Normally, I review NXT and WWE PPV’s together and compare – but due to me going on a course for three days, I won’t have time to review Money In The Bank. At least not within a decent time frame. But luckily, I was able to catch NXT Takeover: Chicago this morning – and once again NXT put on a great show and prove that they can not only equal WWE shows, but exceed them.
It was a night of emotion, high flying spectacle and brutal carnage. It was by no means perfect, but overall a great show. Here is my review of it.
For a list of matches and results (including the Pre-show matches which will not be covered), see HERE.
To start, Undisputed Era fought Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch. The crowd were firmly behind Undisputed Era (despite the fact they were heels) and booed Lorcan and Burch throughout. However, both teams put on a great physical show, with Lorcan actually proving to be one of the best performers in this entire match in my opinion. It could have gone either way, but the Undisputed Era (with a little help from Adam Cole – Bay Bay) succeeded in keeping their titles. At the end of the match, Lorcan and Burch won applause from the crowd, which was nice of them seeing how they were booed most of the match.
Up next was Ricochet and Velvetteen Dream (dressed in Hulk Hogan inspired attire) in a match that I was most looking forward to. And it didn’t disappoint! High flying action, trash talk from Dream and displays of athletic ability led to an intense match, which involved Dream going from one side of the ring to the other and nearly breaking his arm in the process. Dream had been mocking Ricochet for a long time, telling him “Anything you can do, I can do better” on NXT (which led to Ricochet jumping out of the ring and facing him dead on, saying “Prove it!” – one of the best segments I’ve ever seen!) and in the end, Ricochet proved he was the best. But in the eyes of the fans, they were both winners. One of my favourite matches of the night!
But sadly, the next two matches were kinda disappointing. Shayna Baszler and Nikki Cross (or Nikki Storm if you remember her from ICW) had some entertaining moments, and Cross has certainly proved she can make a convincing psychopath, but in the end, it didn’t really amount to much. At least Baszler proved what a dominant force she is, but this match wasn’t really anything special.
The NXT Title match wasn’t really that great either. It was by no means a bad match, as Lars Sullivan proved how powerful he was by throwing Aleister Black around and countering his Black Mass finisher, but for whatever reason, it just never really clicked. This is often the problem when you get a larger wrestler fighting a smaller one, the pace can sometimes slow down so much that it risks becoming boring to watch. Also, there was a rather obvious botch where Black missed a Black Mass kick completely, but Sullivan still went down. That kinda killed a lot of momentum. I know both superstars are capable of awesome matches, but this one wasn’t one of them.
But all that disappeared in the main event, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa in a Chicago Street Fight. OH. MY. GOD!!! Johnny, can you PLEASE stop having great matches – it’s gonna be hard to pick one of them for NXT match of the year! (Just kidding, carry on – you’re doing an amazing job!) I’m actually surprised they continued with this rivalry as it could have just ended at the last Takeover; but I guess they still had a lot more to give! If you remember, it was at Takeover: Chicago last year where #DIY first broke apart, starting what is in my eyes the best rivalry WWE have had in a long time.
This Street Fight was as brutal as they come! From the opening bell, both hit each other with everything they had available. Stairs, chairs, street signs, belts, fists and legs – at one point Ciampa even ripped up the ring to expose the wooden flooring underneath. It was full on savagery and I loved it! So did the crowd!
Things got REALLY personal when Ciampa pulled Gargano up the ramp, replicating the moment where he first broke up #DIY (throwing him into the entrance way). He then proceeded to pull off his wedding ring and spit on it, then set Gargano up for an Air Raid Crash from the top of a production crate. This is why I think Ciampa is one of the best villains in all of WWE, not just NXT – there was utter contempt towards Johnny, but also some slightly sympathetic moments. Especially when he shouted at the referee “It’s not enough! You don’t know, they don’t know! I know!” It went deep into his character and really put across the raw emotion in this fight.
But Gargano suddenly countered and then, in one of the most amazing spots ever, he hit Ciampa with a Air Raid Crash off the crate and towards two tables!
At this point it looked like the match was over as Ciampa lay crying on the ground, being stretchered out. But Gargano (in the words of Braun Strowman) wasn’t finished with him! He then proceeded to pull him off the stretcher, pull him back to the ring and smash him to pieces. It was shocking seeing Gargano, normally a clean and gracious athlete, reduced to such horrendous acts due to his hate of Ciampa – another reason why I think Ciampa is a great villain. I almost felt sorry for Ciampa here. Almost. In the end though, Gargano’s hatred got the better of him – and Ciampa was able to get a DDT on the exposed ring for the win. And just like with the last Takeover: Chicago, the fans chanted “F*** you, Ciampa” as it went off the air.
With three out of the two matches being excellent, and the other two being just ok, it was overall a brilliant event. The main event had more emotion and power behind it than anything happening in WWE right now (I’m looking at you, Styles and Nakamura), and the shock ending to it will be talked about for ages. Dream and Ricochet also put on a five-star match that was as high-flying and death-defying as they came, but I was disappointed in the Sullivan/Black match for not quite getting off the ground as it could have done.
On the whole, this was another great Takeover and it will no doubt raise some questions as to where Gargano and Ciampa go from here. Like I said, I won’t get a chance to watch Money In The Bank, but at least I had this to make my weekend worth it!
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