Welcome to our TJRWrestling live coverage of NXT Takeover Chicago. It’s the third NXT Takeover event of the year following the Philadelphia Takeover show (I gave that event a 9 out of 10) one night before the Royal Rumble in January and the excellent New Orleans Takeover (I gave that event a rare 10 out of 10) one night before WrestleMania in April. Here’s the lineup for this event.
Chicago Street Fight: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
NXT Championship: Aleister Black (c) vs. Lars Sullivan
Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream
NXT Tag Team Championships: The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong) (c) vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Nikki Cross
NXT Takeover Chicago
From Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois
June 16, 2018
The opening video package aired hyping up all of the big matches on the show.
There was a shot of the live crowd in Chicago. They were loud like usual. The announce team for the show is Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson. Joseph is the voice of 205 Live and he’s filling in for Mauro Ranallo, who is on assignment due to his boxing announcing commitments. The Spanish announce team is at ringside too.
The crowd cheered The Undisputed Era NXT Tag Team Champions even though they are heels. There wasn’t much of a reaction for Lorcan and Burch for their entrance.
The Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong (w/Adam Cole) vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
The fans chanted “undisputed” when the match began. There were quick tags on both sides. Burch and O’Reilly exchanged strikes. Burch and Lorcan did a double suplex on Strong onto O’Reilly. Burch and Lorcan hit clotheslines to send both champs out of the ring and the crowd booed them. The fans chanted “Undisputed” again. Lorcan with a knee to the ribs of O’Reilly. Burch tagged in leading to a double team dropkick on O’Reilly. Strong into the ring, Burch with a forearm and a missile dropkick. Strong dumped Burch to the floor, O’Reilly went for a kick and Strong dropkicked Burch to the floor. Strong sent Burch into the side of the ring apron. Back in the ring, the champs took control with quick tags and O’Reilly hit a suplex followed by knee bar submission. Strong connected with a backbreaker. Burch tried to fight out of the corner, but O’Reilly slowed him down with elbows to the ribs. O’Reilly went for the armbar, but Burch for his foot on the bottom rope to break. Strong tagged in with a dropkick for two. Burch created some space with a back body drop on Strong. O’Reilly tagged in, kick on Lorcan and Burch hit a headbutt on O’Reilly. Lorcan got the tag against Strong and he connected with a huge clothesline. Running uppercut by Lorcan on Strong. Lorcan dropkick sent O’Reilly to the floor. Lorcan ran the ropes and nailed a dive over the top to take out both guys on the floor. Good flurry of offense from Lorcan. Dragon Suplex by Lorcan followed a running uppercut for two. Lorcan with corner splashes followed by a double Blockbuster on O’Reilly and Strong. Burch tagged in with a double team DDT for a two count as O’Reilly made the save. Burch put Strong on his shoulders, Lorcan up top, O’Reilly shoved him down and it was a rough landing for Lorcan. Strong with an enziguri on Burch, O’Reilly tagged in, they exchanged strikes and O’Reilly with a float over suplex for two. O’Reilly slapped on an armbar on Burch, but Burch managed to get to the ropes to break. Fans booed that because they want Undisputed Era to win. Fans chanted “this is awesome” as Strong hit a running knee and a slam. O’Reilly with a knee to the face for a two count as Strong made the cover on Burch. Burch fought back with a headbutt on Strong and back body drop sent O’Reilly to the floor. Lorcan hit a double Blockbuster off the apron on the floor. Wow. Burch put O’Reilly on his shoulders, Lorcan up top and he hit a flying uppercut on O’Reilly. Lorcan covered, but Cole pulled O’Reilly out of the ring at two. The ref saw it and ejected Cole. The fans chanted “bullshit” for that, but it was clearly the right call from the referee.
Burch and Lorcan double teamed O’Reilly, but Strong pulled Burch out of the ring. O’Reilly slapped on a guillotine choke on Lorcan in the center of the ring, but Lorcan hit a back body drop to get out of it. Strong tagged in, knee to the ribs of Lorcan, chop to the leg by Lorcan and a Powerbomb by Lorcan got a two count. Lorcan transitioned into a half crab submission only for O’Reilly to kick him in the face. Burch took down O’Reilly in a crossface submission. O’Reilly kicked Lorcan off his partner. The crowd was going wild with “NXT” chants. The teams got into a slugfest with Strong stunning Lorcan with a knee to the face. O’Reilly hit Lorcan with more strikes. Burch was knocked down. Strong and O’Reilly hit a double team leg sweep by KOR and running clothesline by Strong. Strong pinned Lorcan for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winners: Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly
Analysis: **** That was a great tag team match. It was four stars out of five with several moments where it looked like Burch and Lorcan might win. Going into the match I thought Strong and O’Reilly would retain and they did, but I didn’t know the match would be that good. I liked the spot with Cole getting ejected after saving his buddies. It got a lot of heat while also giving Burch and Lorcan something to talk about if these teams have a rematch. The submission sequence was really outstanding with Burch and Lorcan looking like they were going to win, but O’Reilly saved Strong. Good choice for an opening match.
Post match, O’Reilly and Strong left with their titles. The team of Burch and Lorcan received a standing ovation from the crowd in Chicago. They earned the respect of the fans.
A commercial aired for Money in the Bank on Sunday.
Lars Sullivan was shown working out backstage.
There was a shot of NXT star Kairi Sane sitting at ringside watching the show.
The video package aired for Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream. The story is that Dream says that anything Ricochet can do, Dream can do better.
Velveteen Dream wore a very extravagant outfit with red and orange on it almost like a Hulkamania vibe to it. The crowd cheered him heavily even though he’s more of a traditional heel. It’s hard not to cheer him because he stands out from the pack.
Ricochet got a big ovation for his entrance. He is dealing with a bit of a right shoulder injury, but he said he’s fine, so I believe him. While Ricochet walked down the aisle, Dream was laying across the Spanish announce table.
Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet
They had a staredown to start the match. Ricochet grounded Dream early with a leg scissors, but Dream got out of it. They did some more back and forth maneuvering where they were trying to outshine the other guy. Ricochet hit a dropkick. When Ricochet went for a springboard attack, Dream tripped him up and Ricochet went throat first into the top rope leading to Ricochet landing hard on the floor. Back in the ring, Dream stomped away on Ricochet using his size. Dream sent Ricochet throat first into the top rope. Dream with a senton splash over the top rope in a move that Ricochet does followed by a neckbreaker for two. Ricochet got some momentum with a back elbow, but Dream shoved Ricochet out of the ring. Dream ran the ropes, he put his foot on the middle rope and jumped over the top onto Ricochet on the floor. The announcers pointed out that Dream did a Ricochet move there. Dream slapped on a chinlock to ground Ricochet. The fans were chanting for both guys. Ricochet with a kick to the chest and he dumped Dream out of the ring. Dream came back in the ring, Ricochet tripped him up followed by a running dropkick that sent Dream out of the ring. Ricochet hit a suicide dive that took out Dream on the floor. Ricochet ran the ropes again and hit a flip dive over the top while landing on his feet. Ricochet sent Dream into the turnbuckle, 619 dropkick and Ricochet hit a springboard uppercut for two. Running neckbreaker by Ricochet followed by a standing Shooting Star Press for a two count. Dream dumped Ricochet to the floor. Ricochet up top, Dream tripped him up to crotch him on the top and a running forearm connected for Dream. Ricochet slapped Dream off the top. Ricochet avoided Dream going to the top, Ricochet was on the apron and Dream hit a rolling Death Valley Driver off the middle ropes for two. It’s almost like a FU that John Cena does, but this looked better. Fans chanted “This is awesome” as both guys were down.
Dream went to the top rope, Ricochet nailed a punch and Dream was on the apron. Dream fought back by grabbing Ricochet in a suplex position and suplexing Ricochet off the apron onto the floor. That was a rough landing for both guys. The ref counted both guys down and they both got back in before the ten count. They both struggled to their feet, Dream hit the Death Valley Driver for a two count. Good nearfall there. They did the bit where they staggered to their feet exchanging strikes. Ricochet hit a Northern Lights Suplex and each man connected with kicks to the face. Dream with a back elbow to the head. Ricochet with a clothesline. Dream hit a snap DDT for a two count with Ricochet getting his left shoulder up at the last moment. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them again. Dream talked trash to Ricochet calling himself a Wrestling God. Ricochet picked him and hit a Death Valley Driver of his own. Ricochet went up top, he posed on top like Dream and hit a flying elbow drop like Dream does…for a two count. Ricochet went up top again, Dream rolled away to the middle of the ring and Ricochet went for a Shooting Star Press halfway across the ring, but Dream got his knees up to block it. That was good for a two count. Wow what a nearfall. Ricochet was near the ropes. Dream went up top and went for the elbow drop all the way across the ring, but Ricochet rolled out of the way. Ricochet went up top and connected with a 630 Splash onto the back of Dream. Ricochet covered for the pinfall win after 21 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Ricochet
Analysis: ****1/2 This was awesome. That was so much fun to watch. I like the way the match was laid out with each man in control for a good portion of it, the other guy kept coming back and they were doing moves that the other man did regularly. In the end, it was Dream going for the elbow drop too far across the ring, but it was too far away, so Ricochet moved and hit the 630 Splash for the win. It was an incredible match. They are very impressive talents. As for the outcome of the match, I picked Dream because he’s been in NXT longer, but I am fine with Ricochet winning because it is Ricochet’s first win at a Takeover. What’s so impressive is Dream is only 22 years old (23 in August) and he’s already this good. He’ll keep getting better. I don’t think the result mattered that much. They delivered a memorable match, which is what really matters more than anything. Perhaps Ricochet can feud with Adam Cole for the North American Title after this.
Post match, Dream was selling the splash while Ricochet posed as the winner.
A commercial aired for Money in the Bank hyping Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey.
There was a shot of Tommaso Ciampa sitting on some boxes alone while gathering his thoughts.
A video package aired for NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross.
Nikki Cross was up first with the crowd cheering her. Cross is the face that acts crazy, so she stands out as a different kind of wrestler. Baszler is a submission expert champion with a lot of confidence.
NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross
Baszler kicked Cross down and Cross was laughing about it. Cross turned her back to Baszler, then Baszler charged and Cross laughed at her. Baszler slapped on a choke, Cross drove her into the turnbuckle, Cross tripped up Baszler on the apron and Cross punched Baszler while she was against the apron. Cross jumped on Baszler’s back, but Baszler dropped her back first onto the steel at the bottom of the ramp. Back in the ring, Baszler worked over Cross with punches. The fans were distracted by something in the crowd. Baszler hit Cross with four knee strikes to the chest leading to Cross yelling at her as if it had no effect. Cross came back with a belly to back suplex. Cross with a cross body block for a two count. Cross hit a reverse DDT on the ring apron that was good for a two count. Baszler came back with a move for two. Baszler went for a submission, Cross broke free and hit a spinning neckbreaker off the top. Baszler slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch submission wrapping her arms around the neck of Cross. It’s a rear naked choke, but they use the name Kirifuda Clutch when Baszler does it. Cross smiled as the fans cheered as Baszler locked in the hold. Cross passed out, so the ref called for the bell. It went about eight minutes. The hold was on for over one minute.
Winner by submission: Shayna Baszler
Analysis: **1/2 The match was okay, but also on the short side under ten minutes. It was on the short side for a Takeover match. I liked the story with Cross as the woman that won’t quit, but when Baszler slapped in the Kirifuda Clutch she was able to make Cross pass out in the hold. I thought the match would have been better if Cross got some believable nearfalls. There weren’t enough of those. I guess that was done because it was a short match. There wasn’t enough time to give Cross those believable nearfall spots. It’s possible that Cross will go the main roster with Sanity on Smackdown because Sanity hasn’t debuted on television yet.
The theme song for the show is Painless by Fozzy, which is Chris Jericho’s band.
EC3 was seated at ringside to watch the next match. They also showed Keith Lee, who is a talented big man that’s a new WWE signee.
The video package aired for NXT Champion Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan, so it’s the second straight NXT Takeover where the title match isn’t last because Gargano/Ciampa is the main event. I think that’s fine.
Lars Sullivan entered first for the NXT Title match. He’s a very generic big man, but he looks like a legit badass. Aleister Black, the NXT Champion, received a nice ovation as usual. His theme song is one of my favorites.
NXT Championship: Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan
Black with several kicks that sent Sullivan out of the ring. Black attacked, Sullivan put Black on the apron and Black with a running double knee attack to take out Sullivan on the floor. Back in the ring, Black with a running knee lift for a two count. Sullivan tried to slam Black, but Black got out of it, then Sullivan ran him over and knocked him out of the ring. It looked like Black went for a punch and Sullivan ran right through it. They were on the floor with Black sending Sullivan face first into the ring post. Black went for a moonsault off the middle ropes, Sullivan caught him and sent him into the ring post. That was impressive. Sullivan shoved Black into the barricade at ringside. Sullivan with a corner splash for two. Sullivan slapped on a headlock. When Black broke out of it, Sullivan hit a front slam for a two count. Black got moving again, Sullivan tossed him up and hit a powerslam for a two count. Sullivan went up top, Black hit a running kick to the head and Sullivan hit a clothesline that knocked Black down off the top rope. Sullivan went up top for a splash, but Black hit a knee to the face to block it. Black got some momentum with kicks to the ribs, knee to the face, kick to the head and a moonsault off the middle rope for a two count. Sullivan came back with a running shoulder tackle to the left knee of Black. Kicks to the chest by Black, but when he used the left, he sold pain. Sullivan with a submission where he wrapped Black’s left leg around Sullivan’s head. Black countered to a two count. Sullivan went for the Freak Accident slam, but Black countered to a DDT.
The two men battled by the ropes, Sullivan with a forearm, Black with several kicks and Sullivan hit a powerslam on the ring apron. Sullivan went up top and he jumped off wit ha headbutt to the chest for a two count. Black nailed a knee followed by a kick for a two count. The ref was putting on the white gloves because somebody was bleeding. Black went for Black Mass, Sullivan caught his foot and hit a clothesline. Black avoided Freak Accident, knee to the face by Black and Black Mass kick connected for Black. Sullivan got to his knee, Black came back with a Black Mass kick and covered for the pinfall win after about 14 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Aleister Black
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match with Black working from underneath to make the comeback against his bigger opponent Sullivan. It was what I expected with Sullivan in control for most of it, the announcers talking about how unbeatable he was and Black found a way to get the job done. Good story with Black selling the left knee for most of the match, which helped them have a longer match due to the strength of the story. I like how Black had to hit Black Mass twice to put Sullivan away because that makes Sullivan look like a tough challenger.
Post match, Black celebrated with his NXT Title in the ring. He was cheered by the crowd. I was hoping for EC3 to attack Black in the ring after that match, but it didn’t happen.
Following Takeover, you can go to Triple H’s Facebook page to hear his comments on the show.
The video package aired for Gargano vs. Ciampa in the Chicago Street Fight main event. The video package is amazing just like this feud.
Johnny Gargano was shown backstage. His wife Candice LeRae went up to him and simply said: “Kick his ass.” She gave him a crutch. Gargano got a loud ovation from the crowd. Gargano had a crutch in his hand, which is a symbol from this feud because Ciampa attacked Gargano with a crutch. This friendship ended during the Chicago Takeover event last year. Vic Joseph mentioned Gargano is one of his best friends. Joseph was in Gargano’s wedding party a few years ago along with Ciampa.
Tommaso Ciampa entered to no theme music. Ciampa had a bigger crutch in his hands. The fans booed Ciampa heavily.
Chicago Street Fight: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Gargano took the fight to Ciampa right away. They went out of the ring with Gargano hitting a dive to take down Ciampa. Gargano threw Ciampa over the announce table to take out the announcers. They went brawling into the crowd with Ciampa taking a Gargano sign from a planted fan, then Gargano got it and hit Ciampa in the back with a stop sign. Gargano jumped off a staging area with a cross body block, so it was like a cross body block off the top rope, but it looks cooler when it’s done outside the ring. They went back into the ring with Gargano bringing in weapons like trash can and steel chair. Ciampa avoided a trash can lid shot and hit a German Suplex to take control. The crowd was chanting for both guys. Ciampa with three bridging German Suplexes. Gargano slipped out and hit a German Suplex that sent Ciampa out of the ring. Gargano hit a suicide dive. Gargano whipped Ciampa back first into the steel steps. Gargano looked under the ring and Ciampa capitalized with a knee to the face. Ciampa whipped Gargano into the barricade. Ciampa moved the steel steps so they were against the side of the ring. Ciampa grabbed a chair as well as a trash can. Ciampa with a chair shot to the ribs of Gargano, Ciampa put the chair around Gargano’s neck and he sent Gargano neck/chair first into the steel steps at ringside. The visual looked painful and Gargano was selling it well. Ciampa with a trash can to the back of Gargano. Ciampa threw the trash can to the back of the head of Gargano. Ciampa choked Gargano with his shirt.
Ciampa stomped away on Gargano against the turnbuckle followed by a catapult that sent Gargano into the bottom turnbuckle. Ciampa found handcuffs from under the ring and brought them into the ring. Gargano fought off the attempted use of handcuffs and Gargano hit a Spear off the apron. Gargano took off his belt and whipped Ciampa in the back with it. That always sounds great. Fans chanted “you deserve it” at Ciampa. Well done by them. Gargano put the trash can on Ciampa and hit a superkick into the trash can. Ciampa with an eye gouge, Ciampa with a Powerbomb into a double knee backbreaker. Ciampa with a running knee with the trash can for two. Ciampa with a knee to the face using the trash can again. They battled on the apron with Ciampa hitting a side slam onto the top of the steel steps. That got a two count. Killer move and a great nearfall. Ciampa got bolt cutters from under the ring. Ciampa cut some of the under parts of the ropes. Ciampa pulled up part of the mat to take the padding off and expose the wood. Ciampa with a steel chair to the back. Ciampa exposed about one quarter of the ring with the wood showing. Ciampa set up Gargano on the top rope, but Gargano fought out of it going for a sunset flip. Ciampa held on, so Gargano hit a superkick to the head. They exchanged strikes while on their knees. Gargano with an enziguri kick, Ciampa with a knee, Ciampa with a crutch to the face, Gargano with a trash can at the same time and Gargano covered for a two count. Great nearfall.
Ciampa went to the floor and you could see the scars on his back. Gargano jumped off the top only to be met with a trash can lid to the head by Ciampa. Running knee by Ciampa, Gargano moved and Ciampa hit the steel steps. Gargano back in the ring with punches to the knee. It’s the same right knee that Ciampa hurt last year and had a brace on it. Gargano hit Ciampa in the right knee with a steel chair. Ciampa kicked Gargano into a well placed trash can that was against the turnbuckle. Ciampa slapped on the Gargano Escape submission hold. Ciampa worked over Gargano with forearms to the back. Running knee attack by Ciampa. Ciampa used the crutch and hit Gargano in the back of the neck with it for a two count. The fans chanted “we want tables” as Ciampa stared at Gargano as they were on the floor near the ramp. Ciampa told Gargano that they were best friends, they were family and Gargano did this to himself. Gargano told him to say bye to Chicago, to Candice and to his dog. Ciampa threw Gargano into the stage. Ciampa with a running knee. Ciampa yelled at the ref that it was not enough. They made their way over to the staging area with two tables that were underneath some containers. Ciampa took off Gargano’s wedding ring, he spit on it and threw it into the crowd. Gargano recovered, he picked up Ciampa and drove him through the two tables below them. It was like a Celtic Cross or White Noise move that Sheamus does where you put the guy on your back and jump forward. Fans chanted “holy shit” for them. That was crazy. The referee called for a doctor for Ciampa. There were doctors checking on Ciampa. They put a neckbrace on Ciampa’s neck. Gargano sat on top of the containers while Ciampa was being put on a stretcher. The bell never rang to end the match. Ciampa was screaming while on the stretcher.
Gargano fired up, looked at where his wedding ring was, he jumped off the crate and went after Ciampa on the stretcher. Gargano shoved down the doctors as well as the referees. Gargano slapped on the Gargano Escape submission and Ciampa tapped out. Two dudes in suits told Gargano to back up, but Gargano knocked them down. Gargano put the handcuffs on Ciampa. Gargano nailed Ciampa with multiple superkicks. Gargano put the Gargano Escape submission on Ciampa again. There were other guys in suits, including Steve Corino, that went into the ring to break them up. Gargano went into the ring by the exposed wood, Ciampa was able to cradle his head and hit a DDT on the exposed wood! Ciampa covered, the ref showed up and Ciampa pinned Gargano for the one…two…three after 36 minutes. Wow. What a match.
Winner by pinfall: Tommaso Ciampa
Analysis: ***** That was incredible. I’m going five stars again for these guys after their last match was also five stars. It’s the third five-star match for Gargano at the third straight Takeover. What a fight that was. They just kept going at this ridiculous pace with a lot of weapons being used to help tell the story. The ending was clever. They made it seem like Ciampa was done, the match was over and he was being carted away, but the bell never rang to end it. I knew that it was going to continue because of the wood exposure in the ring. That had to come into play as the finish of the match because there’s no way they were going to set it up and not use it. They fought all over the arena, there were stiff shots the entire match, the crowd was engaged for nearly 40 minutes and when it was over, they were pissed off because the bad guy won. I thought it was a brilliant finish. I’m also glad that Ciampa won because I picked him to get the win since Gargano won the last match. Hopefully this means round three at the next Takeover in August during SummerSlam weekend. That will be special. These guys are amazing. Pro wrestling at its best.
There were replays of the key spots in the match.
Ciampa had his hand raised by the referee even though Ciampa was handcuffed. Ciampa was laughing. Gargano was out in the ring while referees checked on him. Gargano was joined by his wife Candice in the ring. Gargano stayed down for about five minutes after the match to sell that DDT on the wood.
The show ended with Ciampa waving back at Johnny in the ring, fans chanting “fuck you Ciampa” and that’s how it ended.
Analysis: The third match between Ciampa and Gargano could be something like Hell in a Cell or perhaps they could be in a triple threat with Aleister Black for the NXT Championship. There are a lot of possibilities. By the way, three straight five star matches for Gargano at three straight Takeover events.
The show had a run time of 2 hours, 37 minutes.
I’ll give it a 9 out of 10.
It’s another amazing Takeover event with a five star main event with Ciampa/Gargano delivering once again, Ricochet/Dream was awesome and I liked the tag team match a lot too. I think Black’s win over Sullivan was fine, but there wasn’t anything memorable about it compared to the others on the card. The women’s match was kept short, which was a bit disappointing.
The Chicago crowd was excellent as always. They helped make the show fun too.
Ranking The WWE NXT Takeover 2018 Events (1 to 10 scale)
NXT Takeover New Orleans – 10/10
NXT Takeover Chicago – 9/10
NXT Takeover Philadelphia – 9/10
I’ll be back on Sunday night with the Money in the Bank Review. My contact info is below.