NXT TakeOver Chicago Report - Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan, Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/06/16/nxt-takeover-chicago-report-aleister-black-vs-lars-sullivan-johnny-gargano-vs-tommaso-ciampa/

Welcome to our coverage of NXT Takeover: Chicago II from the Allstate Arena.

The opening video focused on the term of “Pain” and previewed all of the matches for tonight’s card and the tagline that “pain takes over Chicago.”

Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson are calling the show with McGuiness doing the intro for the card.

KYLE O’REILLY & RODERICK STRONG VS ONEY LORCAN & DANNY BURCH FOR THE NXT TAG TITLES

The Undisputed Era representatives of O’Reilly, Strong, and Adam Cole received an enormous reaction.

The audience was cheering for The Undisputed Era and began booing Lorcan & Burch as they got the advantage early.

Strong landed a baseball slide dropkick to Burch on the floor and they got the advantage on Burch. O’Reilly used body shots to set up an armbar attempt, which Burch avoided with a rope break. Lorcan finally received the tag and hit Strong with a big clothesline and uppercut.

Lorcan hit a tope con giro to both O’Reilly and Strong on the floor. Lorcan’s offense was tremendous, culminating with a double blockbuster.

O’Reilly shoved Lorcan off the top and he took a back bump onto the edge of the apron. O’Reilly applied an armbar to Burch, who made it to the rope and the audience booed.

Lorcan came back with a double blockbuster to the floor. Burch hosted O’Reilly onto his shoulders and Lorcan came off the top with an uppercut, they had the match won but Adam Cole pulled O’Reilly to the floor and was ejected from the match.

Strong pulled Burch to the floor as O’Reilly applied a guillotine to Lorcan for an enormous reaction, but Lorcan broke free.

Lorcan applied a half crab to Strong, Burch took O’Reilly into a crossface, who rolled over and O’Reilly kicked Lorcan to set Strong free. This was outstanding stuff and the place was going insane.

O’Reilly connected with an ax kick, Strong followed with a flying knee to Lorcan and they hit a version of Total Elimination with Strong pinning Lorcan.

WINNERS: KYLE O’REILLY & RODERICK STRONG AT 16:03 TO RETAIN THE NXT TAG TITLES

This was outstanding, one of the best tag matches of the year and maybe the best WWE tag match of 2018 as I can’t even think of #2.

The audience was behind The Undisputed Era and rapid throughout the entire match.

I highly recommend this one.

Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch received a standing ovation post-match. This was a career highlight for both men.

Lars Sullivan was shown doing curls with a lighting truss ala Brock Lesnar in 2002.

Kairi Sane was seen in the front row with a telescope.

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RICOCHET VS VELVETEEN DREAM

There was a video package for the two with a lot of WWN footage for Ricochet. Ricochet stated he earned his contract while implying Dream was handed one after Tough Enough.

Dream came out wearing a mock Hulk Hogan red & yellow t-shirt. Instead of “Hulk Still Rules”, it read “Dream Still Over”. McGuinness got in a line about “when it comes crashing down and it hurts inside.” There was nothing subtle during Dream’s entrance about Hulk Hogan.

The audience was chanting “Dream” when the match began.

Ricochet did a handspring backflip off the ropes ending with a stare down ala Ricochet and Will Ospreay that the audience cheered.

Ricochet was knocked off balance during a springboard attempt and snapped his neck on the top rope. Dream in outdoing Ricochet with the high-flying moves early.

Ricochet knocked Dream to the floor and hit a suicide dive and Fosbury Flop follow up.

Dream stopped a top rope Frankensteiner and hit a rolling Death Valley Driver off the turnbuckle to Ricochet. Dream followed with a superplex from the top to the floor and the audience went crazy. They just beat the count back inside the ring.

Dream hit another Death Valley Driver in the ring with the story that he has a counter for everything Ricochet attempts.

Ricochet stopped a DDT and couldn’t follow with a Northern Lights suplex due to his back from the superplex to the floor. Dream hit the DDT for a near fall. The audience was applauding both men as they were down on their backs.

Dream yelled, “I am homegrown, you belong in a bingo hall”, as Ricochet hit his own Death Valley Driver to Dream and then hit the Purple Rainmaker elbow drop, which Dream kicked out of.

Ricochet climbed to the top, Dream rolled to the center, Ricochet went for a shooting star and hit the knees of Dream.

Dream dove across the ring for a Purple Rainmaker elbow drop and missed. Ricochet climbed back to the top and hit the 630 splash to Dream’s back and pinned him.

WINNER: RICOCHET AT 22:11

Another tremendous match, right along with Dream’s match with Aleister Black last year as his best ever.

This told a great story of Dream overachieving against Ricochet and having an answer for everything Ricochet attempted until he got overconfident with the elbow drop from all the way across the ring.

They received a lot of time for the match, which helped the match and the audience loved it.

SHAYNA BASZLER VS NIKKI CROSS FOR THE NXT WOMEN’S TITLE

Cross baits Baszler at the start and offers her back to her. Cross jumped onto her back and she was slammed down onto the ramp on the floor.

Cross would respond by smiling at Baszler’s offense. Baszler applied a rear-naked choke and Cross suplexed her to break free.

Unlike the previous matches where the audiences were sizably in favor of the heel, they were all behind Cross.

Cross landed a spinning hangman’s neckbreaker off the top rope and Baszler got her foot on the bottom rope to stop the cover.

Cross went for a crucifix and it was countered into a rear-naked choke, Baszler was screaming and using her eyes to convey the intensity like she was Minoru Suzuki or Yuji Nagata. Cross fought the submission until she began smiling before passing out cold.

The audience booed the finish as they were strongly behind Cross and disappointed.

WINNER: SHAYNA BASZLER AT 9:25 TO RETAIN THE NXT WOMEN’S TITLE

Not a bad match by any stretch, but not at the level of the first two matches.

Nikki Cross got herself over strong during the match, although I wasn’t a big fan of the finish with the smiling from Cross before going out cold. It somewhat diminished the submission, although Cross really upped her stock.

EC 3 was shown in the audience followed by Keith Lee, who received a big reaction. Nick Hausman of WrestleZone was right behind Lee. McGuinness identified Lee as a former WWN champion.

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ALEISTER BLACK VS LARS SULLIVAN FOR THE NXT TITLE

During the in-ring introductions, this felt like a throwback to an old Madison Square Garden title defense with Sullivan playing the monster of the month. I guess that makes Black either Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, or Bob Backlund, take your pick.

Black attempted Black Mass right away and his leg was caught. Black hit Meteora off the apron to the floor.

Black landed a flying knee in the ring and Sullivan kicked out at one.

Sullivan caught a moonsault attempt to the floor and drove Black onto the apron. That was really, impressive for Sullivan to pull off.

Sullivan hit a pop up powerslam for a near fall. Black was sent off the turnbuckle with a clothesline, Sullivan went for a swan dive and landed on the knee of Black.

Black landed a sweep and attacked with beautiful looking strikes, a quebrada for a two-count and then Sullivan took out Black’s knee. Sullivan applied a stretch muffler attacking the left knee of Black, Black sat up for a cover and Sullivan kicked out.

Sullivan attempted the Freak Accident and it was countered into a DDT.

They fought on the edge of the apron and saw Sullivan powerslam him on the edge, he followed with a splash from the top for a two-count.

Black landed a double foot stomp and went for the Black Mass, it totally missed but Sullivan still went down, and the audience let them know it. Sullivan kicked out. The announcers tried to explain what happened.

They continued, Black blocked the Freak Accident and he hit the Black Mass, Sullivan stood up from it and Black hit another Black Mass to win the match.

WINNER: ALEISTER BLACK AT 14:09 TO RETAIN THE NXT TITLE

If you want to see how great Black is, this match is a great example as he worked around someone with a limited set of moves and Sullivan came off as a credible monster. The blown Blass Mass spot was unfortunate, but they did recover with Sullivan eating another and standing up from it.

Sullivan has a lot of good qualities, he isn’t a main event level performer and not near ready, but he was fine in the match. Black is really something special.

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JOHNNY GARGANO VS TOMMASO CIAMPA IN A CHICAGO STREET FIGHT

This feud began in Chicago last May.

As Gargano was walking backstage, Candice LeRae ran up to him to give him a crutch and said to “kick his ass”.

Both men came out carrying crutches. Each was in street clothes, which was a nice touch for the match.

The two brawled over the announcer’s table and into the crowd. A fan had a Gargano sign and it was revealed to be a stop sign underneath it.

Back in the ring, Ciampa hit a series of rolling Germans to the previously injured neck of Gargano. He placed a chair around Gargano’s neck and drove it into the steps on the floor. Ciampa launched a garbage can at the head of Gargano.

Gargano fought back as Ciampa attempted to handcuff him. Gargano speared him through the rope and began whipping Ciampa with his belt.

Ciampa hit Project Ciampa and fought back with a pair of running knees to the head using a garbage lid. He followed with a belly-to-back neck breaker onto the top of the steps from the apron.

Ciampa used bolt cutters to cut the ring mat off and expose the wood underneath the canvas. This was the idea TNA used for a Bully Ray vs. Sting match.

They traded big strikes and then hit each other with a dual crutch and garbage lid shot with Gargano falling on top of Ciampa for a two-count. On the floor, Ciampa ran at Gargano for a knee strike, missed and ran his bad knee into the steps. Gargano attacked the knee with numerous chair strikes.

Ciampa attacked the back of Gargano’s neck with huge elbow strikes. Gargano kicked out after being hit with a crutch to the back of the neck.

Ciampa brought him to the entrance and drove him into the wall. He pulled Gargano onto a set of equipment boxes, yanked off Gargano’s wedding ring and tossed it away. Gargano stopped Ciampa and drove him off the boxes and through a set of tables. The audience chanted, “Mama Mia”, which may be the new “Holy Shit.”

Ciampa is being tended to by the medical staff and placed into a neck collar as they bring out a stretcher. Gargano watches Ciampa being taken away while staring at his wedding finger that is now ringless. Gargano goes after Ciampa as the audience roars in approval. Gargano attacks the referee and brings Ciampa down the ramp.

Gargano removed the neck collar and applied the Gargano Escape. Two officials try to stop Gargano and are fought off.

Gargano handcuffs Ciampa and superkicks him repeatedly and re-applies the Gargano Escape, Ciampa taps, but there is no referee. More officials pry Gargano away, including Steve Corino and he fights them off.

Gargano charges back at Ciampa and gets caught with a DDT onto the exposed wooden area of the ring and the referee must count the fall, Ciampa wins.

WINNER: TOMMASO CIAMPA AT 35:29

The arena was incensed that Ciampa won. It was punctuated by Ciampan’s lack of ring music and instead was a chorus of boos and hatred.

This was tremendous and everything you could want out of a street fight where it was pure emotion, the grudge felt real and the audience was living vicariously by everything major turn within the match.

Candice LeRae came to check on Gargano, Ciampa waved from the ramp as the audience chanted, “Fuck you, Ciampa” to close the show.

Phenomenal main event.

This was another solid TakeOver event with the first and last matches among the best WWE matches of 2018.

I wouldn’t put this at the level of the overall New Orleans card but was a very strong show.

Great write up John. I wrote in another Topic that “on paper” this was the weakest NXT card ever because the three championship contenders didn’t feel like they were at the same caliber as previous champions and contenders and NXT proved me wrong. I thoughouly enjoyed all the matches and felt like they Way overachieved.

And then the Ciampa vs Gargano match was absolutely brutal in an amazing way. It may not have quite achieved the amazing storyline heights as the New Orleans match but they have already solidified themselves as the greatest feud ever in NXT.

I’m also excited to see where NXT goes from here. Does Ciampa get a title shot after the win? They have a lot of exciting contenders for Black.

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Ciampa and Gargano 3 in a Cell in Brooklyn?
Black has so many great contenders and he’s perfect for a long run - I’d love to see feuds with Ricochete, EC3, Dream (again!) for the title, Cole

I would be legitimately worried about Gargano and Ciampas lives if they did a hell in a cell match. We have seen how crazy the risks are they are willing to take. In a hell in a cell they would want to have the most creative and brutal HIAC match since Mankind vs Taker.

But I also don’t think the rubber match needs to happen at the next TakeOver. After the street fight one or both of them should be kayfabe injured for awhile.

The only thing as good as the main event was Sir John Pollock’s review of Takeover Chicago

I love the fact that the crowds are respecting the awesome work Tomasso Chamba is doing by giving him the nuclear heat instead of giving him cheers and chanting his name, its quite refreshing to have a heel be received as a heel and is booed out of the building upon sight.

I also loved the little touch at the end where The Referee pointed to him and said winner