In the run up to NXT TakeOver Chicago Tommaso Ciampa was injured at a house show. Triple H addressed the situation on Friday, saying the injury didn’t seem to be as severe as first feared and Ciampa would be assessed on Saturday to make sure he was cleared. There was no mention of the injury during pre-show, so he was obviously cleared to wrestle, but you have to wonder if it will factor into the match with a team as physical as Authors of Pain.
Ember Moon joined the pre-show panel to talk about her injury and discuss the women’s championship match. She said she was going to be out for six months, but the last update on her injury said it was just a sprain. Anyway, she didn’t have anything unexpected to contribute to the discussion. She simply said that she didn’t mind who wins the title, she’ll still get her own back on Asuka, and she’ll still take the title from whoever has it.
Roderick Strong def Eric Young
Pete Dunne def Tyler Bate
Asuka def Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot
Bobby Roode def Hideo Itami
Authors of Pain (with Paul Ellering) def #DIY
Roderick Strong vs Eric Young
In a pre-show interview Roderick Strong said he had one warning for Eric Young, never mention his family again. It seems like Young may have inadvertently pushed the button to fire Strong up.
Eric Young was accompanied to the ring by Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain, but without Nikki Cross, who was presumably busy preparing for her title match later. Roderick Strong appeared from nowhere and took out Dain and Wolfe before the match started. He threw Killian Dain into the ringpost then slammed Alexander Wolfe into the barricade.
So the match started with Eric Young on the back foot, and the crowd very vocally behind Strong. The early part of the match was all about Roderick Strong. But Eric Young is no pushover and, by the time his SAnitY teammates were back on their feet, Young had regained a modicum of control.
The equalising chance Strong gave himself wasn’t going to last forever, especially once they took things outside the ring. Somehow the ref missed Dain’s flying crossbody into Strong on the outside, and Alexander Wolfe kicking him in the head while he was draped over the ropes a few minutes later.
Decent match to start TakeOver Chicago. The video NXT showed, over two episodes, telling Roderick Strong’s story, seems to have done a good job of increasing fan’s emotional investment in him. The more Young threw at him, the more they got behind him.
Young’s wheelbarrow neckbreaker on the outside didn’t translate into anything, neither did the elbow from the top rope. Strong dealt with the rest of SAnitY again, and even powered through after a rake to the eyes from Eric Young.
Strong kicked Young off the second turnbuckle, to the outside, straight onto Wolfe and Dain. With momentum on his side Strong threw Eric Young back into the ring and landed a high knee and a backbreaker. Against all the odds Roderick Strong pinned Eric Young, then got the hell out of there leaving SAnitY seething in the ring.
Tyler Bate (C) vs Pete Dunne – WWE UK Championship match
In addition to this being the first TakeOver defence of the UK Championship, the match was made a little more special by ‘JR’ Jim Ross being welcomed as a guest commentator.
These two have fought each other a LOT. That’s not a bad thing, familiarity in the ring tends to lead to better matches, and that was certainly the case here. It’s fantastic to see how well the crowd have taken to Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne, they were loud for the whole match, and for good reason.
Dunne hit Bate with an X-plex on the apron, Bate got some extra speed on the airplane spin. They took the best of every match they’ve ever had, and they hit each other with it in this one. It wasn’t enough though, nothing seemed to be enough to make the difference for either of them. They gave us a bit of everything, technicality, flight and flips, feats of sheer strength, and bog standard brawling, all executed beautifully.
The crowd showed their appreciation with ‘this is awesome’ and ‘fight forever’ chants as Dunne and Bate tried everything to put each other away. Bate countered a Bitter End into a DDT, Dunne got out of the way of Bate’s dive to the outside and helped him hit the floor hard. That made the difference. Just as it was starting to seem like they might actually fight forever, Pete Dunne hit Tyler Bate with the Bitter End and we got ourselves a brand new WWE UK Champion. Truly fantastic match.
Asuka (C) vs Nikki Cross vs Ruby Riot – NXT Women’s Championship match
This was my pick for a potential match of the night. Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot have added different character types and some depth to a women’s division which was starting to feel a bit nice girls versus mean girls. The placement of the match on the card, having to follow the UK title match which the crowd were wild for, meant it actually felt a little flat in places.
Ember Moon was shown watching from somewhere on one of the upper levels of the arena early in the match. That was the last chance they had to cut away from the action. It was everything a triple-threat match should be, fast paced, hard hitting and relentless. All three women worked hard to pick the crowd back up, and they managed it by half way through.
Everyone got their moment where it looked like they might just do it. Nikki Cross managed to catch Asuka in the apron at one point, and it looked like the champion might be out. But the subsequent pin attempt was broken up by Riot, the lament of the triple-threat.
At the finish, Nikki Cross went for a fisherman’s neckbreaker, Riot countered with a Pele kick and went for the cover. Cross kicked out just as Asuka came in with a knee strike on Riot. Asuka landed on the pair, and pinned both challengers to retain her title.
Bobby Roode (C) vs Hideo Itami – NXT Championship match
This one started slow. After Bobby Roode’s incredibly long entrance, and a bit of posturing, Itami immediately tried for the Go To Sleep and Roode got out of the ring to regroup.
The match played out like they were trying to hurt and injure each other. Roode ended up nursing his left shoulder after crashing into a ringpost. Itami appeared to damage his leg by flying feet first into the steps.
This, by purely personal preference, was my least favourite match of the night. And I’d still classify it as very good. Bobby Roode just isn’t ever going to one of my favourite wrestlers to watch. It just lacked the pace, and some of the intensity of the other matches. It did pick up towards the end though.
By that point, both Roode and Itami were selling their pain hard. Itami couldn’t get Roode up for the GTS because of the damage to his leg, Roode took a couple of attempts to hit the Glorious DDT due to his hurt shoulder, but couldn’t keep Itami down when he did hit it. Itami managed to hit the GTS on the next attempt, but Roode rolled out of the ring.
Itami took too long setting up for a final GTS, Roode hit not one, but two Glorious DDTs and Itami stayed down for the three count.
Authors of Pain (with Paul Ellering) (C) vs #DIY – NXT Tag Team Championship ladder match
No word about any injury to Ciampa at the start of this match, so I guess it’s a non-issue. The fact this was the main event match suggested there was going to be some kind of shenanigans, but we’ve been fooled before so some hope remained.
The match played out much as you’d expect it to. Gargano and Ciampa tried to out manoeuvre and outthink Authors of Pain. AoP tried to outpower #DIY, and dominate with brute force.
The ladders came into play fairly early on, and from then were well used. Everyone was hit with at least one ladder. Authors of Pain were driven through a few by #DIY – including a scary looking spot with the ladders bridging the gap between ring and barricade. And, of course, they all had a good few attempts at climbing up to the belts.
Johnny Gargano had a clear chance at the titles, but Paul Ellering got into the ring and pulled him off the ladder, before tipping it over. He got a superkick for his troubles, but that just seemed to anger Authors of Pain.
They took it out on Ciampa, beating his down then setting him up to be smashed in the face with the top of a ladder. Gargano pushed Tommaso Ciampa out of the way and took the full brunt of the ladder shot himself (got to say, that looked horrible).
Authors of Pain had another couple of attempts to climb the ladder thwarted by #DIY. Eventually, having put one of the Authors out of action by putting him through another ladder, #DIY hit their meet in the middle finisher on the other one, while he had his head caught in a ladder.
Gargano and Ciampa got to the top of the ladder, got their hands on the belts, and AoP kicked the ladder away leaving them hanging from the hook the belts were attached to. After that, the Super Collider was the final nail in #DIY’s coffin. Authors of Pain climbed the ladder unhindered and collected the belts to retain their titles.
After the match Gargano and Ciampa hugged, and took the crowd’s applause. It looked like everything was going to be ok as they embraced on the ramp looking sadly out at the crowd. Then, on the stage Tommaso Ciampa gave Johnny Gargano one last hug and threw him into the entranceway.
The following beat-down was brutal on many levels. Johnny Gargano is the ultimate babyface, and looked like a wounded puppy throughout. After the initial attack, he laid his head on Ciampa’s knee as if expecting his friend to realise he’d made a mistake, already ready to forgive him. Ciampa responded by throwing him onto the announce desk, then driving him through tables. He then calmly climbed back onto the announce desk, and sat watching medics tend to his ex-partner.
A wwe.com video released immediately after the show went off air, showed Johnny Gargano being loaded into an ambulance.
Well, I got the first prediction I made wrong, but I’m pretty happy about that. I actually got the rest of the right, even the one I wanted to be wrong. Four out of five is something of a record for me.
I’m a proud UK wrestling fan tonight. Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate absolutely knocked it out of the park. What a brilliant match, a sentiment the crowd and my social media seemed to agree with as well. Tyler Bate was a great choice for the first champion, he was someone the crowds could care about. Pete Dunne is absolutely the right choice for his successor, as someone the crowds will love to hate.
Overall, the standard of matches was incredibly high. Backlash has a tough act to follow tomorrow night. There wasn’t a poor match on the card.
The talking point of the night will undoubtedly be Tommaso Ciampa turning on his partner and best friend Johnny Gargano. It wasn’t unexpected, but that didn’t make it any less brutal. It played out beautifully between the two men, with Gargano still looking halfway through the beating like he was waiting for his friend to calm down and apologise. Ciampa looked conflicted through a lot of it. I’m not sure if that was part of the act, or if it was genuine sorrow about the way things have to be. Time will tell when we hear his explanation I suppose.
The feud between them will be exceptional, but unfortunately looks like it might have to wait. In a post-TakeOver interview, Triple H said Ciampa had picked up an injury and referred to it as significant. Tune into NXT on Wednesday to see how it all pans out, and check out my NXT notes soon after, right here on Rear View Reviews.