The fans were in full support, the matches were set, It was time again for NXT TakeOver this time emanating from Chicago. Say what you want about the NXT weekly programme, but the TakeOver’s rarely fail in bringing something brilliant to the table and entertaining audiences. So how did the show hold up? Let’s jump right in.
MATCH 1: ERIC YOUNG vs RODRICK STRONG
Strong came from behind and took out Wolfe and Dane, getting the upper hand. “Let’s go Roddy”. Strong hitting harder, moving faster. It didn’t take long for Strong to be outnumbered as Dane flattened him. Sanity taking control of the match through nefarious means did well in strengthening their dominance in NXT. This even did well in making Strong feel like the underdog that can overcome this hurdle, so when Strong showed signs of coming back, you really wanted him to succeed. No matter what Eric Young did to Strong, he wasn’t going to quit. After all the toil and sweat, Strong managed to get the win with an impressive release suplex into a double knee Back Breaker.
This turned a relatively rushed story for a PPV fight into a really engaging match. As it stands on its own, the pacing progressed very well and struggle for Strong to get the win especially after losing his number one contender opportunity was well executed.
MATCH 2: TYLER BATE vs PETE DUNNE (UK CHAMPIONSHIP)
Bare in mind I haven’t seen the UK special that lead into this match. However, the chemistry that Dunne and Bate have is truly great to see in action. The crowd was split right down the middle as the match kicked off in a battle of technical skill. Dunne lived up to his Bruiserweight name and didn’t give Tyler a chance to breathe. Even when Tyler did try to come back, Dunne was right back in his face and proceeded to make him feel like he was in hell.
Both men were tiring each other out, and both were not going to give up. Even after the amount of pain that they have put each other through. With the crowd literally on this feet chanting “UK”, it makes you feel so fucking good to be British right now. This felt like the brawl to end all brawls as the back and forth kept going but still, no quitting from Dunne or Bate. But after all of this, Pete Dunne beat Tyler Bate for the UK championship with the bitter end.
This was not a brawl, this wasn’t a battle, this was a bloody war. Every minute kept getting better and better and so far this might be a match of the year contender for me. These men are so talented and thankfully there were given the time they needed to make this fight remarkably entertaining. Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne, fight forever you brilliant bastards.
MATCH 3: ASUKA vs RUBY RIOT vs NIKKI CROSS (NXT WOMENS CHAMPIONSHIP)
We saw more signs of Asuka’s confidence going to her head, as she activity played to the crowd which lead her to be open for attack. But even though the attention went to her head, she was still able to have a significant amount of dominance. She’s good and she knows it, so that’s what Nikki and Ruby would have to use against her in order to win.
Nikki was great with her character and acts so comfortable in the role she has been working as. Unhinged and extremely vicious, especially when assaulting Ruby. You could feel the anger expressed whenever she hit a move. Whereas Ruby is quite new to NXT, but she performed well in her role and worked well to get the offence in although she did end up getting knocked down quite a bit by Nikki and Asuka.
After leaving Asuka on the outside, Nikki and Ruby fought it out. The mistake was made by thinking you could totally forget about Asuka. At the end, Asuka managed to take out both women with a knee strike and retain her title. Asuka remained undefeated, now she feels bigger than ever. So when are finally does take on Ember Moon, this is going to have a big batch feel and hopefully may lead to Ember being the one to conquer the championship.
MATCH 4: HIDEO ITAMI vs BOBBY ROODE (NXT CHAMPIONSHIP)
After weeks of buildup and the return of Itami from injury, it was now time for them to face off. Roode’s cockiness could’ve ended his reign at the very start as he almost avoids the GTS, signalling that Itami is indeed a threat to take seriously. Itami came off as confident and even had his own sense cockiness to mock Roode.
When Itami slaps you, you can hear it echo around the arena. Each of his strikes seemed calculated like he knew key areas to hit. But Roode was still resilient as ever and prevented Itami from getting the pinfall. The added tension of the GTS highlighted how easy it could be Itami to win if he can get Roode at the just the right moment.
When Itami finally hit the GTS, Bobby Roode rolled out of the ring much like previous title defences and gave him enough time to recover and kick out of the pin. Eventually leading to Itami attempting a second GTS, but Roode reversed and hits the glorious DDT not once. But twice. One, two, three, and Bobby Roode retained his championship. Really smart booking for this match and a glorious ending, which sadly leads us to wonder when will Itami get the title?
MATCH 5: DIY vs AUTHORS OF PAIN – LADDER MATCH (NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP)
The official rematch DIY wanted is finally here and it’s the main event of the PPV! So, of course, the champions come out first, not like there’s tradition or anything.
Immediately DIY took the momentum of the match and threw themselves at the AOP in as many ways that they could think of. Unfortunately, the power of Akem and Rezar kept DIY down on multiple occasions mostly using brute force. What was fascinating about this match was the creativity of combining the move sets of the wrestlers with the ladder environment. Saying that doesn’t really sound like anything new, but seeing AOP combined powerbomb being reversed into an opportunity for DIY to jump on the ladder, was very fun to see and you kept looking forward to what was going to happen next.
One spot made me had to rewind as I genuinely thought Ciampa had landed on his head. Akem & Rezar being put through ladders was enough to put a smile on my face, but that’s just me. Plus, Paul Ellering receiving a super kick was do satisfying to see after all the crap he’s put other teams through. The storytelling of the match didn’t really kick in until towards the end, and it’s a shame because it was really well executed. Defending a friend, getting redemption, then slowly trying to climb the ladder to win. They were so very close, but the AOP came I’m at the last moment to powerbomb DIY and retain their titles.
While I would’ve preferred DIY winning the titles, this was a good match. Many creative moments and used the ladders effectively. The only question now is, what’s next for Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa?… Well, apparently it’s split them up. Ciampa attacked Gargano and made sure he didn’t go back up by putting him through tables near the side of the ramp.
I’m really torn on this. On one hand, you have the opportunity to put these guys against each other and put on good matches similar to their cruiserweight classic fight. But also it feels like this came out of nowhere for no reason other than they need a conflict, maybe we’ll get a better explanation soon?