NXT TakeOver: Chicago is in the bag, which means it’s time for another round of the 3-Count Review and Smack Talk Pay-Per-Viewpoint Post-Show podcast!
As always, click the video at the bottom of this post to check out the podcast breakdown of everything on the show, but before we get into that, I want to focus on three things that standout from my mind in regards to NXT TakeOver: Chicago.
For this edition, I figured I would highlight the three biggest upgrades that happened throughout the evening.
The United Kingdom Division
Let’s face it, WWE has dropped the ball with the United Kingdom division by not having a game plan set in stone early enough.
The best course of action would have been to capitalize off the the tournament by almost immediately having a television show ready to go, as even the cruiserweight division had to wait a bit of time before coming to Raw and then branching off into 205 Live.
The UK scene, though, has had it even worse. Four months after the tournament, we still don’t have even a name for the television series.
Outside of a few sporadic appearances here and there, the whole thing has largely been absent, so this week was a good shot in the arm for reminding audiences that this is a thing.
The pre-recorded show which aired on Friday made no ripples in the water, as tapings like that are done like that always struggle to catch attention as people just read spoilers, but the match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne at TakeOver was so good that it should definitely turn some heads.
This gave those two men more exposure than they possibly even got from the tournament itself, as NXT is the most established brand outside of the main roster’s Raw and SmackDown programs.
If the quality of these matches can continue, WWE should be able to build up at least some momentum to getting people interested in seeing more out of the likes of Bate, Dunne, Mark Andrews, Wolfgang, Trent Seven and the rest of the gang.
For the most part, Hideo Itami has been a failure. He was built up as a big deal and after suffering multiple injuries, the best thing he’s accomplished so far as introducing the audience to Finn Balor.
While he does still have his supporters, going into this event, there weren’t a lot of people buzzing about his title match. It’s crazy that we’re in a weekend where more speculation is about Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Championship from Randy Orton rather than Hideo Itami being a contender to beat Bobby Roode for the NXT title.
Instead of wondering if he’d win, much of the discussion was about how he was basically starting all over again and needed to prove that he wasn’t suffering from ring rust.
After his performance here, he should definitely have gained more supporters who can breathe a sigh of relief that there’s still some potential to tap into.
While he still has a long way to go to prove that he isn’t injury prone and it’s doubtful that many people will think he’s the next in line to win the NXT Championship, this was a considerable step in the right direction for Itami.
Had he wrestled a poor match, it could have been a death knell for his career. Now that he’s logged in a good performance, he adds some points back into the column of having a brighter future.
Tomasso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano
Any time it seems like something is about to end or take off to the next level, there’s always a debate about whether we’ll see a heel/face turn or a title change.
With #DIY, fans went back and forth about just what would go down with this being the main event, as it seemed obvious that something would happen.
Would they simply have a great match and win the titles back, beating an undefeated team? Was this the sendoff before they pop up on Raw or SmackDown as the newest signees to those tag team divisions?
Nope. Heel turn! Not even that alone, but the way it was done added just the right amount of zing to really spice it up.
It was a great touch to act like the show was ending before the turn took place, making it feel more spontaneous. This is the type of thing WWE needs to do more of, rather than having cameras already hanging out backstage to film when someone gets jumped or having interviewers stare off into the distance at the end of every segment instead of just saying “back to you” or something.
Another aspect which will surely be touched upon was how earlier in the night, Johnny Gargano specifically went out of his way to push Ciampa out of danger, sacrificing himself and eating a face full of ladder for his buddy, only to be turned on a few minutes later. That’s harsh.
Suddenly, these two went from arguably the best tag team on the roster to being embroiled in a one-on-one feud that could easily headline the next TakeOver event.
Out of the ashes of their tag team feud, two singles stars will be born. It’s a negative for the tag team division, but for each individual’s career, it’s a step a new and interesting direction for them.
For more opinions on the show as a whole, 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.
Hosted by Anthony Mango
Panelists: Stephen Wago and Callum Wiggins
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