It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time for the Yellow Brand to get some shine! Tonight’s show from Full Sail opens with a preview of the Strong-Itami #1 Contenders match, and then we head to the ring for the coming of everyone’s favorite NXT anti-hero.
Aleister Black vs. Cezar Bonani
First off, Black’s entrance is simply AMAZING. Now that I have seen it a few times, I have really been able to see how much thought was put into it and it shows. Bonani is already in the ring and stands face to face with Black as the bell rings. He eventually pays for it by going down after a few strikes that take him to the outside. He loses a striking battle again upon his return to the ring but he rises and gets a 2 count after a dropkick. A third striking battle ensues and all of the counters end with Black missing a roundhouse and immediately catching Bonani with a follow up knee strike to the face. The stoic Black then counters another Bonani kick by spinning him around and kneeing him in the back, then picks up the 3 count after a Black Mass on a surprised Bonani as he turns around.
My Take: The crowd is really buying in to Black, even with the squashes. This bodes very well for him moving forward. Hopefully we will see him in a TV main event sooner rather than later.
Now we go back to last week and see footage of the women’s #1 Contender battle royal. It includes bonus footage of William Regal telling Asuka that she will face all 3 women that she took out, in a title match at Takeover. Next we get a medical update that Ember Moon suffered a Grade 1 shoulder sprain and that she will not be able to compete in the title match and that the title match is just a triple threat between Asuka, Nikki Cross, and Ruby Riot. The cameras catch up with Ember at the Performance Center and she expresses her disappointment. Just before break we see Roderick Strong warming up for tonight’s main event.
After the break we get official confirmation that Tyler Bate will defend the WWE United Kingdom Title against Pete Dunne at Takeover: Chicago. The standard video package for Dunne follows. Continuing with the video package theme of the night, we head to a detailed video package on Ruby Riot. She talks about her tattoos and how each of them have a meaning, and then she talks about how her winning the title will validate every tough choice and sacrifice she has made in her career. Moving on, we go to a sit down interview with Nikki Cross. After chasing off the production assistants, she proceeds to ramble on and on while asking where is Asuka and repeatedly calling Ruby’s name. Pretty good creepy stuff here. We switch gears and briefly see Hideo Itami warming up in the back, but then we roll into a Drew McIntyre interview backstage. He says the main event should be pretty good but that he is disappointed that he is not in the match. He says he has learned over the years that sometimes you have to make things happen, but then he is interrupted by Wesley Blake. Blake says he deserves a second chance more than McIntyre and encourages Drew to leave, again. There is no break as we head into a Velveteen Dream vignette, then return to the ring where #DIY is already standing by. They talk about how they are ready for their title rematch with the Authors of Pain and that the other teams need to get in line behind them. This brings out Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli, with mics. They state that the line starts behind them and Ciampa interrupts to tell them that they just crossed the only line, then #DIY goes right at them and knocks them out of the ring. Moss and Sabbatelli then say that they want a match, and the bell rings. Here we go!
#DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommasso Ciampa) vs. Riddick Moss and Tino Sabbatelli
Moss and Ciampa start us off and Moss gets the upper hand early with a fallaway slam and both he and Sabbatelli pound away on Ciampa in the corner. An assisted dropkick garners a 2 count for Tino and he takes his time beating on Ciampa before tagging out to Moss, who gets a 2 count. Yet another tag brings in Tino, who grounds The Psycho Killer with a chinlock. Ciampa finally gets on offense with a suplex and a double tag brings in Moss and Gargano. Johnny is on fire with a kick and a neckbreaker, and ends the burst with a spear from the apron for a 2 count. Chaos ensues with all 4 men going at it until Ciampa hits a knee strike which knocks Moss off the apron, allowing Gargano to hit a suicide dive onto him, and then Ciampa launches off the apron and nails Sabbatelli with a knee drop on the arena floor. Back inside the ring now and #DIY wraps this all up immediately with the Meeting In The Middle, and the 3 count. After the match, William Regal comes out and says that it is obvious that there is only one team that deserves the tag title match at Takeover. He is then interrupted by Paul Ellering and AOP. Ellering says if #DIY gets back in the ring with his Team Of Destiny, that it will be the end of Gargano and Ciampa’s careers. Regal says he is willing to risk it and officially awards #DIY the match. Ellering and his men start to walk off and then Regal tells them to stick around for the stipulation: it will be a ladder match. The segment ends with #DIY excited, and Ellering & Co. beside themselves.
My Take: Well that turned out to be better than I thought it would be. Like, 1000x better than the shitshow I envisioned when the match started. I see a tiny bit of potential in Sabbatelli. As for the title match, it may turn out to be the shitshow I thought this match would be. I hope I’m wrong but, eh.
Backstage we go to Kassius Ohno being interviewed about where he goes from here now that he failed to win the NXT title. He says that he will keep fighting and Andrade “Cien” Almas crashes the scene. Ohno says that all Almas cares about is what happens after his matches, and Ohno challenges him to a match next week. Almas accepts and walks off as we go to break.
Post-break, we now take a look at the standard video for Tyler Bate. This UK title match is going to steal the show at Takeover. Now it’s off to Roderick Strong backstage, who says that this is what he’s worked for, as he theme starts to play and he heads to the ring. After Roddy goes through his entrance, we next see Itami backstage. He says that he respects Roddy, but that he is going to Takeover: Chicago and that Roddy is going “to sleep”. Itami’s music plays and out he comes for our main event.
NXT Championship #1 Contenders Match: Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami
Both men start the match scrambling, which ends in a stalemate. The following round of chain wrestling ends in a stalemate as well. The next round of chain wrestling ends with Itami going for the GTS but Roddy escapes to the outside to regroup as we go to commercial. Very slow start here. Upon returning, we reset in the ring with both men looking for an advantage amidst dueling chants. It is Itami who gets it with 2 kicks to the chest and a back elbow, which also gets a 1 count. A chinlock and some knee strikes continue to wear down Strong, but he manages to counter an Itami suplex attempt with a slingshot, followed by a side suplex for 1. Roddy grounds Itami with an armbar on the same arm he has had surgically repaired, then works it up to a pumphandle backbreaker for a 2 count before stretching Itami back out. Itami manages to roll through but runs into a big boot, and Roddy picks up another 2 count. A massive dropkick follows and it brings another 2 count for Mr. ROH. Itami fights back with kicks and knocks Roddy to the outside. He goes to follow but he gets caught and tossed back first into the apron as we head to break. After paying the bills, we return and see Roddy stretching Itami out again in the center of the ring, but Itami escapes with a jawbreaker. Both men are looking for an advantage as the crowd gets into the match more and more but both men’s progress is stunted after a double clothesline. They both get to their feet but Itami gets going first with some kicks and then a suplex. A very nice tornado stun gun/flying clothesline gives Itami a 2 count, but an Angle Slam afterwards from Strong gives him his own 2 count. A brief strike battle breaks out before Roddy catches a running Itami with a backbreaker for yet another 2 count. Strong tries to position Itami on the top turnbuckle for a move but Itami gets the upper hand and hits a Falcon Arrow from the top for a very close 2 count. The crowd is encouraging both men as they tiredly trade strikes. Strong gets enough of a burst of energy to land a massive jumping knee strike but he can only keep Hideo down for a 2 count. A jumping front kick from Itami counters a Sick Kick attempt and lays them both out briefly, but they rise and Itami tries for another GTS but Strong escapes, then goes for a suplex that Itami himself escapes. Hideo manages to land a running big boot/dropkick combo to Roddy, who stumbles to his feet and pushes Itami a few times. When Strong takes a swipe at him, Hideo ducks under and hits the GTS for the win. Both men are still down as the crowd shows it’s appreciation for a fantastic match. Itami then helps Strong up and both men embrace as the show ends.
My Take: What a nice match. I honestly wish this, plus Roode, could have been the Takeover main event because I think Roddy could pull more out of the other two than they can pull out of each other. I encourage you to watch this match. Do not just read about it.
Well, another week down. The Takeover Train is rolling steadily along and next week should provide even more excitement, especially with the Ohno-Almas match. Catch me on Twitter and meet me back here next week for more Yellow Brand talk!