This week’s NXT is the go home show for NXT TakeOver Chicago, so expect a lot of previews and build up clips. The advertised main event for the show is Kassius Ohno versus Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas. Also in the preview SAnitY’s post-match attack on Roderick Strong last week was mentioned. WWE.com questions whether they will respond to Roderick Strong’s request for an opportunity to face them. As it’s in the preview, my guess is they will.
Drew McIntyre def Sean Maluta
Sonya Deville def Lacey
Kassius Ohno def Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Before the credits (have I mentioned how much I hate the new theme?) we were shown Bobby Roode arriving at Full Sail, and shouting at a subordinate.
Drew McIntyre vs Sean Maluta
The opening match of the show. Maluta got his own proper entrance, after McIntyre which felt a bit odd, but nice to see him get one anyway. Sean Maluta has essentially been a high-level jobber on NXT for a while now. He’s clearly talented, and considered good enough to get some convincing offence in, but you know he won’t win. Tonight was no exception.
Drew McIntyre seemed to catch himself on something as he threw Maluta across the ring and a bloody swelling began to appear under McIntyre’s eye. He touched it a couple of times, but it didn’t seem to faze him. Maluta put up a creditable, but ineffective offence, let’s face it, there was only going to be one result.
The finish came via a headbutt, followed up with a kick in the head, and it was job done for Drew McIntyre.
After the match, Mcintyre was interviewed on the ramp about whether he was concerned about having gained the attention of Wesley Blake. McIntyre said he’d only be concerned if he didn’t have everyone’s attention, including Blake’s. Then he offered Blake a match next week.
Next up, we got a recap of last week’s number one contender’s match between Roderick Strong and Hideo Itami. We were shown SAnitY’s attack on Strong after the match, and Roderick Strong telling William Regal that he wants SAnitY. Then we got a SAnitY promo, voiced by Eric Young. In it Young said that Strong was crazy for wanting to face them, but that he would take the challenge. The match was confirmed later in the show.
Commentary spent a little time discussing the TakeOver match between Bobby Roode and Hideo Itami, before we were shown how Itami made his debut in NXT fending off The Ascension during his introduction. They briefly touched upon the tag title match between #DIY and Authors of Pain, just to remind everyone it’s a ladder match. Then we got a nice little promo package for the TakeOver match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne, for the WWE UK Championship. It was limited by the fact they only use WWE footage, but you can’t have everything. They did use some new interview footage, which was great. WWE are airing the recent UK tapings on Friday so that people will have a chance to see how Dunne ended up as
Another Patrick Clark, Velveteen Dream, promo was the buffer between segments. Before another look at Hideo Itami’s NXT achievements so far, this time his TakeOver match with Tyler Breeze which was the first time he used the GTS in NXT. It’s worth reminding people of them as injuries have meant he’s had a long gap between noteworthy matches.
Massively pointless interview with Asuka next. She refused to answer the questions about her opponents, switched on a smile to pose happily for fans, then rolled her eyes as she walked away. Arrogance personified. She is playing the new role very well. Time will tell if the overconfidence will be her downfall in Chicago, or if her record breaking title run will continue.
Lacey Evans vs Sonya Deville
Lacey Evans and Sonya Deville are two of the rising stars at the performance centre. Both have recently acquired their new names, having previously been known as Macey Estrella and Daria Berenato respectively. They have both been used extensively in live shows, and some of the Full Sail crowd are familiar with them so they got half-decent reactions.
They’re well matched as a pairing, with similar styles. Deville has an MMA background, and Evans is an ex-marine, so neither is scared of making it look like it hurts. It’s a different approach to anyone else currently on the roster, and it seems to work well. I’m excited to see how they’re both used, I wonder if either will feature in the upcoming women’s tournament.
Not a long match, but I suspect it won’t be the last time we see them wrestle each other. On this occasion Sonya Deville was the victor, courtesy of a step-up kick.
Back to Hideo Itami and Bobby Roode next. They were really hyping this feud on this week’s episode. I know it’s the TakeOver main event, but how many segments do we need. This time we were shown Itami giving Bobby Roode the GTS last month.
Kassius Ohno vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
The crowd love Ohno almost as much as they don’t care about Almas. It feels like the gimmick Almas is running, of being a party guy who doesn’t really care about his in-ring work, is a last-ditch attempt to make something stick with him. I’m not sure it’s working. It’s a real shame because he’s massively talented. Commentary worked hard to put some story into the match, and some character into Almas, throughout the match. Sadly, it meant that Kassius Ohno didn’t get the praise he deserves.
It was a really enjoyable match, Ohno only does good matches. In my opinion, he’s one of the best there is. We certainly weren’t short of big moves, flippy bits, or hard hits. Variety is everything if you want mass appeal I guess. There was even a smattering of submission attempts.
There were relatively few pin attempts considering they were exchanging moves that would have taken normal opponents down with ease, and the match got a decent amount of time. Eventually, a rolling elbow put Almas down for the three count to give Kassius Ohno a hard-earned victory.
Two announcements for next week’s show, which will come from Chicago. Drew McIntyre will take on Wesley Blake, and Aleister Black will be in action against an unnamed opponent.
The final look at Itami’s NXT career to date focused on last week’s number one contender’s match. This transitioned into the final segment of the show.
Ohno vs Almas should probably have closed the show, it was a definite main event match. Instead we got Bobby Roode, in full suited arrogance, complete with microphone. He said that everyone is talking about Hideo Itami and his GTS. He ‘admitted’ that Itami knocked him out a couple of weeks ago in what he called a completely unprovoked attack while he was minding his own business in his $5000 custom made suit, but he hoped he enjoyed it because it was never going to happen again. He waffled on about Itami’s career, and his own success since he arrived in NXT. When he started talking about Itami having to go back to his family and tell them he failed, Hideo Itami appeared on the stage.
As he started to walk down the ramp, with Bobby Roode telling him from the ring that they didn’t need to do this yet, William Regal and the security team appeared to try to dissuade him from rushing the ring. It was Roode’s arrogant mocking of Itami seeming to back off that made him brush past security and barrel into Roode in the ring.
Security in NXT get more wrestling action than half the roster these days. Three of them pulled Itami away from Roode, and two of them took a GTS for their troubles. As he went for the third, Bobby Roode attacked him from behind and Itami gave him the final GTS instead.
Decent show but, before I get to that, I want to say a few words about headbutts. Everyone has their thing in wrestling that they can’t stand, and headbutting is mine. I know there is an element of risk to any professional wrestling match but, as highlighted by the injury to Katsuyori Shibata recently, headbutts just seem unnecessarily dangerous. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree, I just don’t like it.
Anyway, three good matches tonight. It was good to see two newer women get a chance, and they’re both exciting prospects for a women’s division which has struggled to recover from the brand extension draft. I’m looking forward to seeing some storylines being built around them, hopefully that won’t take too long.
NXT TakeOver Chicago looks great. Four of the five matches are for titles, the only exception being Roderick Strong versus Eric Young, which has the potential to be a vicious opener to proceedings. It’s tough to say which match will steal the show on Saturday and that’s a good thing. I’ll be making my (usually terribly inaccurate) predictions right here on rearviewreviews.com, so make sure you check that out on Thursday night.