Wrestling Review: NXT TakeOver: Chicago II (2018)

Three championship matches, a game of one-upsmanship and the most personal grudge match in pro wrestling all come to a head as NXT heads to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois for TakeOver: Chicago II. One year ago, in the exact same arena, the Blackheart Tomasso Ciampa stabbed his friend and tag team partner Johnny Gargano in the back, and the two will do battle one final time in a Chicago Street Fight. The NXT Championship wil be on the line as the dark and mysterious Aleister Black defends against the “Absolute Unit” Lars Sullivan. The monstrous Lars has shown he can negate the Black Mass strike of the champion, and unless Aleister can find a way to utilise his best offence, his championship reign is in hige jeopardy. The tag team championships will be defended when the Undisputed Era’s Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong defend against the hard-hitting team of Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, and the women’s champion Shayna Baszler defends against the insane Scot, Nikki Cross. All of this, and a match between two of NXT’s young guns as Ricochet faces the Velveteen Dream as NXT presents TakeOver: Chicago II.

+ Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa (Chicago Street Fight): this didn’t have the high stakes of their match from New Orleans, but in some ways this made the match that much more important: the only thing on the line was their hatred for each other. These two nearly killed each other, especially towards the end, and if the goal was to make me uncomfortable then it worked spectacularly. This was everything it should have been, and I absolutely loved it
+ Aleister Black (c) vs Lars Sullivan (NXT Championship): Lars has an incredible entrance, and a unique, terrifying look, but he is still very inexperienced, so despite Black obviously being really good this was going to be a challenge for Black. Thankfully, Sullivan held his own in every instance, even busting out a few of my favourite moves (like the elevated Stretch Muffler, like the one Lesnar did to Benoit back in the day). This was going perfectly until one really unfortunate botch near the end, which unfortunately did leave a mark on what could have been a coming out party for Lars. Aside from that, this was good
+ Shayna Baszler (c) Nikki Cross (NXT Women’s Championship): the position of the Women’s matches on these NXT shows is always a challenge for them, and here it looked like the crowd was distracted by something (most definitely a beach ball, because why would you go to a wrestling show to watch wrestling..?). There was a lot of different ways this could have gone, and while I admit it didn’t play out like I had hoped, this was still a really good match. Both womens’ characters are such a change of pace from the regular WWE women
+ Ricochet vs The Velveteen Dream: these two both had such fantastic entrance attires it was hard not to be hype before the bell had even rung. Once the action started, it was as back and forth, tit-for-tat as you could have ever hoped for, and it made for a fantastic watch. Ricochet is already world renowned, but The Velveteen Dream has perhaps the biggest potential of anybody in WWE history. This was another bloody incredible match
+ The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (c) (w/ Adam Cole) vs Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch (NXT Tag Team Championships): holy god damn, Oney Lorcan and Kyle O’Reilly are fantastic, and the other two in the match are no slouch either. The crowd was electric for Adam Cole (bay bay), but Oney was the absolute MVP (as he is in almost every match he’s in). This was the best way to start the show I could imagine, even though the crowd was booing my boy Oney, that bunch o’ geeks

– that one botch in Black/Sullivan deserves a negative point of it’s own, just because of how it all happened and what it was in terms of history. It’s unfortunate, and neither man’s fault in particular, but still…

> Mauro Ranallo was not on commentary for this show, but his replacement, Vic Joseph of 205 Live, was really good. The trio of Mauro, Joseph and Nigel McGuinness would be perfect, but we know Vince needs that diversity
> as we’ve come to expect, there was a new signee sitting the crowd, here taking the shape and form of ‘Limitless’ Keith Lee. Oh, bask in his glory…

Should you watch this event: Everything about these NXT shows is just absolutely perfect for what they are trying to do. The matches all make sense, the matches are all good, and there are no unnecessary padding between matches like there are on the main roster shows. This was another incredible show, from start to finish, and with only one moment, noted above, where things went wrong, this again deserves your full attention.

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