NXT TakeOver: Chicago: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from May 20

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2017

NXT TakeOver: Chicago: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from May 20

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The NXT brand presented its latest live event special on WWE Network from the historic Allstate Arena in Chicago Saturday night with championship bouts and grudge matches to whet the wrestling-loving fans' appetites.

    NXT champion Bobby Roode defended his title against Hideo Itami in the night's main event, a match that culminated the Japanese star's return to the squared circle following several injury setbacks. Would Itami realize his dream or would Roode beat the final vestige of the old NXT and continue his reign atop the brand?

    Speaking of reigning champions, Asuka defended her title against Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot in a Triple Threat match. Was The Empress of Tomorrow able to retain, as she had so many times before, or did Saturday's event give way to a new force of nature ready to dominate women's wrestling in NXT for the foreseeable future?

    The tag team titles were on the line in a Ladder match as the Authors of Pain defended against DIY, Tyler Bate defended the United Kingdom Championship against Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong looked to end Sanity's winning ways as he squared off with Eric Young.

    Who emerged with gold around their waists and arms raised in victory?

    Find out now with this recap of Saturday's broadcast.

Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Sanity continued its streak of kicking off TakeOver specials as Eric Young went one-on-one with Roderick Strong to kick off Saturday's spectacle in Chicago.

    Strong, knowing full well how important Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe are to his opponent's success, attacked them from behind before the bell.

    The man affectionately known to longtime fans as Mr. ROH for his exploits in Ring of Honor controlled the bout early, catching Young off-guard on several occasions. A belly-to-belly suplex, though, turned the tide in Young's favor.

    Strong fought out of a headlock and blasted Young, then Wolfe with a big kick. A running body block by Dain left Strong flattened at ringside and finally allowed the diabolical villain Young to take control of the contest.

    Young worked the head and neck in hopes of delivering his trademark wheelbarrow neckbreaker as the crowd erupted into chants of "let's go Roddy." The heelish leader of NXT's most dangerous faction delivered his finisher on the arena floor but was unable to follow up, leading to a two-count a full two minutes later. 

    Strong survived a top rope elbow and wiped out the other members of Sanity at ringside before setting Young up for a superplex. He withstood resistance, then delivered a huge jumping knee to Young that caused him to fall off the ropes and onto his teammates.

    A big backbreaker from Strong allowed him to score the huge victory.

    Result

    Roderick Strong defeated Eric Young

    Grade

    C+

    Analysis

    The story here was so incredibly well laid out.

    Strong recognized from the beginning that the only way for him to beat Young was to neutralize Dain and Wolfe. He did that, on numerous occasions, just long enough to put their leader away and score the biggest win of his NXT career. 

    The former Ring of Honor world champion was beloved in Chicago, a former hotbed for that independent promotion. The reaction he received helped make the win that much more monumental and a major factor in any future success Strong has with the brand.

WWE United Kingdom Championship Match: Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The fans in Chicago were solidly behind Pete Dunne as he challenged Tyler Bate for the United Kingdom Championship.

    Dunne delivered a nasty suplex to the ring apron that allowed him to take control of the match. A master of joint manipulation, he worked over the fingers and wrist of his opponent, attempting to neutralize the effect of the champion Bate's punching ability.

    Dunne caught Bate with a running knee in the corner but Bate responded, countering out of a release suplex and delivering a standing Shooting Star Press for a count of two. Moments later, the Bruiserweight caught Bate in a triangle choke that threatened to put the champion out cold.

    Bate fought out of it and delivered a big slam to break the hold.

    The champion delivered an impressive airplane spin that nearly put the challenger down for the count.

    Dunne blasted a flying Bate with a forearm and scored a release falcon arrow for the best near-fall of the match. The arena erupted into a chant of "this is awesome" and "U.K." as the competitors unloaded on each other with a flurry of rights and lefts.

    Dunne counted a Tyler Drive '97 and tried for his pumphandle flatliner, Bitter End. Bate countered that with a DDT and followed up with a top rope moonsault to the arena floor. A corkscrew moonsault followed but only put Dunne down for two.

    Bate missed a dive over the top and Dunne scored Bitter End to win the title.

    Result

    Pete Dunne defeated Tyler Bate

    Grade

    A+

    Analysis

    That was as good a wrestling match as WWE has produced through this first-half of 2017. It was every bit as good as John Cena vs. AJ Styles from Royal Rumble and had a better atmosphere and hotter crowd to boot.

    The intensity the performers brought, the sense of urgency with which they worked and the sequences they strung together came together not only to create a phenomenal in-ring spectacle but also elevate the significance of the title.

    There is not a fan who came away from that match thinking that title was the most important thing in the entire world to both men and that is the feeling every fan tuning into a championship match should experience.

    Both men elevated their stars and more-than-earned every bit of success that will come their way as a result of this match. 

NXT Women's Championship Match: Asuka vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Asuka sought to successfully retain her NXT Women's Championship once again, defending against Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot in a hotly anticipated Triple Threat match. The champion drew a huge ovation as she made her way to the squared circle.

    Cross was dumped at ringside early, allowing Riot and Asuka to square off. The unstable villainess interjected herself back into the match, taking Riot out and pairing off with her rival while Asuka was down at ringside. The Empress of Tomorrow returned to the action, dropping Cross with a nasty missile dropkick.

    A Codebreaker by Asuka sent Cross to the arena floor and the champion planted Riot with a powerbomb. An ankle lock by the champion followed until Cross broke it up.

    Riot and Cross again paired off, the babyface landing a series of clotheslines and a dropkick that had the heel reeling. Asuka returned just in time to slow her momentum but paid for it with a hurricanrana. Asuka caught Cross with a nasty kick at ringside and Riot responded with a suicide dive that wiped the champion out on the floor.

    The action broke down with all three women hitting signature maneuvers, including some German suplexes from Asuka.

    Riot tried for a leg drop from the top rope but Asuka rolled out of the way and trapped her in the Asuka Lock. Cross broke the submission attempt up with a splash.

    Cross caught Asuka in the ring apron and unloaded on her with a series of forearms that had the champion in danger of losing her title. The aggressor followed up with a twisting hanging neckbreaker but Riot broke up the pin.

    Cross tried for her fisherman neckbreaker but Riot countered with an enzuigiri. Asuka exploded across the ring with a running kick and pinned both women to retain the title.

    Result

    Asuka defeated Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot

    Grade

    B-

    Analysis

    The era of Asuka continues.

    This was a very good match that felt like it could have been even better if the women slowed down a bit and let every spot have a little more time to breathe. It often felt rushed, with each trying to get another spot or sequence in.

    With that said, the performances of Riot and Cross were inspired and gave fans a taste of what they can expect from a women's division one day headed by them.

    NXT now has an interesting scenario on its hands: Asuka is so incredibly dominant that when she finally does lose the title, it is guaranteed to feel lackluster, if only because there is no one serious enough or credible enough to beat her.

NXT Championship Match: Hideo Itami vs. Bobby Roode

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Hideo Itami almost ended the match in second, grabbing hold of an arrogant NXT champion Bobby Roode and hoisting him on his shoulders for a Go To Sleep attempt. Roode slithered out of the No. 1 contender's grasp, though, and slid to the arena floor.

    Roode seized control of the match and worked over his opponent while commentator Nigel McGuinness questioned whether Itami was gun shy, afraid to suffer another injury.

    The challenger answered that, and Roode's signs of disrespect, with a jaw-shattering slap before firing off a series of clotheslines and kicks that turned things in his favor.

    Itami teased Go To Sleep but Roode fought it off. The champion charged but missed, smacking his shoulder into the ring post. He tried for a schoolboy rollup but the pain in his shoulder would not allow for it. Itami tried for a Fujiwara armbar but Roode escaped.

    Roode tried for a blockbuster but Itami moved and planted him with a falcon arrow for a count of two.

    The champion recovered and sent Itami into the guardrail but got cocky and ended up shoulder-first into the steel steps. Itami tried to follow up but his running dropkick caught nothing but steel, leaving both men down and out at ringside.

    They fought through the pain to continue the match.

    Roode delivered his Glorious DDT but Itami kicked out at two. Itami followed with Go To Sleep but Roode rolled out of the ring. Back inside, Roode kicked out at two.

    After a series of hard slaps to the face, Itami set Roode up for Go To Sleep but the champion countered and delivered two straight Glorious DDTs to retain his title.

    Result

    Bobby Roode defeated Hideo Itami

    Grade

    B+

    Analysis

    This was a major league war between two men seeking the glory (no pun intended) of championship gold. Roode was hellbent on proving his greatness while Itami sought to make his friends and family proud by capturing the title for the first time. Two gladiators fought through tremendous pain in the name of championship acclaim.

    Roode looks like a legitimate badass for overcoming the shoulder pain to retain his title while Itami is a legitimized main event star. Mission accomplished.

Ladder Match for the NXT Tag Team Championship: DIY vs. The Authors of Pain

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    Credit: WWE.com

    DIY sought the NXT Tag Team Championships they once called their own as they challenged the Authors of Pain in the Ladder match main event of TakeOver: Chicago.

    The high spots were many, including a double splash spot from Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano that put Rezar and Akam through ladders and a nasty looking German suplex from Ciampa that put one of his opponents through another ladder.

    Authors manager Paul Ellering ate a superkick and Gargano endured a nasty shot to the face with a ladder, sacrificing his own well-being for the sake and well-being of his friend. More on that in a moment.

    Late in the bout, DIY climbed the ladder and appeared poised to retrieve the tag titles when the champions pulled the ladders out from underneath them and dropped them with dual powerbombs. Akam and Rezar grabbed the titles to retain.

    Beaten but not broken, the best friends Ciampa and Gargano sat in the ring, their arms around each other, soaking the adulation of the crowd.

    As they made their way up the aisle, the graphics aired to signify the end of the show. Then, without warning, Ciampa brutally assaulted his partner, sending him face-first into the stage. The Superstars once known as The Psycho Killer drove Gargano through a table and proceeded to watch from the announce table, seated peacefully and attentively as medics checked on the fallen Johnny Wrestling to actually close out the show.

    Result

    The Authors of Pain defeated DIY

    Grade

    A

    Analysis

    The match itself was the perfect war to settle the score between these two teams. The spots were brutal, violent, high-risk and reflective of two teams seeking to bring their differences to a fitting conclusion.

    The Authors winning was the right choice, as was the breakup of DIY.

    The execution of Ciampa's heel turn was as great as any angle WWE has executed in recent years. From the placement of the graphics to tease the end of the show and the intensity, followed by scary calmness shown by Ciampa afterward, it was a joy to watch.

    There was a poeticism and artistry in the story told by DIY both in the context of the match and afterward that has fans ready to witness the coming chapters in their novel.

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