NXT TakeOver: Chicago is over and done with and I have to say that my immediate reaction to it was to be thankful.
I went into this event with less enthusiasm than some previous TakeOver shows, as I felt like it was a bit underwhelming, and I’m glad I was proven wrong (for the most part).
Starting the show with the NXT Tag Team Championship match had me wondering what the tone would be set as, since that was one of the segments I was wary about—mostly because I felt like Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch weren’t properly set up enough to be credible challengers.
Instead of kicking off the show with something that felt predictable and lame, it was nice to see those two get some solid licks in against The Undisputed Era and put on a damn good match. Score one for NXT at that point, and a nice way to begin the night on a positive note.
Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream was no surprise in how good it was. From top to bottom, these two put on a fantastic show and they continue to prove time and time again that they have to be on the bubble as two of the bigger stars that will lead WWE in the years to come. No complaints whatsoever. How could I complain?
Nikki Cross and Shayna Baszler surprised me in how much I enjoyed their match as well. This was the other thing I was mostly afraid would be disappointing, but they told a different enough story and it entertained me in an alternate fashion from the previous two matches. Cross looked strong in her loss, Baszler adds another win to boost her credibility, and all is well in the women’s division. Next up, Kairi Sane?
Things took a turn for the worse with Aleister Black and Lars Sullivan. Something just felt strange to me about their chemistry and the botch with missing Black Mass ended up being the point of no return in my mind and sealed the deal for me to just feel underwhelmed. By no means was this some candidate for the worst match of the year or anything of the sort—it just didn’t strike me as anything all that impressive, and I don’t think I’ll remember anything about it but potentially that botch by this time next month.
The show ended with a major positive, though, with Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. As expected, this was a brutal match that told a fantastic story and kept this feud as hot as ever. Nearly every move felt like it was properly showcasing just how much these two hated each other—a rarity in today’s WWE scene.
Even though I thought it was pretty certain they would have a great match, I did have some reservations that it might be too much of a retread of their unsanctioned match, and I’m glad that wasn’t the case. Instead, they turned up the volume on this feud and really sold it as the best rivalry going on today on WWE programming.
All in all, a very successful TakeOver event. If the two biggest complaints I have is that I wish Mauro Ranallo were there and I felt a little underwhelmed in one of the matches, I’ll take it and be very, very happy with my time spent.
For more opinions on the show, check out the latest edition of the Smark Out Moment wrestling podcast SMACK TALK as the panel reviews NXT TakeOver: Chicago with our immediate reactions following the event before the dust has fully settled.
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