Sunday, November 26, 2017

NXT Takeover: Wargames (Nov. 2017)

Yeah, sorry. I would've had this up sooner, but quite honestly, I wasn't feeling it.

Maybe it was the fact that I watched a rather pointless Survivor Series PPV with only one worthwhile match before getting around to watching this show. Maybe it was due to the fact that while I was intrigued by WWE bringing back an old WCW concept, my mind wondered how they were going to screw this up rather than anticipating the moment. Maybe it was because of all the praise this show has been getting, deserving or otherwise. Or maybe it's because I haven't been watching the weekly NXT show in a good while and other than a handful of names, I hardly know anyone on the card.

Whatever the case may be, I would watch the replay whenever I could and even load it up on the Network... and no matter how hard I try, I simply couldn't get into this show. As such, my musings will be very brief, save for two matches in particular.

First off, the minor matches;

Lars Sullivan defeated Kassius Ohno. Ookie-dokey.

Aleister Black defeated Velveteen Dream, whom looks like that Patrick Clark guy from Tough Enough. This match was... it was... a thing that happened. Some people liked this one, but I was just... meh.

Andrade Cien Almas defeated NXT champion Drew McIntyre to win the title. Eh... meh.

Okay, now that THAT's out of the way, let's talk about the only two matches that matter.

Ember Moon defeated Peyton Royce, Kairi Hojo Sane, and Nikki Cross to win the vacant NXT Women's Championship that was previously held by Asuka... the very same Asuka who Ember Moon failed to defeat for said championship the last time they had an NXT Takeover event, which would've been a couple months ago or something. And while I'm sure Ember is deserving of winning said title and I'm sure she'll do fine... I'm sorry, but when you have a win that's supposed to be a big moment for Ember and then Asuka shows up to award her the belt, the following is what immediately comes to mind.

Yes, I'm sure Ember deserves to hold the championship and yes, I'm sure she's the big favorite for all the NXT fans who follow this stuff more closely than I do... but the way I see it, Ember's title win over three other women means nothing. It's less a big moment and more of a consolation prize; she didn't beat the champion to win the belt, but rather she won it after said champion surrendered the title to go after bigger fish.

In a way, this is almost like Great American Bash 1991 - though nowhere near as reviled. Before the event, Lex Luger was chasing Ric Flair for the World title and probably came up short here and there. But once Flair was gone and he was stripped of the title, Luger won the vacant title in a match that meant nothing. Yes, Luger was the champion, but to the fans, he didn't beat the true champion and as such, he was only keeping the belt warm until the real champ came back to defend his crown.

I don't know if Ember would've been the right person to give Asuka that first defeat, but certainly THAT would've been a bigger deal. Hell, I'd be alright with one of the other women winning the title through nefarious means and then having Ember win it off them at a later time. At least in that scenario, the title win would've felt more genuine and seem like

And then there was Wargames... the WWE Edition.

Wargames, for those who don't know, was a Dusty Rhodes invention where two teams of five would fight it out in an enclosed steel cage spanning two rings; a rather unique and almost iconic visual if there ever was one. The match began with one member of each team fighting it out, then every five minutes would see a new participant join in, alternating between teams. Once the final participant joined, the match could end on either submission or surrender. This made for a potentially exciting contest, with anticipation high on guessing who would be the next person to join in this bloody feud.

The WWE Edition of Wargames doesn't quite follow that formula.

At first glance, the setting looks good. Two rings, one big steel cage... no roof on the cage, however... I suppose given the need for performers to do some crazy stunt off the top, the roof would be a hindrance to that sight, though a roof would've meant the wrestlers would need to find other means to excite the crowd, but whatever; it's a sign of the times, I suppose.

The first red flag that came up was when WWE announced that three teams would participate in the new Wargames; the Authors of Pain, Insanity, and the Undisputed Era... I guess. Traditionally, Wargames is fought between two teams of four or five members. The only Wargames event that featured three teams of three wrestlers was the one in 1998... that was the one with the Ultimate Warrior stunt double doing teleportation tricks and just being a fucking atrocious match... and yes, the f-bomb is entirely necessary to properly convey how horrid this match truly was. Perhaps some day, I'll do a musings on the match, but... I digress.

So right off the bat, WWE's Wargames - which people swear up and down will honor the legacy of Dusty Rhodes' creative genius - is actually based on someone else's version of Wargames that sucked harder than anything that has ever sucked before... for the moment. Oh well, I guess I should be happy that they didn't base it on Russo's Revenge: Wargames 2000... which is as much of a proper Wargames match as Antarctica is a hot spot for a summer vacation.

Then came the rules... and I was even less enthused.

The match begins with one member of each of the three teams starting off while the remaining team members are stuck in shark cages... because when I think WAR. MAYHEM, AND DESTRUCTION, DAMMIT... I'm thinking fucking shark cages. Every five minute interval, a team is entered into the match (not one member of a team, the WHOLE rest of the trio or whatever). At any point, victory can be attained through either pinfall or submission and if any team member leaves the cage, that entire team is eliminated. The end result has the anticipation of "who's next" all but taken care within the first ten minutes so that we can have 20 minutes of an uninterrupted cage match with inexplicable battle royal rules in effect.

Look, I'm not going to shit on this match because it isn't really Wargames; even though it's just Wargames in name only, much like the so-called Wargames 2000 that took place on Nitro. As a fancy steel cage gimmick thing, it was a pretty entertaining 30+ minute romp with some great action. It's nice to see a bit of color here and there, it's not a total clusterfuck despite the stupidity of having an elimination rule that never comes into play, and for what it was, it was a pretty good match with some nice spots and some near-fall encounters that could've ended the match, but instead we end it with a lame finisher, but that's a minor quibble.

Otherwise, it's a nice main event to close out a fairly decent offering... but it's not Wargames. It's something that's using the name and the setting to push something else entirely. Wargames is supposed to feel like a war between blood enemies... and it never really got to that point. If this had been done on Survivor Series with the RAW vs. SMACKDOWN stuff that nobody gives a shit about and you did the classic rules, it would've been better served that way. Here... it's just another cage match using the name. Hell, you didn't even need to have two rings for this match; just the one would've been fine and would've accomplished what this did without any issue.

I don't know what else to say here... but the show was fine. Nothing ever felt pointless or bad. I question the end result of the women's match, but it was fun, at least. I hope they do more with Kairi Sane because she seems like a nice personality and I kinda like the Pirate Princess schtick; it stands out more than someone calling themselves a "boss" or "queen" or whatever generic title that says nothing. And their pseudo-Wargames-but-not-really-Wargames main event was fine... but I think they should call it something else for the future and maybe give me a call when they're ready to put out a proper Wargames and not this fake version.

Oh well, at least I still have proper Wargames on DVD. I think I'll go watch that whenever I get the chance.

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