Roundtable – NXT TakeOver: WarGames Preview

War Games: Team Shotzi vs Team LeRae

The final NXT TakeOver of 2020 takes place on Sunday 6th December and as per the last few years, we all prepare for WarGames!

You can read all the details about how and where to watch here.

The five match card has the potential to be the best TakeOver of the year and we asked our Hooked On Wrestling team to cast their eye over the event and predict the winners to each of them.

Remember, you can share your predictions by joining in our TakeOver predictions game that is available right here. Can you out predict our team of so-called ‘experts’? Enter our contest at this link to find out.

To the matches…

WarGames Match: Team Shotzi (Shotzi Blackheart, Io Shirai, Ember Moon and Rhea Ripley vs. Team Candice (Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez)

Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: It is very hard to pick a favourite between the two WarGames matches this year. They have both been built exceptionally and look like phenomenal collections of talent on paper. This women’s match is a true showcase of the best women’s division in the world with a range of diverse, credible, exciting talent. I am expecting this match to deliver in a very big way. In terms of picking a winner, it is so hard but I am going to go with Team Candice. My main motivation for that is that I don’t think the babyfaces win both matches and I’m pretty certain UE are going to win their match. Last year’s women’s match featured a superb piece of storytelling that ultimately allowed Rhea Ripley to stand out as a huge star. I don’t expect that to be the case this time. The spotlight is more likely to be shared around in a structurally more traditional match. Team Candice to win.

Chris Napier: This match is much more thrown together than the men’s match and both teams are based more on awkward alliances. I can see this setting up our next women’s title feud for Io Shirai and that feels like its set up for a standout performance for Toni Storm. That big show of unity from Team Shotzi at the end of NXT also makes me think that is going to backfire somehow, so I’ll back Team Candice for the win.

Cameron Bennett: I just cannot see a team consisting of Io and Rhea losing but I also don’t see the momentum Candice LeRae is enjoying being stopped this quickly. So I’m going have to go with Team LeRae, this is the first time I’ve ever gone against Io and it hurts me so much more than you can ever understand.

James Dee: There is just so much talent involved in this match and it has a genuine chance to upstage the men’s equivalent, see my hype below to understand just how big a deal that is. It’s not often the face team get the advantage so you’d think that they would lose this but I think Team Shotzi actually wins it. Look out for fun moments like Gonzalez cleaning house, Ripley and Storm revisiting their excellent feud from NXT:UK and Io Shirai’s inevitable picture perfect moonsault from the top of the cage.

WarGames Match: The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) vs. The Kings Of NXT (Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch)

Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: I haven’t got enough space here to wax lyrical enough about this match. Everything about the set up is so perfect. A wonderful, long burn Undisputed Era face turn (That has been organic and well timed) facing off with a genuinely compatible collection of nasty, arrogant heels with believable motivations. Everything about this match feels earned and correctly placed. It is 100% believable rather than shoehorned because you need a four on four feud just because WarGames is coming up. My bet is that this is the best WarGames match under the WWE umbrella. Maybe the best of all time. I expect the Undisputed Era to stand tall and get the big win they deserve to cap their time in NXT. I wouldn’t be shocked if we got a split or main roster call up by this time next week.

Chris Napier: This is a tough call because Pat’s Pack have been all over Undisputed Era in the build to this and an Undisputed Era win makes sense to redress the balance. On the other hand, UE don’t need the win and it would do so much for the newer team. It should be an awesome match either way. Toss a coin – win for Team McAfee.

Cameron Bennett: Last man in, first man out. I’m expecting the Kings of NXT to get the win thanks to Roderick Strong turning on the UE. Pat McAfee will pin Adam Cole and will also jump from the top of the cage because he’s a mad man!

James Dee: This match needs to get in my eyes like, yesterday! The Undisputed best faction in wrestling at the moment (fight me Bullet Clubs fans) Vs. Burch and Lorcan, a team that has been consistently under-rated for years and are now showing just how good they are. Alongside them, Pete Dunne, who’s pure ability and brutality needs no recapping and Pat McAfee. A man who has eased into the slimy heel faction leader role like smooth butter. *Heart eyes*. The match should be amazing given the talent involved and while Pat McAfee will take a beating, The Kings of NXT are going to win this. I also think it’ll be something of a swan song for The Undisputed Era at least as far as NXT is concerned.

North American Championship Match: Leon Ruff (c) vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Damian Priest

Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: I’ve enjoyed this feud without getting hugely into it. I love Johnny Gargano’s smug dickhead character but the other two leave me pretty cold. I’m not sure I will ever be a Damian Priest fan and Leon Ruff simply hasn’t clicked with me as he has with others. But it wouldn’t do for us all to like the same thing, would it? I think this match gets the belt back on to Gargano with the help of a Ghostface or two.

Chris Napier: The angle with Leon Ruff has been an interesting diversion but for his sake I hope they invest him with more credibility than they did with say, James Ellsworth. As NXT is usually more constructively booked, I’m going to have Ruff retain here. Exactly HOW he does it I’m not sure, as he could just as easily pin Gargano clean as whistle or low blow Priest.

Cameron Bennett: As much as I’ve enjoyed Ruff’s underdog reign I’m going to say it’s time for The Archer Of Infamy (still don’t know what that means) to get back the title that I think he lost too early!

James Dee: Ruff’s title victory was an unexpected twist in the narrative of Gargano/Priest and a welcome one to boot. With Priest helping the new champ purely to annoy Johnny, he has succeeded in becoming the stereotypical plucky underdog. You would think Priest takes this but I reckon he’ll be so busy with Gargano that Ruff will sneak out another victory, this time at Priest’s expense. I don’t quite know how but I think the Leon Ruff Cinderella story continues, at least until he starts believing his own hype and gets too cocky.

Strap Match: Dexter Lumis vs. Cameron Grimes

Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: As a midcard feud. This has been kooky fun. Grimes’ stalker character is an unlikely but well done babyface character that we can all get behind in a similar way to when Kane first turned babyface back in the day. Grimes is a fun sleazy heel in the midcard but I do hope this is his ceiling. In his current guise, I don’t think I could accept him in or close to the main event mix. Lumis to win this and put an end to the feud.

Chris Napier: This seems to have been going on forever. I see a lot of upside in Grimes while Lumis needs a little bit more than his sketch outline of a character. Grimes wins and moves on to the North American title scene.

Cameron Bennett: I don’t know why but I’ve been singing Strap Match to the tune of Love Shack since Wednesday. So, in my opinion the Strap Match is a very fine place where Grimes can beat up Dexter. Strap Match la la Straaaaaap Match. 

James Dee: Lumis and Grimes just seem like they are made for each other at this point. They’ve both been doing great work in these insane matches and you can’t help but like them both despite one being an insane psychopath and the other being some kind of sleazy turn of the century ringmaster (the circus kind, not the blond fuzzy headed Steve Austin kind). I think Lumis is winning this one. Grimes will make a good go of it but after some close escapes in recent matches the Tortured Artist will finally put this annoying little fly down, or fling him to the moon, which to be fair I think Grimes would be okay with.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Timothy Thatcher

Credit: WWE

Paul Benson: A curious match this one. Both guys need the win but perhaps more importantly, neither can afford a loss. Both had a significant headwind in the early Summer but that feels gone now. Ciampa hasn’t yet got close to the heights he hit before his loss to Karrion Kross at TakeOver: In Your House. He felt like the most important wrestler on the brand at last year’s WarGames but this year he almost feels like he is getting in the way, know what I mean? They don’t seemingly have much for him to do but feel the need to include him anyway because of who he is so he gets on the card. Thatcher has a similar problem without having the previous highs to fall back on. With his debut teaming with Matt Riddle through to his Fight Pit win over his partner, he felt unstoppable. Since then he has mainly busied himself with skits and whenever he has faced a match of any note he has come up short. He was in a similar position in his last TakeOver match against Finn Balor. I am picking Ciampa here to win but I don’t like the match as I don’t think it is helpful for either.

Chris Napier: Put this into my veins! Just two super salty vets beating and stretching the tar out of one another. Thatcher got the better of Ciampa this week which usually signals a loss, but he needs the win more so I’m picking Thatcher.

Cameron Bennett: No matter who wins here both are going to be very sore afterwards. I went for Thatcher last time out against Balor and I’m going to go for Thatcher again.

James Dee: Did you know Ciampa hasn’t won a TakeOver singles match in nearly two years? His last one on one TakeOver victory was against Aleister at NXT TakeOver: Phoenix on January 26th 2019. That seems insane and while I like Thatcher that needs to be remedied. Make no mistake though this match is going to be brutal, hard hitting and scrappy. Ciampa is going to win it.

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