

First, Shawn Michaels came out and attacked Diesel. After being thrown out of the ring, fans anticipated the referee would disqualify Bret Hart and end the match — only instead, the ref ordered it to continue. After a back and forth brawl, Hart hit the Sharpshooter on Diesel’s injured leg but before Big Daddy Cool could tap out, Owen Hart ran in and attacked Bret from behind. And just like before, the referee cleared Owen out of the ring and ordered that the match continue, causing the fans in the arena to explode in cheers.

Royal Rumble Diesel vs. Bret Hart

While the match isn’t as notable as the Survivor Series fight between Diesel and Bret Hart, it’s still a genuine classic and one of the best matches of Kevin Nash’s career. With the help of Bret Hart, Kevin Nash had risen again and delivered a performance for the ages.

The match, however, would end in disappointing fashion. After the referee was knocked unconscious, Shawn Michaels, Jeff Jarrett, The Roadie, Owen Hart and Bob Backlund all came out to attack Bret Hart and Diesel. Realizing he had lost full control of the match and could no longer officiate due to the constant interference; the referee officially ended the match and rang the bell. In the end, it was ruled a draw and Diesel retained his championship.

Royal Rumble Diesel vs. Bret Hart

Despite the interference, the match itself lasted a good half hour and featured two stellar performances by Bret Hart and yes, Kevin Nash. It was just another example of how with the right opponent, Kevin Nash could really work the ring and whatever mistakes and turmoil led Kevin Nash to the WCW, whatever demons that plagued him – you can’t forget that at one point in time, the man was at the top of the WWE.

All in all, the Championship match was well choreographed; perfectly scripted and packed with non-stop action from beginning to end.

  • Ricky D

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series. Click here to see every entry.

Continue Reading

Wrestling

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker Casket Match

Published

on

Greatest Royal Rumble Matches Casket Match

Royal Rumble 1998

WWF World Heavyweight Championship

The 1998 Royal Rumble was the eleventh entry in the annual pay-per-view event. It took place on January 18, 1998, at the San Jose Arena and is remembered best for two things: Stone Cold Steve Austin winning his second Royal Rumble by eliminating The Rock– and the thrilling Casket Match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

Unfortunately, it is also remembered as the match that temporarily ended the career of Shawn Michaels.

It was ‘The Last Outlaw’ Undertaker versus Mr. WrestleMania a.k.a. The Main Event a.k.a. The Heartbreak Kid a.k.a. The Showstopper. After costing him the Championship in a match against Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart at Summerslam 1997, The Undertaker was out for revenge.

Shawn Michaels was the champion heading into the match, and he was also the favourite thanks to ample support from his fellow Degeneration X members Triple H and Chyna standing ringside.

Undertaker and Michaels had previously met in an outstanding match at Ground Zero: In Your House before going on to star in the first Hell in a Cell where Undertaker beat the hell out of Shawn, only to lose in the end no thanks to Kane interfering. This time around, however, Kane and Undertaker were now on good terms— or so we thought.

Needless to say, expectations were high for this one!

Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker Casket Match

Despite his age, Shawn Michaels was in the prime of his career, and every one of his matches with The Undertaker during this era became legendary. Unlike many other rivalries in WWE history, every time these two men went toe-to-toe in the center of the squared circle; fans knew they were in for something special.

The match itself isn’t necessarily their best work but it’s arguably the best Casket Match ever and it culminated with a truly unforgettable ending that had many fans glued to their seats.

The Undertaker controlled most of the match despite the constant interference from Triple H and Chyna, which in retrospect makes sense since early in the match, Shawn Michaels herniated two disks in his back and completely crushed another after receiving a back body drop on the side of the casket. Being the champ that he was, Michaels continued to wrestle, and Undertaker eventually began to lose his dominance as things moved outside of the ring with Michaels delivering a piledriver on top of the steel steps. Following a high-flying elbow drop and Sweet Chin Music, Shawn Michaels seemed to have the match finally in his control but as all good heels do, he blew the opportunity to seal the deal and instead chose to taunt his opponent, giving Taker enough time to recuperate.

Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker Casket Match

The rest of the match saw the two men go back and forth, rolling in and out of the casket and delivering their respected finishers. Eventually, the two men made it back to the ring where Undertaker gave Shawn Michaels a chokeslam before dragging him to the edge of the ring and hitting a jumping tombstone piledriver into the casket. The match looked to be over but before Undertaker could close it, the New Age Outlaws and Los Boricuas ran in and collectively pummeled Undertaker until the lights went out in the arena. Kane’s music played and the Big Red Machine made his way to the ring to save the day.

Only he didn’t…

Kane instead turned on Undertaker, and choke slammed his own flesh and blood into the casket thus allowing Triple H and Chyna to shut the lid, and end the match.

Royal Rumble 1998 Casket Match HBK Undertaker

As mentioned above, the match itself isn’t the best match we would see from HBK and The Phenom but in my eyes, they are two of the ten greatest superstars in WWE history and even their worst match is still far better than 90% of the other matches the WWE offers. But what really made the night memorable was the ending!

With the Undertaker trapped inside, Paul Bearer came to the ringside carrying giant padlocks and with the help of Kane, they locked the Undertaker inside the casket and proceeded to roll it to the top of the entrance ramp where Kane took an axe and began to dispatch the coffin before dousing it with gasoline and setting it on fire. And the entire time, Undertaker was supposedly inside.

If you were a young fan watching at the time, the ending of this match might have given you nightmares. It was like something straight out of a horror movie and it was an ending everyone was talking about for months.

As we watched various emergency officials extinguish the fire, Commissioner Slaughter and others desperately tried to break open the casket to free Undertaker. And when the casket was finally wedged opened, Undertaker was nowhere to be seen.

Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker Casket Match

The match itself is historically significant for many reasons. It was the match that forced Michaels to take an extended hiatus due to a legitimate back injury and it also marked the last time Undertaker wrestled Shawn Michaels before their historic WrestleMania XIV match. Meanwhile, Kane’s interference set up an ongoing rivalry between the brothers of destruction. In the end, the 1998 Royal Rumble Championship Match delivered a great story complete with stellar performances from everyone involved.

  • Ricky D

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series. Click here to see every entry.

Continue Reading

Popular