NXT TAKEOVER CHICAGO
ERIC YOUNG vs. RODERICK STRONG: Realistically, this was a solid opener, but it wasn’t particularly thrilling unless Strong was on offence. Young’s run on NXT has been fairly effective all told, he’s had some good matches and hasn’t gotten in anybody’s way on the card. The whole Sanity thing really hasn’t taken off much though, to the point that it was notable they actually got a reaction coming out. Crowd were really behind Strong and the match was basically there to make him look good, which is promising. Strong fighting off three guys and winning probably represents his best win thus far. Whether he’s going to move into a crowded main event scene or spend some more time with the rest of Sanity, we’ll see.
TYLER BATE vs. PETE DUNNE: This was the match that got all the hype coming out of the show. No doubt that they won over the crowd. I don’t know if this will translate into anything for the weekly UK show or simply give Dunne and Bate a boost whenever they appear in NXT, but the cruiserweight division never got this moment on a big stage between the tournament ending and 205 Live. No idea if more people would have watched Takeover than the CWC Finals on the Network, but I’d guess so.
ASUKA vs. NIKKI CROSS vs. RUBY RIOT: Good, but maybe a little underwhelming. Having to follow Dunne and Bate probably didn’t help. The crowd seemed into Riot during her entrance, but they maybe lost steam during the match itself. Asuka pinning both at the same time was a good finish. One because they did it without it looking too contrived and two, it continues to establish her as untouchable at the top of the division, at least until Ember returns.
BOBBY ROODE vs. HIDEO ITAMI: A really good Bobby Roode match. Whether Bobby Roode matches are your taste is probably going to vary your mileage and it took some time to kick into high gear, but that’s okay by me. And I’m sure it’ll fit right in with the main roster. I thought these two made for a much better pairing than Roode and Shinsuke did in terms of meshing with each other. The match built into something really strong and the selling of the injuries and the work with the finishers at the end was all super well done. This wasn’t anywhere near as spectacular and Bate/Dunne, but it was still really enjoyable, Roode’s just going about things a different way.
THE AUTHORS OF PAIN vs. DIY: By the end, this delivered a memorable end to the show. The match also had some glaring problems. Problem number one was Ciampa and Gargano spent an inordinate amount of time wandering around doing nothing and taking forever to get ladders at the start of the match when they clearly could have climbed up and won easily. That’s wrestling, to some extent, but it was particularly noticeable here. The bigger problem was they hung the belts so low that the AOP could reach them from a couple of rungs up. And aside from it looking a bit silly, it meant they had to climb even slower than someone ordinarily would to compensate and not get there too quickly. It did none of the four any favours and they’d probably have been better just wrestling and avoiding the climbing altogether until it was really necessary. Thankfully, they did more than enough in the way of dangerous spots to pull this one back by the end. The main takeaway is obviously the post-match angle though, with Ciampa’s turn and Gargano’s great selling. So realistically, this delivered on the key parts it was supposed to.
NXT MAY 24TH 2017
Recap of Takeover to open.
Aleister Black vs. Curt Hawkins
Rematch from Main Event two weeks ago in London, which Black won. Black pretty much outclassed Hawkins at the start and Hawkins got the briefest of control on him, before Black made a comeback of sorts and pinned him after the Black Mass. Essentially a squash, even against a main roster member, if it is the very bottom rung of the main roster. A few people did at least try to chant for Hawkins at one point before being chanted down. Another good showing for Black. Since last Takeover he’s done a great job and been set up well to match, with the way his matches have been laid out and of course the cool entrance.
Pretty extensive highlight video of DIY versus The Authors Of Pain, with Ciampa’s turn after the match. If you hadn’t seen the match, I think every significant spot was in this video. Presumably this is what watching an NFL game on Game Pass is like, just all the plays. I don’t know what this is going to mean for Ciampa and Gargano’s long term prospects, I think they would have stood a better shot going up to the main roster as a team. If they’re ear-marked for 205 Live they’ll be fine, but I don’t know if earmarking people for 205 Live is even a thing anymore. So we’ll see. The feud should be great for NXT. They showed footage of Gargano being stretchered out to an ambulance and said doctors were refusing to release details on his condition.
They showed Ember in the arena before Takeover as everything was being set up. She said she thought she’d come to terms with being injured for the show, but being there sucked. She said she could do nothing about Ruby or Cross potentially winning, but she hoped Asuka retained so she could take the belt herself. Ember said time healed all wounds, but battle scars last forever. They then recapped the Women’s Triple Threat match and aired an interview with Kayla asking Asuka what was next for her. She claimed nobody could go toe to toe with her and the title was her’s.
Recap of Strong versus Young and Kayla interviewed Strong. Strong said he’d overcome the odds all his life and if someone brought his family into things, nothing would stop him from ending them. He ended by saying it was one more step towards the NXT Championship.
Velveteen Dream vs. Robert Anthony
So Velveteen Dream is Patrick Clark. Or TAFKA Patrick Clark, as they didn’t mention him by that name and are presumably treating this as a debut, as I’m sure they’ve done before with guys. Anthony was the former Egotistico Fantastico. Velveteen looked pretty impressive and showed a lot of athleticism in a complete squash, winning with a really nice elbow drop off the top. Nobody gave him the Bayley memo I guess? Anyway, promising debut, hopefully he catches on.
Bate versus Dunne was recapped. In an interview with Kayla, Dunne said he’d watched Bate live a dream since January knowing that the title should have been his and now, everything was his.
Recap of Roode versus Itami. Roode was interviewed and asked if Kayla was surprised that he won, saying Itami earned a shot but wasn’t even in his league. Roode said he was going to enjoy some time off and he’d decide who was next and when, because his NXT would continue to be glorious. They then promoted a Glorious Celebration for Roode next week, so presumably his time off will be after then.
Drew McIntyre vs. Wesley Blake
This was Blake’s first televised match since September last year. So, eight months ago. Seems like he’s been working house shows regularly, but not TV. They’ve binned his chillstep theme and he’s now playing up Texan roots. I think in my head I’d decided him and Murphy were both Australian. It’s easy to blame WWE presentation for these things, but that might be on me. This wasn’t a squash, Blake able to work on Drew’s left arm for part of the match. Blake got a two count after sending Drew into the post shoulder first and then applied a crossface. Drew bridged out of a tree of woe to throw Blake off the top though and after Blake avoided the running boot, Drew hit a headbutt and then the running boot second time around for the win.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: None of the three matches were must see, but all decent. The two squash matches succeeded in making Black and Velveteen Dream look good and are worth your time more-so than McIntyre/Blake, which was fine, but Drew’s had better matches since returning.
NXT WEEK: Bobby Roode’s Glorious Celebration.