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NXT TakeOver: Chicago II recap/review


NXT TakeOver: Chicago II recap/review

Did Lars Sullivan put an end to Black’s reign? Did fuckface Ciampa get what’s coming to him? Find out in a wild show from Chicago.

It’s Fathers Day and I’ve decided that I’m going to blow off my family and watch TakeOver in the middle of the day. Yesterday was Flag Day and the city of Quincy, MA treats it like the fucking Fourth of July so I had a party I had to go to last night (as a result of being a dad). Fucking Flag Day. So, with out further adieu, let’s get into this shit because I am still going to go watch Money in the Bank with the pro wrestling division of AiPT later on tonight!

I’m telling you, this feels like one of those TakeOvers that I’m only kinda into going into it but the opening video package is reminding me that this has the chance to blow my fucking mind. When they get to the part of the video where they show Ciampa’s heel turn at TakeOver: Chicago I he looks TOTALLY different and I realize he has evolved, especially physically, so much in a year. I am immediately reminded that our dear Mauro Ranallo will not be on commentary tonight but hopefully this Vic dipshit will do the job well.

The Undisputed Era (c) vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch for the NXT Tag Team Championships

NXT TakeOver: Chicago II recap/review

SHOCK THE SYSTEM! This song was so derivative of DX when I first heard it but it’s already such a fucking classic to me BECAUSE these dudes have made it so awesome. Roderick Strong is awesome in Undisputed Era. It has been a good ride to get him to this point with me because I’ve been down on him the entire time, even against my aware self. I’m stoked to watch these four dudes kick the living shit out of each other! I missed whatever the opening chant was from the crowd but it really just reminded me that they are in Chicago and the crowd is likely gonna be the decider of how the next four days of WWE is seen by the rest of us.

Kyle O’Reilly has such a smooth, almost drunken-style in the ring and I find his movements in between the ropes fascinating. He almost moves around the ring like a snake and his kicks and strikes are so fucking loud and believable. This is a really great quality tag team match. Im just noticed that “Mini HBK” Adam Cole is ringside despite no involvement in the match thus far. Nice storytelling with Roddy and Rilo Kiley working Danny Burch’s elbow. It’s all building to Burch being forced to tap out in an arm bar (my premonition) but then holy shit the Boston Beanbag comes in with the hot tag and just fucking smashes everyone to bits! Oney looks like a goofy idiot when he throws himself over the top rope into Undisputed Era but I guess it’s cool that he can do that. Motherfucker Oney Lorcan just got tossed off the top turnbuckle and landed stiff on his back on the edge of the ring and I almost just fucking barfed! Fucking HELL I hope Lorcan doesn’t return to this match in any way. That looked horrible. Danny Burch gets the piss kicked out of him for a while, another arm bar and rope break. This IS awesome, Chicago!

Oney Lorcan with a double Blockbuster from the edge of the ring to the floor. FUUUUUUUUUCK. That actually kinda sucks to me because it makes NONE of it seem like it hurts. Adam Cole (BAY BAY) just fucked with the match and pulled O’Reilly’s leg under the rope and then Cole gets tossed out by the ref! This match is a real fucking nailbiter! There is a spot towards the end where they have the double tap out in the middle of the ring and Kyle starts throwing long legs out of nowhere and breaks the whole thing up. This match is fucking gnarly! It eventually ends after Era kicks the shit out of Danny Burch and then fucking ANNIHILATE Oney Lorcan for the win. What a fucking match. They may have stolen the show, if not most of my adrenaline already. Wow. Nice work, so far, Mr. Levesque. BOOM! A nice bit of love and respect is shown to the Soccer Hooligans by the Chicago crowd. Nice job, guys.

Of course there would be footage of Lars Sullivan working out with bits of scaffolding. Of course there would be something like that to scare me.

Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream

NXT TakeOver: Chicago II recap/review

The video package for Ricochet and Velveteen Dream is exactly what I love about wrestling. The character of the Velveteen Dream is one of those that seems like it was just pulled from the ether as a completely realized personalty. I believe that he IS the Velveteen Dream. I didn’t care for him for maybe the first two times I saw him but at least halfway through his feud with Aleister Black was when I realized that this dude is the real deal. I hope he is gonna grace the screen for the next 20 years. One of the things I find so entertaining about Dream is his Ravishing Rick Rude level of ring gear and tonight is no exception. Velveteen Hogan comes to the ring and does the proper impressionist bits of the OG Ketchup and Mustard man.

Almost in exact opposition, Ricochet has a very video game-esque entrance. Dream drapes himself across the Spanish announce table during his Ric’s entrance. Man, Velveteen Dream rules so much. I’ve tried avoiding any spoilers to this point and I expect this match to exhaust me. The crowd is already treating this like it’s Ospreay/Ricochet. (Side note: Vic Dipshit is great on commentary. Perhaps I’ll learn his name by the end of the show) This is a good, slow, methodical start to the match. Ricochet grappling with Dream would seem completely unbelievable if he wasn’t as shredded as he is. Velveteen Dream conservatively looks like he is 8″ taller than Ricochet. I just got the feeling that this is a well planned out wrestling exhibition, which kinda bums me out because I expect that these dudes would make me feel like it’s a real battle. Dream seems like he is out of juice pretty early on and it seems as if the match is in slow motion now. It could certainly just be that he is in the ring with a guy with the energy of a five year old but he seems extra gassed. Nigel just lays out the actual theme of this match: Dream is going thru and doing Ricochets moves to HIM! While I do think it looks clunky when big guys do cruiserweight moves, that was cool as hell when Dream throws himself over the top top onto little Prince Puma. It’s worth noting that as the match wears on and Ricochet slows down it appears that Velveteen has a second wind and is now moving at normal speed. There have definitely been some real sloppy moments in the match and sadly they have all been from the Velveteen Dream.

Ricochet just woke up and runs thru a veritable “greatest hits” display of five or so consecutive spots. Ric’s standing shooting star press looks like anyone should be able to do it but it’s only because gravity doesn’t apply to him. MAMA MIA ROLLING DEATH VALLEY BOMB OFF THE SECOND TURNBUCKLE WHAT THE FUCK!?!? That ruled!! The older I get the more impressed I am by the fucking beatings that these guys subject themselves to. And just as I wrote that the fucking Velveteen Dream just suplexed Ricochet OUTSIDE the fucking ring! HOLY FUCK that was HORRIBLE.

(SIDE BAR: I fucking hate when they do shit like that. I don’t watch UFC because I don’t like seeing my people actually get fucked up. That shit is just too much and I don’t appreciate when they do that shit and THEN proceed to have more normal match. It raises the bar unnecessarily and makes it that the only way to get over in a match is to actually fuck yourself up. Fucking fuck, I guess this is just a paternal perspective? No, it’s a selfish one. I want to see them do this shit week in and week out and I won’t get 20 years of Patrick Clark if he does stupid shit like that too much. I appreciate The Miz and his approach to safe wrestling — obviously I wanna see more than what he does, but some of this is just too cringy.)

This match has been so rough and maybe a little long. Dream is doing some Kevin Owens caliber shit talking in the ring that leads to the grand finale. Ricochet with a REALLY nice Purple Rainmaker but not enough! These guys are really amazing. Dream shoots for a coast to coast Purple Rainmaker and misses big time! Fuck! Prince Puma is gonna win this! How many times does he flip? A fucking LOT! 1-2-3! FUUUUCK. I am completely exhausted after these first two matches.

Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Nikki Cross for the NXT Women’s Championship

NXT TakeOver: Chicago II recap/review

I wonder what will be the cool-off match, because I need a drink and a snack and a piss. Oh man its Baszler and Nikki Cross! Awesome. Seeing this video package again does not make me feel any more or less interested in this match, which is unusual. Nikki Cross will not win this match but she is realistically the toughest woman left on the NXT roster and the only one who could possibly beat up on Shayna Baszler in a way that no one has since she took the title from Ember Moon. (PSA: Watching this shit with headphones on is always worth it).

Nikki Cross is the only member of Sanity still on TV and I’m glad to hear the song. She look like such a fucking maniac with the hood/sunglasses/bandana look! I think the reason that I LOVE Nikki Cross is that she reminds me of Courtney Barnett in looks and Ultimate Warrior in how she bounces off the ropes. Shayna seems to do a bunch of hand motions and gestures that all seem like contrived UFC/boxing type shit but then when she scowls I find myself shivering with fear of her. Nikki Cross is bouncing around and smashing her jacket on the ring like a total maniac and it’s just so fucking crazy and funny. Baszler gets a pretty good level of boos and general disinterest. It almost seems like people want to like her but are just quiet instead. The match starts off with Nikki Cross playing awesome mind games, begging Shayna to put her in a headlock! Nikki’s level of energy is almost contagious. This shit is so entertaining. And again, Shayna Baszler fucking rules at wrestling. I feel like I don’t give a shit about her but every time I see her wrestling I am so into it. Cross is sooooooo good at selling, too, because she almost has a Heath Ledger Joker kind of enthusiasm the whole time. Any time she smirks becomes the freakiest moment of the match.

Right on cue, Shayna is brutally kicking the shit out of Nikki and she is laughing at it. It’s not that she is no-selling, she is just fucking insane. I think the fact that Baszler has already had her head punched in IRL allows her to let Nikki hit her a little harder. NIKKI’S GONNA KILL YOU!! Nikki does a sort of reverse DDT on the “hardest part of the ring” and, again, the Dad in me just shakes my head (“Goddamned kids…”). Despite this grade A ass kicking I know that Nikki isn’t going to win, but I am still rooting for her at this point. And, again, right on cue, Baszler slides right into the Kerimuda Clutch and Nikki Cross is fucked. Cross looks right into the camera, smiles an eerie smile and closes her eyes and goes to sleep. That sent actual shivers down my back. What a fucking CREEP. Man, that was fucking awesome. Baszler gets showered with some serious boos when she holds up her belt at the end of the match. Fuck yes. Awesome job, ladies.

Aleister Black (c) vs. Lars Sullivan for the NXT Championship

NXT TakeOver: Chicago II recap/review

(Thank goodness they are just PLAYING Fozzy instead of showing that fucking video.) Whoa, holy shit, Aleister Black and Lars Sullivan is next. Oh man. That means (I guess OBVIOUSLY in retrospect) that Gargano and Ciampa are last. Duh. Fuck. Fuck. That match is gonna be so fucking brutal. I didn’t accidentally read that one of them killed the other IRL but otherwise I can’t even pay attention to the video package for this title match right now as I’m so freaked out at the reality that I’m going to see (hopefully) the finale of Johnny Wrestling and the Blackheart. Man.

Out comes old Barrel Chest and any title belt looks like it belongs on his “brick shithouse” physique. The only spoiler I accidentally saw is the finish to this match and I must admit, I’m very disappointed but I’m still so totally fucking stoked to see it anyways. It sucks how Black’s entrance will never seem as impressive since whichever TakerOver had him introduced with a live band but it is still a sick gimmick the way he sits up from laying flat. Aleister Black is one of those dudes who is so much better because he has such a sick theme song. It is one of about five in all of current WWE that I would/do have on my phone to listen to whenever. I’m glad that Lars Sullivan is billed at 303 lbs because he is just massive. Wow, Black is only 215 lbs! I’m looking forward to them showing me that Lars Sullivan doesn’t leave with this fucking title.

Aleister Black look like he could fit inside Sullivan’s body with room to spare. There is some good back and forth and Black is like a fly on shit all over Sullivan but every single time Lars Sullivan just no-sells, I buy it. He looks like a dude who never feels anything. Fucking Lars Sullivan ran thru a clothesline in a way I have never seen anyone do before! It looked like a mistake but also it looked fucking awesome! Black is really good at being a rag doll for an ogre like Sullivan. I really like seeing Black get beat up in this way. His major feuds have been with Velveteen Dream and Gargano, Hideo Itami, Killian Dain and Adam Cole, none of whom particularly pushed him to this level. Sullivan is handling Black like he is a child. Alistair Black is a good dude to have a match this long with Sullivan, who I swear hasn’t had more than a five minute match in NXT yet. Black gets a second wind and starts kicking the fucking hell out of Sullivan in a way that actually makes me buy that he could save his title from this fucking monster. Sullivan wraps Black’s leg around the back of his own neck in a move I have never seen before and holy shit it looks awfully painful and completely real! After a few pin attempts these two dumb shits do a spot on the hardest part of the ring and now I’m just annoyed about it. Fucking STOP DOING THAT SHIT PLEASE. Sullivan does a flying headbutt that looks good but no dice. Black botches a Black Mass (complete with leg slap) and then a little fuckery ensues and another two (!!) Black Masses and Sullivan stays down for a 3 count. That botched spot was the only thing I accidentally saw other than the finish of this match and I’m disappointed by both. I liked Sullivan hitting Black with a Clothesline From Hell and he sold it perfectly but I don’t buy him winning that match. I don’t like it. It was awesome and I’m fine with the result, but my knee jerk reaction is that I don’t like how the last 3 minutes of that match were.

Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa (Chicago Street Fight)

NXT TakeOver: Chicago II recap/review

Onto the main event. I can’t even focus on the video package for this match. This is one of those that is riding the line of kayfabe/reality so well that I’m uncomfortable with it. I like that they only implied that Tommaso and Candice had some sort of a thing but that it’s not a focus of it. Ciampa is absolutely the best heel in all of wrestling in my line of sight. I love this story and this feud way more than I ever thought I would. This is the most “attitude era” kinda build but it runs the risk of losing the special status it has built if it does not end here. The fact that Ciampa comes out to no music and only BOOs is the fucking heelest move of all! This guy is terrifying. “Ciampa Takes Over Chicago” looks fucking stupid on your shirt, Tommaso.

There go the announce tables! “YOU’RE THE DEVIL Ciampa!” The shit that the maniacs of Chicago yell is priceless! These people are hammered! Oh fuck a Jonnny Wrestling sign wrapped around a stop sign and now Johnny is fucking KILLING him with an actual stop sign. ECW ECW ECW!!! Gargano is fucking Ciampa up so bad right now that I am already grossed out in anticipation of when this fight goes the other way. Ciampa needs to get that shirt off pronto. It looks stupid as hell. SUPLEX CITY!! I just looked and there is still 30 minutes to go and I can’t believe how much energy I have right now! (Update: Vic Joseph has gotten over with me throughout this broadcast) People yelling “YOU SUCK” at Ciampa is awesome. Tommaso wraps a chair around Johnny’s neck and throws him into the ring steps!! An audience member loudly says “This is terrible”. Fucking FUCK Ciampa laid Gargano’s head on the ring steps and then fucking chucked a trash can at his head! MAN! Finally, Ciampa takes off that distracting fucking shirt just to choke Johnny out with it. YOU SUCK chants echo into drunken screams as this match gets wears on. I don’t understand how these guys are moving at this point. Gargano is whipping Ciampa with his actual leather belt and the crowd is chanting YOU DESERVE IT! Johnny is getting pretty sadistic with a trashcan now but he gets Project Ciampa (power bomb onto Ciampa’s knees) and then kicked in the fucking face with a trash can lid on Ciampas knee. This is fucking rough to watch.

MOTHERFUCKER Ciampa just dropped Gargano square on his back on the ring steps and WHAT THE FUCK DUDES!?! Oh here comes a new routine: Ciampa is cutting the ropes that hold the mat, exposing the ACTUAL hardest part of the ring. We are getting a peek behind the curtain of how a wrestling ring actually works/is constructed. As a carpenter I find it cool to see that much of the ring but as a wrestling fan I feel nauseous right now. Why Tommaso?? Why??? Ciampa just chomped on Johnny ear!!! FUCKING GROSS DUDE! Honestly, I’m way less grossed out at the idea of them taking a bump on the exposed ring than I am seeing a bump on the concrete. There is bounce in wood that there is NOT in concrete. I love the dramatics of this whole setup though. These guys having the headlining spot makes sense but every single fucking match before this raised the bar so high for these two that I can not even fathom what the finish will be.

I don’t even know if I will be able to watch Money in the Bank tonight after seeing this match. These dudes are fucking each other up as if this is legitimately unsanctioned. (I can’t help but comment on Johnny’s dumb boots. I’ve been trying to ignore them but I can’t anymore. Okay, now that he is devastating Ciampa’s knee with a chair, I can let it go.) Fucking FUCK this is nuts. Ciampa with the Gargano Escape on an already injured neck and now the fight just gets real. Man, Nigel is almost whining at points for this match to just be over and I can’t help but agree. FUUUUUUCK there is still 16 minutes to go. I know that this is only going to get worse before it gets better. “WE WANT TABLES!” “Tommaso! Thats your friend! Why are you doing this?!” I’m dying at some of these dudes in the crowd! Tommaso is shit talking just for the cameras to hear and it adds so much to this story. These two are doing the realest storytelling I’ve seen in wrestling possibly ever. Ciampa takes off Johnny’s wedding ring, spits on it, throws it, and then ends up eating shit through a table. This is the sickest shit!! The officials have all but thrown up the “X” in how they are calling for backup.

There’s still ten minutes left on this match and I almost don’t want to see what will still happen. Ciampa in a neck brace seems like a perfect way to end this fight. Ciampa is selling the table spot like he has busted ribs and I almost feel bad for him but it’s easy to remember that black heart of his and so, fuck ’em. I am rooting for Johnny to rip him off the stretcher and just fucking destroy Ciampa right now. Here we go!!! FUCK YEAH!!! I’ve never felt as blood thirsty as I am right now! Ciampa is begging for his life! This is fucking AWESOME!! Johnny drags him to the ring and puts him in the Gargano Escape and this is fucking off the rails! This is sadistic! Gargano is superkicking the fuck out of a handcuffed Ciampa!!! Back in the Gargano Escape and Johnny won’t stop till a ref calls for the bell! There is no ref in sight!! Johnny is so fucking fired up right now that I am jumping out of my skin right now!! Ciampa DDTs Gargano on the fucking exposed ring and… THAT is the fucking finish of this match?

Are you fucking kidding me?!? THAT is the fucking end? I don’t know…I don’t know…THAT was the fucking end…that was the end…fuck. Fuck. I don’t like it. The good guy is supposed to win and if that means that these fuck faces are gonna do this again…man…man…fuck. It’s pretty clear by the way that Ciampa is standing tall, waving like a crazy person after having been in a neck brace only seven minutes earlier, that this is not finished.

well, I don’t know what to say. This shit is over. I’m exhausted. Money in the Bank is tonight. I almost don’t care because the finish of this match has my adrenaline still fucking flowing but I’m also miffed by the finish. I’m at a loss for words. I am feeling the feelings I expected to feel at the end of this match, though, so well fucking done, lads. That last match was brutal. The whole show was awesome. I don’t think the story builds were perfect leading into this show but the whole thing delivered on a next level, once again showcasing Triple H’s virtually flawless understanding/execution of professional wrestling. This was a fun and exhausting and BRUTAL batch of wrestling. I am going to go eat dinner with my family and decompress before attempting to watch what will probably be a frustrating evening of wrestling, given the spectacle I just enjoyed. That shit was awesome. I’m really at a loss for words after that last match.

Wrestling Rules. Fuck the World. Party Hard.

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