NXT TAKEOVER: CHICAGO REPORT
MAY 20, 2017
CHICAGO, ILL. AT ALLSTATE ARENA
REPORT BY JUSTIN JAMES, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
On the UK Championship Special, Jim Ross seemed to indicate that he would be calling a match or more tonight.
1. RODERICK STRONG vs. ERIC YOUNG (w/Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe)
Strong surprises Dain and Wolfe before the match starts to take them out of the picture. Early aggression lets Strong gain an advantage, but Young weathers the storm and take the offensive. Wolfe tries to save Young but Strong takes him out, then Dain clobbers Strong behind the ref’s back, keeping Young on the attack. Double axe handle off the ropes to the back of Strong’s head is good for two. Wolfe embarrasses the ref again. The arena is very high on Strong, trying to rally him in this one-sided match. Strong tries to fight off Young but Young puts him down for another two count. Sudden dropkick knocks Young out of the air and they are both down. Strong finally rallies. Backbreaker from Strong, then a running knee in the corner, suplex for two. Young rolls outside the ring to avoid any kind of followup. Young lands the wheelbarrow neckbreaker on the outside, but is too worn out to do anything else.
The ref starts a count on both of them. Young rolls Strong into the ring for a two count. Young heads to the top again, but Strong grabs his foot, then goes to the top too. Strong gets knocked off, big elbow drop from Young gains a nearfall. Strong reverses the wheelbarrow neckbreaker into a rollup for two. Dain gets knocked off the apron then Wolfe. Fingers in the eyes lets Young break free. They meet at the top again. Strong hits the mat on his feet, bounces right back with a knee to Young’s face, knocks him onto Dain and Wolfe ringside. Released suplex drops Young into Strong’s knees for the win.
WINNER: Roderick Strong in 13:39. Decent match as you would expect, but the ref’s failures to keep Sanity out of the match made him look really bad. Strong is on a roll, and hopefully this wraps up the feud with Sanity so Strong can move on to something else.
Jim Ross gets a standing ovation as he is brought out to the announcer booth for the UK Championship Match. Let’s see who they pair him with. He was fantastic with Nigel McGuinness on the UK Championship Special. Watson and Philips leave, so it is McGuinness and JR.
Pete Dunne has such menace and swagger when he comes out. His facial expressions remind me of William Regal. I am just so high on Dunne. I am high on Tyler Bate too, who is equally charismatic in just the opposite manner, coming off as a natural babyface.
2. UK Champion TYLER BATE vs. PETE DUNNE – UK Championship Title Match
The chicago crowd is very much into Dunne. Dunne immediately takes Bate to the mat and keeps him there. Bate manages to escape from a head scissors. I just loved that piece of mat work overall. I like how Bate never gets fazed in matches by holds, he seems to know every escape for every hold. Bate tries to Houdini out of a wristlock, needs a flipping kick to the jaw to get free. Dunne knocks Bate silly on the outside then tries to rip Bate’s fingers off. Bate with a flying European uppercut off the steps. Dunne wrecks Bate with a released suplex from the outside onto the apron. Dunne struts inside the ring, then returns to the fingers and wrist. The ref starts a five count on Dunne’s finger yanking. Dunne holds Bate’s hand and kicks him in the face, Bate gets angry, weathers it, stands up and hits a delayed exploder suplex.
Running uppercuts in the corner stun Dunne. Bate wants a third but Dunne chaces him with a kick. Suplex drops Dunne for a nearfall. Dunne is on the mat, but it’s to lure Bate. Bate with a running SSP, gets caught by Dunne into a triangle. Bate pushes the shoulders to the mat for two, while Dunne keeps the triangle. Bate stands up, standing powerbomb finally breaks Dunne off of him. Another really outstanding sequence. Bate calls for an airplane spin, gets it. Wow, he’s really spinning fan on that, he drops Dunne, covers, nearfall.
Match reset as both men are dizzy from the airplane spin. Barte recovers first, suplex, Dunne lands on his feet. Dunne counters a turnaround crossbody, then lands a Blue Thunder Bomb for an insanely close nearfall, the crowd is going nuts. Bate with strikes from the mat, they get to their feet and go to no technique boxing. Bop and bang, Dunne is down. Enziguri cuts off the Tyler Driver 97. They trade bombs, trade big shots, Bate covers for another nearfall. The crowd has a “UK!” chant going on. I could watch this match for another twenty minutes.
Bate wants the end. Dunne rolls over the Tyler Driver 97, sets up Bitter End, Bate transitions into a DDT and Dunne lands on the outside. Insane five seconds right there. Bate with a springboard moonsault to the outside, heads to the top, corkscrew 450 splash and it isn’t good for three. Dunne rolls to the outside again. These guys are killing themselves in this ring. Giant leap over the top from Bate, Dunne moves! Bitter end in the middle, new champion.
WINNER: Pete Dunne in 15:33. That was easily the best match on a Takeover in at least a year, if not longer. This match compares quite favorably to the top NXT matches of old… Zayn – Cesaro, Regal – Ohno, Zayn – Owens, Bayley – Banks Ironman Match. Both Bate and Dunne are the real deal. Dunne is like a sick mix of William Regal and Fit Finlay, while Bate is a great redmeat babyface. Watch this Takeover for this match.
3. NXT Women’s Champion ASUKA vs. RUBY RIOT vs. NIKKI CROSS – NXT Women’s Championship Triple Threat Championship Match
Cross attacks Riot right before the bell. Hip Attack through the ropes sends Riot outside, another puts Cross down. Cross gets sent out by Asuka, Riot comes back in. Surprise cover from Riot on Asuka for one. Riot belts Asuka right off the apron. Riot wants to fly over the top but Cross reappears to cut her off. Cross sends Riot into the steps, Riot jumps on them and attacks Asuka. Ember Moon is shown watching from high up in the arena. Cross with her wild offense on Riot in the corner. Cross with a neckbreaker to Riot, Asuka nails a missle dropkick to Cross, but Riot takes some damage landing on Riot. Cross covers Asuka for two. Asuka with kicks, then a Codebreaker. Riot re-enters and lands kicks, Asuka catches up, powerbomb, right into an anklelock.
Cross tries to break it up, but it takes her a few tries. Riot rolls up Asuka, Asuka kicks out and launches Riot into Cross. Asuka gets sent through the ropes. Riot builds up some momentum against Cross, Asuka gets back into the mix. Knees slam Riot’s face into the turnbuckle. Nasty knee on the outside from Asuka knocks Cross out. Suicide dive from Riot sends Asuka to the mat. Riot chooses to roll Cross into the ring, then she heads to the top. Senton from the top, Asuka breaks up the cover, suplex into a bridge on Riot for a nearfall. Asuka wants another suplex on Cross, but she blocks. Cross slams Asuka into the mat for two. Asuka lands a German suplex on Cross, then takes a kick from Riot in the face. Riot goes up top, senton, Asuka dodges, Asuka Lock, Cross with a crossbody to break up the hold.
Cross slams Riot on the apron, they pulls a Finlay with the apron skirt to trap Asuka. Cross drags Asuka into the ring near the turnbuckle. Hanging neckbreaker to Asuka and Ruot makes the save. Double crossbody by Cross and Riot. Full match reset at this point. Asuka to her feet first. Cross and Riot clear her over the ropes, then trade covers on each other for two counts. Pele Kick to Cross, cover, Asuka saves it, covers them both for the three count.
WINNER: Asuka in 12:29. Much better match than Asuka’s last few title defenses. There is no believable way for any current member of the women’s roster to defeat Asuka. She has cleanly beaten every credible competitor on this roster, some of them in multiple-person matches, and Cross has lost in multiple multiple-person matches. The best possible route forward for NXT is to return Paige to NXT and have her challenge Asuka, or debut someone new who steamrolls the division to capture the title.
4. NXT Champion BOBBY ROODE vs. HIDEO ITAMI – NXT Championship Match
Roode immediately pushes Itami into the ropes on a lockup, celebrates, and Itami almost manages a GTS. Roode runs all the way up the ramp. Shoulder block to Itami, back elbow to Roode, cover for one. Itami with a variety of offense. Knee drops to Roode, then he does the “Glorious” pose. That annoys Roode, who runs right into more offense. Roode throws Itami off the top, then hits a second rope blockbuster, cover for two. Roode starts to wear Itami down. Backslide catches Roode for two.
Roode insults Itami. Itami responds with a huge slap. One from Roode. The match finally goes into high gear, dropkick sends Roode to the mat. Itami with a flurry of kicks, then a suplex. Tornado DDT into the ropes, then a top ropes clothesline for a nearfall. GTS attempt, but Roode elbows out. Itami dodges a spear in the corner, Roode is howling in pain, and takes stiff kicks. Roode ducks a kick, rollup, but Itami transitions into an armbar. Roode gets out before it is locked in. Itami drives Roode to the corner. Itami puts Roode on top and heads up there too. Roode sends him down, but Itami dodges the blockbuster. Falcon Arrow from Itami for a nearfall. Itami lands kicks in the corner, then runs into a spinebuster and takes a two count. Itami has Roode up for a GTS but the momentum carries them to the ropes to get free.
Roode drags Itami to the outside to deliver more offense. Roode gets sent into the ring steps. Roode then dodges a hesitation dropkick and Itami smashes his feet on the steps. The ref checks on them, then starts a ten count. Roode hobbles into the ring, then Itami manages to roll himself in. Roode and Itami trade shots. Hesitation dropkick connects in the corner. Itami calls for the end. GTS again, but Itami’s knee buckles. Glorious DDT, slow cover, kickout at the last moment. They are both slow to recover, but Roode is up first. Itami suckers him, GTS, but Roode lands near the ropes and rolls off the edge. Itami can barely walk, and barely can roll Roode into the ring. Cover and a super late kickout. Roode is still out on the mat. Itami wants another GTS. Roode slips down, but Itami covers him for two. Itami with big slaps. Itami calls for the end yet again. GTS, Roode slips out, Glorious DDT, then another. Roode flops around in pain, cover, win.
WINNER: Bobby Roode in 17:44. Another super-solid title match with Booby Roode. I liked that they did so many almost-finishers, and finishers with kickouts, but it all felt organic and not the WrestleMania “we kickout of finishers all night long” routine. I liked this better than Roode’s matches with Nakamura.
Kevin Owens and Eric Thames of the Milwaukee Brewers are shown in the crowd. Owens is looking annoyed of course. Sami Zay, Pat Patterson, and Kassius Ohno are also shown in the crowd.
[ J.J.’s Reax: Wow, can Kassius Ohno fall any lower, then reminding us that he isn’t even on the card? He got a title shot on a non-Takeover show and has been sliding down the ladder ever since. ]
5. NXT Tag Team Champions THE AUTHORS OF PAIN (AKAM and REZAR w/Paul ellering) vs. #DIY (JOHNNY GARGANO and TOMMASO CIAMPA) – NXT Tag Team Title Ladder Match
The Authors of Pain get the immediate advantage over #DIY, but they both run into back elbows. #DIY send AOP outside the ring. Gargano and Ciampa both decie to get ladders, but Rezar and Akam recover and beat up #DIY ringside. Rezar throws Ciampa into the barricade then the ringsteps, but Ciampa stops himself and trips Rezar intot he steps, then Gargano follows up. Gargano and Ciampa get the extra tall ladder off the ramp. It is at least 12 feet tall. Gargano jumps through the ropes, through the ladder to knock AOP down. #DIY goes back into the ring and set up a normal sized ladder. Akam stops them from climbing, then beat him with the ladder, then fend off Rezar.
#DIY try to double team AOP, but Rezar throws Ciampa into Gargano. Akam and Rezar start to climb, but Rezar seems to be afraid of heights or something. Ciampa bludgeons AOP with a ladder, then he and Gargano slam one onto AOP across the back. Rezar ends up holding a folded up ladder, Ciampa tries to scale it, they get sent out. AOP gingerly climb the ladder, #DIY stop them. QOP want the Super Collider but #DIY get onto the ladder, AOP knocks the ladder over. Ciampa looks like he may have hurt his knee. Ciampa gets thrown into a ladder in the corner. AOP double teams Ciampa in the corner. Akam sets up a ladder and holds it so Rear can climb. They abort the mission to attack #DIY again. AOP double team #DIY with a ladder again. AOP get a new, maybe bigger ladder for some reason. They stretch the ladders between the ring and the barricades. AOP wants to powerbomb #DIY onto the ladders, but they escape. Akam and Rezar are stunned on the apron, then get kicked. They lay on the ladders. #DIY go outside to punch them on the ladders. Akam and Rezar are laying on the ladders, #DIY scale the monster ladder still on the outside. Crossbodies off the giant ladder, the ladders buckle under the weight and there are bodies everywhere.
Ciampa is the first into the ring. He sets up a ladder. Akam drags himself into the ring to climb at the same time as Ciampa. Gargano is in the ring, setting up a ladder of his own as Ciampa and Akam brawl on the ladder. There is Rezar to fight with Gargano on the ladder. Ciampa gets knocked off, knocks over Gargano and Rezar, Gargano jumps to where Ciampa was, Akam gets knocked off, but Paul ellering knocks the ladder over and Gargano doesn’t get the belts off. Gargano superkicks Ellering, Akam saves the match. AOP check on Ellering, then return to the ring to beat up Ciampa. AOP set up a ladder in the corner, smash Ciampa into it over and over. Ellering tells them to end the match. Ciampa isn’t able to stand. AOP want to smach Ciampa’s face in with the ladder, but Gargano pushes him out of the way to take the shot himself. Ciampa is near tears and checks on Gargano as AOP climbs. Ciampa with a suplex to Rezar, Rezar into a ladder and it is snapped in two. A hand on the foot from Gargano stops Akam from climbing. Akam punches him back to the mat. Gargano clutches the ladder to keep Akam from hitting Ciampa with it. Ciampa kicks Akam, then Gargano does, Akam falls tot he ground with the ladder trapped on his head, #DIY land their team kick to Akam’s head. Ciampa holds his leg like it is badly hurt, but he is the only one close to mobile at this point. Ciampa helps Gargano up. #DIY has the ladder, they set up up. They both start to climb, AOP knock the ladder away, #DIY is hanging by the belts, powerbombs from AOP, no release, Super Collider, Akam and Rezar climb and retain.
WINNER: The Authors of Pain in 20:17. That was a really, really great match. Ciampa and Gargano had me totally believing that they could win. the biggest drawback was AOP climbing at a snail’s pace, especially since they move fast enough in the ring. It is hard to imagine that Heavy Machinery have a chance against AOP.
Post-match, #DIY recover in the ring to a big set of cheers. This has the feeling of an NXT retirement match. Just as the announcers are closing the show out and they have the logos up, Ciampa attacks Gargano. Instant, monster heat on Ciampa. Ciampa starts to walk away, then slowly drops his knee pad to land a running knee to Gargano’s head. “F–k you Ciampa!” chant. Ciampa puts Gargano on a table, Gargano can’t understand what’s happening. Samoan Drop drop off thje table into a table much lower. The crowd is besides themselves. And… there’s a “psycho killer!” chant to ruin it. Ciampa stands tall on the table and takes an “a–hole!” chant. Feels like a dozen workers are clearing the debris off Gargano who still hasn’t moved. They are preparing a board for Gargano as NXT finally signs off.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was the best Takeover in a while. The opener positions Roderick Strong as the next contender to Bobby Roode’s title. The UK Championship match was just brilliant and I cannot wait for that to become a regular show in the near future. The women’s match was fine for what it was, but the division is just drained. Roode – Itami was well done and much appreciated. Where does Itami go from here? Strong is the next #1 contender it looks like, but there is no reason to think he can beat Roode. The Tag Team title match was great, but the post-match happenings were just insane. #DIY were the last really well defined babyfaces in NXT and splitting this team up had immediate, powerful impact. Excellent work here.
NOW CHECK OUT AN IN-PERSON REPORT: NXT TAKEOVER CHICAGO HOLT REPORT 5/20: In-person perspective on live experience, fan response to key matches and angles