NXT rolls into Chicago, IL and brings us their latest “Takeover” offering, called Takeover: Chicago. The event aired live on WWE Network at 8PM EST on May 20. Due to personal commitments, I am watching this show on delay after the live broadcast via WWE Network. The card was as follows:
- Bobby Roode (c) vs. Hideo Itami; NXT Championship
- Asuka (c) vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross; NXT Women’s Championship under Triple Threat Rules
- Authors of Pain (w/Paul Ellering, c) vs. Team #DIY; NXT Tag Team Championship under Ladder Match Rules
- Tyler Bate (c) vs. Pete Dunne; WWE United Kingdom Championship
- Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young (w/Sanity)
The panel for the pre-show was Charly Caruso, Nigel McGuinness, and Peter Rosenberg. They hyped the tag team championship ladder match, the women’s championship match, and the NXT Championship match. They showed the various champions entering the building.
They went outside with Vic Joseph and Kayla Braxton who were among the fans. They hyped the history that was involved with this show because four titles are on the line. They set up a video package to hype the match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne for the UK Championship.
After a break, they set up a video package for the tag team championship, then the women’s championship match. They talked about Ember Moon’s injury. She visited the pre-show panel and said she is still focused on winning the NXT Women’s Championship.
They had a short interview with Roderick Strong, who warned Eric Young to not mention his family ever again. The commentary team shilled WWE Network and what all new subscribers could see if they signed up for a free month. They set up discussion of the main event with a video package. Rosenberg talked about what might happen if Hideo Itami hits the GTS in this match. The place will melt down, Peter – we talked about it in our audio show already. The panel gave final hype for the show and checked out.
WWE NXT “Takeover: Chicago”, broadcast live on WWE Network and live from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL.
They started with a video package to hype the show. The commentary team was Tom Phillips, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson.
Match #1 – Eric Young (w/Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe) vs. Roderick Strong;
Winner: Roderick Strong
The Reax: Young with his teammates made their normal entrance, but Strong ended up entering through the crowd to attack Dain and Wolfe at ringside from behind. He ran one to the post and hit a slam on the other before hitting the ring to take on Young. Strong was successful in getting the numbers game out of the way early. Strong took the offense to Young with strikes and punches in the early going.
Young recovered with a belly to back suplex and took charge of the match. Wolfe and Dain had recovered and stood at ringside while Young hit a neckbreaker then locked in a chinlock. After some reversed whips, Strong hit a hard running clothesline then threw some strikes. Moments later, Strong took out Wolfe with a kick, then ducked a charge from Dain. He flipped Young on the apron but ate a big cross body block from Dain. Young took back over on offense again.
Young perched on the ropes and stretched Strong out, locking on a face-lock as if he were going to try a suplex. Young stepped on Strong at the ropes and Wolfe hit a kick while the official wasn’t looking. Young continued to control the offense while the fans rallied behind Strong. This is a solid opening matchup. Young controlled Strong with a cravat hold and Strong fought to his feet but Young took him back down.
Young went back to the ropes and looked to stretch him out again, but Strong countered out then hit Young with a drop kick as Young dove off the ropes. Good looking move right there. Strong started to fire up with strikes and a backbreaker. Strong got a two counts moments later and Young rolled to ringside. Strong went to the apron and Young hit his wheelbarrow neckbreaker at ringside. Both men sold. Back inside, Young covered for two.
Young went back up to the buckle, and Strong met him there. They fought briefly, but Young headbutted him down and followed with an elbow drop for two. Young tries his wheelbarrow neckbreaker but Strong rolls him up for two. Strong fires off a kick at him, then takes out Dain with a kick. He feeds Young into Wolfe to take him out and tries to load a move but Young rakes the eyes to break it up. He goes back to the corner.
Strong meets Young on the buckle and they jockey for position. Strong throws a jumping knee strike and sends Young to the floor onto his teammates. In the end, Strong hit a release suplex into a backbreaker to score the victory. Strong escaped to the stage to celebrate as Sanity stewed in the ring.
A solid card opener. They told the story of the numbers game giving Young the edge throughout the match with Strong fighting from underneath to overcome them. I’m not sure where they go from here with Sanity, or with Strong. It felt to me like this was a conclusion point for these guys because I don’t know what more you can do with them.
They showed Ruby Riot, Nikki Cross, and Asuka all getting ready for the triple threat match backstage. They then ran a video package to build up to the WWE UK Championship match.
Before the next match, they welcomed Jim Ross to commentary to call the action. Ross got a warm reaction from the Chicago crowd.
Match #2 – Tyler Bate (c) vs. Pete Dunne; WWE UK Championship
Winner: Pete Dunne to win the WWE United Kingdom Championship
The Reax: Big positive reactions for both guys as they got this starting, with dueling chants. The two worked some chain wrestling in the early going. Bate handstanded his way out of a leg scissor by Dunne as they tied up again. Dunne started to work on the left arm and wrist of Bate. Bate kipped up, drop kicked Dunne and fixed his mustache. Bate went out after him but ate a forearm. Dunne worked the hand of Bate some more and teased stomping on it on the stairs, but Bate escaped then hit a flying uppercut of his own.
JR hyped this as being the biggest match of their careers. Dunne hit a suplex on Bate onto the apron. Back inside the ring, Dunne continued to work the arm in the face of dueling chants. Nigel said the official should be enforcing the rules regarding Dunne’s joint manipulation work. Dunne kept up the pressure with stomps. Bate fired back with an exploder suplex.
Bate scored two running European uppercuts but ate a running drop kick. Dunne threw a suplex, but Bate landed on his feet and hit a back senton then followed with a belly to back suplex and kept Dunne held down for the two count. Nothing flashy here, just good solid in ring work. Fans chanted both “NXT” and “UK” as they sold. Bate set for a standing moonsault but Dunne caught him and locked him in a triangle and threw strikes simultaneously. Great spot. Bate powered him up and hit a powerbomb. JR put the move over as a big display of strength.
Bate loaded an airplane spin and delivered it, with some impressive speed that the live crowd popped for. Bate covered for two, then both men sold again. Bate went for a suplex, but Dunne landed on his feet. Bate ducked a clothesline but when he sprung off the buckle he ate a big strike. Dunne looked for his X-plex but changed mid-air to a sit-out powerbomb for a good two count. Crowd went crazy, as they should. This is working toward “match of the year” list considerations.
The two men started exchanging punches while sitting on the mat. The strikes continued as they got to their feet, and the crowd popped big for the exchange. Bate got a strong left then tried for the Tyler Driver but Dunne hit an enzugiri. More striking, with Bate using a rolling Pele kick and Dunne hitting a straight boot before throwing Bate to the ropes. He sprung off and threw a stiff clothesline for a good near fall. Crowd is really hot for this – it’s fantastic.
After both men sold, Bate tried to load the Tyler Driver. Bate couldn’t quite get it, and Dunne came back with the Bitter End. Bate countered it with a DDT. Dunne fell through the ropes, then Bate broke the count and hit a moonsault on Dunne at ringside, then threw him in and hit a 450 corkscrew for a great near fall. Dunne went back to ringside.
Bate set a dive, but Dunne sidestepped him and drove him to the floor. He threw Bate back in and hit the Bitter End to score the victory. JR and Nigel put the match over as a “big time wrestling match.” Dunne posed with the belt while Bate sold at ringside. JR said the men of the UK would be “damn successful” as Nigel talked about various highlights.
Plain and simple, this was the match of the night in my eyes. These two guys went out and wowed the crowd, but it wasn’t with big moves throughout the match. They sprinkled in their spots and chose them wisely, and I think they did a good job of getting the live crowd invested in what they were doing in the ring. That’s great storytelling. The two men are very impressive – something I’ve thought since seeing them the first time in the UK Tournament in January. This was a great match, and if you watch only one match from this Takeover show, you have to watch this one. Bravo to both men.
They recapped the women’s championship story with a video package.
Match #3 – Asuka (c) vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross; NXT Women’s Championship under Triple Threat Rules;
Winner: Asuka to retain the NXT Women’s Championship;
The Reax: Ruby was first out, and she got a nice reaction being from Indiana and the commentary team played that fact up. Nikki Cross was out next, then Asuka as the champion. Cross and Riot jawed at each other before Asuka made her way to the ring to a big reaction. She has to be the first champion that when they say how long her title reign has been, I don’t automatically put my guard up for a title change.
Cross went right at Ruby, hitting her with her jacket then sending her to the apron. Asuka hit a hip attack on Riot while she was on the apron, then one on Cross for good measure. Cross hit a running cross body then tried to throw Asuka to ringside but she countered and sent Cross to ringside. Riot got in and considered going right at Asuka, but they circled. The two exchanged shoulder blocks that they stalemated on. Asuka threw Riot to the corner but Riot sent Asuka to the floor.
Riot set for a dive, but Cross cut her off and sent her to the floor. All three women outside, and Cross threw Riot toward the stairs. She changed gears and hit a flying forearm off the steps on Asuka, then Cross hit Riot from behind and took her down.
Back in the ring, Cross and Riot worked, with Cross hitting a neckbreaker. Asuka hit a drop kick on Cross from the ropes, but in the meantime took a shot from Riot’s knees. Asuka continued with kicks to Cross. Cross came back with a neckbreaker for two and laughed. A few moments later she hit a Codebreaker, but Riot returned to the match to throw some kicks on Asuka.
Asuka caught one of the kicks and hit a powerbomb then rolled it over into an ankle lock. Nice transition. Cross returned to the match and raked the back of Asuka. Cross took a hip attack, then Riot tried to roll Asuka up. Asuka kicked out and sent Riot into a forearm shot from Cross, then when Asuka charged Cross pulled the ropes down and let Asuka crash to the floor.
Cross and Riot worked in the ring, with Riot getting the better with clothesline shots. She hit a drop kick on Cross, then Asuka got back in the match. Riot hit her with a huracanrana, then dragged Cross face first to the buckle with her knees. Asuka got on the apron and landed a shot on Riot. Cross leaped from the apron and took a big knee to the face, then Riot followed with a dive through the ropes.
Riot threw Cross in and hit a back splash from the top rope for two. Asuka came back to the match and hit a bridging German suplex for two. She tried another on Cross but Cross cut her off. Asuka came back with a spinning back fist but Cross caught that and used her arm to slam Asuka down for two.
Cross went at Riot with what looked like a sleeper but Riot fought off. Asuka held Cross while Riot hit a superkick, then Asuka followed with a German suplex. Riot kicked Asuka down and went top rope for her back senton, but Asuka caught her with the Asuka Lock. Cross splashed the duo to break the hold. The commentary team said she saved the match.
Out on the apron, Cross hit a reverse DDT. Asuka charged and slid to the outside but Cross pulled the apron back and caught Asuka in the ring apron then teed off on her while she was caught. Cross dragged Asuka to the corner and hit a hanging neckbreaker for a two count. Riot cut the pinfall off. Riot and Cross hit simultaneous cross body blocks. All three women sold.
Cross and Riot clotheslined Asuka to the outside. In the ring, Cross rolled Riot for a two, then Riot came back with her own for two. Cross threw a knee strike then set for her fisherman’s neckbreaker, but Riot countered holding the arm and hitting an enzugiri. Riot rolled into the cover, but Asuka re-entered the match and set a knee strike. Riot looked like she rolled out of the way, but Nigel said that Cross kicked out and sent Riot into the knee strike. Asuka ended up pinning both women for the win.
They keep asking “who is going to beat Asuka?” after every championship match, and I’m starting to wonder the same thing. Will she end up vacating the title and moving up to the main roster undefeated? Or will it be Ember Moon when she returns who gets the big rub over beating the undefeated champion? I honestly don’t know where they go with Asuka from here. She’s pretty much steamrolled all of her competition, and no one else is in position to be a viable contender right now. I think they can put Ember Moon in that position once she’s back from injury, I suppose, but it is the one problem the NXT women have right now. The match was good and kept my interest throughout. Riot vs. Cross is an interesting one on one feud that I would like to see fully fleshed out, outside of the championship.
They hyped the debut of the Velveteen Dream coming to NXT on Wednesday. I’m not sure, but the silhouette looks sort of like Zack Ryder? Who is this guy?
They set up the NXT Championship match with a video package.
Match #4 – Bobby Roode (c) vs. Hideo Itami; NXT Championship
Winner: Bobby Roode to retain the NXT Championship
The Reax: Itami came out to his standard entrance. Roode, as the champion, got a very elaborate one including a piano image synchronized to music in the stage. Roode stood on a turntable that rotated him around before he made the walk to the ring. Early taunting from Roode led to Itami loading the GTS (which drew a big pop), but Roode escaped and ran up the ramp. He re-entered the match and the two men started to work some early striking offense. Itami drew the advantage, taking a moment to mock Roode’s “Glorious” taunt.
Roode started to take over control of the match. Roode threw Itami to each corner, following closely behind with a clothesline for extra punishment. Roode hit a backbreaker, then locked in a chinlock. Itami later slapped Roode, landed a couple of clotheslines and some kicks, then a suplex. Itami looked for a tornado DDT off the ropes but Roode spun him toward the apron. Itami draped him over the top, then followed with a clothesline off the top. Itami teased the GTS but Roode escaped, but Itami threw him to the post on a charge.
Itami started to focus offense on the arm, working in an armbar but he couldn’t fully lock it in. Roode tried for his DDT finish but Itami countered and drove him to the corner. He tried a superplex, but no go. Roode tried a blockbuster, but Itami avoided it and hit a Falcon Arrow for two. A bit later, Itami charged, but Roode met him with a spinebuster for two. He tried for the DDT finish again, but the arm gave out. Itami teased a GTS but Roode escaped to the apron then draped Itami over the top.
The battle spilled outside, where Roode ate the steps shoulder first. Itami attempted to follow up with a drop kick against the steps but Roode rolled away. The official checked on both men, and they both struggled back to the ring. Itami got the better of a strike exchange then landed a drop kick. He tried to load the GTS again, but couldn’t because his leg gave out. Roode hit his Glorious DDT but only got a good near fall.
Itami loaded and hit the GTS a bit later, and Roode fell to ringside. “CM Punk” chants, of course. Itami retrieved him and covered for a good near fall. Roode countered a second GTS attempt by rolling up Itami, but he landed on top of Roode for a two count. Itami slapped him all over, then loaded the GTS again. Roode slipped out and hit the Glorious DDT, held on and hit it a second time to get the win.
This was a solid championship match. Drew and I have talked before about how the overuse of finisher spots can be over-used, but the sequences of how either man nearly got their finish or kicked out of the other man’s finish seemed to just fit into the flow of the match naturally here. Well done match here. I think there’s room to go back to this again while they get someone else ready to contend against Roode at least. I’m not sure who that guy is right now, though.
They ran a video package for the tag team championship ladder match which would be the main event.
Match #5 – The Authors of Pain (c, w/Paul Ellering) vs. Team #DIY; NXT Tag Team Championship under Ladder Match Rules
Winner: Authors of Pain to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship
The Reax: The champs out first for this one, and the challengers second. Nigel talked about how DIY cut their teeth in Chicago, making reference to their previous independent history. Big reaction for DIY. The belts were raised, the bell rang, and DIY went at the opponents fast, getting the early edge. Ciampa sent one to the floor with a running knee strike, and they teamed up for a clothesline on the other. DIY went looking for ladders.
AOP came back, attacking Gargano and Ciampa as they were looking for ladders under the ring. Ciampa got thrown hard to the barrier. DIY came back with some flying offense, with Gargano hitting a cannonball of sorts off the apron. With AOP down, Gargano and Ciampa brought the ladder that was at the stage down to ringside.
They set the ladder at ringside, then AOP attacked Ciampa. Gargano hit them both with a dive through the ladder. Back inside, DIY set a ladder up and started to climb, but Akim cut them off. They fought him off and threw the ladder in his face. Ouch. Rezar then caught the offense from DIY, taking a running knee from Ciampa, but Gargano got caught with a uranage onto Ciampa when he tried to do the same.
Akim held the ladder for Rezar and he made a play, but Ciampa hit him with another ladder to cut him off. Ciampa followed with a shot to Akim, then both were on their knees so DIY slammed the ladder straight down on their back. Ouch! One of the AOP guys held the ladder, so Ciampa ran up the other side and made a play for the titles. He threw a ladder in both of DIY’s face. Akim and Rezar climbed the ladder again, but DIY cut them off momentarily. AOP set for the SuperCollider, but DIY got on the ladder and made a title play. AOP shoved the ladder over, sending DIY into the ropes. Ciampa clutched his leg.
They slammed Gargano into a ladder laying on the mat, then threw Ciampa into a ladder perched in the corner. Nigel said this is why he worried about guys. AOP trapped Ciampa with a ladder in the corner then kicked it a few times then drove him face first onto the ladder. AOP set a ladder up and made another ladder play, but when they saw DIY starting to stir they stopped and handed out more strikes. They then ran a ladder into both members of DIY.
Ellering directed traffic and AOP threw another ladder in the ring. Chicago said they wanted tables. AOP perched the ladders from the apron to the barrier on each side of the entry aisle. DIY fought out of the move AOP set up, then followed up with strikes that laid AOP out on the ladders they set up. DIY hammered on them, then looked at each other. They climbed to the top of the big ladder at ringside then splashed both AOP members, sending them crashing through the ladders they were laying on. “Holy shit” broke out and all four men sold.
Ciampa crawled into the ring and started to set a ladder up. Akim got in the ring and both men started to climb. Gargano grabbed a ladder and set it up nearby. Ciampa and Akim fought on the ladder near the titles. All four men fought on the top of ladders. Ciampa fell down, so Gargano side-stepped onto the other ladder, shoved the one he was on down, then knocked Akim down. Ellering got involved in the match to cut Gargano off and threw the ladder down, so he got a superkick for his troubles.
Akim ran over Gargano in the ring as Rezar checked on Ellering. AOP dragged another ladder out, then both AOP members attacked Ciampa inside. They slammed Ciampa into a ladder perched in the corner. Ellering made a “thumbs down” motion from the floor, then AOP took a ladder and propped Ciampa up, then teased slamming it into his face. Gargano shoved Ciampa out of the way then took the ladder to the face. Brutal shot! AOP went for the belts, but Ciampa cut Rezar off then hit him with what looked like a uranage into the ladder in the corner. Big reaction.
Akim went up for the belts but Gargano did his best to stop him. Akim shoved him away then grabbed a ladder and held it overhead. Ciampa kicked him, then Garagano. He ended up with the ladder around his head, so DIY hit the double kick to him. Ring the bell boys! They grabbed a ladder and set it up, then made a play. They grabbed the ring that the belts were on but couldn’t undo the straps.
AOP recovered enough to kick the ladder out from under DIY. The two of them were caught on the hook with the belts. AOP grabbed them, hit both members of DIY with powerbombs, then hit the SuperCollider on them. Both AOP members climbed the ladder and retrieved the titles to win the match. They checked on Ellering and made their way to the stage where they posed with the titles. The commentary team ran through highlights.
I think one thing that is important to me here is that AOP continues to show their growth as a team. They performed well in this particular match throughout and had DIY, two really talented guys, to bump around for them and make their work look absolutely brutal. Clearly (and you’ll be certain by reading on) this is the end of the DIY/AOP feud and it closed in a very solid and very physical ladder match. A good match to close to the show overall. A bit surprised they went with this as the final match, but I think we’ll see why once you read on a bit further.
The NXT tag division seems to be in the same place as the main roster tag divisions, so I’m wondering who’s next. There’s a team called “Heavy Machinery” coming up through the ranks, but I know little about them. I would suppose they’re the next team for AOP. Again, it feels like the women’s division – is Heavy Machinery really a viable contender?
DIY sold in the ring, then drank in a “DIY” chant from the fans. The commentary team recapped the finish one more time, then they showed DIY on the stage. Out of nowhere, Ciampa turned on Gargano, throwing him into the LED board and throwing punches. The officials tried holding him off, but Ciampa hit a running knee lift then hit a driver through a table just off the announce position from the announce table. “Holy shit” chants rained down and Ciampa got up on the commentary table and stared at his handiwork. Medics tended to Gargano as the show ended.
That was a newsworthy finish to the match and the show. I found myself wondering at times “what’s next for DIY if they lose here?” and they’re giving us something that I feel will be a valuable singles feud on the NXT roster. These two have been dynamic teammates that have given us some memorable tag matches throughout the #DIY run. As singles competitors there is going to definitely be some heat there and some great singles matches between them going forward. The betrayal was well done throughout and caught people off guard. I feel like the tag division’s loss will be the singles’ division’s gain here with this particular feud.
Overall, I give it a “B” for tonight’s show. A very solid affair top to bottom that didn’t really leave me feeling like there was a clunker on the show. Every match knew its place on the card and the show was overall well done. Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne was flat out amazing as far as I was concerned and was a definite highlight. If you missed it, definitely seek it out. I definitely am curious about where NXT goes heading forward from this show with their booking, especially with the women and the tag teams.
Be sure to catch Backlash coverage courtesy of Drew Koscelek tomorrow night, starting during the pre-show at 7PM EST.