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    Saturday, June 16, 2018

    Smark Hen-XT (6/13/18): TakeOver: Chicago II Predictions

    TakeOver: Chicago is already this Sunday (Philippine time)! It definitely has big shoes to fill following an (almost-)perfect TakeOver: New Orleans. But if there's something we learned in the past, it's to never doubt NXT and everyone's abilities to take our collective breaths away during TakeOver events.

    Now, let's go through the card!

    NXT Tag Team Championship: The Undisputed ERA (Kyle O'Reilly and Roderick Strong) (w/ North American Champion Adam Cole) vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch

    My heart says the BritAm Brawlers will shut the yapping of the Undisputed ERA by taking the gold away from their waists, but my mind says the little shits of the ERA will retain. As much as I love an underdog story, I'm afraid that I'm going to follow my head here and say that the Undisputed ERA are retaining. Lorcan and Burch ARE FREAKING UNDERRATED GUYS, but I'm afraid that they aren't on the championship level yet. They just had too many losses in the past, and while I'm happy that they got this opportunity, it looked like it was out of nowhere. Sure, Oney pinned Kyle that one time, but that win needed a build.

    This is a great opportunity to explore Lorcan and Burch's character, though, so I hope they don't float around the tag team scene after this.

    NXT Women' Championship: Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Nikki Cross

    This is a tough one to call because I love both women, and they have done SO MUCH in just a limited amount of time to hype their match up. Shayna has been doing great as the champion, and there's still so much to explore with the pool of babyface contenders NXT has right now, but Nikki's a hot cannon waiting to explode. With that said, pull the freaking trigger on Nikki Cross now! I just want her to be champion, guys. :( Maybe set up a rematch at TakeOver: Brooklyn IV and let Shayna make history by being a two-time champion. I would have loved it even more if Nikki ran amok at the division for a really long time, but Shayna has the division in the palm of her hand.

    The Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet

    OMG YOU GUYS. This match is going to blow our socks off and snatch everyone's wigs backstage. Another tough one to call, but I hope The Velveteen Dream wins this one. He's lost a couple of big matches in the past, and losing another one might stall him and his momentum. Sure, he still has a lot of gas in the tank (reminding everyone that he's only twenty-freaking-three years young), but it's going to be a shame if he doesn't get to be a champion or be a contender for the title anytime soon. Regardless of the result, we are the real winners from this match, because this will definitely be MOTN.

    NXT Championship: Aleister Black (c) vs. Lars Sullivan

    This might be for the NXT title, but this is the least interesting match for me (sorry champ). I like Aleister a lot, and Lars is one scary mfer, but I'm still not buying him taking the title away from The One Who Fades People to Black, so Aleister Black is retaining here. I appreciate Creative's efforts to make Lars a monster, though.

    Chicago Street Fight: Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa

    The former #DIY is back to where all this animosity started, and for Tommaso Ciampa, it has come full circle. Johnny Wrestling's win at NOLA gave the fans an initial feel-good winthe good winning over the evilbut just like in the movies, the villain has to make a comeback at some point. And this is Tommaso Ciampa's comeback. With the Psycho Killer taking a W here, it also conveniently sets them up for a rubber match in TakeOver: Brooklyn IV. Now that they have done an unsanctioned match and a Chicago Street Fight, I wonder what's next for this intense rivalry? *coughHELLINACELLcough*

    Who do you have, guys? Share them in the comments section!


    Rest of the show

    • War Raiders def. Ricky Martinez and Justin Storm: Nothing to see here. Hanson and Rowe played around for a bit with Martinez and Storm when they could have just quickly finished them off. But it was clearly a message they sent to the newly-christened The Mighty when they called the hoss duo out last week. I really like both teams, so I hope this angle turns into something. They're both too good to flounder around the division.

      While NXT may get a lot of well-deserved loving from everyone, one of the show's Creative's flaws is seemingly failing to build the tag team midcard scene. Sure, they may have compelling stories between two (or three in some cases, e.g. Undisputed ERA, Authors of Pain, Roddy-Pete) who are in the title scene, but they seem to have nothing outside of it. Hopefully this storyline drought for both teams end here. 
    • EC3 def. Kassius Ohno: We got this match after EC3 somewhat insulted Ohno last week while he was doing a photoshoot. The Top One Percenter being great at his character and the Knockout Artist putting someone over aren't new anymore, but Ohno's mean streak perhaps is worth noting. He beat up EC3 for the most part, until he became open for a TKO after running to the ropes. The commentary kept on mentioning how frustrated he is with his losses, so I'm still hoping we get something out of this. 
    • Bianca Belair def. Aliyah: Holy shit, Bianca Belair is so freakishly good. That's not new anymore, but I just have to say it whenever she gets TV time because she really is. She looked like a million bucks in this match because The -Est of NXT womanhandled Aliyah but she somehow did it with grace. Post-match, she interrupted an interview with Dakota Kai, setting up a match between them for next week, so that will be great.
    • Pete Dunne def. Kyle O'Reilly to retain the WWE UK Championship: If there is something you should (AND YOU REALLY SHOULD) watch from this week's episode, it's this excellent 10-minute classic from the Bruiserweight and our beloved little shit (and low-key Best Bout Machine) Kyle. Both are technical, hard-hitting guys who will hurt each other if given a chance, and we got that. I was actually expecting a run-in from the Undisputed ERA mid-match to cause a DQ finish and it was a good booking decision that they let both these guys go. This is the most NJPW match NXT has done. People are claiming that this is this year's best TV match and it's hard to argue. The post-match beatdown of the Undisputed ERA by Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch after making the save for Peter is cathartic in a way and it really shifted the momentum to the side of the BritAm Brawlers. 
    • Lars Sullivan lays Aleister Black to waste and claims he will never Fade to Black: Man, I like Aleister a lot, but this build for the championship match was forgettable that I honestly forgot about this segment. It's a shame though, because the way Lars entered into the title picture was actually pretty good, I'm not sure what happened on our way here. Anyway, this segment was simple. Aleister came out to warn Lars that he is going to win at Chicago. Lars came out and beat the crap out of the champion via two Freak Accidents inside the ring. Lars brought out Aleister to the announce table, and Mauro Ranallo made a nice comparison about Aleister being an offering to the altar of Lars Sullivan. Meh. I'm fairly new to NXT, but I guess this is the most underwhelming build to the title match at TakeOver I have ever seen. Here's to hoping these two guys will prove me wrong. 


    The past few TakeOver go-home shows have disappointed me quite a bit, but this week's episode was different. Big props to the WWE UK championship match. This gets an A-.

    Photos from WWE.com

    Ardelle Costuna works at a news organization somewhere along EDSA whenever she's not watching wrestling. As someone who just recently turned to Japanese wrestling (full-time ish), she is a sucker for no-sold German suplexes, kick-outs at one-count, and whatever the hell Tetsuya Naito is doing right now. Send her your (joshi) puroresu match recommendations and watch her swoon over Kenny Omega, and Jake Lee at @aandthejets.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark Hen-XT (6/13/18): TakeOver: Chicago II Predictions Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ardelle Costuna
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