NXT Takeover: Chicago was yet another success for the black and Yellow brand. The night was jam-packed full of phenomenal wrestling, character development, and excellent storytelling. With more than one potential match of the year candidate coming from this one show, fans were left with plenty to talk about and re-watch but what did we learn from this past Saturdays show. Below I have listed six lessons the WWE Universe learned this past weekend at NXT Takeover: Chicago.
Nikki Cross is the best Character Worker in the Women’s Division
While it was the weakest match of the night, Shayna Baszler vs Nikki Cross was an interesting, intense, and revealing contest. The two both had a fantastic display of their characters and provided fans with a contest full of brilliant storytelling and character development. Now, the title may have remained on the shoulder of Baszler, yet it was Nikki Cross and those closing moments the NXT universe could not stop talking about. As Baszler locked her opponent in the Kirifuda Clutch we saw Cross fight for as long as she could trying to battle her way out of the hold refusing to tap out and in the end what we saw was Cross still unwilling to tap out and as a smile graced her face Nikki decided to rather fade and pass out than tap out to her opponent. Perfect. It, of course, would not have suited her character nor made sense for the Cross persona to lose this match via tapping out and instead what she did was show just how well she knows her character. Everything Nikki does reflects her persona perfectly and the too tough to tap out spot was the right move here and done so well. This is a level of character work we just don’t see enough from female talent even to this very day and it puts Cross as at the top of her game and as one of the best character workers in professional wrestling today.
Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan Are Hidden Gems in the WWE
NXT Takeover kick-started with tag team action as the Undisputed Era defended their titles against Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. While Burch and Lorcan haven’t been given the world’s biggest push there has been clear potential from the get-go. The moment these two shared a ring, fans were hooked and invested in what they brought to the table. Working excellent matches against one another, the two have created a genuine friendship and this past weekend the two rising stars showed the world they not only work amazingly well against each other but also alongside one another. Putting the champs through their paces, Lorcan and Burch earned the respect of the NXT universe receiving and a standing ovation from the Chicago crowd. While it’s difficult to see WWE Championship reigns in the future for these two the pair are hidden gems in the WWE and this weekend they shone bright and proved there is plenty to look forward to when it comes to Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan.
Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly are an A team
Keeping on the topic of tag team action and this weekend was also the first time Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong had worked together defending the tag team titles at live special and so it was a test to see if the pair could really work together and they did. Their chemistry was strong, they worked amazingly well together and provided one heck of a tag team contest that put them at the top of their game. We learned so much from this match including the fact these two work as a strong, cohesive team but also that Roderick Strong is a perfect member to fill the spot needed in the Undisputed Era. Not to mention, Strong is shining far brighter in the role of a heel, clearly possessing more potential in this role.
One for the Ages
After the Street Fight we witnessed between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa this past Saturday, there is no denying that their rivalry is one for the ages. The two have excellent chemistry and have told one of the best stories in professional wrestling history. It’s a bold statement yes, but can you really think of a way this feud and the match we witness at NXT Takeover could have been done better? This was an intense, personal, barbaric fight that showcased the passion of both men, told one heck of a story, and provided fans with phenomenal wrestling. An interesting element to their rivalry, Gargano and Ciampa used their surroundings including the ring matt itself to punish one another and the NXT universe was left hooked. The spots and mind games were so well done, and it was moments including Ciampa removing the wedding ring from Gargano, spitting on it and throwing it along with Gargano dragging Ciampa back to the ring for further punishment that add to why this was such a hugely successful bout. A contest worthy of a greater rating than five stars, NXT’s two brightest talents created magic this past weekend confirming they are two of the best in the world today and their story and this match was one for the ages, an all-time great, and one we will all be talking about for many many years to come.
Keith Lee is Arriving
We also saw Keith Lee in the audience this weekend during NXT Takeover with the announce team revealing Lee is sure to one to keep his eyes on the NXT Championship match. From this very small section of the night, we can indicate Lee will be arriving on the roster very soon and when he does so gold and a big push may be awaiting him.
Lars Sullivan will be Universal/WWE Champion
He may not have walked out of NXT Takeover: Chicago the NXT Champion but Lars Sullivan is most certainly a future title holder. Working an excellent one on one with Aleister Black this past weekend Sullivan has speed, intensity, character work, and strength and power on his side and gave the champion a real run for his money. There so many moments where fans were given a reason to believe Sullivan was going to walk out as champion and even though that wasn’t the result Sullivan too earned the respect of the NXT universe and had a majorly impressive performance that most certainly did not go unnoticed. To possess the size, he does and perform at the level he did on Saturday night, there is no doubt in my mind Sullivan has a big future ahead of him and he has proven has the potential to be WWE/Universal Champion worthy.
It’s Far from Over
There were two matches that indicated the action and the story was far from over. The first comes from the NXT Women’s Championship contest. Nikki Cross willingly passed out. She refused to tap out to Shayna Baszler and she did so with a smile on her face. Keeping this in mind there are so many options the WWE can explore here and because of this ending, there is an opportunity for a second match this time with a no DQ or some form of stipulation attached that can take their characters and the division to new heights.
We then have the main event between Gargano and Ciampa and I think we can all agree there is more to come. Personally, I do believe the WWE can get one more match out of these two before it loses the spark it has and Exploring the idea of a hell in a cell, steel cage or two out of three falls match is something to consider. The way Saturday’s match concluded left many believing there was more to come and a different way for this rivalry to reach it’s ending.
NXT Takeover was a clear success and there was plenty to take away from the show including the excellent work from the Velveteen Dream which we didn’t touch on today unfortunately, but his smart attire and consistent work has shown us he is an excellent addition to the roster and his bout with Ricochet was another highlight of the night. The show overall proved NXT is the brand to watch and the stars of its roster have raised the bar even higher.