Preview by Joseph Currier
Money in the Bank weekend begins on Saturday night as the Allstate Arena hosts NXT TakeOver: Chicago.
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa are returning to the same arena where their feud began. Ciampa turned against Gargano at the end of last year's Chicago TakeOver, and now their street fight could headline on Saturday night. Gargano is looking to end their feud after having already defeated Ciampa over WrestleMania weekend.
There will also be three title matches: NXT Champion Aleister Black defending against Lars Sullivan, Nikki Cross challenging NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler, and NXT Tag Team Champions The Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly & Roderick Strong) putting their titles on the line against Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch. The card will be rounded out with a potential show-stealer as Ricochet has his first big singles match in NXT, facing Velveteen Dream.
The special begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Before that, there will be a 30-minute pre-show with Charly Caruso, Sam Roberts, and Pat McAfee.
Welcome to our live coverage of NXT Takeover: Chicago.
The pre-show got uderway with the co-hosts doing a hard-sell for the show. So far among the panelists, Charly Caruso is the best host since Renee Young. Being a longtime wrestling fan and a seasoned media personality, Sam Roberts has the product knowledge and passion. Likewise, Pat McAfee is the wackiest co-host since Todd Penttengill.
With the first few minutes of the pre-show, McAfee revealed the jean shorts and sneakers he was wearing to compliment is suit jacket and tie. He seemed over-the-top and bombastic -- but that's just Pat McAfee. Roberts played straight man to McAfee's jokes. McAfee is a former punter in the NFL turned comedian and media personality.
EC3 joined the panel at one point. McAfee buddied up to him as he put over EC3's tan. Later on, Adam Cole stopped by the set to insult McAfee. The two previously did an angle together at a house show. Tonight, Cole cut a promo on McAfee. Cole also insulted his jorts, and called him a dork.
The opening match on the main card is the tag team title match.
NXT Tag Team Champions Kyle O'Reilly & Roderick Strong defeated Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch to retain their titles
Strong pinned Lorcan after a double-team of stereo running knee strikes to end a hot match. The crowd was lit as a "Undisputed" chant broke out early on. The match would not disappoint.
O'Reilly and Lorcan started. Lorcan & Burch gained an early advantage, and the Undisputed Era took a powder. Using teamwork, Strong did a dropkick through the ropes to the outside to cut off the challengers. The Undisputed Era cut the ring in half as they worked over Burch.
Strong missed a running knee for a hope spot. O'Reilly and Burch headbutted each other for a double down that led to a hot tag. Lorcan ran wild into a flip dive to the outside.
in the ring, Lorcan got a nearfall after a running uppercut. Lorcan did a double blockbuster. Lorcan & Burch hit a spike DDT for a nearfall. They went for a Doomsday Device, but Lorcan was shoved off the top rope.
A slugfest between Lorcan and O'Reilly led into a nearfall for O'Reilly from a brainbuster. O'Reilly went for an armbar, and Lorcan got an epic rope rope. After a flurry of double-team offense by the Undisputed, Burch countered into a comeback for his team.
Lorcan did a double blockbuster on the floor. Lorcan & Burch then executed a Doomsday Debice uppercut. Cole interfered to break up the pinning attempt. Cole was ejected from ringside.
O'Reilly applied a guillotine choke, and Lorcan suplexed free from his grasp. Following a powerbomb nearfall, Lorcan transitioned into a half crab. O'Reilly tried to make the save, but he got caught in a crossface by Burch. That led into a huge slugfest in the closing moments. Axe & Smash hit Burch -- then double running knees finished him off for the pinfall.
Ricochet defeated Velveteen Dream
Ricochet pinned Dream after a 630 bomb in an electric match.
Dream was dressed like Hulk Hogan. He even did some Hulkster ear-cupping during his entrance. Ricochet had a cape.
They began with chain wrestling. Ricochet went into array of flips to gain an early advantage. Dream blocked a springboard to cut off Ricochet. Dream mocked Ricochet with a flip of his own. Dream then started working over Ricochet.
Dream shoved Ricochet out of the ring to dash a hope spot. Dream followed by springboarding to the outside. That kept with the theme of Dream saying anything Ricochet can do, he can do it better. That remains to be seen.
Ricochet landed a dropkick, and he launched into a comeback with a tope suicida and a Fozbury Flop. A springboard uppercut gave Ricochet a near fall on Dream. A standing shooting star press got another two count.
An avalanche Death Valley bomb by Dream led to Ricochet miraculously kicking out. Dream superplexed Ricochet off the apron for a crazy bump on the floor. A Death Valley bomb in the ring by Dream led to another near fall.
They traded strikes and fighting spirit. After a series of exchanges and counters, Dream got a near fall from a DDT. Both were down in the ring and the crowd was coming alive with chants and high energy.
Dream talked trash, and he was caught with a Death Valley bomb. Ricochet went for Dream's finisher. Ricochet posed like Dream and dropped a flying elbow for a two count. Ricochet went for a shooting star off the top, but Dream got his knees up to block the move. Ricochet still kicked out.
Dream crashed and burned on a high risk move off the top. Ricochet capitalized by hitting his 630 bomb finisher for the pinfall.
NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler defeated Nikki Cross to retain her title
Baszler retained via ref stoppage after Cross passed out in a choke. Cross still got over by doing a Mankind gimmick of liking the pain despite her losing the match.
At the outset, Cross begged Baszler to strike her. Cross went for a sleeper, and Baszler countered with a choke. Cross escaped and moments later trapped Baszler in the ring skirting.
Cross was riding Baszler like a jockey on the outside when Baszler fell backwards -- slamming Cross into the metal ramp. Baszler started working over Cross when the crowd became distracted by something happening elsewhere that could have been a beach ball.
Baszler kept hitting Cross with knee strikes. Cross smiled and begged for more as she started a rabid comeback. Cross got a two count off a flying crossbody. She got another near fall after a slop drop on the apron.
They both traded near falls. Cross hit her swinging neckbreaker, but Baszler got a foot on the bottom rope to break the count. Baszler then applied a chokehold. Cross smiled as she went to sleep.
NXT Champion Aleister Black defeated Lars Sullivan to retain his title
Black pinned Sullivan after hitting Black Mass for a David vs. Goliath finish. Sullivan looked strong playing the monster, and Black slayed the beast.
They had a staredown in the beginning. Sullivan blocked Black Mass in a callback to the buildup.
The fight soon spilled to the floor. Black rained down double knees off the apron. A knee strike by Black led to a two count. Sullivan used his power to gain the advantage.
They fought outside again where Black rammed Sullivan into a ring post. Black went for moonsault, but Sullivan caught him to deliver snake eyes on the apron. Sullivan grounded Black and began mauling him.
Sullivan went for a flying headbutt, and Black blocked it with a knee. Black made a comeback. Sullivan cut him off and applied a horsecollar submission. Sullivan went for the Freak Accident, and Black countered with a DDT. He still could not finish Sullivan. Sullivan powerslammed Black on the apron. Sullivan followed with a diving headbutt for a close near fall.
Black managed to drop Sullivan with a version of Black Mass. Sullivan still kicked out. Sullivan blocked a second attempt and went for the Freak Accident. Black countered and hit Black Mass. The monster fell and rose again. Black hit another Black Mass to finally slay the monster and score the pin.
Tommaso Ciampa defeated Johnny Gargano in a Chicago Street Fight
Ciampa pinned Gargano after a DDT out of nowhere on exposed wooden boards in the ring. This was a wild and brutal brawl.
Candice LeRae stopper her husband on his way to Gorilla. She gave him a crutch to use as a weapon. LeRae also told him to "kick his ass!"
Ciampa came out with a crutch of his own to use. Both fought in street clothes -- bunkhouse style.
A brawl erupted at the start. Gargano threw Ciampa over the announce desk. The fought into the crowd. Channeling Tommy Dreamer against Raven, they used a stop sign disguised as a fan's carboard sign. The crowd chanted "ECW" so the extreme spirit lives on. They began using even more weapons like a trash can and a chair.
Ciampa started a series of rolling German suplexes. Gargano countered with a weapon shot -- then Gargano did a dive to the outside. The fight would continue on the floor.
Ciampa placed a chair around the neck of Gargano, and Ciampa rammed Gargano into the ring steps. Ciampa hit Gargano with shots from a trash can. Gargano began bleeding, though not badly.
Gargano took off his belt and vicously whipped Ciampa. The crowd chanted, "You deserve it!"
Ciampa wore a trash can on his head for Gargano to hit him with a superkick. Ciampa countered moments later with strikes from a trash can lid. Ciampa gave Gargano an Emerald Fusion off the apron onto the ring steps.
Ciampa cut the strings that strapped the canvas to the ring. Ciampa then pulled back the mats to expose the wooden boards on the ring. Keep that in mind for later.
In between the remodeling, Ciampa struck Gargano with a stiff chair shot. Ciampa teased doing an avalanche Emerald Fusion, and Gargano teased doing a sunset flip bomb. Gargano settled for superkicking Ciampa.
They traded strikes for a "boo/yay" spot. They traded weapon shots, and Gargano got a close near fall. Ciampa hit Gargano with a trash can lid when Gargano went for a plancha to the outside.
Gragano targeted Ciampa's knee brace when Ciampa went to adjust it. After Gargano brutalized Ciampa's knee, Ciampa locked in the Gargano Escape crossface. Gargano managed to escape.
Ciampa measured Gargano for a shot with a crutch. Somehow Gargano still kicked out. Ciampa began to stalk Gargano, and he dragged Gargano up the ramp to continue administering a beating.
With both perched atop crates, Ciampa took off Gargano's wedding ring and spat on it. Ciampa flung the ring into the crowd. That fired up Gargano. He gave Ciampa an Emerald Fusion off the crates through a table on the floor.
Medical staff and officials poured out for a stretcher job. They put a neck collar on Ciampa as they placed him on a backboard. Gargano stared at his bare ring finger, and his seething anger grew.
While Ciampa was strapped to a gurney, Gargano rolled him to the ring and unstrapped the gurney. Gargano applied a crossface, and Ciampa tapped out. However, no referee was there at that time. Officials tried to break it up, but Gargano snapped on them.
Gragano handcuffed Ciampa and Gargano began hitting a series of superkicks. Gargano again applied the crossface. Ciampa tapped once more -- but still no referee in sight. Officials in suits piled into the ring to break up the submission hold.
Out of nowhere, Ciampa DDT'd Gargano on the exposed wooden boards in the ring. Ciampa covered Gargano and a referee counted the pinfall.