There’s not much you can rely on with WWE. Their unreliability is the most reliable thing about them. Yet, over the last few years, NXT TakeOver shows have consistently stood up and been brilliant. From Nakamura vs. Zayn to the rise of the tag-team division; you are always guaranteed at least one classic match and if you’re lucky you’ll get a few more. With the TV product slowly heating up post-Mania, it’s no surprise to say that Chicago continued that streak. Here are eight things we noticed while watching NXT TakeOver Chicago.
British Wrestling Steals The Show
It shouldn’t have been a surprise to see Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate steal the show. After all, the two men know each other inside out, and they’ve had great matches before. Yet with a combined age younger than that of Triple H, having them carry an NXT show could have been a step too far. Except, it wasn’t. This was the match of the night and in a weekend where the Best Of The Super Juniors wasn’t going on it would have been the match of the weekend. This was British wrestling standing on the national stage and showing the world that we are the best. Let’s just hope WWE isn’t intent on taking it apart.
Not So Good Old JR
It gives me no pleasure to say this, but Jim Ross sounded like a shadow of the man he used to be on this show. There were times when he sounded like he was reading out the script for WWE 2K18. JR has been through hell over the last few months, and I will never begrudge the greatest of all time a seat at the commentary desk. Sadly, though, his work with New Japan on AXS and this show have made me wonder whether his best days are behind him.
The Strong Held Back By The Young
Eric Young is boring. I’m sorry, but I don’t care how crazy he is, his matches are snoozefests. A fact that made him the worst opponent possible for Roddy Strong. NXT has done an incredible job building Strong as someone we should care about, and this lacklustre match was the first bump in that road. Give Strong an Almas, Black or even a Lorcan, and he will prove himself one of the best workers in the world. Hand him a Young, and there is only so much he can do.
Wherefore Art Thou Percy Watson?
This is a short one, but what is the point of Percy Watson? I get that NXT is a place for people to learn their craft and I’ll never wish someone out of a job; apart from maybe JBL because he’s a cunt. However, I genuinely forgot that Watson was there for most of this show. I hope he improves, but right now Percy Watson is failing to stand up and claim his place.
NXT’s Women Are Back
Since the Four Horsewomen moved on, NXT’s women have struggled to make an impact. Asuka has dominated, but she’s not been putting on classics, and they’ve struggled to find a suitable dance partner for her. With the two other women in the ring on Saturday and Ember Moon, they’ve fixed that problem. Despite my issues with Sanity, Cross is the one person coming out of it looking good while Ruby Riot is a brilliant underdog babyface. This felt like the first brick in reestablishing NXT’s women as the force they should be and I’m delighted to see it.
Roode Continues To Shoot Blanks
If Asuka has struggled to put on classics, then Roode has struggled to get past being an entrance theme. Seriously, take away the ‘Glorious’, and there is nothing there. I love that entrance as much as anyone, but it’s not enough. This was another three-star main event from Bobby to go along with all his others. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this either, this show struggled to sell out, something that would never have happened a year ago and part of that has to be because mini Triple H is on top. I like Roode but he needs something else, and his current run isn’t helping him find that.
Authors Of Pain Earn Their Spot
In NXT’s glorious tag division there were always two elephants in the room. Authors of Pain just couldn’t keep up with the rest. And they still can’t, but they can play the big hulking ogres to the technical wizards, and that is just as good. Stupidly low tag belts aside (I’m pretty sure the Authors could have jumped to them if they’d tried) this was a wonderfully entertaining main event, and the Authors were a big part of that. They aren’t War Machine yet, but these two could go on to be a rather brilliant big man pairing.
Ciampa Decides To DIY
It was always going to happen, but that doesn’t lessen the pain. Ciampa and Gargano’s journey from hired hands to second best tag team in the company (The Revival just pip them) has been brilliant, and while we all shed a tear for the end, there is plenty to be joyful about. Think of the matches. Johnny Gargano might just be the most underrated wrestler on the planet today, and Ciampa is no slouch either. With one of the hottest heel turns I have seen in a long time to build off of, this could be a classic feud. If NXT does it right, these two are going to be stealing shows for months to come. And I can’t wait.