NXT takes over the second city with their first special in this current incarnation. It may be glorious, but will this be Hideo’s night to shine? Is there an Asuka problem brewing? Ninja rap, and much more as we dive in…
The popular opinion of the WWE Universe is that this year’s “superstar shakeup” really did a number on NXT. At first glance, this notion is hard to argue. Samoa Joe jumped CrossFit Jesus in January, taking his star power and experience to RAW. Austin Aries followed in March to add star power to 205 Live! (Which was like putting a band-aid on the screen door of a submarine, but I digress)
WrestleMania followed, which meant the annual call-ups commenced. By the time the dust cleared, the yellow brand was sans their previous World and Tag Team Champions (Shinsuke Nakamura and The Revival respectively), a perfect fan favorite (Tye Dillinger), and “The Drifter” (Ok, you got me. Nobody gives a shit about “The Drifter,” but I have this thing about lists of 3’s! Sue me!)
Annual resets are nothing new in the wrestling business, but this is the first year that NXT has really needed to circle the wagons and reestablish the hierarchy. Thankfully, Bobby Roode was anointed as the lynchpin of NXT for the foreseeable future. “The Glorious One” looks to defend this title this month for the second straight TakeOver special, but we’ll touch on that soon enough.
Right now, without further delay, let’s take a look at the menu for TakeOver: Chicago…
Singles Match: Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young
This match was voted “most likely to jerk the curtain” in high school. Seriously though, these two gentlemen are “pro’s pros” and this match will be technically sound. The result will have zero consequences regardless of the finish, so fans will just be able to sit back and enjoy the show.
Prediction: EY cheats and wins! Then again.
Anyone notice that Drew McIntyre isn’t on this card? This doesn’t seem practical considering the magnitude of his star power. One could easily see members of Sanity interfering, and McIntyre of Kassius Ohno coming to Rody’s aid. Just sayin’…
United Kingdom Championship Match: Tyler Bate (c) vs. Pete Dunne
NXT.com didn’t even bother to create a graphic for this match. This gesture is a microcosm of how everyone really feels about the United Kingdom Championship. Trust me.
With this in mind, I present to you a picture of Finn Bálor in front of the United Kingdom Championship logo… Boy, can dude smile or what?
Prediction: Mikey Curalli is going to publish an article about Finn Bálor in the next week or so that is actually going to have words in it. Promise.
Oh, and the champion will prevail, just a hunch.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Asuka (c) vs. Ruby Riot vs Nikki Cross
According to this very reputable sight, Asuka has been successful in 175 consecutive matches to start her NXT/WWE career. (25 more Ws than Goldberg speared through to start his career for those of you keeping score at home) Yes, the empress has been leaving more ladies lying than Wilt Chamberlain, and there is no end in sight.
Asuka is an amazingly charismatic performer who no doubt has the “IT factor” that so many performer’s lack these days. Seriously, from step one out of the curtain, nobody in the arena can take their eyes off her. There is also this thing about Asuka being terrifying when she smiles at you. Nobody knows if she is going to kiss your cheek or kick your face off your head. All of this is incredible to witness, however, shouldn’t all of this dominance be a touch alarming?
At some point, Asuka has to take an L, right? Somebody has to come along and knock her down a peg. The problem is nobody currently on the NXT roster that has even given her a competitive match. Like, for real, she just kicks people in the head a bunch of times, laughs at their feeble attempts at offense, and wins…
The fantasy booker in me obviously sees the potential of a showdown between an undefeated Asuka and Charlotte sometime down the road. WWE will take all my money to see that, but what becomes of the NXT women’s division when their champion grows tired of playing Triple-A ball?
Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross are fine characters, and I enjoy them both. However, Saturday night has the makings of an Ausuka rinse/repeat session. This is a problem. There are no stakes in her matches anymore. That needs to change really fast.
Prediction: Everyone has fun watching Asuka dance and kick hoes in the nose. #greatattitudeerashirt
NXT Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: DIY vs The Authors of Pain (c)
This match almost went to hell when Tommaso Ciampa tweaked his ankle at a live event Thursday night. This led to Triple H assuring everyone that Ciampa will compeat while fielding questions during NXT conference call. Hindsight being 20/20, nobody should ever question the toughness of anyone who has ever been referred to as “Psycho Killer.”
With hopefully everyone participating this ladder match, these teams are primed to steal the show. DIY has brought the best out of the Authors to date, and adding a ladder certainly, raises the steaks. Gargano and Ciampa have always considered Chicago as their adopted home, so a hero’s welcome is no doubt in store for the champions.
Side Note: How on Earth did WWE/NXT not name the Authors of Pain Tokka and Rahzar?
No joke, one of the dude’s names… is REZAR! You mean to tell me that fans would not go bananas if you named these two after ninja turtle villains? Who dropped the ball with this? These dudes should be coming to the ring to Vanilla Ice doing this to everyone dressed like gigantic animals! Nobody can convince me otherwise!
Prediction: The heroes do not die in this one folks! DIY regains in a stunner.
PS: Just gonna leave this here. You’re welcome.
NXT Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Hideo Itami
TakeOver: Chicago means more to Hideo Itami than anyone else on the card. Some fans have viewed the former Kenta as a “bust” of some sorts. So much so, that Hideo actually acknowledged the rumors on Twitter this week.
Since I've come to WWE. I haven't lived up to my expectations. But finally I will have the opportunity to show, WHO I AM.
Get ready #G2S
— Hideo Itami / 伊丹英雄 (@HideoItami) May 18, 2017
Saturday will no doubt be the most important match of Itami’s career to date. Luckily for him, his dance partner is simply… GLORIOUS. Roode is the perfect heel champion to bring out the fire-breathing baby face deep down in Hideo. NXT has done a great job building to this encounter as well, considering these two had a face off not long after Roode’s debut on the yellow brand.
Prediction: Tons of flips, strong strikes, and false finishes. Roode will retain after some glorious chicanery. Mark my words though, the night ends with Roode in a stare down with either Drew McIntyre or Adam Cole! (bay-bay)
Till next time people.. GO NINJA! GO NINJA! GO!
Any predictions of your own for TakeOver: Chicago? Leave them, and any other comments in the section below. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter as well @themikeycuralli!