NXT Takeover: Chicago — Outcast Overview (OO)
MATCH I — RODERICK STRONG vs. ERIC YOUNG w/sAnitY (ALEXANDER WOLFE + KILLIAN DAIN)
This is the best Roddy has looked since arriving on the NXT scene. Throw this match in with his encounter with Hideo, and he’s on a roll and picking up steam. While the match seemed mildly thrown together at the last minute to get Roddy on the card, the seeds were there, so creative can be forgiven for doing so, especially when it would be a shame not to capitalise on Strong’s momentum. In a short time, the story has been told very well, simple, but effective, with Strong fighting the numbers game throughout the match, highlighted by the top of the show when he sneaked out and ran through Dain and Wolfe, leaving him one-on-one with Young. sAnitY’s feud with Dillinger certainly had more heat, but this one could be a slow-burner and has plenty of time to develop, or it could just be a stepping stone for Strong. Either way, this was a serviceable stop on the journey.
MATCH II — TYLER BATE vs. PETE DUNNE — UNITED KINGDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
I have seen these two lads wrestle at various levels, live or televised, and we are nowhere near seeing their last encounter. I think we’re all in agreement that this can only be a good thing. Pulling out moves and spots that nobody had ever seen between the two, the two proved just how well they mesh when they got an American crowd to chant ‘UK’ for the first time since 1776. The show could have finished after this match and my only criticism would be the ‘WWE-style’ that plagued the start of the match, but plagued it, not in the way rats plague Europe, more in a way that a flea plagues a plain. Everything else in this angle is near perfection: the promotional pictures between the two, the face-to-faces, the history, and again, an interestingly unaddressed section of the tale is the link between the two when it comes to British Strong Style, a faction addressed most places else across the world, that could add further fuel to the fire for months, even years, to come. An interesting subplot of this, including the British Strong Style connection, is the supposed ‘Americanisation’ of Tyler Bate. From his humble beginnings (in kayfabe) at the UK Title tournament, he has since expanded his wardrobe, repertoire and look, with the new hairstyle and flashier ring gear. Being only 20 (what am I doing with my life?), having him be overcome by being on the biggest wrestling stage in the world could be a way to go, while Dunne, all young and bitter, has no time for such things, confident that he can prove himself wherever he goes, and in this case, Dunne’s unwavering style could either bring Bate back down to earth, back down to his own bitter level, or push him further out, possibly leading to an oust from BSS. The best part of this entire feud is, despite the fact that this match was fantastalicious, I know that we haven’t seen the best. Whatever these two continue to do will be tremendous, no doubt, and the fact that they can already put on a performance likes this when Bate is 20 and Dunne is an ancient, aged 23, is nothing short of sensational. For perspective, I’m 22 and I write about The Eurovision Song Contest. Also, how about that airplane spin?
MATCH III — ASUKA vs. NIKKI CROSS vs. RUBY RIOT — NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
There was something missing from this match, and I ain’t chatting Ember Moon. While the match would have benefited greatly from her involvement, the three remaining lasses produced a serviceable match-up that always seemed just one step behind. I’ve previously stated that Ember Moon is the poorest execution of a ‘gimmick’ that I have ever seen, and on the opposite end of that spectrum is Nikki Cross, who is excelling every time she gets on the camera. Her character is clear in all her general behaviour, she is one of the few wrestlers that you could genuinely believe is like that in real life. Ruby Riot is a tremendous wrestler but may just need a while longer to fully click, more of a chance to showcase her character, and that will come in her upcoming feud, which seems destined to be with Cross. These two star-crossed rivals are perfect for one another, and they can produce stellar matches if given a proper feud, which we already have the basis for with Ruby rebelling against the sAnitY-driven Cross. The two can compete in street fights, cage matches, tables matches and whatever else they can dream up without having to worry about the prestige of the title, that would be flip-flopping between them if one had walked out with the title in Chicago. Every Asuka match at this point has the feeling of anticipation. We know the reign is coming to an end, we know that she’s getting called up at some point, and it could happen at any point; the only thing standing in the way now is one question? Who can beat Asuka? With Cross and Riot destined for their own singles success and Moon out for the foreseeable future, next on the pecking order are Billie and Peyton, and that angle could take some time to craft and sell. The story-telling in the NXT Women’s division is weak enough at the moment without suddenly having their most dominant performer lose her title in a(nother) poorly crafted story. The only highlight of this feud(?) is the crossover of all the lasses, with Cross and Riot clearly having a problem with each other, Moon and Asuka disliking one another, and then Cross and Asuka having their staredowns, et cetera, et cetera. But if crossover appeal is the best creative have right now, there better be some hot shit down the line.
MATCH IV — BOBBY ROODE vs. HIDEO ITAMI — NXT CHAMPIONSHIP
In about a month, NXT have made Hideo look more badass than he ever has,
made me care about a feud surrounding the NXT Championship for the first time in nearly two years. The feud itself would work without the title in fact, that’s how good it is. Roode is the new breed, so to speak; been around for a year or so, and is bringing in his own era, The Glorious Era, if you will. All the while, Hideo has been around for three years or so and injuries have left him stuck on square one, halting his progress at every turn. So this time, Hideo didn’t want to waste any time, flying out of the blocks, not pissing around and going right for the big lad, slapping the taste out of his mouth and putting him to sleep, staking his claim for the title. Itami isn’t fucking about anymore, he looks more dangerous, more driven and better than ever, and that shone through in Chicago. The only problem with this encounter, was the other half of it; Roode is still missing ‘Bobby’s Beautiful Bout’, and while this as close as he’s ever been, the pacing of a Roode match can go a long way to losing momentum. Now, Roode is a fantastic worker, you don’t need me to tell you that, but every time Itami was picking up the pace, Roode’s half would bring that pace right back down to earth. If he could’ve flowed, we’d be looking at an instant classic, without the flow, a simple, effective story produced a quality match-up, but nothing that will go down in history, and not a fitting match given the quality this feud could churn out.
MATCH V — THE AUTHORS OF PAIN w/PAUL ELLERING vs. #DIY (TOMASSO CIAMPA AND JOHNNY GARGANO) — LADDER MATCH FOR THE NXT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS
‘This was supposed to be our moment, but this is my moment.’
The crime of the century. The betrayal heard around the world. Psycho Killer turns on Johnny Wrestling…
Ciampa turns on Gargano.
This was idyllic. Not just the turn, the match, everything. The tag division in NXT may seem thin at the moment, but the stories told through AOP, #DIY and The Revival over the past 6–8 months have been nothing short of historic. The rematch that never was was finally set to take place, and although it was never said, #DIY knew this was their last chance; it just had that air about it. The match played to each team’s strengths, AOP utilised the ladders to make themselves look even more destructive than they already looked, Gargano and Ciampa looked like the crafty, veteran risk-takers they are, and the spots were smooth and unexpected. Gargano pushing Ciampa out of the way, only to suffer from death by ladder at the hands of Akam and Rezar told the story of a team willing to do anything for each other, Ellering finally got his comeuppance at the hands (or foot) of Gargano, and there was a German Suplex off a ladder, through another ladder. I mean, come on. The stipulation itself raised some doubts over whether the bigger men would be able to retain, and the two teams sold that perfectly, #DIY are the perfect foil for AOP, or should I say ‘were’.
(Quick shout out to Nigel McGuinness for quote of the night, ‘you may wanna send grandma to bed’. Spectacular.)
It was a great shout putting this match on last, and the turn will lead to one of the feuds of the decade. If the lasting image of a lingering Ciampa doesn’t give you goosebumps of any variety, check your pulse.
This was sold, and arguably, teased brilliantly throughout the match, with everything Ciampa did perfection down to the wire. NXT has struck gold in every sense with this one.
All in all, Ciampa and Gargano will steal the headlines, and they steal the headlines of a superior Takeover from the last one. The storytelling was simple at times, but it was there, as opposed to Orlando, where it took a lounge in the back seat. Moving forward, NXT have a lot to play with, The Velveteen Dream is set to (re)debut, McIntyre and Black are picking up momentum, Roode and Itami surely aren’t finished, Strong, Young, Cross, Riot and Heavy Machinery should all be featured, and Ciampa and Gargano CANNOT have the ball dropped on it. Couple all of that with the fact that I am still yet to see NXT’s best kept secret BUDDY MURPHY enter the fray, and there’s a lot to be excited for in an NXT getting back to gold.
OVERALL RATING: 5.6/8
Keep it streets ahead,