The WWE is currently taking over (pun intended) Chicago this weekend, with two stacked Pay Per Views for their NXT and Smackdown brands. First up this weekend is NXT Takeover: Chicago, and if this event is a teaser for what to expect this weekend, then we are in for one hell of a PPV for Backlash tomorrow.
Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young
First up was Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young. Strong has been a star on the independent circuit for a number of years, and finally seeing him in a WWE ring is awesome. Eric Young has been signed with WWE for a while, but has found a new life as the leader of the villainous stable sAnity. They both showed the WWE Universe why they belong. In the lead up to this match, they did well to bleed real life into the story by acknowledging the recent birth of Strong’s son, and using that to motivate Strong in the match.
There were some awesome spots included in the bout, including a brutal knee shot to Eric Young, forcing him to fall off the top rope onto his sAnity team mates Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain. In the end, Strong came out with the win with a huge backbreaker, in a Strong (pun definitely intended) opening match.
A Strong opening bout for NXT Takeover: Chicago.
WWE United Kingdom Championship Match
Tyler Bate (c) vs. Pete Dunne
Up next was what I consider the Match of the Night: Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne for the WWE United Kingdom Championship. These two men had an amazing match earlier this year at the United Kingdom Championship Tournament, where Bate was crowned the WWE UK Champion. Dunne beat fellow UKCT competitor Trent Seven to have the right to face Bate at NXT Chicago, which set us up with the epic rematch.
And by God, did it deliver. The crowd even gave Bate and Dunne the “Fight Forever” chant. The match featured some of the best action NXT – and WWE for that matter – has seen for quite a while. Some of the highlights of the match include Bate hitting a stunning move running into the ropes that has to be seen to be believed; Dunne countering a standing shooting star press into a triangle choke hold, before Bate showed his brute strength and lifted Dunne clean off the mat mid-hold; and a monstrous corkscrew 450 from Bate onto Dunne. Despite Bate getting off a majority of offense, Dunne walked out of Chicago the champion, to the delight of the crowd.
A job well Dunne.
NXT Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match
Asuka (c) vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross
Next up was the triple threat NXT Women’s Championship match. The bout was scheduled to be Asuka defending her title against sAnity’s Nikki Cross, Ruby Riot and Ember Moon. However, due to a legitimate injury suffered during Asuka’s heel turn on the May 3rd episode of NXT, Ember Moon was forced out of the match, turning it into a triple threat match instead.
The match showcased all three women and their characters well. Asuka once again showed her dominance as the undefeated NXT Women’s Champion, Cross showed off her insAnity (Yes, there are lots of wrestling puns. Deal with it) and Riot showed the ‘never say die” attitude we’ve grown accustomed to on NXT. In a result that was less surprising, however, Asuka retained her title in a pretty decent match. It makes you wonder how much better it could have been with Moon in the picture.
Asuka remains undefeated in NXT.
NXT Championship Match
Bobby Roode (c) vs. Hideo Itami
The next match on the card was a surprising one, as the NXT Championship has rarely been defended outside of the main event on NXT special events. NXT Champion Bobby Roode defended his title against challenger Hideo Itami. Itami’s history with NXT has been long and heartbreaking, suffering two major injuries that have only allowed him to work with NXT maybe nine months total, after being signed with NXT for over two and a half years.
Overall, the match was solid. The match was almost over as soon as it started, with Itami picking Roode up in the opening moments for a Go to Sleep (to a huge cheer from the crowd), but Roode managed to counter and get out of it. Itami and Roode pulled off some stellar offense. Both guys came out looking stronger than they went in, with Itami taking three Glorious DDTs total before being vanquished. I hope this isn’t the end of this feud; if we can get one or two more matches of this quality out of these guys, they should let them go.
Another Glorious win for Roode.
NXT Tag Team Championship Ladder Match
The Authors of Pain (c) vs. #DIY
Finally, we are at the main event, NXT Tag Champions The Authors of Pain vs. #DIY in NXT’s first ever tag team Ladder Match. The lead up to this match featured everything #DIY have done in NXT. As one of the most popular tag teams in NXT history, and the fact that The Revival had moved up to the main roster on Raw, the belief leading into the match was that #DIY were going to get one last hurrah in NXT, in front of what is essentially their hometown, before moving to the main roster. Both men cut their teeth on the independent circuit in Chicago, so it was fitting they could be having their last NXT match in Chicago.
It was also reported a few days out that Ciampa from #DIY had suffered a leg injury at a house show mere days before the event, so the fact this match went ahead was surprising. In the end, and after #DIY almost clinching the win, The Authors of Pain retained their titles after giving Gargano and Ciampa a Super Collider, then climbing the ladder to retain their belts. Ciampa had quite easily some of the best offense in the match, including a nasty German Suplex to Akam off a ladder through another ladder set up in the corner.
The Authors of Pain wrote their way to another successful title defense.
There was another gnarly spot where Akam and Rezar were positioned on two ladder bridges, and Gargano and Ciampa did a mental dive off a ladder between the bridges, with it looking like Ciampa almost killed himself, after almost coming down on his neck. There was even a spot involving AoPs manager, and WWE Hall of Famer, Paul Ellering. After stopping Gargano from being able to retrieve the belts, he ate a Superkick from Gargano. After the match, The Authors of Pain left ringside holding their belts high, as Gargano and Ciampa took in the adulation from the crowd. Gargano and Ciampa made their way up to the ramp and waved goodbye to NXT, as the corner credits rolled, signalling the end of the event.
Then, out of nowhere, Ciampa attacked his best friend and began an absolute dismantling of the man fondly known as “Johnny Wrestling”. Ciampa slammed Gargano into the screen backdrop, before beginning to destroy the commentary booth. As a final act of violence, Ciampa hoisted Gargano up on his back, and delivered an over the shoulder back-to-belly piledriver through the production tables, before calmly sitting on the riser that the commentary booth sits on to watch paramedics tend to Gargano to close the show. Ladies and Gentleman, The Psycho Killer is officially in NXT.
#D-I-Why Tommaso, Why?
Overall, the Takeover special was pretty good. A small lull in the women’s match was good for the final two matches on the card, as the crowd might have burnt themselves out going nuts for four matches straight. The turn from Ciampa was a masterpiece, and I expect it to be the focal point outside of the NXT Championship scene moving towards SummerSlam weekend.
Overall PPV Rating: 9/10