Tonight’s TakeOver event is coming to you from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, the same location of tomorrow nights Money in the Bank event.
First up we saw the pre-show where EC3 and Adam Cole both made their presences felt, neither man having a match tonight they got a bit of mic time here, nothing significant happened in the pre-show just many many vignettes.
The main show started with Nigel McGuinness explaining that Vic Joseph and Percy Watson will be joining him in place of Mauro Ranallo who is back in two weeks time, Undisputed’s music hit and we got O’Reilly, Strong, and Cole, no Bobby Fish this time, yet…
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Undisputed Era (c) Vs Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan
We started the match with Roderick Strong and Danny Burch, Strong tried to toy with Burch here at the start, however, this didn’t last long, both teams trading tags and trying to one-up each other in the early going.
Another tag and Oney Lorcan runs through everyone, with vicious strikes and then flying over the top rope to take both of his enemies down, before running the corners smashing both Kyle and Roderick, then using some nice double team moves to take down Undisputed yet Strong managed to turn it around allowing O’Reilly to get the armbar on, Undisputed takes control.
Both members tag back and forth but Burch throws them both out, Lorcan then takes both men out and fed O’Reilly back in for another double team move, Burch goes for the pin but Cole pulled him out of the ring to get himself sent to the back leaving the rest of Undisputed in their own.
Next we got a submission fest from both sides back and forth but O’Relley and Strong are able to kick their way out of it, leading both teams to have a full on punch up in the ring, but Undisputed would manage to pull it out of the bag and the numbers game led them to retain their titles, a fun match and the right decision for now. Lorcan and Burch receive an ovation from the crowd for their efforts.
Winners: Undisputed Era
We got to see Kairi Sane, NXT Superstar sat in the crowd next enjoying the show, before a vignette showing Velveteen Dream and Ricochet’s feud build up, accompanied by both me. Sharing their thoughts in interview style promos, I enjoyed this.
Velveteen Dream Vs Ricochet
Dream enters first not only dressed like Hulk Hogan with the wave and the ear but also Prince Puma, Ricochet’s former alter ego from Lucha Underground, I love his charisma and this was a ballsy move, I’m looking forward to this one. Ricochet then makes his way down with some funky wings on his back and a rather cool outfit going on as well.
The men tie up in the middle of the ring before Dream backs Ricochet into the corner and doing another Hogan pose, both men then end up wrapped up on the floor trying to outdo each other, both grating in each other and getting annoyed early on.
We then got a fun flippy sequence with Ricochet doing his usual springboards off of the ropes into a pose matched by Dream and then Ricochet after a dropkick goes to the apron to leap back in but is knocked off mid-jump by Dream who takes over and proceeds to stomp him down in the corner.
The Dream then stole Ricochets move where he jumps from the apron onto his knees and sentons Ricochet with his own move, yet back in their feet Dream is met with a vicious elbow causing him to shove Ricochet through the ropes for a nasty bump. Then a dive to the outside from Dream in an effort do Ricochet better than Ricochet does it.
Back in the ring, the two men take turns to batter each other to a chorus of cheers for them both. Dream continues to try and pick Ricochet apart but he always manages to roll out of moves and escape, allowing him to now dive to the outside twice, throwing Dream in to try and go in for the kill but after attempting a pin, Dream kicks out.
A standing shooting star press leads to another failed pin attempt, Ricochet looks visibly more energetic at this point, Dream is resorting to hitting the ropes while Ricochet is on the top rope to knock him down but Ricochet just seems to on top of things at this point yet is met by a Death Valley bomb of the top rope.
Ricochet’s turn to kick out here, so Dream goes up top looking for the elbow but it is him knocked down this time, Ricochet attempts to go up for a suplex on Dream but is lifted to the outside for a brutal suplex to the floor from the apron. In the ring another Death Valley bomb but still can’t put Ricochet away. The two men exchange blows, tiring to the point of almost holding each other up, a string of moves leads Dream to hit his DDT but still Ricochet kicks out.
Both men are dead in the middle, the crowd is loving it and letting us know, and the Dream starts to slap and taunt Ricochet who hits Dream with his own Death Valley Bomb before hitting him with Dreams pose and elbow drop followed by a pin attempt and kick out.
This is awesome! Ricochet goes for the Shooting Star Press but Dream gets the knees up, then goes for an elbow of his own but Ricochet is too far and moves, allowing him to then hit the 630 splash and get the 1-2-3. I was highly impressed with this match and how well Dream is growing, I look forward to seeing Ricochet grow a bit more as well. This feud is not over.
Next up was the Baszler/Cross videos we’ve seen before plus some highlights of their encounters. I look forward to seeing how this dynamic goes, both of them are ring capable and the ruthlessness of Baszler mixed with the craziness and cheekiness of across makes this all the more fun.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Shayna Baszler (c) Vs Nikki Cross
Cross enters first followed by the Champion Shayna, the math starts with Nikki showing no fear, causing the champ to back off, she doesn’t know what to think, Cross ends up on Baszler back with a choke which is returned by Shayna but Cross gets her off before leaving the ring and pulling Shayna into the apron skirting where she trapped her to attack, this led to another choke by Cross but Baszler dropped one smashing her opponents head on the steel ramp.
Baszler then starts to choke and pound in Cross looking like a shoot yet, of course, Nikki is smiling to herself. Nikki takes a bit of a battering before turning it around fully I’m not sure I’ve seen Baszler in this much trouble yet. She manages to get a knee to Cross’ face and goes for a choke but Cross pulls her face first into the turnbuckle, a pin attempt shortly after is stopped when Shayna gets a foot on the rope. Baszler manages to get her choke locked in and it looks like Cross is going out, trying to sit up and get free numerous times.
She is still smiling at this point before slowly blacking out and the red calls it for Shayna Baszler to retain. Great effort here for the challenger and she refused to give up and tap, I liked this chapter in both of their runs. By the time Shayna manages to get out of the ring across is sitting back up with that grin. Love the character.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
EC3 is in the crowd and he isn’t the only one, with Leith Lee also there, this is a great sign for NXT, or is it N…X…Lee?!
An Aleister Black and Lars Sullivan promo plays again before their matchup.
NXT Championship Match: Aleister Black (c) Vs Lars Sullivan
I still dig the entrance, but I still find it weird seeing Black with the title, I don’t think he needs it to be at the top, some characters just don’t. The match starts with a stare down which was ended by Black attacking Sullivan, he has no fear of the giant man but Lars quickly takes over here, he is running through the champ, in and outside of the ring, to the point that it’s begun to be a bit of a mauling.
Sullivan ending up with Black in the floor in a choke hold, a long rest hold, which Black finally starts to fight out of but is stopped in his tracks, the crown is really booing Sullivan as a heel. Black manages a few strikes but forever one of his shots he takes another round of punishment from the challenger. Lars goes for a pin but Black kicks out. Sullivan tries to go up top but is stopped by Black, who tries to go up and chop the huge monster down, yet is knocked down himself.
Lars goes for a top rope elbow on the downed champ but Black gets the knees up. Yeah, lot of weight landing on those knees, Black is able to gain some control from this though and sets upon picking Sullivan apart with strikes and kicks before setting up the Black Mass, only to have his injured leg grabbed by Sullivan who then sets Black up in a horsecollar in the middle of the ring, looks like a painful hold. Black gets out of it to hit a big DDT on Lars but it doesn’t lead him any closer to success.
Both men end up out on the apron exchanging strikes before Sullivan hits him with a power slam on the hard bit of the apron, then rolls Black into the ring and hit a diving head it from the top rope. Black manages to survive this and turn it around to hit the Black Mass but doesn’t hit it on target fully. After a second attempt and reversal Lars hits a huge clothesline turning Black 360 degrees, yet once back to his feet he hit a couple of Black Masses to finish the giant off.
This match was a gruelling one for the Champion and the challenger was booked strong here in his first title attempt, managing to walk out on his own two feet nursing his jaw and bleeding mouth after those kicks, both men leave strong and it will be good to see what’s in store for them next, I don’t think Sullivan will be leaving the Champion alone until he gets what he wants.
Winner: Aleister Black
After the match, we got the final vignette for the night, showing how we’ve got to where we’re at with Ciampa and Gargano. Excellent storytelling. We see Johnny backstage and his wife Candice LeRae run up to him, having been against Gargano’s continued participation in this feud, yet she hands him the crutch symbolically and tells Johnny Wrestling to ‘Kick his ass!’
Street Fight: Johnny Gargano Vs Tommaso Ciampa
In what could be the final encounter between these two former partners and best friends, a saga that begun a year ago in this same city, I expect to see some of Chicago what with it being a Street Fight, and it’s going to be brutal, which is Ciampa’s strong suit, and that doesn’t bode well for Johnny Wrestling. Johnny enters first to a nice pop from the crowd, followed by Ciampa, who of course has no music which is great for a heel, can hear the boos so much better, and he’s also got a crutch.
It’s not some sort of crutch Vs crutch match. Johnny is on top at first and takes Ciampa to the outside, tossing him over the announce desk. Ciampa then tries to escape through the crowd met by a fan screaming ‘You’re the devil Ciampa!’ Great stuff. Gargano stays in control outside and uses a plethora of weaponry to batter Ciampa half to death garnering and EC’dub chant. Gargano leaps over a barricade to deliver a flying forearm taking Ciampa down again and then starts to make his way back to the ring with his opponent.
Johnny starts filling the ring with anything he can find underneath it and enters to begin the operation. Going for a shot to Ciampa with a bin lid he is dodged and gets a German suplex followed by multiple more, not good for his neck injury he had. Gargano manages to eventually turn it around and hit one of his own, Ciampa rolls out of the ring and they both take it in turns to smash each other through barricades and steel steps. Ciampa then empties his half of the ring stash and takes a chair to Gargano, before putting it over Johnny’s head and ramming him into the steps.
Even worse for the neck. Ciampa then lays in the ring watching his former friend writhe about in pain. A bin is the next item to grace Gargano’s back and neck, things are not looking good for little Johnny right now. Rolling Gargano back in to the ring, Ciampa then attempts to choke Johnny with his shirt, earning himself a ‘you suck!’ chant. It’s all Tommaso at this point and I’m not sure Johnny Wrestling is going to survive this, especially considering the fact that he is about to get handcuffed to the ropes.
Johnny manages to fight back and get to his feet taking Tommaso to the ground, unsheathing his belt and unleashing what I and the crowd like to call the ‘You deserve it!’ attack, then places a bin on his enemies head and superkicking him.
The corner to utilise but is met with an eye rake, then some knees and a bin lid to the face before being pinned but is able to kick out. Ciampa hits the knees to the bin lid to the head a second time and then tries to get Gargano out on the apron for the death blow, Johnny hits a series of blows on Ciampa but is slammed into the steel steps from the apron and then rolled into the ring.
Ciampa out of frustration at still kit having out Johnny down goes under the ring for a toolbox and bolt cutters then begins to cut off the holdings for the ring canvas, enters the ring and tears it up, ready to use the hardest parts of the ring to the fullest.
He then hit the hardest part of Gargano’s Head with a steel chair ECW style, places Johnny up top, bites his ear, yes, bites his ear and then goes up to bring him down hard but Johnny sunset flips out of it and pulls him low enough for a quick superkick.
The two warriors end up on their knees trading blows and slowly make their way to their feet unsteadily but Johnny manages to out whack Ciampa and roll over him for the pin, yet a close kick out is followed by Ciampa rolling outside again, so Johnny tries to jump over the rope into him but meets the bin lid head first.
When back in the ring Gargano manages to target the formerly injured knee of Ciampa and is doing a good job but Ciampa send him headfirst back into the bin Johnny set up earlier. Ciampa then tries to chop Johnny’s head off with repeated elbows and strikes to a background of boos and Johnny Wrestling chants.
A stiff crutch strike to the back of Johnny’s neck and then another failed pin here, Ciampa looks like he has given up trying and is sat in the apron. So of course the Chicago crowd start the ‘We want tables’ chant. Ciampa has Johnny arm over shoulder walking up the ramp and reading him his rights before throwing him into the Tron screen exactly how this feud began.
Tommaso then climbs up the storage boxes around the stage area with Johnny in tow, takes of Johnny’s wedding ring and throws it into the crowd and goes to end things but Johnny manages to lift him up and take him all the way down through a table onto the concrete floor. The ref is calling for help now and medics have appeared ready to assist.
The match seems like it’s going to end with a broken and beaten looking Johnny Wrestling sat watching the medics strap Ciampa to a stretcher….that is until he realises his ring is gone, then he goes and throws a medic and the ref out of his way, rolls a pleading and begging Ciampa back to the ring and snaps, slapping on the Gargano Escape but with no ref now and security trying to end the match, it’s not over yet.
Disposing of them, Gargano then tries to Superkick Ciampa’s head all the way out the back door. More security tries to intercept and drag Johnny away but he runs back around to the corner to try and end Ciampa who pulls off a DDT onto the previously exposed ring. Johnny Gargano hits the floor like a brick and Tommaso goes for the pin, getting the three count this time around.
A thoroughly great ending to this feud after all of this time, obviously not for Johnny’s neck, but at the moment the crowd reaction, the boos, and hands-on faces are like the streak had just been broken again. I haven’t heard a crowd this filled with hate in decades. Great heel work, great face work from Johnny and overall another great addition to their series of matches.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
I have enjoyed yet another NXT extravaganza and this outing has done wonders for all of the storylines, leaving a lot of them still open I believe. There were odd bits where I started to think it maybe wasn’t as good as the last TakeOver events, but given that they were specials with various marquee matches between them, this had a lot to live up to, and by the end of the show I had enjoyed the majority of it and think it has definitely kept up the tradition of sending us all home happy.