This past weekend saw WWE run two shows in Chicago: NXT TakeOver and Money In The Bank. Both shows delivered in many ways, as the weekend was seen as a success by many. A lot of things happened, so here are some of the quick takeaways I had from the eventful weekend.
1) Velveteen Dream Is For Real
As if you already didn’t know that, though. Velveteen Dream and Ricochet had a fantastic match at NXT Takeover: Chicago on Saturday night, living up to the hype. While Ricochet picked up the victory, Dream also came off looking fantastic. His entrance and wardrobe were fantastic, imitating Hulk Hogan. His pants also looked very similar to the ones Ricochet wore when he was Prince Puma in Lucha Underground, which was also a nice touch. The in-ring psychology Velveteen Dream uses is some of the best WWE has seen in a long time. And, on top of it all, he’s a really good wrestler. Everything he does has become must-see television, which is incredible from someone who’s only 23 years old.
2) Lars Sullivan Is Better Than We Think He Is
The match that caught me by surprise was the NXT Championship match between challenger Lars Sullivan and champion Aleister Black. While we all know Black to be one of the best in the business, I came away incredibly impressed by Sullivan in this match. He manhandled Black for most of the match and looked like a legit threat to the title. I wasn’t sure how the big man would handle the spotlight, but he proved to me that he can handle it. I see him potentially being NXT Champion sometime in the future.
3) Johnny Gargano And Tomaso Ciampa Are The Ultimate Storytellers
The main event of TakeOver may have been the best street fight WWE has ever done. It had an old-school feel with the use of garbage cans, handcuffs and crutches. There were some brutal-looking spots, like when Ciampa threw Gargano into the stairs while Gargano’s head was wrapped around a chair. The reason why the match was so good, though, was the emotion behind the match. Gargano and Ciampa have become the best feud in wrestling, and the two put on a virtuoso performance on Saturday in Chicago. You could feel the resentment between the two. Ciampa taking off Gargano’s wedding ring and spitting on it was one of the best heel moves of all time. Gargano snapped, but it was in his fit of rage where he lost sight of the prize, falling into Ciampa’s trap and losing the match. It was 30+ minutes of pure fun, and I can’t wait for the third match between these two at the next TakeOver.
4) AJ Styles And Shinsuke Nakamura Are Still, Indeed, Good At Wrestling
For a minute there, I was wondering if the AJ Styles-Shinsuke Nakamura feud was worth it. The two had four matches prior to Sunday, but the nature of the feud was getting stale. After dragging for the past six weeks, though, the duo went out there and put on a really good Last Man Standing match for the WWE Championship. The match started slow, but it really picked up around the halfway point. The spots were well done, the storytelling was fantastic, and the two ended up salvaging the feud with a great match. Styles won, which means Nakamura will have to move on from the WWE title chase. It was a fun match and a nice way to end this dying feud.
5) The Main Card Show Competed With NXT For The First Time Ever
When NXT holds a TakeOver event the night before a WWE pay-per-view, chances are the NXT show is going to be better than the main card show. That was the case this weekend, but it wasn’t the blowout that it usually is. That’s because I thought Money In The Bank really delivered.
Both ladder matches were a lot of fun, even if I thought two other people should’ve won. Elias and Seth Rollins had an awesome Intercontinental Championship match, with more expected to come from the two. Ronda Rousey impressed once again, and having Alexa Bliss come out and cash-in on Nia was a perfect way to keep Rousey looking strong. I loved the fact James Ellsworth helped Carmella win, even though it came at the expense Asuka. While TakeOver earned an ‘A’ grade from me, MITB easily put out a ‘B+’ effort. It was maybe the best WWE PPV of the year so far, giving them momentum heading into SummerSlam season.