NXT TakeOver: Chicago Review: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Show: NXT TakeOver: Chicago II
Date: Saturday June 16th, 2018
Location: Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois
Review by: Amin Ajani
NXT TakeOver: Chicago II Review
Undisputed ERA (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) def. Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles
- Rating: ****1/4
Undisputed ERA came out and got a massive reaction. Crowd went wild for the Adam Cole BAY BAY pose. Loud chant of Undisputed as the match began. Burch and Lorcan suplex Strong onto O’Reilly. Burch and Lorcan delivered a double team basement dropkick to O’Reilly. Strong delivered a baseball slide to Burch on the floor. O’Reilly delivered a back suplex and transitioned into a knee bar as Strong tagged back in. Strong delivered a back breaker for a near fall. Strong delivered a running forearm and O’Reilly followed up with a knee strike to Burch. O’Reilly applied a cross arm breaker but Burch grabbed the bottom rope. O’Reilly delivered an axe kick but Burch delivered a big head butt. Lorcan tagged in, ran wild and delivered a flip dive to O’Reilly and Strong on the floor. Lorcan delivered a double blockbuster to O’Reilly and Strong. Burch and Lorcan delivered a double team wheelbarrow DDT to Strong but O’Reilly made the save. They went for the Doomsday Device but O’Reilly pushed Lorcan who landed onto the ring apron (which looked nuts.) O’Reilly delivered a brain buster for a near fall and then transitioned into a cross arm breaker but Burch grabbed the ropes. Undisputed ERA delivered a flurry of double team moves. Burch and Lorcan made a comeback as Oney delivered a double running blockbuster from ring apron to O’Reilly and Strong on the floor. Burch and Lorcan connected with the Doomsday Device but Cole pulled O’Reilly out of the ring. The referee tossed Cole from the match as the crowd was pissed. O’Reilly applied a guillotine but Lorcan countered by delivering a overhead suplex. Lorcan delivered a powerbomb to Strong for a near fall. There was a cool spot as Burch applied a half crab to Strong and Lorcan applied a crossface to O’Reilly at the same time. O’Reilly broke free by rolling over and kicking away at Burch. The finish of the match saw O’Reilly and Strong delivering Total Elimination to Burch for the win.
(Amin’s Analysis: Awesome way to start the show as this was a great match as everyone worked really hard. Undisputed ERA were huge fan favourites and work incredibly well as a team. Burch and Lorcan also worked really well and had some great double team moves. Undisputed ERA left as the camera’s cut to Burch and Lorcan who got a big hand from the crowd. Rightfully deserved.)
-My favourite wrestler Kairi Sane got a big reaction as she was shown with her telescope sitting in the crowd looking very lovely.
Ricochet def. Velveteen Dream
- Rating: ****2/4
Dream came out dressed up as Hulk Hogan and did Hogan’s mannerisms which got a big pop. Ricochet came out and also got a huge pop. The match started slow as there was some chain wrestling early. Dream delivered a head scissors but Ricochet landed on his feet. Ricochet attempted a springboard but Dream stoped him. Dream delivered strikes in the corner. Dream delivered a springboard rolling senton and followed up with a neck breaker for a near fall. Dream shoved Ricochet to the floor and followed up with a flip dive for a near fall. The crowd was split as the chanted for both Dream and Ricochet. Ricochet made a comeback by delivering a rolling dropkick and followed up with a tope. Ricochet delivered a Fosbury flop to Dream on the floor. Ricochet delivered a 619 and followed up with a springboard rolling uppercut for a near fall. Ricochet delivered a standing shooting star press but Dream kicked out. They fought on the turnbuckle as Dream delivered a rolling DVD from the middle turnbuckle but Ricochet kicked out for a great spot. Crowd is going nuts. There was a crazy spot as Dream superplexed Ricochet from the ring apron to the floor. They teased a count-out spot but made it back into the ring. Loud chants of “NXT.” Dream delivered a rolling DVD for a near fall. Dream had a Cross Rhodes lock up but turned it into a spike DDT but Ricochet kicked out for a great near fall. Dream started to talk trash but Ricochet delivered a rolling DVD and followed up with the Purple Rainmaker for a close near fall. Ricochet attempted a shooting star press from halfway across the ring but Dream countered by getting his knees up. Dream rolled up Ricochet for another close near fall. Dream went for a springboard Purple Rainmaker from across the ring but Ricochet moved. Ricochet then delivered the 630 Splash for the win.
(Amin’s Analysis: This was an awesome match which has some creative and crazy spots. Dream was very good but Ricochet was the star of this match as his innovative ability and charisma carried this match to that next level. Loved the closing sequence as the story was about Velveteen trying to outshine Ricochet but in the end it cost him the match.)
Shayna Baszler def. Nikki Cross via Submission to retain the NXT Women’s Title
- Rating: ***
Nikki played mind games with Baszler early on. Nikki trapped Baszler in the ring apron and delivered strikes. Nikki applied a sleeper but Baszler countered by back dropping Nikki on the floor. Baszler delivered a knee strike for a near fall. Baszler delivered back-to-back knee strikes but Nikki laughed hysterically. Nikki delivered a flying crossbody for a near fall. Nikki delivered a reverse DDT on the ring apron for a near fall. Baszler countered a swinging neck breaker by delivering a knee strike for a near fall. Nikki delivered a hanging swinging neck breaker from the top rope but Baszler placed her foot on the rope. Nikki went for a crucifix but Baszler applied the Coquina Clutch. The crowd chanted for Nikki as she tried to battle out. Nikki smiled but passed out as Baszler retained the title.
(Amin’s Analysis: It was a solid match but I would’ve liked to seen more. Baszler was good and continues to get better with each match. This match was more about storytelling as Nikki is pyscho and had Baszler’s number for a bit.)
–EC3 was shown in the crowd as he got a big pop. Keith Lee was also shown in the crowd and got a big pop.
Aleister Black def. Lars Sullivan to retain the NXT Title
- Rating: ***2/4
Sullivan came out and was booed by the crowd. Black came out and got a big pop. The match started of quick as Sullivan went for the Freak Accident but Black escaped. He went for Black Mass but Sullivan caught his kick as the crowd popped. Black delivered strikes and followed up with a running double knees from the ring apron. Black delivered a jumping knee strike for a near fall. Black attempted a reverse moonsault but Sullivan caught and dropped him on the ring apron. Sullivan pressed Black into the air and delivered a powerslam for a near fall. Sullivan attempted a diving headbutt but Black got his knee up. Black delivered strikes and a sliding knee to Sullivan. Black with a springboard reverse moonsalt for a near fall. Sullivan delivered a chop block and then followed up by applying a stretch muffler. Black countered with a roll up for a near fall. Sullivan went for the Freak Accident but Black countered with a DDT. They fought on the ring apron as Black delivered boots but Sullivan planted him with a power slam. Sullivan delivered a diving headbutt but Black kicked out. Sullivan attempted another chop block but Black delivered a double foot stomp. Black delivered his Black Mass kick (which missed) but Sullivan sold it and got a near fall. Black countered a Freak Accident and delivered a knee strike. Black then delivered back-to-back Black Mass kicks for the win.
(Amin’s Analysis: This was a good match as Sullivan has a great look and certainly has potential to become a big star. He’s just not ready to be in a championship match but did a fine job. Black was the star of this match as he worked really hard and made Sullivan look like a credible monster. Black is awesome and a really special talent.)
-Johnny Gargano was shown backstage as Candice LeRae approached him and got a big pop. She handed him a crutch and told Gargano to “Kick his ass.”
Tomasso Ciampa def. Johnny Gargano in a Chicago Street Fight
- Rating: *****
They swung a crutch at each other. Gargano delivered a trust kick and followed up with a rolling senton to Ciampa from the ring apron. They brawled in the crowd. Johnny attacked Ciampa with a stop sign and followed up with a flying crossbody. Gargano grabbed weapons from the ring but Ciampa delivered a German suplex. Ciampa delivered a triple German suplex. Gargano delivered a German suplex of his own and followed up with a tope. Ciampa delivered a running knee strike and then launched Gargano into the barricade. Ciampa attacked Gargano with a steel chair. Ciampa wrapped a chair around Gargano and then rammed him into the steel steps. Ciampa grabbed handcuffs. Gargano delivered his diving spear through the middle ropes to Ciampa. Gargano whipped Ciampa with his belt as the crowd chanted “You deserve it.” Gargano placed a garbage can over Ciampa head and delivered a super kick. Ciampa raked the eyes, delivered Project Ciampa and followed up with a running knee strike for a near fall. Gargano delivered strikes on the ring apron but Ciampa delivered a jumping vertebreaker on the steel steps (which looked nuts) for a near fall. Ciampa cut the underpart of the ropes and exposed the ring canvas. Ciampa blocked a sunset flip bomb but Gargano dropped him on the turnbuckle and delivered a cheeky Nandos kick. Ciampa delivered a knee lift but Gargano delivered a super kick. Gargano attempted a stringboard but Ciampa caught him with a trash can lid. Gargano attacked the injured knee of Ciampa with a multiple chair shots. Ciampa sent Gargano into a trash can and then applied the Gargano Escape. Ciampa attacked Gargano with the crutch for another near fall. Ciampa walked up the ramp with Gargano and rammed him into the screen (flashback from last year’s NXT TakeOver: Chicago event) and then followed up with a running knee strike. Ciampa removed, spit and threw Gargano’s wedding ring into the crowd. Gargano delivered a jumping vertibreaker off the crates onto a table on the floor (this was nuts.) WWE officials came out to check on Cimapa as Gargano watched on with the same facial reactions as Ciampa did when he turned on Johnny last year. Gargano stares at his finger and notices that his ring is gone. Johnny is now pissed so he attacked the WWE official and brought Ciampa back to the ring. Johnny applied the Gargano Escape as Ciampa tapped but there was no official. Gargano handcuffed Ciampa and delivered multiple super kicks. Gargano reapplied the Gargano Escape but more WWE officials came out to stop him. Gargano charges but gets caught as Ciampa delivered a draping DDT on the exposed wooden area of the mat for the win.
(Amin’s Analysis: A phenomenal main event as this felt more like a true street fight instead of just another hardcore WWE match. This was great because they told a real story of former best friends who now despise each other. From the flashback moments of last year’s TakeOver: Chicago with the exact same spots and reactions. The other great spot of Johnny wearing his wedding ring and Ciampa tossing it way. As they brought LeRae into the match without her being involved. On top of that, they worked really hard and did some crazy stuff in the match. The finish was flat but is likely leading to final match with a big stipulation at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4.)
-Overall: This was a great show which had some great professional wrestling matches. Highly recommend people watch the first two and the main event if you are a professional wrestling fan as those were some great matches. NXT TakeOver: Chicago gets two big thumbs up.