By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
NXT Takeover: Chicago II
Aired live on WWE Network
Chicago, Illinois at Allstate Arena
NXT Takeover started off with a stylistic intro teaser which had an epic narrator relate this show to the dictionary definition of the word “pain”…
John’s Thoughts: I do miss the old way that NXT used to title their Takeover shows. Maybe they should have called this show “NXT Takeover: Here comes the Pain”? It was the name of my favorite WWE video game.
Nigel McGuinness introduced the show and told viewers that Mauro Ranallo will be out for two weeks due to him being “on assignment”. McGuinness introduced 205 Live commentator Vic Joseph. Percy Watson was also on commentary.
John’s Thoughts: Vic Joseph is the former Play-By-Play commentator for Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion and the current 205 Live Play-by-Play voice. I wasn’t too impressed by his HoH and early 205 Live work due to it sounding like he was phoning it in. You couldn’t blame him, the old 205 Live sucked. Nigel was phoning it in too. Vic Joseph has become one of my favorite up-and-coming commentators with his recent 205 Live work. The best part about his commentary is how he shows concern for the wrestlers when it looks like they are seriously hurt. He’s also upped the emotion in his recent work. Interested to see how he does as lead commentator on a big show.
1. “The Undisputed Era” Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly (w/Adam Cole) vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Vic Joseph called this a Cinderella story. Nigel talked about how Lorcan and Burch formed this team after a “Best of…” series against each other. The crowd was super behind Undisputed Era. Strong grounded Burch and O’Reilly tagged in to continue to dominate on the ground. Burch had an impressive takedown by yanking O’Reilly’s foot midair. Lorcan tagged in. Lorcan and Burch suplexed Strong on top of O’Reilly. Lorcan and Burch celebrated and the crowd booed them.
John’s Thoughts: A tough situation for the white meat babyfaces to be in. A combination of being against Cool Heels and being in Chicago.
Burch and Lorcan continued to take down their opponents with stiff strikes. Strong took down Burch with a diving dropkick to the outside. Burch did go for cheers at one point but got a mixed reaction. O’Reilly and Strong cut the ring in half by isolating Burch on their side. O’Reilly employed some submissions as a part of his ground game in his corner. Burch tried to create separation with stiff forearms but Strong ended that rally with a pinpoint dropkick. Burch managed to get a backdrop in on Strong but O’Reilly was able to get in the match and knock off Lorcan. Burch caught O’Reilly by surprise with a headbutt. This allowed Strong and Lorcan to tag in. Lorcan dominated with the hot tag but a majority of the crowd booed him due to the Era being popular.
Lorcan managed to turn the crowd in his favor with a Cannonball Tope Con Hilo to the outside and some stiff strikes on Strong in the middle of the ring. Lorcan hit both opponents with a series of corner strikes and hit them with a double blockbuster. The faces hit the Strong with a wheelbarrow DDT finisher but O’Reilly broke up the pin. Lorcan went high risk and had a nasty fall on the apron which drew awes from the crowd. O’Reilly got a nearfall on Burch and then locked in a Cross Armbreaker on Burch. Burch was able to escape and fend off another nearfall. Burch caught Strong with a headbutt and tossed O’Reilly on him outside. Lorcan hit both opponents with a double blockbuster to the ringside.
Burch and Lorcan hit a double team shoryuken in the ring. Adam Cole broke up the subsequent pin. The referee ejected Adam Cole. The crowd chanted “Bullshit” due to them liking Cole. Lorcan and Burch went for their double team finisher but Strong pulled Burch outside. O’Reilly broke up a Guillotine with a suplex. Lorcan blocked a End of Heartache with a chop block and power bomb. Lorcan did a feint pin attempt into a half crab. O’Reilly tried to break it but Lorcan no-sold it with his fighting spirit. Burch and Lorcan had stereo submissions on the Era. O’Reilly rolled to his side on the crossface and kicked Lorcan from the prone position.
Both teams ensued with madness and rapid strikes. Undisputed Era managed to find the opportunity to get Burch out of the ring and then surprise Lorcan with Total Elimination to pick up the win…
The Undisputed Era defeated Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch via pinfall in 16:00 to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships.
After the Era left the ring, Lorcan and Burch stood up to a standing ovation from the crowd…
John’s Thoughts: I was afraid for a bit because the crowd was really putting down Burch and Lorcan due to their opponents being cool heels. Thank God for Oney Lorcan and he managed to win over the crowd with his unique and stiff offense. This was Oney Lorcan’s come out party to the bigger stage. Burch was good too but he needs a bit to gain credibility with the audience after being an enhancement wrestler for WWE since 2012. Lorcan and Burch’s build reminds me a bit of the build of DIY (Ciampa and Gargano). Let’s see where they go from here. As for the whole match, it was a great opening match and already kept up Takeover’s streak of having good shows; and it’s only the opening match (If the opening match is this good, then what do you expect Ricochet, Dream, Ciampa, and Gargano to pull out?).
Kairi Sane was shown in the celebrity seats in the crowd. She was watching the show with her telescope. The show cut to the Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream video package which also included indie Ricochet footage and Tough Enough Patrick Clark footage…
Velveteen Dream made his entrance wearing Hulk Hogan themed gear. He also wore Prince Puma tights! Ricochet came to the ring wearing a nice royal cape and golden themed tights. Vic Joseph noted that John Cena endorses Velveteen Dream while The Rock endorses Ricochet…
John’s Thoughts: Oh my freakin’ word. Patrick Clark is a blessing to professional wrestling. No one can wear Hogan’s gear better in 2018 than Dream.
2. Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream. The match started off with a face-to-face as both men soaked up cheers. The crowd was in favor of Velveteen Dream in the initial cheering. Both men kicked off the match with a feeling out chain wrestling process. Ricochet managed to get an advantage with a headscissors early on. Dream made it to his feet and locked in a cravate. Both men then traded submissions early in the ring. The crowd started dueling chants for both superstars. Dream went for a huracanrana but Ricochet landed on his feet at the end of the move. Ricochet showed off his fun agility to dodge all of Dream’s strikes and he ended the sequence with his Superhero Pose.
Dream and Ricochet then traded simple bitch slaps. Ricochet hit his signature headscissors and dropkick combo. Ricochet went for a slingshot but Dream tripped Ricochet off to send him outside. Dream took control in the ring and showed off his mean streak with strikes in the corner, taking advantage of the five count from Drake Younger. Dream said “don’t touch me, I’m the Velveteen Dream” to Drake Younger. Dream grounded Ricochet and hit him with a delayed slingshot senton. Dream slithered on the ground while stalking Ricochet.
Dream gyrated his hips and hit Ricochet with a neckbreakers. Dream yelled “Get up, Bingo Hall!” to Ricochet. Dream hit Ricochet with a feint Tope Con Hilo to the outside. Nigel noted that Dream is employing some Ricochet moves into his offense on Ricochet.
John’s Thoughts: Dream is a great in-ring storyteller. “Everything you can do I can do better” by replicating Ricochet’s moves. I love it.
Both men traded slow strikes in the ring as a “both these guys” chant ensued. Ricochet managed to send Dream outside with a dropkick. Ricochet hit Velveteen Dream with a Tope Suicida followed by a Corkscrew Tope Con Hilo. Ricochet hit a series of strikes and Tiger Feint Kick (323?) on Dream to lead to a nearfall. Ricochet caught Dream with a running neckbreaker and standing Shooting Star for a nearfall. Dream escaped a Benadryller attempt. Dream crotched Ricochet on the top rope. Both men brawled on the top rope with Ricochet coming out on top. Dream managed to quickly recover. Dream caught Ricochet on the second rope and caught Ricochet with a Super Cartwheel DVD. Ricochet kicked out of the subsequent pin attempt.
Ricochet recovered and tried to do a inside-out deadlift suplex to Dream but Dream countered and Suplexed Ricochet from the top rope to the floor on the outside to invoke a “holy shit” chant. Both men managed to beat the referee’s ten count. Vic Joseph noted that both men are considered “the future of NXT”. Ricochet made it to his feet but Dream snapped on a dime with a quick Cartwheel DVD for a nearfall. Both wrestlers traded fatigued shots at each other and then laid on each other for support. Dream went for a signature DDT but it was reversed. Ricochet’s back gave way on a suplex attempt. Ricochet landed a Clothesline on Ricochet in the next sequence.
Dream hit his swinging DDT on Ricochet for a great nearfall and standing ovation from the crowd. Dream slapped Ricochet slowly telling him he’s a piece of crap and belongs in a bingo hall. Dream said “I’m home grown, you belong in a bingo hall… I’m a wrestling god.”. Ricochet surprised Dream with Dream’s signature Death Valley Driver. Ricochet did the Velveteen Dream pose on the top rope and hit Dream with the Purple Rainmaker. Dream kicked out at two. Ricochet went for the 630 but Dream rolled away to mid-ring. Ricochet landed a Shooting Star Press but Dream got his legs up and got a pin attempt on Ricochet. Ricochet sent to the other side of the ring. Ricochet dodged a Coast-to-coast Purple Rainmaker. This set up Dream for the 630 which Ricochet hit on the back of Dream. Ricochet picked up the pinfall.
Ricochet defeated Velveteen Dream via pinfall in 22:10.
Nigel and Joseph wondered if Velveteen Dream’s ego (during the time he kept yelling at Ricochet on the ground) might have cost him the win in the end… [C]
John’s Thoughts: A match that lived up to the hype, but I feel like if these two get in the ring again they can put on an even better show. Maybe I’m just spoiled by watching so many Ricochet matches in the past. I would like to hear what a person who hasn’t seen as much of his work thinks? What would have made this match better is if we saw Ricochet try to match some of Dream’s great character and promo work mid-match. This match also had to follow that really hot opening tag match. That said, this was amazing and what was expected.
An environmental shot from the POV of the Chicago River was shown back from the break. Tommaso Ciampa was shown sitting on a crate in the darkness and focused. Vic Joseph transitioned to the Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross video package…
Nikki Cross came out to her modified Sanity theme. She had a new video wall with a lot of random eyeballs. Cross wore her usual gear modified with some blue and white stripes on it (in honor of Scotland?). Baszler wore a glittered red and gold version of her gear to the ring. Kayla Braxton handled the formal ring introductions…
John’s Thoughts: I listened to Will and Jake’s Pretentious Podcast earlier today that previewed this takeover show and I do agree with Will’s point he presented in that preview that it wouldn’t hurt to get another women’s match on this show. Maybe at the next Takeover? I wouldn’t mind the show being 30 minutes longer for that. That said, this upcoming match should be great.
3. Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross for the NXT Women’s Championship. Baszler shoved Cross to begin the match but that only caused Cross to roll and crawl around the ring like a kitty cat. This perplexed Baszler and she flashed a great “what the hell” look. Cross and Baszler traded submission attempts. Cross trapped Baszler in the ring skirt and pummeled her. Cross locked in a sleeper on the ramp but Baszler fell on her back to break the hold. Baszler caught Cross with a simple (but nice) knee strike. Baszler hit the ground and pound on Cross which drew big boos. Cross escaped a choke on the ground. Cross would smile after all of Baszler’s cut-down moves. Nigel talked about how Cross shows signs of being a masochist.
Cross no-sold some knee strikes and smiled at Baszler’s face and even slapped her own face. Cross grabbed Baszler’s knee and used forearms to set up a belly-to-back suplex. Cross hulked herself up with slaps to her own face. Cross mounted a rally of moves after a Theaz Press. Cross got a nearfall after a crossbody dive. Cross hit Baszler with a reverse DDT on the apron.
Baszler kept going for strikes and pinfalls on Cross. Nigel noted that it is tough to deal damage to a person who likes getting hurt. Baszler reversed a Crucifix Pin into a Kirafuda Clutch. Cross managed to fight to a seated position to block the full force of the hold. Baszler would yank Cross to her side. Cross sat up and then smiled in the middle of the move. Nikki Cross passed out with a smile on her face.
Shayna Baszler defeated Nikki Cross via submission in 9:25 to retain the NXT Women’s Championship.
Baszler walked up the ramp with Nikki Cross recovering and smiling in the ring… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Not as “epic” as the previous two matches, but that’s just the situation you are put in on Takeover shows when you are in the middle of the show. It was very fun though and Nikki Cross is a riot to watch. Sanity’s MO has been their masochism which is usually how the commentators try to protect them on commentary. If they can stretch this out somehow. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Baszler vs. Cross hardcore match at the next Takeover show given how great Cross was in her hardcore match against Asuka around a year ago.
EC3 was shown in the crowd. In the celebrity seat in the crowd, independent wrestling standout Keith Lee was shown watching the show. The show cut to an Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan video package…
Lars Sullivan made his cool silhouette entrance. Black also has a cool entrance too which included Gothic candles this time. Kayla Braxton handled the formal ring introductions…
4. Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan for the NXT Championship. Sullivan kept telling Black that it takes one shot before the match. Black used some of his kickboxing strikes. Black blocked a Freak Accident attempt. Sullivan caught Black’s Black Mass with his bare hand. Black grounded Sullivan on the outside with a running meteora. Black got a one count after hitting a tiger knee on Sullivan. Sullivan blocked a few of Black’s moves. Black escaped a power slam. Sullivan no sold a lariat and ran through Black which drew boos. Black went for a Golden Triangle Moonsault but Sullivan caught Black midair and then rammed him into the ringside barricade. Sullivan wore down Black in the middle of the ring.
Black hulked up from a headlock but Sullivan gut punched Black. Black tried for a rollup but Sullivan stood his ground and then power slammed Black for a nearfall. Sullivan went to the top rope but Black gave him a running boot to stagger him. Sullivan crotched Black on the top rope and gave him a lariat. Sullivan went for hit diving headbutt but he fell right into the knee of Black. Nigel noted that Black’s knee might be hurting too because of Sullivan’s huge mass. Black hit a few clinch kicks and then grounded Black with a low sweep. Black hit Sullivan with a basement dropkick.
Black hit Sullivan with a CQC combo and springboard moonsault for a two count. Black lifted Sullivan with his foot. Sullivan created separation and gave Black a chop block. Nigel said it was smart that Sullivan targeted Black’s injured knee (did he telegraph a loss for Black?). Sullivan locked Black in a Stretch Muffler (to add more to my joke that Sullivan looks like Sami Callihan if Callihan were shot by Incredible Hulk gamma rays). Black reversed a Freak Accident into a DDT. Both men brawled at the ropes and onto the apron. Lars Sullivan gave Black a power slam on the ring apron. Sullivan hit his signature Diving Headbutt on Black. Vic Joseph did the annoying Vince McMahon call of saying “we have a new champion” which meant Black would kick out.
Black blocked a chop block with a double stomp. Black grazed Sullivan with Black Mass which only earned him a two count. Sullivan blocked Black Mass with a Lariat. Black hit Sullivan with Black Mass but Sullivan no-sold the shot and made it to his knee. For good measure, Black hit a second Black Mass on Sullivan to lead to the pinfall victory.
Alesister Black defeated Lars Sullivan via pinfall in 14:07 to retain the NXT Championship.
Sullivan stood in the ring as the lights changed to match the candles shown on the video wall…[C]
John’s Thoughts: A solid match but not up to the level of the previous three matches on this card. Part if it is this feud not having great build but also due to the high standards on Takeover shows. The match finish was also really similar to a match around a year ago. It was the same finish as Killian Dain vs. Drew McIntyre where Dain no-sold McIntyre’s Claymore in a similar way. Maybe it’s just Deja Vu. Credit to Sullivan though, he did pick things up in the second half of the match, but there is still a ways go go with him. Thankfully, he has a lot of room to grow. If I were booking things I would have had this end in a double countout or double KO, but this was definitive. So are they moving on?
Nigel McGuinness thanked Halestorm for providing the theme for Takeover. He also advertised Triple H having a live interview on Facebook after the show. The commentators then introduced the Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano video package…
Johnny Gargano was shown slowly walking backstage. Candice LeRae ran to him and handed him a crutch. LeRae said the words “Kick his ass!”. Gargano made his entrance. Ciampa made his usual no-theme-music entrance with a camouflage pattern on his own crutch.
John’s Thoughts: Because of that LeRae cameo, I hope she comes out to get some revenge on Ciampa (or will they save that for Barclays?). They allowed Zelina Vega to get physical with male wrestlers so it wouldn’t hurt for LeRae to get a few shots in?
5. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa in a Chicago Street Fight. Both men got rid of each other’s crutches and then brawled. Ciampa got his usual monster boos. They brawled to the outside. Nigel McGuinness took a bump and was knocked out because Tommaso Ciampa threw Gargano into him. They brawled through the crowd. Gargano hit and dominated Ciampa with a fan sign. It hurt because there was a stop sign hidden in the fan sign. An EC-Dub chant ensued. Gargano hit a high and deadly diving crossbody on Ciampa from the top of a stage area onto the ground. I think I could see Adam Pearce roaming the ringside area.
Gargano brought the action back to the ring as he threw a trash can and chair in the ring. Ciampa dodged a trash can lid and then gave Gargano a German Suplex. Dueling “Psycho Killer” and “Johnny Wrestling” chants ensued. Ciampa hit Gargano with the triple German Suplex. Gargano managed to turn the tables with his own German Suplex. Gargano caught Ciampa with a Suicide Dive. Brawling ensued with Gargano having the upper hand. Ciampa gained the upper hand using an Irish Whip. Ciampa then set the ringside steps perpendicular to the ring apron. Ciampa got his own chair and trash can.
Ciampa jabbed the gut of Gargano with the steel chair and then put it over Gargano’s head like a guillotine. Ciampa whipped Gargano into the ring steps with the chair around his neck. The commentators noted that Gargano got a neck injury a few months ago from Ciampa interfering in his NXT Championship match. Ciampa dominated Gargano by pummeling him with a trash can. Even catching him at the side of the head. Ciampa took off his “Ciampa Takes Over Chicago” shirt and used it to try to choke Gargano. Ciampa then went to put the boots to Gargano.
Ciampa tried to handcuff Gargano to the top rope but Gargano escaped with a step-up enziguri and a slingshot spear. Gargano took off his belt and then used it to whip the back of Ciampa. A “you deserve it” chant ensued. Gargano wrapped his right hand in the belt and then gave Ciampa a punch to the face with it. Gargano put Ciampa in the trash can and hit his signature superkick on Ciampa while in the trash can. Gargano set up the can in the corner turnbuckle. Ciampa blocked a power slam with the rake to the eyes. Tomasso Ciampa hit Gargano with Project Ciampa. Ciampa hit Gargano with his signature running knee.
Ciampa used the trash can lid to give Gargano another knee to the head. Gargano tried to escape getting tossed off the apron but Ciampa planted Gargano with a Celtic Cross on the top of the steel steps. At the 16 minute mark, Ciampa reached under the ring and pulled out a tool box. Ciampa used some Garden sheers to cut away the ropes from the ring apron. Ciampa pulled away the cloth and foam canvas form the ring to reveal the wooden floorboards. Ciampa put Gargano on the top rope and bit the ear of Gargano. Ciampa tried to hit a Super Celtic Cross but Gargano flipped away and superkicked Ciampa off the top rope.
Ciampa and Gargano traded fatigued punches on their way to their feet. Gargano hit a series of punches but Ciampa responded with a kick. Both men traded kicks but didn’t get knocked down. Ciampa and Gargano knocked each other down with a trash lid and crutch. Gargano fell on Ciampa for a nearfall. Gargano executed a plancha but was slapped mid air with a trash lid shot to the head (unprotected?). Ciampa gave Gargano a running knee but was selling the knee. Joseph noted that it was with his surgically repaired knee. Gargano recovered and targeted Ciampa’s injured knee. Gargano acted like a shark smelling blood in jabbing Ciampa’s knee with a chair. Ciampa manged to create separation by shoving Gargano into the set up trash can in the corner. Ciampa locked in the GargaNo Escape.
Gargano tried to grab the crutch but Ciampa gave Gargano forearms to the back of his head. Gargano made his concussion face. Ciampa hit Gargano with the crutch and Gargano kicked out of the pin attempt at two. Vic Joseph said the referee might have to save Tommaso Ciampa from himself. The crowd chanted “we want tables”. Ciampa sat on the apron while calmly shaking his head in disappointment. Ciampa put Gargano on his shoulder and lifted him by the hear. Ciampa said “we were like brothers… you were like family, you did this to yourself, now you say bye, candice, and bye by to your whole career”. Ciampa tossed Gargano into the LED video wall which Joseph noted was just like last year when DIY broke up.
Ciampa gave Gargano a running knee and then said “it’s not enough” afterward. Ciampa dragged Gargano to some crates and tables at the side of the stage area. Tommaso Ciampa pulled off Gargano’s wedding ring and then spat on it. Gargano recovered and hit Ciampa with a Celtic Cross from the top of a pile of crates onto wooden tables. The referee called for some help. Medics ran into the damage area to check on both wrestlers. Gargano recovered but Ciampa couldn’t make it to his feet and the medics were checking to see if Ciampa was concussed. The medics did a stretcher job to Ciampa. At around the 30 minute mark, Gargano calmly sat on top of the pile of crates watching the scene from above.
Gargano looked at his ring finger. Nigel asked if “Gargano has become what he despised”. Gargano tossed aside the medic and then dragged Ciampa back into the ring. Ciampa was wearing a neckbrace. Gargano locked in the GargaNo Escape and Ciampa tapped out. There was no referee to call the finish. Gargano locked Ciampa in the handcuffs and then gave Ciampa a superkick party to the face. Gargano put the GargaNo Escape again as Nigel McGuinness yelled “stop”. Some backstage guys in suits ran out and pulled Gargano off of Ciampa. Gargano managed to break free. Ciampa punched off the guys in suits to get back in the ring. Ciampa recovered and surprised Gargano with a DDT onto the wooden floorboards to pick up the pinfall win.
Tommaso Ciampa defeated Johnny Gargano via pinfall to win the street fight in 35:29.
Highlights from the match were shown. The referee held up the hand cuffed hand of Ciampa and called him the winner. Ciampa sat at ringside and had a laugh. Ciampa also had convulsions on his way to the stretcher. Nigel noted that Ciampa found some vindication. Ciampa used the stretcher as a crutch to help him on the way up the ramp. The medics, Drake Younger, and Candice ran in the ring to check on Gargano. Tommaso Ciampa did his creepy wave to close the show as the crowd chanted “F–k you Ciampa”….
John’s Thoughts: While this match didn’t have the novelty of the first match, both men treated this like directors do to a sequel of a movie. More, more, and even more stuff. This ended up being very compelling and by the end of it it was a treat to watch. To make an Impact Wrestling allusion, this is how they should have done the Eddie Edwards vs. Sami Callihan feud. You don’t see Gargano becoming the worlds dorkiest murderer here. Anyway back to this match, Ciampa had to go over and they told a great story getting there. One thing Gargano and Ciampa have been good at in these matches are creating set-pieces and this one had several. It was 35+ minutes, but it didn’t drag. Since each man has one a piece, are they setting up for a rubber match at Takeover: Brooklyn, their biggest show of the year? One more complement to these two, Ciampa and Gargano continue to push the limits in 2018 in hardcore matches without going overboard. They almost live in a ECW pocket universe in these matches.
As usual, Takeover shows continue to deliver. The NXT Championship match wasn’t bad, but it didn’t live up to the rest of the card which told better stories and had better in-ring. Go out of your way to see it. There wasn’t anything really new, but you’ll be satisfied as usual. Jason Powell will be by later tonight with an NXT Takeover Audio Review for the Dot Net Members. I’ll be by tomorrow morning with a NXT Takeover Hit list….