The infamous WarGames welcomed women for the first time ever as Team Baszler battled Team Ripley at tonight’s NXT TakeOver. Team Ripley was immediately welcomed with a handicap before the show even started as Mia Yim was taken out backstage by an unknown assailant.
Team Ripley’s captain Rhea Ripley immediately saw herself in a whirlwind as she had to pick a replacement for Yim. Ripley looked to Dakota Kai as a replacement who was originally snubbed for the last position on the team by Yim just a few weeks ago. Kai reluctantly agreed to take Yim’s place and everything seemed to be okay again……for the moment at least.
The first two representatives in the ring were Candice LeRae for Team Ripley and Io Shirai for Team Baszler. This was perfectly done as these two have had a great year since Shirai turned on her best friend. These two put on a killer match of the year contender battle at TakeOver: Toronto in August.
From there we knew that Team Baszler had the advantage as Bianca Belair would be the next to enter. LeRae would be down on a 2 to 1 disadvantage. LeRae isn’t a stranger to being the underdog and she would continue to have to show that throughout this entire match. Ripley was surprisingly the next entrant as she would help LeRae even the odds. She would also be the one to introduce weapons into the match.
NXT UK Champion, Kay Lee Ray was next for team Baszler. Ripley and LeRae would have the numbers disadvantage and unfortunately for them, this is where they would find themselves for the rest of the match.
Although not entirely shocking as it was predictable, Dakota Kai would turn on her team and viciously assault her best friend and former tag team partner Tegan Nox. She would continue to beat down Nox in the holding cage as Kai would continuously slam the cage’s door on Nox’s surgically repaired knee
Eventually General Manager William Regal would get Kai to the backstage area as medical personnel helped Nox. Shayna Baszler was smiling and clapping the entire time knowing that her team had the huge 4 on 2 advantage. Once Baszler entered the ring, the match officially started.
At first, the huge 4 to 2 handicap for Team Ripley was questionable. How can this realistically make sense for Team Ripley to pull off the win? Somehow it all worked. Instead of WWE using the massive heel team with the numbers advantage clobber their weaker opponents and pull off a yawn of a win, the opposite happened.
Ripley and LeRae held their own throughout the match. It ended with Ripley doing something that many women haven’t had the pleasure of doing, and that is beat Shayna Baszler. After countering out of the Kirifuda Clutch and handcuffing herself to Baszler, Ripley would hit Riptide on a chair and get the one, two, three to pick up the victory.
This entire match was pure storytelling from top to bottom, something of which is often lacking in WWE programming (at least for RAW and SmackDown). Each woman received nice spots throughout the match. Shirai got her massive moonsault off the top of the cage which was beautiful to see. It also opened the narrative for Kai vs. Nox.
Personally, Kai’s heel turn is one that is going to be remembered for years to come. Generally, two competitors that are good friends usually bring out the best of each other in the ring and this is just the start. All that we have to do as fans now are to hope that it pans out correctly once the bigger picture comes into focus.
Ripley also beat Baszler. What a great story that is. Baszler is finally being booked as someone who can be defeated for the first time in over a year. Whether you like it or not, Ripley is being pushed to the moon and will most likely dethrone Baszler’s title reign once everything is said and done.
Overall WarGames was a success and now it is onward to Survivor Series. Can Ripley continue the momentum and lead her Team NXT to victory against Team RAW and Team SmackDown?
Check back in with Diva Dirt for live coverage/discussion of Survivor Series on Sunday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m, ET