NXT TakeOver: Chicago
June 16, 2018
Allstate Arena
Rosemont, Illinois

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers

  • Suit Williams: He’s watching the go-home episode of NXT while writing this, but doesn’t think any of his picks will be changed from it. You can see more of his writing on this website, on PWPonderings covering Progress Wrestling, and you can hear him on the Smark Sports podcast. You can follow him on Twitter, @SuitWilliams.
  • Jeff Martin: Two previews in one week? What am I, Superman? For wrassle-takes and more Seinfeld jokes, follow Jeff on Twitter @HEATcomic. Or just buy the comic books he makes, because that mortgage doesn’t pay itself.

NXT Women’s Championship
Shayna Baszler © vs. Nikki Cross

Suit Williams: This match feels like it’s happening a little too early. I would’ve like to have seen them hold off on the Dakota Kai match until here, to both elevate Kai a little and to really put over Baszler’s bully story before she started showing vulnerability to Cross. Regardless, the ex(?)-Sanity member gets the title shot here. Nikki is very over to the NXT crowd, but I doubt she wins it here. I’m loving Baszler’s work right now, and cutting it off here would be far too soon. Baszler chokes out Cross and moves on. Prediction: Shayna Baszler

Jeff Martin: I fully expected this to be where the Dakota Kai match happened, and agree with Suit that this match with Cross feels rushed. This really comes off more like a pit-stop on the way to a higher-profile Baszler/Kai rematch than it does a featured Takeover match. Cross will likely get a better match out of Shayna, though, as Baszler still has some rough edges between the ropes. As an aside, there’s a particular riff in Shayna’s theme that is just perfect, and gets me hyped up to see her beat somebody up. Nikki Cross will probably have something to say about who’s taking the beating, though. Prediction: Shayna Baszler.

Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream

Suit Williams: We saw a preview of this match a few weeks ago before Lars Sullivan involved himself, and if that was anything to go by, this match should be fantastic. All of Velveteen Dream’s feuds come down to him just wanting attention, but he has a knack for making his feuds the talk of NXT. Last year’s much-praised feud with Aleister Black was much like this feud with Ricochet, where he gets in the face of the hyped-up indy guy, loses, and still gets over in the process. I doubt Ricochet will lose his first one-on-one Takeover match, so I’ll pick him here. Prediction: Ricochet

Jeff Martin: Velveteen Dream is one of the best promos to come through WWE land in ages. Everything he says is so smooth and natural, and he’s excellent at pulling the viewer into his world. Ricochet is, much to my surprise, ALSO a really good promo. Given how good their truncated singles match was, and how much chemistry they’ve shown in their verbal sparring, I’m very excited to see how this one turns out. I expect it to be incredible, and for people to IMMEDIATELY start comparing it to the Aleister Black vs. Dream match from 2017, thus sucking a lot of the afterglow away from it. It’ll also be a challenge for Dream; Ricochet is one of the smoothest wrestlers in the world, and if Dream has some clunky moments they’re going to be amplified. This is my most-anticipated match on this show, but the result seems fairly straightforward – Ricochet is on his way to being a big goddamn deal in NXT. Prediction: Ricochet

Chicago Street Fight
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano

Suit Williams: This feud has gone pretty long in the tooth for me. If the feud was meant to keep going, why have Gargano win in New Orleans? I would think you would save the big Gargano win for the end, because now, the feud has lost some juice. It also doesn’t help that it’s become insufferably melodramatic. With the Gargano retirement tease that was shallower than a kiddie pool, to NXT-signed professional wrestler Candice LeRae getting knocked out from Gargano falling off of the apron on her, this has gone from a great feud to WWE STORYTELLING. I hope it ends here, but I have a feeling that this is the Infinity War part of the feud where Ciampa wins, before Gargano finally puts him away in the unnamed Avengers 4 match. I guess that makes Candice Captain Marvel. Ciampa wins, and I give it a 70% chance Gargano does another stretcher job. Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa

Jeff Martin: I’m still really into this feud, but it feels like the structure has been off. Given the emotional arc of the feud, the street fight and the unsanctioned match should have switched places, with Ciampa causing Gargano to lose the title versus career match to Almas in between the two. Every segment between these two is compelling, with a raw energy that is completely absent on the main roster – even if it has been hampered a bit by structural issues, there’s a visceralness that overrides such concerns. Ciampa hasn’t won a match in the feud, so he needs to if it’s going to continue without interruption. If they’re going to split apart for a while and come back together when one of them has the NXT Title… Ciampa should still probably win this one, unless Gargano is the next NXT Title challenger. Preview Prediction: Johnny Gargano

NXT Tag Team Championship
The Undisputed Era vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch

Suit Williams: After being the best job guy in NXT history over the past two years, Oney Lorcan finally gets some semblance of a push with his British doppelganger Danny Burch. Seriously, Oney Lorcan has had awesome squash matches against guys like Hideo Itami and Drew McIntyre over the years, and has made the most of his position to the point where Full Sail has really taken to him. Now, he and Burch get a hard-work reward of a tag title match on a Takeover. I mean, they’ll lose, but it’s still nice to see them get this pat on the back. Strong and O’Reilly win a match I predict to be fantastic. Prediction: The Undisputed Era

Jeff Martin: Roderick Strong is the only guy in the Undisputed Era that doesn’t come off like a huge dork to me. O’Reilly is still delivering in the ring, but his character no longer matches his ring style. I can’t imagine it’s not the result of being told he needs to show a WWE level of personality, but it hasn’t worked for me thus far. Burch and Lorcan, on the other hand, are pretty much exactly what you would expect Kyle O’Reilly to be, and they’re perfect fits. Those two rugged, blue collar ass-kickers – who have a lot of the same charm that the Revival had in NXT – have served as the springboard for a revitalization of the tag team division after the exit of the Authors of Pain and Sanity. I’d love to see Burch and Lorcan pull off an upset here to keep this feud going for a while longer. Preview Prediction: Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch

NXT Championship
Aleister Black © vs. Lars Sullivan

Suit Williams: Now to the NXT Title match, which feels like a complete afterthought behind the Gargano/Ciampa and Ricochet/Dream feuds. It feels like Black is a background champion with all of this more interesting stuff going on around him. Meanwhile, this feud is very simple. Black can’t hit Lars with his move, the Black Mass. Lars laid him out a couple times and that’s it. This is going to be Lars’s first big boy match, and I hope that he pulls through. He is a freaky looking man, and WWE needs a few more of those around. My hope is that Black hits his move and Lars just no-sells it and beats him. However, I think that Black will hit his move and win. Prediction: Aleister Black

Jeff Martin: Has the NXT Title match ever seemed this secondary on a Takeover show? Arguably, in terms of build, it’s the fifth most important match on the show. Black really hasn’t put his stamp on the championship – he’s just kind of there. Mauro Ranallo calling Lars Sullivan a Jack Kirby drawing come to life will forever be my favourite call he’s made, but there hasn’t been enough emphasis on nude Gorilla Grodd to make me think he’s got a real chance to win the gold. This seems like a placeholder defence to give Black an impressive win and set him up for his next challenger – likely the winner of Ciampa/Gargano, or Ricochet. Preview Prediction: Aleister Black