The last NXT TakeOver the year takes place this Sunday – these three superstars need a win to go into 2021 on a high.
A lot is on the line at NXT TakeOver: WarGames – pride, championships, and winning the right to call yourself the best faction on the black and gold brand. This event is like no other – the superstars on the card have so much to prove to themselves and the NXT Universe.
Leon Ruff will be performing at his first TakeOver. He is determined to prove his run as North American Champion is no fluke. This will be Adam Cole’s 12th TakeOver – the leader of the Undisputed ERA will want to show the self-proclaimed “Kings of NXT” that his stable is far from “dead” as Pat McAfee called them.
Nobody wants to end the year with a high profile loss – victory imperative for these superstars inside the Capitol Wrestling Center.
Leon Ruff must retain his NXT North American Championship
On the November 11th edition of NXT – Leon Ruff caused one of the biggest upsets in the 10-year history of the brand when he defeated Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship.
That win was his first in WWE – he had lost his previous ten matches, a truly shocking moment, one that people are still digesting three weeks later.
The new champion retained the title, via disqualification, against Gargano in their rematch – after interference from Damian Priest, that helped set the wheels in motion for this Triple Threat Match.
Both challengers have not taken Ruff seriously in the build to this contest. Gargano called Ruff’s victory over him “lucky”, Priest called him “kid” – the champion has a lot to prove. The odds are stacked against him – “The Archer of Infamy” and “Johnny Takeover” have a wealth of experience on this stage, plus Ruff does not have to be pinned or submitted to lose his title.
Ruff has a ton of potential – he could be a big star if booked correctly, starting with him winning this Sunday. Ruff is likable, the NXT Universe can relate to his underdog story, he can be positioned as an upper-mid card babyface if he can successfully defend his title on his NXT TakeOver debut.
It would be easy to switch the title back to either one of the other competitors – that is lazy booking. Building Ruff as the future is the direction to go in – everybody knows what Priest and Gargano are capable of, it is time to give Ruff the chance to shine. He is more than a flash in the pan, the 24-year-old can be a star, something WWE has a hard time building. Ruff has landed in the palm of their hands – hopefully, they do not drop him.
If Ruff does lose, he could slip back into obscurity, lost in the stacked NXT roster – he is too talented to be an afterthought.
Not only does Ruff need to win – the NXT North American Championship needs consistency. The title has changed hands three times in three months, far too much in a short period, considering Keith Lee held it for six months before he went to Raw.
Switching champions frequently has harmed the title’s legitimacy – Ruff needs a long run with the belt to give it stability. NXT’s secondary championship should not be passed around like a hot potato.
Ruff created magic last month – he needs to prove lightning can strike twice in the same place.
Rhea Ripley has to be the first entrant and gain the match-winning fall for her team
This has been a bizarre year so far for Rhea Ripley – filled with more downs than ups.
She became the first NXT superstar to defend their championship at WrestleMania but lost to Charlotte Flair. She lost her rematches for the title, had a strange feud with the Robert Stone Brand, beat Raquel Gonzalez, and lost her latest title match against Io Shirai’s a fortnight ago.
For someone who is destined for greatness, Ripley’s booking has been confusing, to say the least.
Her latest program is with women she thought were in her rearview mirror.
While cutting a promo, on the 25th November edition of NXT, “The Nightmare” was attacked by Gonzalez, Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, and Dakota Kai. The four women wanted to take Ripley out before she had any ideas about joining Shotzi Blackheart’s team at WarGames.
Ripley did not heed the warning. She confirmed her place on Blackheart’s team three days later on social media, following Ember Moon and possibly Shirai – both women have felt the wrath of Team LeRae recently.
The former NXT Women’s Champion needs to get her momentum back, she was on fire towards the end of 2019 but has cooled off lately – this match is the perfect opportunity to start rebuilding her. Ripley should look as dominant as possible in this fight, with all due respect to the other participants, she needs this more.
When Ripley lost on The Grandest Stage of Them All, earlier this year, NXT’s Senior Producer Triple H claimed that defeat “helped” her, stating there is a “longterm plan” in place – that plan needs to come to fruition this Sunday as there has been no evidence of one since those comments were made in June.
Ripley is too talented to be drifting along in NXT – she has outgrown the show. Ripley is more than ready for a spot on either Raw or SmackDown – that call-up is imminent.
Ripley is no stranger to WarGames, she won this match for her team last year, a repeat would be the perfect goodbye present before she goes onto bigger and better things.
A victory on Sunday will give the Australian the confidence she needs to flourish on the red or blue brand after three years in developmental.
Kyle O’Reilly needs to step up for Undisputed ERA
The rivalry between the Undisputed ERA and Pat McAfee has lasted for months – it will end inside the dangerous WarGames structure on Sunday.
Adam Cole defeated McAfee at NXT TakeOver XXX – since that event, the latter has had the upper hand over the former NXT Champion.
McAfee paid Ridge Holland to attack Cole at NXT TakeOver 31, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch ambushed Bobby Fish during the October 21st episode of NXT, Pete Dunne turned on Kyle O’Reilly a week later, to add insult to injury, the “Best Four Man Faction” in professional wrestling history held a funeral to signal the end of the Undisputed ERA.
Two weeks ago – the Undisputed ERA made their return, targeting their foes with revenge on their mind. Cole punted McAfee, as Bobby Fish, Roderick Strong, and O’Reilly took care of the others – a statement was made, they are far from finished.
This match is important for the Undisputed ERA as a group, especially O’Reilly. He lost to Finn Balor at NXT TakeOver 31, and was unsuccessful in the Ladder Match against Dunne meaning, the Undisputed ERA will be at a disadvantage inside WarGames.
O’Reilly was confident of beating Dunne. He offered to take the match before any of his stablemates – he wanted to prove himself but did not get the job done.
The fact that he lost two high profile matches recently is not a good look for O’Reilly – “The Martial Artist” does not want to be seen as the weak link of the group. The one that keeps on letting the team down.
He has to rebound from those setbacks – a strong performance is needed from O’Reilly to remind everybody he is a valued member of his team.
O’Reilly securing the winning fall for the Undisputed ERA would be a timely reminder that he is a integral part of his squad – ending all doubts about his ability to perform in high pressured situations.