Wrestling Review: NXT TakeOver: Chicago (2017)

The night before Backlash, live from the Allstate Arena, NXT presents TakeOver: Chicago, which will play host to four separate championship matches. The top of the card will see the NXT Tag Team Championships put on the line, as the monstrous Authors of Pain, Akam and Rezar, will defend their belts against the former champion team #DIY, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. Will the Authors’ manager, the legendary Paul Ellering, play a part in the finish, or will the smaller team of #DIY simply prove to be too effective with ladders in the ring? The current NXT Champion, the “Glorious” Bobby Roode, will face the newly returned Hideo Itami, in a match sure to be as physical a battle as it is a mental battle. Itami has only just returned from another long injury stretch, so it is certain he will be looking to pull out all the stops. Asuka will defend her NXT Women’s Championship in her second multi-person match in as many events, when she faces both Ruby Riot and the insane Nikki Cross in a triple threat. All three of these matches, as well as another United Kingdom Championship defense and a huge grudge match await at NXT TakeOver: Chicago.

+ Tyler Bate (c) vs Pete Dunne (WWE United Kingdom Championship): wow, this was absolutely amazing. Despite having faced each other many, many times, this still managed to feel new and fresh, but perhaps most inportantly this made the UK Championship feel so important. There was so many counters and innovative ways to hit their moves, and I can see these two going back and forth for the next ten years. They are only 23 and 20 years old!
+ Roderick Strong vs Eric Young (w/ Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain): Roddy is so smooth in the ring, and those recent vignettes have made him the biggest underdog fan favourite in the company. The SAnitY group has been up and down, but they are at their best when they are tormenting an individual like they have Strong as of late, so this match had a great feel about it. Strong and Young are both really good int he ring, obviously, so this had everything going for it, and ended up being a great way to start the show
+ Bobby Roode (c) vs Hideo Itami (NXT Heavyweight Championship): this was a much slower pace, after the first three matches, and that worked in Roode’s favour. The whole match seemed to be building towards Itami’s GTS, and in that regard the fans were hesitant to react to most other strikes. Eventually Roode/Itami managed to get the crowd into things. The longer the match went the more unclear the winner was, but a final few minutes cemented this as a good match. All NXT Championship matches have a problem where they take a while to get going, but I don’t think too many have ended up being bad matches
+ The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar) (w/ Paul Ellering) (c) vs #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa) (Ladder Match for the NXT Tag Team Championships): putting this match on last raised the stakes for both teams to do something special. Some clever use of ladders, as weapons and props were a welcome addition, and there were the same sort of high spots you’d expect from a ladder match which, despite a somewhat flat ending, really helped make this stand out as another addition in the fantastic NXT Tag Team Championship history
+ Asuka (c) vs Ruby Riot vs Nikki Cross (NXT Women’s Championship): Ruby and Nikki’s mini feud heading into this, as well as Asuka’s slow turn towards a more villainous character, have made for exciting television, and there was many ways this match could have gone. The way it did go was so clever, with all three women being given a chance to show their characters, with, of course, some phenomenal wrestling in between. The match did feel as tiny bit too long, but in the end this was as great as all of Asuka’s defenses so far

– I know NXT is a smaller brand than Raw or SmackDown Live, but the omissions of Kassius Ohno, No way Jose, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Drew Galloway and Aleister Black, as well as Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, were obvious. Perhaps a longer pre-show, with a six man tag match or something could have served to show off some more stars

> Pete Dunne has such a punchable face. He is going to be a huge star

Should you watch this event: Yes, definitely. With all five matches being watchable, and the UK Championship bout being a match of the year contender, this show was great from start to finish.

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