The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover Chicago II–06.16.18

The SmarK Rant for NXT Takeover: Chicago II – 06.16.18

Amazingly, I have managed to avoid all spoilers for the entire week and I’m going into this one without knowing any results.

Live from Chicago, IL

Your hosts are Nigel McGuinness, Vic Joseph & Percy Watson

NXT Tag team titles: Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong v. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch

Even though the announcers are selling the generic bald white guys as underdog babyfaces, the crowd is pretty clearly Team Undisputed Era. They work on Burch in the corner and Kyle boots him in the face, but Burch fires back with forearms and Lorcan comes in for a double-team and they clean house. The crowd does not appreciate it. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned yet, but “Oney Lorcan” is the most fucking stupid wrestling name I’ve ever heard. IT’S NOT EVEN A REAL NAME. Was there something wrong with “Biff Busick”? That at least sounds like a wrestler. Oney Lorcan sounds like a terrible indy folk band. Burch hits Strong with kicks in the corner, but he gets distracted by O’Reilly and Strong baseball slides him out of the ring. Back in, the Era goes to work with an O’Reilly kneebar while Strong stomps on Burch’s face. Backbreaker gets two. Burch fights back, but Kyle takes him down and works the ground & pound, but can’t lock an armbar. Strong comes in with a dropkick for two, but he misses a charge and O’Reilly has to come in and cut off the tag himself. Hot (?) tag Lorcan and the crowd openly turns on them while he’s running wild. Dive from Lorcan and he hits Strong with an exploder suplex for two, and the Era collides, so Lorcan hits them with a double blockbuster, and a double-team DDT on Strong that gets two. They set up for a Doomsday Device, but O’Reilly breaks it up, gets rid of Lorcan, and then kicks the hell out of Burch and hits a brainbuster for two. Into the armbar, but Burch makes the ropes. Strong with a running into the corner on Burch, into a facebuster for two. Burch fights back again and manages to tag Lorcan, and he hits his double blockbuster onto them outside, and this time they hit their Doomsday Device on KOR for two. Adam Cole (BAY BAY) makes the save and gets sent to the back as a result, and the challengers go for the kill on Kyle, but Strong throws Strong into the table and Kyle reverses into a guillotine on Lorcan until he reverses into a suplex to escape. Blind charge misses, but Lorcan keeps coming and clips Strong, into a powerbomb for two. He rolls through into a half-crab on Strong, but O’Reilly boots him in the face to break it up, only to have Burch take HIM down with a crossface. So O’Reilly kicks Lorcan in the face, from his own BACK, and breaks up the double submission holds. Amazing. And then they all throw down in the middle and that’s pretty awesome, but the Era hits a Total Elimination on Lorcan and Strong pins him to retain at 16:01. I wasn’t buying the challengers in the least, but they worked incredibly hard and this was a tremendous opener that reminded me of a plucky NWA babyface team taking Tully & Arn to the limit in a Crockett Cup match. ****1/4

Velveteen Dream v. Rick O’Shea

Dream is sporting a rather cheeky red-and-yellow homage tonight. Complete with posedown. They fight over a lockup and take it to the mat to start, where Ricochet works a headscissors and rolls him over for two. Dream takes him down with his own headscissors, but Ricochet lands on his feet and we get a gymnastic stalemate. Ricochet goes to the apron for a springboard, but Dream drops him on the top rope to take over and starts working the neck. Neckbreaker gets two. Dream sends him to the floor and follows with a dive, and back in for two. Dream with a chinlock to hold him on the ground, but Ricochet fights back and sends Dream to the floor. Back in, Ricochet rolls into a dropkick to put Dream on the floor again, and follows with a suicide dive. Dream gets up, so Ricochet hits him with ANOTHER dive, and back in for the comeback with a 619 and flying uppercut for two. Standing shooting star press gets two. Dream throws him out in desperation, but Ricochet goes up, so Dream crotches him and they slug it out on the top rope. Dream loses that battle, but manages to head back up and take him down with the death valley driver off the top. Dream goes up again, but Ricochet slugs him to the apron, where Dream foils his plans by suplexing him to the floor. Back in, Dream manages to hit another DVD but only gets two. They slug it out and Dream tries for his DDT, but Ricochet reverses into a suplex, and they throws kicks at each other until Ricochet hits a lariat and then Dream gets his DDT for two. Both guys are out again and Dream recovers first and lays the badmouth on him, but Ricochet his him with his own death valley driver and goes up with Dream’s own flying elbow for two. SPICY. Back to the top, but Dream rolls away from the 630, so Ricochet readjusts and tries a shooting star ¾ of the way across the ring, hitting the knees as a result. Dream gets two off that, then goes up and misses his flying elbow spectacularly, and the 630 finishes for Ricochet at 22:10. I’m astonished that Dream always loses the big match but somehow keeps getting more and more over. Fantastic performance from both guys. ****1/2

NXT Women’s title: Shayna Baszler v. Nikki Cross

Nikki is all CRAZY and Shayna doesn’t really know how to deal with that, so she heads to the floor, and Nikki jumps on her with a sleeper. Shayna slams her on the ramp to break that, and back in for a straight kick that gets two. Shayna fires away with the strikes on the mat and goes with a smother and a neck vice, but Nikki escapes the choke with a suplex. Nikki comes back and stomps away on Shayna in the corner, and a flying bodypress gets two. Inverted DDT on the apron (THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING) gets two, but Shayna knees her down again for two. Cross with a neckbreaker out of the corner for two. Crucifix, but Shayna rolls through and into the choke and Cross goes out with a smile at 9:27. Hey, she never tapped, at least. Hard fought match, but not really up to the level of everything else on the show. ***

NXT title: Aleister Black v. Lars Sullivan

Lars gives him the big staredown and catches the Black Mass kick right away, so Black pushes him to the floor and throws punches before hitting a running knee off the apron. Back in, Sullivan unleashes CLUBBING FOREARMS, but walks into a knee to the face that gets two. Black works the arm, but Lars catches him on a springboard attempt and powerslams him, then heads to the floor and catches a Black dive and drops him facefirst on the apron. Back in, Lars gets two off that. He holds a chinlock on the mat, then cuts off a Black comeback with a snap powerslam for two. Sullivan goes up and Black follows, but Lars WALLOPS him down and comes down with a diving headbutt that manages to hurt both guys. Apparently Black got the knee up. Black fights back with the kicks and hits a moonsault press for two. Black throws a kick that hurts his own knee, however, and Sullivan wraps him up with a horse collar submission, which Black reverses for two. Black reverses the Freak Accident into a DDT, and they slug it out on the apron, where Sullivan powerslams him and goes up with the diving headbutt for two. Sullivan tries a spear, but Black dodges him and stomps on the back in mid-air, then hits Black Mass…for two. Timing was off on that one. Another try, but Sullivan catches the kick and puts him down with a lariat. Black escapes the Freak Accident and hits another Black Mass, but Sullivan gets up again, and a third Black Mass finally finishes at 14:04. This was a stiff, hard-hitting match between two tough guys, which I give ***1/2 and more importantly…

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And finally…

Chicago Street Fight: Tomasso Ciampa v. Johnny Gargano

Both guys bring crutches, with Johnny getting his via a nice meeting with his wife backstage, who instructs him to kick Ciampa’s ass. They immediately fight to the floor and Johnny hurls him into the tables. This allows some guy at ringside to scream “YOU’RE THE DEVIL, CIAMPA! THE DEVILLLLLLLL!” We get the gag where a fan gives Johnny a sign that says “Use my sign” and then it turns out there’s a stop sign underneath the paper. Gargano beats on him with that and dives off the railing with a bodypress before sending him back into the ring, and it’s time for the PLUNDER. Ciampa cuts him off with a german suplex, but Johnny fights back, so Ciampa hits another german and holds on for three more. Gargano reverses to his own and Ciampa bails, so Johnny follows with a suicide dive. He goes for the plunder again, but Ciampa runs him into the stairs and then flings him into the railing. More chairs and garbage cans are discovered and Ciampa wraps a chair around Johnny’s neck and runs him into the stairs because he’s a BAD PERSON. Johnny selling the punishment by trembling his hand like he’s got nerve damage is a great touch. Ciampa puts Gargano’s head on the stairs and bashes a garbage can into it, and they head back in so that Ciampa can choke him out with a t-shirt. The crowd just straight up chanting “Fuck you Ciampa” shows what an effective heel he is. Man, just wait until Gargano turns heel and they reunite. It’s gonna be AMAZING. Ciampa finds a pair of handcuffs, but Gargano fights him off from the apron and gets the slingshot spear. Time for some whipping, so Gargano takes off his belt and lays in a beating while the crowd chants “You deserve it”. Ciampa gets a can on the head and Johnny superkicks him, but he tries the lawn dart and Ciampa just gouges the eyes and gets a backstabber for two, because he’s a backstabbing piece of crap who BROKE OUR HEARTS. Back to the apron and Gargano fights back, but Ciampa slams him on the stairs with White Noise, and that gets two. Ciampa finds a toolbox this time and uses bolt cutters to disassemble the mat, then pulls up the mat to expose the boards underneath. They head up and Ciampa teases White Noise onto the boards, but Gargano escapes and kicks him down. They slug it out on the safe part of the ring and Johnny hits the enzuigiri and knocks him out with a lid for two. Ciampa bails and Gargano follows with a dive, but Ciampa suckers him into a lid to the face and Nigel is AGHAST. Ciampa misses a charge and runs into the stairs with his bad knee, and Johnny goes right after it with a chair like he’s Steve Austin at Wrestlemania X-7. Ciampa boots him into a trash can to escape and puts Johnny into his own Gargano-Escape, then wins a battle to grab the crutch first and just punches Gargano repeatedly in the face to put him down. Knee to the face and he gets Johnny’s own crutch, smashes it into his neck, and gets two. Back to the floor and Gargano is crawling for the ramp now, so Ciampa helps him up, gives him a demotivating speech, and runs him into the wall before delivering another knee to the face. Apparently this is not enough for him, so we head up a pile of equipment and Ciampa steals Gargano’s wedding ring and tosses it away. This is such a colossal dick move that it gives Johnny enough time to recover and put Ciampa through a table down below and both guys are dead. The EMTs put Ciampa on the stretcher with a neck brace, but I say that’d be letting him get off too easy! So with Ciampa on the stretcher and on his way to the back, Johnny decides that more is needed, and hauls him back to the ring while he’s pleading for mercy. So Johnny rips off the neck brace and puts him in the Gargano Escape, but there’s no ref, so he handcuffs him and superkicks him repeatedly in the face while Nigel pleads for mercy on Gargano’s part. A bunch of suits pull him off, but that just allows Ciampa to DDT him on the exposed wood and pin him at 35:32. Unfortunately, this one couldn’t live up to the last one and kind of collapsed on itself at the end. They were on track for the full monty but the span between the stretcher and the finish was just too much stuff. My lowest rating ever for a Gargano-Ciampa match, at ****3/4

The Pulse

Whereas people were debating if MITB was a thumbs up, there is absolutely no debate here. Another killer show that sadly will get destroyed in the year-end voting by the New Japan juggernaut. Ho hum, another Takeover, another modern classic!