Review: NXT Takeover Chicago

Better run run run run, run run run away...

The “developmental” nature of NXT means that the depth and breadth of their roster is always in flux, the comings and going of incoming indie vets and performance center graduates and outgoing, hopeful future superstars making any particular incarnation of the brand a beautifully fleeting and bittersweet proposition at the very least. After a bit of a fallow period following last year’s Raw and SmackDown brand split, NXT has had a bit of a renaissance lately, with a deep enough current bench that recent recruits like Aleister Black and the returning Drew McIntyre don’t even make the show, but NXT proved last night that the skeleton crew that kept the home fires burning have earned all of the recognition they’ve been receiving lately for reinvigorating the brand, creating another in their flawless steak of can’t miss Takeover events.

For the second Takeover ( in a row, the match of the night was a showdown between DIY and AOP, and this time it took its rightful place at the top of the card. Long lived and well loved indie heroes Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano met Paul Ellering’s Akam and Rezar in a ladder match for the tag titles, and it was one for the skull splitting ages, the do-it-yourselfers seeing the black clad giants’ bone crushing destruction and raising them even more at every turn. But even after an innovative double ladder splash spot, Ciampa trying to sprint up a ladder as one of the Authors held it, and the heartwarming sight of Ellering taking a bump, DIY still came up short, leading to a shocking, internet breaking heel turn from Tomasso Ciampa, fall away slamming Gargano off of the announce table and into more tables as the once and future Psycho Killer reclaimed his homicidal mantle.

You could make the argument that the card’s true standout was the UK Championship match between Pete Dunn and Tyler Bate and you wouldn’t get much argument from me. To put it in the most inelegant terms possible, these fucking kids fucking killed it (yes, guys in their early 20’s are kids to me now, I’m a dinosaur), getting themselves genuinely over with the always smarktacular Chicago crowd, more than deserving every ear splitting pop and chant. A superhuman airplane spin, interesting rope based offense and gravity defying high risk maneuvers from Bate couldn’t save him from real life Guy Ritchie villain Dunn though, crowning a new UK champ. Let’s see more of these guys on the regular shows now please and thank you.

Elsewhere on the card, SAnitY is 0 and 2 against potential converts, Roderick Strong besting the chaotic crew just as Tye Dillinger did on his way to SD Live, Bobby Roode successfully defended his NXT title against Hideo Itami, and Asuka did the same, securing her Women’s title and incredible streak in the process of double pinning Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot. All of these matches were great, the work Itami did on Roode’s shoulder and then their finisher trading finale a definite standout, along with Cross hilariously trapping Asuka in the ring apron, but with the outcomes kind of stale, it’ll be up to NXT’s handling of the upcoming feuds to determine the ultimate worth of the overall in-ring storytelling.

And that’s always the main crux of NXT: what’s coming. What’s next for SAnitY after so much defeat? Who will step up and finally unseat the current crop of champions? And what of the blood feud between the former best friends of DIY? The fact that so many questions have even arisen coming out of Takeover Chicago essentially makes the show a success, and tossing new blood like Black and McIntyre at contemporary guard will only result in a similarly enthralling future.



Kevin Hawkey is the co-founder, head writer and editor of Riot-Nerd. He enjoys Fighting Games, Metal, Marvel, Horror and all the weird shit in between. A lifelong Philadelphian just as comfortable in a circle pit at Underground Arts as he is drooling over the new Hot Toys figures at Brave New Worlds, Kevin’s idiosyncratic sensibility gives this site it’s unique dichotomy between “riot” and “nerd”.
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