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WWE NXT WarGames 2021 preview: Big shoes

NXT returns on Sun., Dec. 5 with their WarGames event, streaming on Peacock.

It’s not a TakeOver any more, but it is the fifth year in a row WWE’s developmental brand will host a show based around Dusty Rhodes’ iconic two-rings-one-cage, staggered entry match. This year’s edition from the Performance Center in Orlando will have two WarGames, two title bouts, and a hair vs. hair match!

You’ll find our predictions for WarGames here. Now let’s get you up to speed on the five matches on tap for tonight, and our big question for each one.


Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunne & LA Knight vs. Bron Breakker, Carmelo Hayes, Tony D’Angelo & Grayson Waller in WarGames

In a nutshell

There are some storytelling mechanics involved — Breakker’s been chasing Ciampa for the NXT championship, Hayes just survived a North American title challenge from Gargano & Dunne thanks to an assist from D’Angelo, Waller and Knight had their “who should host Halloween Havoc?” thing. But this is 100% about putting a team of guys who represent the NXT 2.0 model against a team the represents what the brand was when it was black-and-gold.

The big question

Is there any reason to have Team New School lose? I guess you could further Bron & Tommaso’s story from Havoc about how the NXT vets are just too savvy for the newcomers. But this is a bunch of guys who represent a developmental model WWE seems to be well and truly done with against ones that are supposed to be the future of the company. Not having them stand tall to close out the first PPV-type event of the 2.0 era would be a puzzling move.


Toxic Attraction & Dakota Kai vs. Raquel González, Io Shirai, Kay Lee Ray & Cora Jade in WarGames

In a nutshell

This one has a bit of the same 2.0 vs. black-and-gold feel, but the story’s between the players has been building for longer so it feels less thrown together.

Toxic Attraction leader Mandy Rose beat González for the NXT Women’s title with the help of Big Mami Cool’s old partner, Kai. Rose’s sidekicks Jacy Jayne & Gigi Dolin beat Shirai & Zoey Stark for the Women’s Tag belts, injuring Stark in the process. Former NXT UK Women’s champ Ray has been talking about taking down this version of the brand’s champion since before the reboot. Jade’s a youngster looking to make a name for herself, and picked up a win over Mandy thanks to a distraction by Kay Lee a couple weeks back.

The big question

Are Toxic Attraction ready for this close-up? It’s been clear WWE was going to make them the center of 2.0’s women’s division since the more colorful version of the show debuted. While reviews are mixed, they haven’t fumbled the bag. But it’s hard to hide anyone in this kind of match without it being really obvious. They can lean on WarGames veteran Kai to some extent, but Rose, Jayne and Dolin will be called on to some things they haven’t done before. They can change a few minds with a good performance, or expect the complaints to get louder with a bad one.


Cameron Grimes vs. Duke Hudson in a Hair vs. Hair match

In a nutshell

After being scammed by that darn Ted DiBiase, the hillbilly millionaire decided to try see if cards could take him to the moon. Grimes picked up two wins over wannabe hustler Hudson, and the man who had a run on Raw under his real name (Brendan Vink) didn’t like that at all. Not only did he powerbomb the former Million Dollar champion, but he gave Grimey a trim. Cameron said that Duke took away a reminder of his North Carolina roots, so now he wants to take away the big Aussie’s good looks.

The big question

Who would look better bald? Sometimes the obvious queries are the ones that really need answering.

Great as he is, I don’t really want to get my hopes up about Grimes’ WWE future. He feels like a remnant of NXT’s past. Hudson seems like someone Vince McMahon would love, but if he did, why did he go back on the shelf after his early pandemic main roster tryout? And why is he saddled with this gimmick?

So yeah... who would look better bald?


Joe Gacy vs. Roderick Strong (c) for the NXT Cruiserweight championship

In a nutshell

Gacy’s “woke” parody gimmick hates that the Cruiserweight title excludes those who tip the scales at higher than 205 pounds. Roddy, like all of Diamond Mine crew, likes to fight.

The big question

Is this the end of the line for the purple belt?

Strong seems to have found a spot along with Malcolm Bivens, Hachiman, The Creeds & Ivy Nile, but he probably doesn’t need that cursed title to play that role. Contrary to early rumors, WWE seems to love Gacy’s character. Having him be the guy who crushes the dreams of wrestling fans who hoped the company would ever deliver a wrestling-first product like a cruiserweight division seems on the nose. Plus, the Inclusive One has a monster in Harland that can make sure Diamond Mine doesn’t get involved.


Imperium (c) vs. Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner for the NXT Tag Team titles

In a nutshell

Kool Kyle & his big buddy beat Legado Del Fantasma on the go home show, so they get a shot at the champs.

The big question

Not much set-up here, but plenty of questions. Is Von every going back to SmackDown? Will O’Reilly re-sign? Is WALTER coming to give Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel some purpose? Will former champs MSK find their guru, and what will happen when they do? Has the NXT tag scene ever felt less essential?


Join us in our live blog and we’ll see if we get any answers to our big questions - and how WarGames lives up to the TakeOver tradition.

What questions do you have? What match do you think will impress the most?