On a night where three titles were on the line, it was the two contests that settled a fued that stole the show as NXT took over Chicago, Illinois.
NXT Tag Team Titles: Undisputed Era (C) (Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong) vs Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan
Result: Unsdisputed Era
Undisputed Era held on to their NXT Tag Team Titles in a phenomenal match-up. Lorcan and Burch looked set to capture the gold with a doomsday uppercut, only for Adam Cole to pull Kyle O’Reilly out of the ring, which got Cole removed from ringside by the referee. After a series of close submissions and an all out strike fest between the four, Strong and O’Reilly hit their version of Total Elimination for the win. It was a shame that Lorcan and Burch got no reaction on the way out, but they certainly earned the crowds respect with an impressive all-out brawl.
Ricochet vs Velveteen Dream
Ricochet beat Velveteen Dream in an sublime showcase between the two. Velveteen aped Ricochet several times with high flying, high impact maneuvers, punctuated with Velveteen Dream hitting a death valley driver from the middle rope and then a superplex from the apron to the floor. Dream’s arrogance almost cost him when he began berating Ricochet, only to fall to his own Death Valley Bomb and the Purple Rainmaker for a near fall. Ricochet then missed a shooting star press, Dream missed his own Purple Rainmaker half way across the ring and Ricochet hit the 630 onto the back of Velveteen Dream for the win. Velveteen Dream’s Hulk Hogan-esque get up was great after Ricochet’s praise from The Rock, and Ricochet and Dream doing the Rock/Hogan stand-off ala Wrestlemania X8 was a lovely call-back. Absolutely phenomenal.
NXT Womens Title: Shanya Baszler (C) vs Nikki Cross
Result: Shanya Baszler
Shanya Baszler retained her NXT Womens Title in a fun brawl. Nikki Cross opened proceedings by asking Baszler to choke her out, and the story of this match was Cross throwing the champ of her game with her erratic antics. Following Baszler dropping Cross on the steel ramp, Baszler proceeded to brutalize Cross with Cross only seeming to enjoy it, absorbing punishment to dish out some of her own. Nikki Cross came close to winning with her spinning neckbreaker, this time from the top rope only for Baszler to get her foot on the rope. Shanya Baszler finally got the choke on Cross and after some struggling, Nikki smiled as she slowly faded away for the stoppage loss.
NXT Title: Aleister Black vs Lars Sullivan
Result: Aleister Black
Aleister Black made it three for three for the champions in a good match between the two. The match opened with Black countering the Freak Accident and then Lars Sullivan stopping the Black Mass again, so the story of this became ‘Can Alesiter actually hit Black Mass?’. A great big man versus little man contest, with Alesiter using his strikes and speed to counter Lars strength and power. Lars Sullivan went for his top-rope headbutt, but Black got his knee up, rocking Sullivan and giving the champ an opening. Lars worked the left knee of Black, even locking in a devastating stretch muffler, trying to negate the Black Mass alongside his massive feats of strength. Black kept on rallying and grazed Sullivan with a black mass for a near fall, then hit a flying knee and another Black Mass only for Sullivan to rise to his knees and ask for more. Black oblidged and hit a third Black Mass for the win. A decent title match.
Chicago Street Fight: Tomasso Ciampa vs Johnny Gargano
Grade: Tomasso Ciampa
Tomasso Ciampa squeaked past Johnny Gargano in another world-class match in their blood feud. The brawled through the crowd, with Gargano using a sign from a fan that conveniently had a stop sign inside and he then dove from the crowd onto Ciampa. They used all sorts of plunder including trash cans, chairs and crutches, with Ciampa taking control by wrapping a steel chair around Gargano’s neck and driving it into the steel steps following that up by throwing a trash can at a prone Gargano on the steps once more. Gargano showed signs of life, whipping Tomasso with his belt and then superkicking Ciampa who found himself inside a trash can. Tommaso then hit Project Ciampa and a pair of trash can lid assisted knees onto Gargano, then hit an air raid crash onto the steps. Tomasso Ciampa then exposed the wooden boards underneath the ring, and waffled Gargano with a trash can lid but then he hit his knee into the steel steps trying to finish off Gargano. Johnny saw blood in the water, smashing Ciampa’s injured knee with a steel chair. Ciampa took control once more, kneeing Gargano in the face and bludgeoning him with a crutch in the back of the neck. Ciampa then symbolically carried Gargano up the ramp in the same we he did a year ago, slamming him into the stage and kneeing him in the jaw once again. Ciampa then dragged Gargano onto a platform, and spat on Gargano’s wedding ring. Gargano then shocked Ciampa, scooping him up and air raid crashing him through two tables. At first, Gargano almost looked mournful at what he’d done. but then he went after a stretchered Ciampa, and despite several people trying to stop him, he cuffed Ciampa and superkicked him over and over and over, locking him in the GargaNo Escape, but then several people once again broke it up even though Ciampa was tapping out. Gargano fought through once again and got back into the ring, but a now uncuffed Ciampa caught Gargano with a rope-hung DDT onto the exposed wooden boards and crawled on top for the shocking win. An absolutely genius finish, better than their first match for my money.