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wrestling / TV Reports

Hawke’s nXt TakeOver: Chicago 2018 Review

June 17, 2018 | Posted by TJ Hawke
NXT Takeover: Chicago Johnny Gargano Tommaso Ciampa

Chicago, Illinois
June 16, 2018

Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch vs. The Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly)

This was for the Era’s NXT Tag Team Championship.

One of the funny things about NXT in the TakeOver era is that for the most parts fans have just gone along with whatever was presented to them in regards to babyfaces and heels. There have not been a ton of memorable instances where fans “revolted” again whom was presented as the face and heel which has honestly made for a nice change of pace in this very (deservedly) cynical era of American wrestling. (I think you know where I am going with this one.)

The streak ended tonight.

In one corner, you had The Undisputed Era. They are basically a fraternity version of the Bullet Club in that they act as annoying as humanly possible but with the twist they all look like they were the asshole jocks who thought they were very funny in high school. For some reason, people love them.

Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch are two guys who were presented as undercarders for years, dress like Catch Point, and just generally do not convey the broad personalities that fans have come to expect from the biggest NXT acts.

For some VERY ODD reason, the Chicago NXT crowd did not really find much reason to support Lorcan and Burch at the start. And it made things awkward.

The match was clearly laid out with the idea that there was no way the Undisputed Era would be cheered, and it just kind of threw everything off for a bit. Oney and Burch tried to compensate by just hitting Kyle and Roddy progressively harder which would work for the crowd for moments at a time before they would just go right back to dumping on them.

Then Oney finally made the hot tag and business picked up. He was throwing wild strikes and eventually did the big tope con hilo he does. This hot tag pretty much got the challengers enough support to remove the great majority of the awkwardness from the match.

From there, the match just became solidly about everyone hitting each other as hard as they can while Oney took stupid bump after stupid bump to make clear how desperate he was to win this match. It worked out beautifully by the end.

Oney and Burch gave it everything they had, but the Era pulled it out after Oney got isolated for a minute too long and took too many heavy shots (that he did NOT deserve). The crowd was going absolutely wild for everything once the hot tag hit*, and the challengers seemed to truly win them over in the end. The whole thing made for a very exciting match in the micro and fascinating in the macro. GREAT STUFF. (****)

*with only the spot that got Adam Cole kicked out of the match revealing the agents still didn’t understand how to help Oney and Burch

 

Ricochet vs. The Velveteen Dream

The idea of this match was pretty cool in theory. Dream believes anything Ricochet can do, he can do better. You could make the argument that that story was told successfully in broad strokes. However, the actual match itself felt like a series of a disconnected moments stretched out over twenty minutes instead of a cohesive in-ring story.

Now, the good news is that those moments were often quite fun to watch. Many matches that feel disconnected in that way can quickly become a chore to watch. This was not really that but instead just a match that you wanted more from. If there’s anything Dream really, really needs to work on is the in-between spots between the bigger moments of a match.

They did at least end on a good sequence. Ricochet tried to do the Brock Lesnar shooting star across the ring, but Dream got the knees up. Dream then launched himself across the ring for the elbow drop but came up empty. That left him prone to the 630. He probably would have been able to finish Ricochet after the blocked shooting star if he didn’t just try to “out-do” him. (***)

 

Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross

This was for Baszler’s NXT Women’s Championship.

This was exactly what it should have been from start to finish. Shayna usually starts with the advantage against opponents because she has such an intimidating presence. That was never gonna work with Nikki though.

The match was then Shayna trying to brutally beat Nikki who just kept fighting and fighting. Nikki’s personality was genuinely a challenge for Shayna, and it visibly threw her off her game. Nikki made a serious comeback down the stretch that seemed to give her a chance, but Shayna endured and then slapped on a sleeper to keep Nikki down. Very, very solid wrestling. (***1/4)

 

Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan

This was for Black’s NXT Championship.

The first half of this match was really laid out well and made both guys look really good. Lars is a big boy. Black was trying to figure out how to work around that. Sometimes it worked momentarily but mostly it seemed like Lars was too big or strong for Black to deal with.

Then the second half of the match failed to capitalized on that terrific foundation. Lars really did not make for a compelling presence while he had more control of the match. End also did not really get too creative with his eventual comeback. It was all adequate stuff mind you, but it was still a letdown given how well they started.

The match really lost it though towards the finish with one of the worst, take-me-out-of-the-moment botches in a big match. As you can see below, Black went for the spinning back heel kick and completely whiffed. Shit happens obviously, and it would normally be an easy thing for two pros to recover from.

If you’re really good, you can easily blend it into the match. Lars could have come charging in to take advantage of Black exposing himself with such a wild strike attempt for instance. Or they could have just kept working like it never happened. Sometimes people just miss.

Instead though, Black fucking slapped his thigh to make that loud popping sound as he missed Lars by a mile. Lars then collapsed to the ground like had been shot. It was just about as embarrassing as it gets and really caused the final sequence of the match to lose all its steam. Black may have won the match shortly after this, but both guys lost coming out of this one. (**3/4)

 

Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa

This was a street fight.

This first half of this match was everything a match between these two should have been (particularly that bore in New Orleans). It was a wild and chaotic brawl where both guys were just desperately trying to hurt the other person. While the match’s tone probably called for some color, really everything about this was coming off so well for a while.

And then they settled into melodramatic ACTING~! storytelling down the stretch. To make things worse, this portion artificially doubled the length of the match for no discernible reason. One could certainly argue that the tone of this feud called for all these moments mind. It’s just that it so tedious to watch these things actually unfold in the manner WWE chooses time and time again.

Melodramatic storytelling is defining this feud though, and it clearly will continue as such. Ciampa managed to squeak out the win here, and there is no doubt that this feud will continue on a future TakeOver in a manner that will almost assuredly be just as unnecessarily long as this one. At least we had the violence of the first half of the match. (**3/4)