NXT TakeOver Chicago II – PREVIEW

NXT TakeOver Chicago II – PREVIEW

Another spectacular line-up for NXT TakeOver Chicago II. TakeOvers have consistently delivered, and this promises to be no different. Sadly, due to a scheduling conflict with Showtime Boxing, Mauro Ranallo has announced he won’t be on commentary in Chicago. The commentary team will be Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, and Percy Watson. Ranallo’s commentary splits opinion but I really enjoy his work on NXT and it won’t be quite the same without him.



Match card

Aleister Black (C) vs Lars Sullivan – NXT Championship match

Shayna Baszler (C) vs Nikki Cross – NXT Women’s Championship match

Undisputed ERA (C) vs Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch – NXT Tag Team Championship match

Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa – Street Fight

Ricochet vs Velveteen Dream



Preview and Prediction

Ricochet vs Velveteen Dream

Ricochet and Velveteen Dream

This is being billed as ‘The King versus The Prince’ and it’s an accurate summation for the reasoning behind the match. The match should be spectacular. Velveteen Dream keeps telling Ricochet that anything Ricochet can do he can do better, Ricochet keeps telling him to prove it. At TakeOver, Velveteen Dream is going to outdo Ricochet at every turn, and Ricochet is going to try to make sure he can’t. It’s likely to be very entertaining and could well steal the show.

The one match they had was extremely entertaining, until Lars Sullivan intervened and flattened them both. They even managed to work ok as a team until Velveteen Dream decided he wanted the spotlight to himself. And that’s the root of the issue. Velveteen Dream is jealous that Ricochet has suddenly arrived and stolen the spotlight he considers to be his. But there is a reason Ricochet has come in with such hype, he’s earned it.

I can’t see a Velveteen Dream win here. It makes no sense to have Ricochet lose. If Velveteen Dream takes the loss, then he simply isn’t quite ready to take the centre spotlight. If Ricochet takes the loss, then he is already being surpassed by younger and more inexperienced talent – not a great look for a super-hyped arrival. They’re both future champions and Velveteen Dream has the brightest of futures. Watching him grow and evolve has been one of the joys of NXT since his arrival. If the finish is clean and without disruption, I don’t think NXT TakeOver Chicago II will be his time.

Prediction: Ricochet


Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa – Street Fight

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa

This whole feud has been a saga of best friends making the worst enemies. It’s been brutal, vicious, and personal. And this should be the final part of it. It would be the perfect time and place to wrap it up, the same place it all started, one year on. I suspect that isn’t how it’s going to happen.

It’s been a long and intense build since Ciampa turned on Gargano at the end of TakeOver Chicago last year. Ciampa has attacked Gargano, Gargano has attacked Ciampa. Ciampa was instrumental in Gargano losing his job, and it was by beating Ciampa in an unsanctioned match that he regained it. They have proved they can’t be in the same place without it descending into violence requiring one or the other of them receiving medical attention.

There’s a potential twist in the tale and it involves Candice LeRae. She got injured in one of the interactions between Gargano and Ciampa when Ciampa pushed Gargano off the apron and he crashed into her leaving her semi-conscious on the ramp. Ciampa has been using the incident to try to get into Gargano’s head, telling him it was all his own fault. Johnny Gargano has used it as fuel for his rage.

LeRae has very publicly stated she does not support her husband in this street fight and that the feud with Ciampa is turning him into the very thing he despises. There are internet rumblings about LeRae costing Gargano the match, and that’s the most likely way I can see Gargano losing, maybe a distraction, maybe she gets hurt again. There is a significant proportion of social media which seems to think she will turn on her husband to deliberately cost him, I can’t see it and I hope that’s not the case.

I do think Gargano will lose, leaving them at one match apiece and forcing a final showdown. I’m not sure how they sustain this level of intensity for any longer, and I don’t see how they can increase it. With match one being an unsanctioned match and match two being a street fight where exactly do you go – steel cage is my bet if it happens, probably with some kind of stipulation.

One of the factors in my thinking it continues is the lack of other current options for them. How do they coexist after this? How do they move on? Where do they go from here? There’s just too much bitterness and too much unresolved for it to all be solved in Chicago.

Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa


Undisputed ERA (C) vs Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch – NXT Tag Team Championship match

Undisputed ERA, Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch

I feel like this one has had the most understated build of all the matches. It’s been rumbling on in the background muddied by the involvement of Adam Cole and Pete Dunne. The idea of Lorcan and Burch becoming number one contenders came about as the result of them winning a three on three match, including Dunne and Cole, in which Danny Burch pinned Kyle O’Reilly.

Adam Cole, who is not defending his NXT North American Championship at TakeOver, is likely to be a factor in this match as well. And if he’s there, there’s a good chance Pete Dunne will be as well. While, Burch and Lorcan have made it quite clear they don’t actually like Dunne, and the feeling is apparently mutual, he hates Undisputed ERA, and Roderick Strong in particular, much more.

Burch and Lorcan are a great team but there’s nothing to be gained from them taking the title belts. It will be a superb match, although I fear it will be somewhat overshadowed on this card. I can’t see anything other than an Undisputed ERA win this time, but I’ll be surprised if it’s a clean finish with no outside interference.

Prediction: Undisputed ERA


Shayna Baszler (C) vs Nikki Cross – NXT Women’s Championship match

Shayna Baszler and Nikki Cross

Short and fun build for this one. Nikki Cross appeared to save Dakota Kai from a post-match Kirifuda Clutch. She stole the belt and challenged Baszler to an immediate ‘match’, then made Kai referee as she hit Baszler with The Purge and pinned her. Baszler didn’t take it too well, but when she came to the ring to talk about Cross they had another confrontation. That one ended with Baszler sat on the ramp, bleeding from the mouth and waiting for Cross to throw her belt back to her. Baszler told Cross that the only place she’s better than her is in ‘her whacked out little mind’, and she could put her to sleep in a heartbeat. Trouble is, she’s yet to back that up.

Nikki Cross is completely different to anyone Baszler has faced. Actually, Nikki Cross is just different, and brilliant. Baszler can’t get into Niki Cross’ head, and I’m not convinced it’s somewhere she’d want to be anyway. Cross doesn’t fear Baszler and she doesn’t mind pain, in fact she seems to relish it. She’s also far more experienced than Baszler and impossible to form a strategy for. Baszler even looked shaken by her. When Cross jumped forward in their last confrontation, Baszler leapt back so fast she dropped the belt.

There are not enough available words for how much I’d like to see Nikki Cross as NXT Women’s Champion and I think it will happen, but not this time. Baszler is in a position where any member of the women’s roster could believably be put in opposition to her. She’s hated and feared. There’s a ready-built storyline of every woman wants to see someone, anyone, beat her. That’s good positioning for a champion in a division which is rebuilding. Nikki Cross would be a popular champion with the crowds, but that’s not necessarily what’s needed right now. There’s also the question of what each of them would do after a loss. Nikki Cross can go on doing her wonderful Nikki Cross stuff, but without the title Baszler is just a bully that no-one likes.

I’d also like to see this feud last beyond this TakeOver. I’m not sure how they’d work that, but I hope they do. Much as I’d like to be wrong, I think Baszler retains this time.

Prediction: Shayna Baszler


Aleister Black (C) vs Lars Sullivan – NXT Championship match

Aleister Black and Lars Sullivan
Photo credits: wwe.com

This is an interesting one. Aleister Black was completely dominant on the way to gaining the NXT Championship, but he hasn’t fared well in his interactions with Lars Sullivan. On this week’s go home show for TakeOver Sullivan delivered no less than three Freak Accidents to Black before carrying him to the announce desk to hold the title over him. Two weeks prior, he caught Black’s infamous Black Mass kick before delivering the Freak Accident.

Sullivan is NXT’s resident monster, he’s run through opponents and tag team partners alike. He hasn’t had the longest matches, but then he hasn’t needed them. He tends to destroy opponents fairly quickly. This is likely to be the longest match of his career and it will almost certainly be the best.

Aleister Black can’t match Lars Sullivan for size or strength. However, he’s got years of experience on him and far superior wrestling ability. Sullivan may have caught him out a couple of times, but he won’t have an answer for half of what Black can throw at him.

You could make a solid argument for Sullivan as NXT champion. He has no friends of allies and he’s proving almost impossible to beat. But the potential for interesting feuds and headline stealing matches isn’t there in the way it is with Aleister Black. Sullivan is a mean and terrifying competitor, but I don’t believe he’s ready to carry the brand as champion.

Prediction: Aleister Black


That’s it for the preview. Enjoy the show and check back here on Rear View Reviews for the full show review.

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