You can scroll to the end for a TLDR recap of the show.
TakeOver Chicago is coming up on May 20. Headlining the show tonight: Hideo Itami versus Roderick Strong for the #1 Contender spot for the NXT Championship.
Match #1: Aleister Black v. Cezar Bononi
Bononi kind of dwarfs Black and talks some trash early on. Black easily dodges some Bononi strikes and Bononi backs down. Back in the ring, Bononi catches Black with an atomic drop and a standing drop kick. Black blocks several more strike attempts and hits a jumping knee to the face. That looked great. Bononi turns right into the most insane Black Mass kick yet and Bononi sells it like he’s dead. Wow.
Winner: Aleister Black via pinfall
Thoughts: Just another great showing from Black. We haven’t seen him work a 10+ minute match on TV yet, but he just really makes his stuff look good. I don’t want to say he ‘lays it in’ because I don’t think anyone is getting hurt, but you know what I’m trying to say. It’s hard to see through his strikes. I’d like to see him in something more competitive at TakeOver. Maybe against Andrade Almas?
Backstage/Recap: Highlights are shown of Asuka ruining the Battle Royal last week. Backstage, an incensed William Regal had chased Asuka down to tell her she was going to be in a Fatal Fourway (presumably before he announced it to the crowd on stage). Asuka wasn’t smiling or joking this time. Unfortunately, Ember Moon is injured from that insane bump out of the ring last week (If that’s where the real injury happened; I don’t know). Ember is interviewed and it’s short and sweet. She’ll be back better than ever. The new match is now a Triple Threat (Asuka defends against Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot).
Update: Pete Dunne will challenge Tyler Bate for the UK Championship at TakeOver: Chicago. A nice little promo package for Dunne is shown. One would also be shown for Tyler Bate later in the show.
Update: A Ruby Riot promo aired. It wasn’t as emotional as the Roderick Strong packages, but still a good introduction for her. WWE attempted to do a sit down interview with Nikki Cross, but she’s Rocket Raccoon-level A-hole. Maybe a little crazy, too.
Backstage Promo: Drew McIntyre is asked about Itami and Strong’s match. He says he’s disappointed he isn’t in it. Wesley Blake comes in to interrupt – where has he been?! Blake says McIntyre needs to leave WWE again.
Vignette: The Velveteen Dream, baby. I’d pay Bruce Prichard to say that like Dusty Rhodes.
In-Ring: #DIY challenges the Authors of Pain to a tag team title match at TakeOver. Before anything else can happen, Tino Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss interrupt them. They say the line to the titles starts behind them. #DIY clotheslines them out of the ring. We now have a match booked per William Regal.
Match #2: #DIY v. Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss
Ciampa gets some early offense, but Moss catches him with a fall away slam. Ciampa gets brutalized in the corner. Tino hits a big drop kick, but only gets a 2-count. The heels continue the quick tags and work over Ciampa. Ciampa finally reverses a suplex attempt and gets the hot tag to Gargano. Gargano comes in and hits his signature offense on Moss. Gargano catches Moss with a spear through the ropes, but Tino breaks up the pin.
Gargano hits a dive to Moss and Ciampa hits Tino with a knee off the apron to the floor. #DIY sets up the Meeting in the Middle and they crush Moss with it and that’s good for the win.
Post-match, William Regal comes out on the stage to announce #DIY against the Authors at TakeOver. Paul Ellering interrupts with the Authors and says #DIY’s blood is on Regal’s hands. Regal has another surprise, though: The match at TakeOver will be a ladder match!
Winners: #DIY via pinfall
Thoughts: Decent showing from Tino and Moss. I liked watching them work better than Heavy Machinery. The real story is the ladder match. I was wondering how they would do #DIY versus the Authors and make it fresh since #DIY has already lost twice. One thing is for sure; we will see some cool spots.
Backstage Promo: Kassius Ohno is asked where he goes from here after the loss to Roode. Andrade Almas interrupts with a smirk. Ohno criticizes his party lifestyle and challenges Almas to a match next week and Almas accepts.
Match #3: #1 Contender’s Match: Roderick Strong v. Hideo Itami
I read the spoilers for the taping a while ago, but I can’t remember who wins this match, so that makes me happy. The guys are interviewed backstage right before they walk through the curtain. That’s new. The pacing early indicates a longer match. They start out with some mat wrestling, reversals, and counters. Itami goes for an early GTS, but Strong gets free and takes a breather as NXT cuts to break.
Back from break, both guys are trading shots. Itami gains control with 2 stiff kicks to the chest. A back elbow by Itami only gets a 1-count. Itami is sort of working in a heel role and Nigel mentioned the disrespect on commentary, so that wasn’t an accident. Itami hits some stiff looking forearm shots to the midsection, but Strong counters a suplex attempt and hangs Itami up on the top rope. Strong delivers some brutal chops and a nice back breaker, but only gets a 1-count. Strong now targets the repaired shoulder of Itami with a stretch.
Itami tries to fight out, but Strong scores with a pump handle back breaker for a near fall. Hideo walks into a big kick to the face, but counters another back breaker attempt. Itami runs right into a beautiful drop kick to the face, though. Itami comes back with several strong kicks to the chest, which sends Strong to ringside. Strong catches Itami coming off the ring apron and hurls him spine-first into the ring apron as NXT goes to another break.
Back from break, Strong is back to stretching Itami. Itami breaks the hold with a jawbreaker. There’s a double clothesline as the crowd had broken into dueling chants. Itami is up first and hits several kicks and a suplex. Itami drops Strong’s neck across the top rope and then comes off the top with a clothesline for a long 2-count. Strong catches Itami with a kick, though, and then an Angle Slam for a near fall.
Strong scores with strikes to the face, but Itami hits him with a big knee off the ropes. Itami then unloads with strikes, but gets caught in another back breaker variation when he charges Strong in the corner. Itami counters Strong on the top rope and then hits a Falcon Arrow superplex, but Strong kicks out! Both guys reset and get to their feet where they trade more strikes. Strong gets the better of Itami with a jumping knee. Itami now hits a running knee strike, though.
Itami goes for a GTS, but Strong counters into a suplex, which Itami counters. Itami hits a Helluva Kick in the corner, then a basement drop kick to Strong as he is slumped in the corner. Strong futilely fights back to his feet, showing heart, but Itami crushes him with a GTS for the win.
Post-match, Itami helps Strong to his feet and they show each other respect.
Winner: Hideo Itami via pinfall
Thoughts: Well, a 2017 pro wrestling match doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. I thought Itami was teasing a heel turn early, but that wouldn’t make sense if he’s going against Roode. I thought they told a good story and really established Strong in that sympathetic babyface role going forward, which has been empty since Sami Zayn left. Overall, a really good wrestling match that is really rare on a non-PPV show. I was worried that Strong didn’t have the charisma to really connect with the crowd like Zayn did, but I think he does now. If he has more matches like that where he comes up just short and puts on that kind of performance, he will be in a great position down the road.
· Aleister Black beat Cezar Bononi
· Ember Moon’s injury takes her out of the TakeOver Women’s title match
· #DIY beat Tino Sabbatelli & Riddick Moss
· #DIY versus Authors of Pain in a Ladder Match is announced for TakeOver
· Hideo Itami beat Roderick Strong to become the #1 Contender to the NXT Championship
Advertised for Next Week
· Andrade Almas versus Kassius Ohno
Current TakeOver: Chicago Line-Up:
· NXT Championship: Bobby Roode © v. Hideo Itami
· NXT Women’s Championship Triple Threat: Asuka © v. Nikki Cross v. Ruby Riot
· NXT Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: Authors of Pain © v. #DIY
· UK Championship: Tyler Bate © v. Pete Dunne