Mac's NXT Takeover Chicago Review

My excitement for this show is unparalleled, I have higher expectations of NXT shows and a few matches here could possibly steal the show, Mauro Ranallo isn’t on the show this evening I certainly won’t miss Mama Mia as a call during the show This is also my first go at this, so be nice, or don't, can't say I care.

As openers go, this is a good choice, not the one I would have gone with, but the crowd is always hot for the Undisputed Era. Undisputed Era will struggle to be the heels the company want them to be in NXT. Birch and Lorcan have taken a while to get to this stage, but they have been slowly becoming a solid team, and they work together where as apart I feel they would be lost or future endeavoured. This is a great match, helped by the crowd being hot. It told a nice story and moved at a nice pace. Adam Cole having to save Kyle O’Reilly after a lovely Doomsday Uppercut all helped in the presentation of Lorcan and Birch being credible contenders to The Undisputed Boys. The reception that Oney and Danny received at the end of the match, considering the lukewarm reception at the beginning, is a credit to the story told and the work these men put in.

This for me, this could steal the show. It would have also been the match I would have opened with, I have loved the build, I don’t really need to praise Ricochet; more eloquent and intelligent people than me have done that, and Velveteen Dream is one of the best characters around WWE at the moment who can also go. We shall see.
 Dream is out first dressed in his best Hulkster attire, I love it already. The crowd is hot for this, and I would say Dream being the crowd favourite. After a slow start, chain wrestling and lock up’s the match naturally hits an higher beat with some huge moves, a Ricochet topè, a second rope Rolling Death Valley Bomb from Velveteen Dream on Ricochet- Suplex from the apron to the floor again from Dream on Ricochet, which leads to a close nine count, all highlights. Again the storytelling on display is fantastic the two men involved go all out to draw you in, and it works. Dream screaming “You belong in a bingo hall” is a marvelous touch which leads to Ricochet losing it, hitting a Death Valley Bomb and a Dream Maker elbow for a close two, adds additional fuel to the one-upmanship that this match is built on. You have to see the Shooting Star attempt from Ricochet to believe it. What I liked about this match is it wasn’t high spots for high spot sake, everything fitted, everything told a story, and as this review goes on you may notice a trend for the type of wrestling I enjoy. Great match and I will look forward to these two meeting again. Both of these guys will be massive.

Both of these women are growing on me. I have been quite critical of Nikki Cross in the past, not her ring work, which at times I feel isn’t up to the standard of a Ember Moon, or Asuka, but it certainly isn’t bad,I just wasn’t on board with the character. I didn’t think she did crazy well, she is proving me wrong. The same can be said about Shayna Baszler, I wasn’t a fan to begin with, but I am getting there. So, as matches go, I don’t have too much expectation for this one. Again, I hope I proved wrong.  
I don’t think I was, not there was anything wrong with the match, Nikki was quite entertaining in the beginning portion with her “Do it Shayna” shout. But other than that, not much of note happened, other than what I consider the inevitable ref Stoppage finish. Nikki Cross needs saNITy to work convincingly, Shayna Baszler needs to add layers to her character, perhaps some kind of venerability. Like I said, nothing overly wrong with the match, just nothing spectacular

I am a huge fan of Black, I see him slotting into the current Smackdown locker room ideally. However, I feel he will have a long night tonight against Lars Sullivan, not that Sullivan is bad, I just don’t think he is ready for this level at a TakeOver. Personally, I would have rather have seen a Triple Threat match with Black vs Ciampa vs Gargano, but that is a different discussion for a different time.
Black starts off on fire, which is great because it shows a side we haven’t seen much of from Sullivan in one on one situation, on the back foot. A slowly swung right hand from Black to Sullivan is hard to suspend disbelief, I could have caught it. They did pull it back when Sullivan impressively plucks Black out of the air from a top rope moonsault to the floor attempt. Not a fan of Sullivan trying to be Vader with a “Who’s the man” shout.  Sullivan was on top for what seemed like a long time, for me with varying effect, some of his power moves look great and he comes across as the monster they want him to be. Other times it is like I watching it in slow motion. The pace is impressive for the portions Black is in control, and Sullivan to his credit plays his part. Again though the match has a story, and a logical method to it. The booking of NXT is top notch, Lars Sullivan locking in the old Brock Lock is great. In the latter stages of the match I am sure Sullivan is doing everything to prove me wrong, not only taking some great moves, but delivering a great powerslam on the apron and then a diving headbutt. A missed chopblock attempt leads to a huge botch and goes back to what I said at the beginning. As Black throws Black Mass it completely misses Sullivan, I have seen England penalties get closer to there target, calling back to the inexperience of Sullivan, he still falls like he has been shot, leaving Black to comically go for the pin. Black does not look happy. A second poor Black Mass to the mid section somehow draws blood from the mouth of Sullivan, unless that was from the knee prior I am not 100% certain. An actual Black Mass gets Black the win. An incredibly sloppy closing section, the slow motion of Sullivan ruined portions of this match, however when it was good, I enjoyed it so not going to shit all over it. Sullivan needs more time rather than be flung into main event level one on one matches, multi-man I can accept because weaknesses are easier to hide. Shame.

I worry for this match, not because I don’t think it will be good, but because of the stipulation. It is essentially the same match as the last one they had, I think a submission match would have been a better call, and told the more logical story, other suggestions Hell In A Cell, First Blood, Three Stages of Hell, something, anything so violent that it can be the blow off these two deserve. With that being said, with talents like Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano they could well top the last one.
Candice handing Johnny a crutch is a nice touch and fits the whole story also Gargano is in jeans to sell the street fight gimmick. Regretting my choice of a Ciampa win now. Tomasso has his own crutch, I am hoping for a sword fight with crutches. I don’t get it, however it starts off at an electric pace, with Johnny being mentally on top. They right into the crowd, where Ciampa takes control. He grabs hold of a Gargano sign and trust to destroy it, Johnny recovers and blasts Ciampa with the sign revealing a hidden stop sign which nobody finds odd, because well, it’s wrestling. After fighting through the crowd the hidden B&Q under the ring comes into play with a metal bin being launched into the ring. Ciampa regains control with rolling German Suplexes where we are reminded of the neck injury. We get another “remember the injured neck” call as Tomasso sticks Gargano’s head through a chair and throws him into the steel steps. It is all Ciampa now continuing to work the neck of Gargano. The crowd is red hot for this one, which helps sell the match, and as if to prove that we get a “you suck whoop whoop” chant aimed at Ciampa. Gargano fights off handcuffs and hits a slingshot spear to regain control, we then get a belt whipping of Ciampa backed up with the “you deserve it” chant. The first near fall comes after a knee to the head of Gargano with the bin lid in front. Ciampa hits an excellent Irish Cruse on the steel steps from another  two count. Ciampa cuts the ropes which hold the mat down to pull the canvas of the ring away eventually exposing the wood under the ring, shit has gotten real, Ciampa sticks Johnny on the top rope, biting him for good measure, Ciampa goes for the Irish Cruse off the second rope but Johnny fights out and hits a Superkick. The commentators are on full hyperbole mode, and it actually isn’t ruining the match. Not a Mama Mia in sight. Gargano starts destroying Ciampa’s knee with the chair, but somehow locks in the Gargano escape, which Gargano escapes. In a great shuotback to last years event Ciampa drags Johnny down to the entrance, berating all the way, and throws Gargano into the entrance. Ciampa removes Gargano’s wedding ring and spits on, the temporary pause allows Gargano to hit an Irish Curse of his own off some electric boxes through a table, it was impressive. Medics are out to deal with Ciampa, Gargano gazes down from on high, Johnny looks remorseful as he watches Tomasso being loaded on stretcher, I doubt he is. I was right, Gargano is going to straight up kill him I am sure. Gargano handcuffs Ciampa, hits about five Superkick and locks in the Gargano escape officials take a pounding at the hands of Johnny. Ciampa manages to pick up the win after hitting a DDT on the exposed ring. The match was great, really great, told a lovely story with some great throwbacks to the the whole feud. I don’t think it was as good as the last effort but certainly my favourite match of the night, and like I thought, the two managed to pull a different match out of the bag while being lumbered with a similar gimmick. The “Fuck You Ciampa” chant to close the show was great

Overall, I enjoyed the show, I always enjoy NXT shows. However, I thought after the red-hot start of The Undisputed Era vs Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, followed by Ricochet vs Velveteen Dream it was let down by the two slow matches consecutively. Obviously, Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa pulled it back from the lull, also the booking and the story’s all made sense a progressed things along, so it was good overall. Problem is, I expect more than good from NXT, I expect great.

Overall Grade - B