NXT TakeOver: Chicago II preview: Black, Sullivan collide tonight
Tonight, on the eve of WWE Money in the Bank, NXT TakeOver: Chicago II takes center stage, live on WWE Network. NXT Champion Aleister Black battles Lars Sullivan, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa go to war in a Chicago Street Fight, plus much more!
NXT Champion Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan
With one swift and remarkably powerful kick, Aleister Black flattened every Superstar to cross his path on the way to becoming NXT Champion at TakeOver: New Orleans. Black’s nascent title reign, however, will be in jeopardy at TakeOver: Chicago when he defends the crown against a mammoth who is unlike anyone else he has faced, Lars Sullivan.
Sullivan made that exact, thunderous point when he ambushed the champion on the May 30 edition of NXT. As Black tried to fight off Sullivan, The Dutch Destroyer uncorked his great equalizer, the Black Mass spinning heel kick. Proving to be every bit as quick as he is powerful, Sullivan shockingly caught Black’s strike before dropping him with the Freak Accident.
The stunning scene was a rare example of Black being unable to decimate a foe with his signature move, and it sowed doubt that The Dutch Destroyer will have any better success against Sullivan when they clash for the title in The Windy City. What's more, Sullivan wrecked Black again on the June 13 edition of NXT, trouncing the champion with three emphatic Freak Accidents during a harrowing confrontation.
Has The Freak — who prides himself on being not only a physically intense juggernaut, but also a thinking-man’s competitor inside the ring — cracked the code of Black? Or will the equally dominant Dutch Destroyer find a way to drop the behemoth — with or without Black Mass — en route to retaining NXT’s top crown?
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa (Chicago Street Fight)
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa’s battles have rarely been contained by the ring, but that won’t be a concern at NXT TakeOver: Chicago — the site of #DIY’s unforgettable implosion — when the two bitter rivals square off in a Chicago Street Fight.
The former best friends have remained at each other’s throats since Johnny Wrestling defeated the psychotic Blackheart at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans in a classic, brutal Unsanctioned Match. Ciampa, who refused to accept the loss, savagely attacked Gargano weeks later, landing his nemesis in a medical facility and a neck brace.
From there, the self-ordained “Tommy Sports-Entertainment” created more grief for Gargano and his friends and family, most notably Johnny’s wife, Candice LeRae. Ciampa taunted LeRae in the aftermath of his heinous attack, and she even got caught in the crossfire when Gargano returned from his career-threatening injury to confront Ciampa (against LeRae’s wishes) when Ciampa sent Johnny Wrestling flying off the ring apron and into his wife.
LeRae doesn’t support the idea of Gargano competing in the Chicago Street Fight and continuing his war with Ciampa. When Gargano received the match contract, LeRae flatly told her husband that she is “done with this,” adding that the rivalry with Ciampa has turned Gargano into everything he despises.
What ramifications will Johnny Wrestling’s decision have on his career and his personal life? What type of mayhem is in store when Gargano and Ciampa collide in a lawless Chicago Street Fight in the same city that Ciampa betrayed Gargano one year ago? Perhaps most important of all, will Gargano still believe it was all worth it when the dust settles in Chicago?
NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross
Very few Superstars are bold enough to step to NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler, let alone temporarily steal her title to boot.
Enter The Queen of Spades’ challenger at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, Nikki Cross.
Enraged when Baszler attacked Dakota Kai after retaining the NXT Women’s Title against The Captain of Team Kick on the May 30 edition of WWE NXT, Cross rushed to the ring, roughed Baszler up, briefly stole her title and then “defeated” her in an impromptu “match” where she appointed Kai as the referee. Of course, none of this was official, but Cross celebrated as though she had just defeated the NXT Women’s Champion, while Baszler was left fuming.
Incensed, The Queen of Spades returned the following week to tell Cross that she could put her to sleep in a heartbeat and that the only place that Cross is considered better than Baszler is in Cross’ “whacked-out little mind.” Yet, when push came to shove, Cross’ unorthodox and relentless onslaught bested Baszler’s barrage, prompting her to get the edge in yet another exchange.
Will Baszler counter Cross’ chaotic ways when they meet at NXT TakeOver: Chicago? Or will Cross prove to be The Queen of Spades’ toughest challenger to date by ending her dominant reign as champion?
Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream
The exhilarating game of one-upmanship between Ricochet and Velveteen Dream will be settled when The One and Only and NXT’s most notorious provocateur try to outdo each other under the bright lights of TakeOver: Chicago.
The NXT Universe has watched in amazement as Ricochet and Dream — two of NXT’s most dynamic and athletic Superstars — have gone tit-for-tat in recent weeks. The conflict began when each man sought to make a case for why he deserves to be in contention for the NXT Title. Though a freight train named Lars Sullivan derailed those hopes in the near term, Ricochet and Dream remain at odds.
Known for performing almost supernatural feats inside the ring, Ricochet proudly claims to “make this look good” when referring to his own incomparable high-flying style. Dream, perhaps taking offense at all the attention paid to the acclaimed NXT newcomer, says that he can do anything that Ricochet can do, only better.
Regardless of who comes out on top, the showdown between Ricochet and Velveteen Dream promises to be a can’t-miss match. See which Superstar takes the spotlight and steals the show when they collide at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, which streams live tonight, exclusively on the award-winning WWE Network!
NXT Tag Team Champions Undisputed ERA vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
Undisputed ERA have vowed to “end the charade” of Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch’s NXT Tag Team Title ambitions at TakeOver: Chicago. Whether champions Roderick Strong & Kyle O’Reilly can make good on such a bold statement, however, won’t be known until the teams collide live on WWE Network.
The double-tough tandem of Lorcan & Burch is riding a wave of momentum after joining forces with WWE U.K. Champion Pete Dunne to defeat Strong, O’Reilly and NXT North American Champion Adam Cole in a wild Six-Man Tag Team Match on May 16. Not only were Lorcan & Burch on the winning side in that encounter, but Burch scored the deciding fall by pinning O’Reilly, a feat that Lorcan & Burch believe sealed their status as Undisputed ERA’s next challengers.
Since forming their Brit-Am alliance last year based on the mutual respect that came out of their series of hard-hitting singles matches, Lorcan & Burch have emerged as one of the black-and-yellow brand’s grittiest duos. Yet, Undisputed ERA remain as brazen and confident as ever, claiming their loss in the Six-Man Tag Team Match was a fluke and insisting they're out of Lorcan & Burch's league.
Will Lorcan & Burch earn their first taste of championship glory in The Windy City, or can Undisputed ERA turn back their rough-and-tumble challengers and preserve their title reign?