Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Takeover: Chicago II
Date: June 16, 2018
Location: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
Commentators: Vic Joseph, Nigel McGuinness, Percy Watson
It’s time for a sequel and that means things might not be quite as good as it was before. However, the card looks very strong here with all five matches having the potential to steal the show. The main event will likely be Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano II in a street fight, which is completely different than an unsanctioned match. Let’s get to it.
The opening video focuses on pain, which every match on tonight’s card has felt in one way or another. As you might have guessed, the video shifts into focusing on Gargano vs. Ciampa, which is pretty easily the biggest thing on the card.
The announcers welcome Joseph for the night as Mauro Ranallo is off covering Showtime Boxing.
Tag Team Titles: Undisputed Era vs. Danny Burch/Oney Lorcan
Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly are defending and have Adam Cole in their corner. The fans are behind the champs here (well duh) as Strong headlocks Lorcan to start. It’s off to O’Reilly for a headlock takeover and some right hands to Burch’s head but Burch easily wins a slugout. Everything breaks down and Kyle gets suplexed onto Strong before the champs are sent to the floor.
That just leaves Burch and Lorcan to get booed out of the building as the heels are going to be over all night long. Back in and it’s Kyle taking a hard beating with Burch unloading on him in the corner. A distraction lets Strong dropkick Burch down though and the champs take over for the first time. Strong’s backbreaker gets two and a running kick to the face drops him again. We hit the armbar for a bit until Burch fights up for a heck of a headbutt to take O’Reilly down.
That’s enough for the hot tag off to Lorcan and it’s time for the running uppercuts. Lorcan nails a big running dive over the top and alternates chops to both champs. The double elevated DDT gets two on Strong but a Doomsday Device is broken up with Lorcan being shoved hard onto the apron. O’Reilly scores with an enziguri on Burch and the cross armbreaker goes on. Somehow that’s rolled over so Burch can grab a rope and the fans are NOT happy that he survived. Geez guys give the bald guys a chance.
The High/Low is broken up and Lorcan is back up with a double Blockbuster off the apron. Now the Doomsday Uppercut gets two as Cole pulls Strong out at the last second. That means an ejection and the fans now hate the referee too. Strong saves another elevated DDT but Lorcan suplexes his way out of a guillotine choke.
A blind tag brings Strong back in so Lorcan powerbombs him down as the referee tells them they have one minute left. The champs get caught in a double submission with O’Reilly having to kick Lorcan off a half crab to break up Burch’s Crossface. A slugout actually goes to the champs and the High/Low ends Lorcan at 15:59.
Rating: B. This was getting close to the great level and that’s a very solid place for an opener. They were also smart to let the fans cheer for the Undisputed Era early on as you know they’re going to be the most popular guys on the card all night long. Burch and Lorcan looked great here and they might have their day later on. This was all it needed to be though and you can probably have War Raiders waiting on the champs in Brooklyn.
With the champs gone, Lorcan and Burch get the standing ovation.
Kairi Sane is here.
We recap the Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet. The idea here is Ricochet gets a lot of attention due to being an athletic freak and it’s not cool with Dream that someone else is getting this kind of attention. Dream has said that anything Ricochet can do, he can do better. This caused Ricochet to hit a big flip dive the top to the ramp, leaving Dream speechless.
Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet
Dream is in full Hogan gear, with bandanna and a DREAM STILL OVER shirt, plus all the mannerisms, including the posing and swinging his arms back and forth. I saw Dream at a house show earlier this week and he was doing some Hogan offense so suddenly this makes a lot more sense. He also has some tights on that look a lot like Ricochet’s Prince Puma gear from Lucha Underground. Ricochet on the other hand now has full on superhero gear, complete with a cape designed to look like wings. The fans are behind Dream here and seem rather pleased when he strikes his pose.
They hit the mat with Ricochet grabbing a headscissors, making Dream lose his bandanna in the process. Dream’s running headscissors doesn’t work as Ricochet lands on his feet, meaning it’s time to start the flips. Ricochet flips off the ropes and moonsaults into his pose, frustrating Dream all over again. A springboard is broken up though and Ricochet lands throat first on the top rope to really cut him off. Back in and Dream drops him throat first across the ropes again, followed by a slow motion slingshot flip splash. A hip swivel neckbreaker gives Dream two and he wants the Bingo hall guy to get up.
Ricochet gets sent to the floor and a running springboard flip dive drops him again. Back in again and a chinlock doesn’t get Dream very far as the chant switches to BOTH THESE GUYS. Ricochet fights up and scores with a suicide dive, followed by a spinning flip dive over the top to really wake the fans up. The springboard back elbow and standing shooting star gives Ricochet two but he gets crotched on top. That means a super Death Valley Bomb for a very near fall as Dream was banged up off the landing.
Ricochet heads up again but this time it’s Dream suplexing him off the top and out to the floor in a very painful looking crash. The fans are VERY pleased and it’s even better when both guys dive back in at nine. Another Death Valley Bomb gives Dream a close two but his snap DDT is broken up. Ricochet’s back gives out on a suplex attempt so they trade kicks to the face instead. Now the DDT gives Dream two and the fans give both downed guys a standing ovation.
Dream says that he’s homegrown and Ricochet belongs in a Bingo hall so Ricochet comes back with a Death Valley Bomb of his own. Ricochet goes up, strikes Dream’s pose, and hits the Purple Rainmaker for a very close two. With Dream still rocked, Ricochet goes up for one of the longest shooting stars I’ve ever seen but it only hits knees. Ricochet is down in the other corner so Dream tries a Coast to Coast Purple Rainmaker but only hits mat (though he more than had the distance). The 630 gives Ricochet the pin at 22:18.
Rating: A. Can we get Dream a statue already? For someone who came over from Tough Enough, I don’t remember the last time he didn’t knock a big match out of the park. Throw in the great gear and story being told here of Dream doing everything Ricochet could do until he made the same mistake in the end and he’s just amazing. Ricochet shows that he could do more than fly too, which is a positive sign for someone so known for one style. Great match and another star making performance for both guys.
We recap Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross. Baszler took over the division by being a bully who broke all the rules. She bullies Dakota Kai so the insane Cross came to Kai’s defense and showed Baszler what it really meant to break the rules. Cross is just so out there that Baszler might not be able to handle her.
Women’s Title: Nikki Cross vs. Shayna Baszler
Baszler is defending. Shayna has her fists up to start but Cross stands there with her arms at her side. Cross tells Baszler to do it, motioning for the Kirifuda Clutch. Then she gets down on all fours to chase Baszler around and the champ is confused. Cross turns her back and offers a free chance, only to cut Baszler off with a growl. The first choke has Baszler in trouble and Cross ties her up in the ring skirt for some forearms to the back.
They fight on the ramp and this time Baszler drops her back first to slow Cross down for the first time. Back in and Baszler tries to smother Cross so Nikki comes up smiling. Well of course she does. The crowd is distracted by something as Baszler knees her in the face, only to have Cross block the second one.
The Clutch is reversed with a belly to back suplex and Cross kicks away in the corner. A layout reverse DDT (not the Slop Drop Nigel) on the apron gives Cross two and a handing swinging suplex gets the same. Shayna reverses another suplex into the Clutch and Cross is in trouble in the middle of the ring. Cross fights a lot but starts smiling before passing out at 9:26.
Rating: B-. Well that was disturbing, though completely the right way to go. Cross is so completely insane that it makes sense for her to enjoy being choked out in a loss. It was straight out of Raven vs. Chris Benoit at Souled Out 1998 and that’s what I was hoping to see coming into this. Not a great match, but I’m curious to see who goes after Baszler next as the division is absolutely stacked right now.
EC3 is here.
Keith Lee (making his debut) is here.
We recap the NXT Title match. This is a pretty basic idea as champion Aleister Black has been able to take care of anyone with Black Mass but Lars Sullivan is too strong for it to have much effect. Sullivan has dominated him for the most part and Black has to find a way to survive.
NXT Title: Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan
Black is defending and gets to do his rising up entrance. They stare each other down for a good while to start until Black starts in with the strikes. Both finishers are blocked early on so Black knocks him to the floor for a running forearm. Black comes off the apron with a Meteora but gets his head knocked off back inside. A running knee to the head gives Black one and it’s off to a Fujiwara armbar as they slow things down a bit. Black’s right hand is twisted around and a clothesline only hurts Black’s arm.
They head outside again and Sullivan catches Black’s middle rope moonsault (egads) and drops him face first onto the apron. Back in and we hit the chinlock to give them their first actual break. Black escapes a pop up powerslam but his rollup is countered into a World’s Strongest Slam for two. Now the pop up powerslam gets two more so Sullivan goes up, which can’t end well. Black kicks him in the head so Sullivan just smacks him in the face to put Black back down.
The top rope headbutt hits a raised knee, which thankfully hurts Black’s knee. I’ve never gotten why raising your knees doesn’t cause you damage right back so it’s nice to see for a change. Black’s knee is fine enough to speed up the strikes and the standing Lionsault gives the champ a near fall of his own. Black Mass is blocked again so Sullivan goes after the knee again. We hit a Brock Lock for a good while until the Freak Accident is countered into a DDT for a double knockdown.
Sullivan is up first and gets two more off the top rope headbutt. Black avoids a charge and stomps on the back but misses Black Mass by a good six inches. That gets two anyway, but no reaction as they couldn’t hide how off that was. Another jumping knee to the face sets up Black Mass (to the arm) but Sullivan gets up anyway. With Sullivan on his knees, Black Mass catches him on the top of the head to retain Black’s title at 14:29.
Rating: B+. Missed Black Masses aside, this was a heck of a fight with Black throwing everything he had at the monster in something close enough to Vader vs. Sting to be the classic formula. Just having Black go at him that hard and finally pull it off in the end was the right call and Sullivan can be back with some dominant squashes so he’ll be fine. This is a classic story and it’s always going to work if you can make the fans get behind the underdog, even if that’s the champion.
We recap Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano. They used to be best friends but last year, in this building, Ciampa stabbed him in the back out of jealousy. Gargano defeated Ciampa in an incredible unsanctioned match in New Orleans but Ciampa couldn’t let it die. Therefore, more attacks ensued and it’s time for a street fight rematch. The other important note is Johnny’s wife Candice LeRae, who got caught in the cross hairs and doesn’t approve of Johnny being in the fight again.
Gargano is walking through the back when Candice comes up to him and gives Johnny the broken crutch from New Orleans. Candice: “Kick his a**!”
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano
Street fight. Ciampa has his own crutch and they’re both in street clothes. They swing the crutches at each other to start before just going with the punches. They’re on the floor in a hurry with Gargano throwing him over the announcers’ table and then fighting into the crowd. Gargano finds a USE THIS SIGN JOHNNY and bashes Ciampa in the head with it, revealing a stop sign inside. A high crossbody off a platform crushes Ciampa again and it’s time to go back to ringside with Gargano throwing some weapons inside.
Ciampa shrugs off the left hands for some rolling German suplexes to work on Gargano’s bad neck. Gargano knocks him to the floor again and scores with a suicide dive. A whip into the barricade gets Ciampa out of trouble and it’s time for a chair and a trashcan lid. The chair gets wrapped around Gargano’s head and Ciampa sends it straight into the steps. Ciampa pelts the trashcan at his head and Johnny is bleeding from the hand. It’s handcuffs time and you can tell the fans are nervous about where this is going.
Ciampa can’t get them on so Gargano goes with the slingshot spear instead. Gargano takes his belt off and gives Ciampa the whipping that he deserves. The trashcan goes over Ciampa’s head for the low superkick but of course it’s too early for a cover. Instead Gargano puts the trashcan in the corner, allowing Ciampa to hit Project Ciampa. The knee to the face gets two and a running knee into a trashcan lid into Gargano’s head knocks him even sillier. They head to the apron and White Noise onto the steps gives Ciampa another close two.
We need more weapons so Ciampa pulls out….bolt cutters? He starts cutting the ropes that hold the mat to the bottom of the ring and pulls the canvas and mat away, revealing the plywood. Ciampa puts him on the top and tells Gargano that he deserves this, but a super White Noise is countered. Gargano can’t get a sunset bomb, even as he pulls Ciampa’s pants half down. Instead he settles for a superkick to bring Ciampa back down and it’s time for a slugout.
Ciampa hits a crutch shot while Gargano gets in a trashcan lid shot, knocking them both down at the same time with Gargano falling on top for two. Gargano tries a slingshot dive but goes straight into a trashcan lid shot to the head. The running knee (the bad one mind you) hits the steps and Ciampa is in trouble again. He takes the brace off so Gargano hammers away at the knee, even beating on it with a chair. Ciampa is fine enough to kick Gargano into the chair in the corner and the Gargano Escape has Gargano in big trouble.
That’s let go as Ciampa wants the STF with a crutch like Gargano used in New Orleans. With that not working either, Ciampa fixes his knee brace as Gargano is getting to his feet. A crutch shot to the back of the neck only gets two and Ciampa is getting even madder. Gargano is almost out on his feet so Ciampa takes him up the ramp while shouting about how they used to be friends. It’s time for Gargano to say goodbye to everything and Ciampa sends him into the set, just like he did last year.
Ciampa says it’s never enough and takes him on top of some equipment, above a pair of tables. He even takes off Gargano’s wedding ring, spits on it, and throws it away. That fires Gargano up enough to hit his own White Noise through the tables and they’re both done. Fans: “MAMA MIA!” Medics come out to put a neck brace on Ciampa as Gargano sits from above and watches the stretcher come out. The fans tell Gargano to DO IT but he just watches as Ciampa is put on a table.
Gargano looks at his ring finger and that’s enough to send him after Ciampa again. He wheels Ciampa back down to ringside and slaps on the Gargano Escape for the tap but there’s no referee. Instead Gargano beats up some guys in suits for trying to make a save and cuffs Ciampa’s hands behind his back. Six straight superkicks set up another Gargano Escape so here are a bunch of guys to break it up. The referee is finally back as Gargano beats up the suits, but Ciampa catches him with a hanging DDT onto the exposed boards for the pin at 35:22.
Rating: A+. That ending was sick with the thud being as cringe inducing of a sound as I’ve heard in a long time. Ciampa winning was the right call of course and it was an incredible fight until we got there. The first match was more about just having the two of them hit each other as much as they could but this was all about the violence and the weapons, with Gargano going so far over the line that he got caught in the end, which adds another layer to the story. I have no idea what they have planned for the final match, but they’ve got their work cut out for them.
The fans are STUNNED at the ending and you can feel the air go out of the place. Ciampa can barely move but gives an evil smile as he pulls himself up the aisle using the stretcher. He waves goodbye to Gargano as the fans swear at him a lot to end the show.
Overall Rating: A+. The two creepy smiles carry this one as far as it needs to go and the matches were as great as they could have been. This was much more about the violence and the action and that’s exactly what we got all night long. It’s another incredible show as NXT had its foot on the gas all night long. I know I keep saying they can’t get better than this, but I’m getting tired of being wrong. Bring on Brooklyn, as things might even be better there if that’s possible. Another incredible show, as you kind of have to expect.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!