NXT TakeOver: Chicago II Preview and Predictions - Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

NXT TakeOver: Chicago II Preview and Predictions - Triple Threat POV

Posted by Robert DeFelice Thursday, June 7, 2018
Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Robert DeFelice, Jordan Chaffiotte, and Jonathan Maldonado will be giving their thoughts on NXT TakeOver: Chicago II!

Who doesn't love NXT? Compelling stories and characters take center stage for the yellow-roped phenomenon's return to the Windy City. Is it 'Dream Over' for Ricochet? Who will be NXT Champion by night's end? How far will the former #DIY brethren go to end their blood feud? Let’s discuss…

Question 1: Ricochet and The Velveteen Dream are on a collision course in NXT. With both men needing a major win, and doing extremely great work in their respective careers right now, who do you see winning this clash in Chicago?

MALDONADO: I cannot wait for this match, the most intriguing on the card by far. Velveteen Dream is a bonafide NXT darling taking on one of the most exciting indie darlings in the world in Ricochet. And it’s so much more than that, we get to see a real clash of modern WWE homegrown style and high-octane indie style wrestling. Magic is guaranteed here.

There’s no doubt about the end though. Velveteen Dream wins this match. Not only does it add another brilliant bullet point to his already impressive resume, it’s a win for the WWE style over the indie style. I’m sure WWE recognizes what this match represents and will put a feather in its own cap through Dream.

CHAFFIOTTE: Man I love NXT. I do, however, disagree with the premise that Dream really needs a win right now, or at least in the way that Ricochet does. The guy is younger than I am, insanely talented, but still green. The fact that he’s even being booked in these matches at all is a huge feat. The interesting thing about his booking is that he didn’t get set up with squash after squash to prove his worthiness in the top of the card. He has gotten all of his major matches through his mind-games, through being psychologically ahead of the rest. If you just looked at the tale of the tape, why would Ricochet, indie darling, and 15-year veteran even waste his time on this rookie? Because Dream got under his skin, that’s why.

So Ricochet needs to teach The Dream a lesson, show him what he’s dealing with here. Just like the rest, this can be hard fought and prove that we should keep our eyes on him. Eventually, that could become a problem but we’re not there yet. After this, he goes into a feud he can win, maybe overcoming the odds and putting a big hole in Undisputed Era’s armor by taking down Adam Cole. Right now, he needs to eat the pin and let Ricochet shoot to the moon from it.

DEFELICE: These two competitors are yin and yang. Velveteen Dream is the epitome of pomp and circumstance, emphasizing aesthetic over flashy moves. He is representative of an element of developmental that's seemingly being phased out, the homegrown WWE talent that honed his craft solely within the WWE system. A win for Dream here would likely guarantee a championship opportunity, a well-deserved one at that.

On the opposite side of the squared circle, Ricochet is the latest in a long stream of major independent wrestling signings in the last 3 years. Ricochet is a Dragon Ball Z action scene come to life, and in no way can it be understated just how amazing of a performer he is. However, he's severely lacking in the character department. I feel like he's trying to be The Rock in a Cruiserweight's body, hell, his theme song is slightly reminiscent of Rocky's to me. There isn't a ton tremendously wrong with that, but I think it would serve him well, to find his own path and he will do that throughout his time in NXT. I think that path starts with a victory over The Velveteen Dream here. These two men are the antithesis of one another in the best way possible, and I know in my bones that this match will be an absolute classic.

Question 2: Aleister Black faces his first major challenge as NXT Champion in Lars Sullivan. Can 'The Freak' rise to the occasion, or will he 'Fade To Black?'

DeFELICE: To be honest, I'm a little surprised we're getting this match here. I really thought that Black would in some way be factored into the Gargano/Ciampa issue, if for no other reason than to not have the NXT Championship overshadowed by that rivalry for a second TakeOver. This match is the closest thing you will see in 2018 to a Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna dynamic. Aleister Black is so crisp with his movements, while Lars Sullivan is such a perfect throwback villain, I can't wait to see what these two come up with.

In my opinion, unfortunately, Aleister Black has to win here. I say unfortunately not because I am not a fan of Black, but I feel like Lars would be a great monster champion. However, since this is Black's first match as Champion, it's kind of a given that he has to win. I really hope that Lars Sullivan gets his shot on top one day soon and that if he gets called up to the main roster, he doesn't get the shitty treatment that everybody else does when they called up from NXT.

MALDONADO: NXT hit the nail on the head with this NXT Championship March. Aleister Black has an aura and a story that always want to match him against the toughest and scariest threat. He exorcises demons through heavy spirituality, symbolism and artful ring violence. Lars Sullivan is the most natural villain to stumble into Black’s world.

This won’t be a classic but it’ll be damn good entertainment. Black’s character wants a battle and this not-quite-but-almost David and Goliath set-up fit the bill. Sullivan will dominate stretches of time and even score believable near falls. The fans will go nuts when Black recoups and eventually slays this latest demon. I think the crowd will be hot for this one.

CHAFFIOTTE: I still love NXT, but this isn’t really the reason I love it. Aleister Black is awesome and a great champ, but I can’t say I’m feeling the love for Lars Sullivan. Maybe I just don’t “get” big men. What I do understand, however, is that it would be a very big problem for Aleister to lose this match. He’s barely begun, and while he is the coolest guy in the locker room, I’m not sure he had the build-up to the title that guys like Kevin Owens or Samoa Joe saw. Having him serve as a transitional champion, and for Lars Sullivan no less, is a bad move. Despite the size difference, I think Aleister ought to really dominate this match using his superior technique and agility. I’ m not looking for a squash, but I would prefer to see Lars’ offense come from a place of Aleister making a mistake rather than a more clear even match up. It’ll be good but when was the last time the main event was actually the thing that made me most excited? You guys know the drill by now.

Question 3: One year later, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano look to end their rivalry where it began. How do you see this match separating itself from their previous encounter? Who wins this match? Where do both men go from here?

MALDONADO: This is one of those "FIGHT FOREVER" rivalries that I actually believe in. Ciampa and Gargano’s story is the most compelling story in all of WWE right now and it needs no ending here in Chicago. It’ll be largely reminiscent of their New Orleans bout and I’m here for all of that. This is one of those feuds that almost lives outside of its match bells and seems like one long continuous war. I’m happy for that to continue in Chicago and lead to another match.

Why would I want to have this go on at expense of the NXT main eventing? Well for one, as great of an opponent Lars Sullivan is, that match won’t reach main event level action. We’re not risking a lack-luster main event at the expense of a potential classic title match. Second and most importantly, this feud hasn’t seen Brooklyn yet. By that time the story will have come to a point where it doesn’t need to the main event to be settled once and for all and there will be a far more exciting NXT title feud to end that show. Brooklyn is the NXT WrestleMania, and that’s where this deserves to end.

CHAFFIOTTE: MAN I LOVE NXT! This whole thing has been so incredibly well done. I was afraid Ciampa being out for so long would cool it off too far that it’s just as hot as before. Although I most certainly fit into the camp that an Unsanctioned Match and a Street Fight are the same exact thing, I do think this will be even better than the last. The key here is the story, as this really ought to be the last of it. To put on a finale worthy of the build, we need to figure out what’s it going to take for both these guys to move on with their lives. I honestly don’t know what that is. Is it for Johnny to finally break and hurt Tomasso the way he was hurt? I would be interested to see what a reluctant heel Gargano looks like, but I’m not sure if I’d even buy it. Ciampa has tried to move forward in the past but NXT won’t LET him. So I think the only real solution here is for Johnny to win via nasty heelish tactic because then in a way, Tomasso’s won too, hasn’t he? It would also open things up for Candice to walk away from him (in Kayfabe, not wishing a divorce on anyone) and take the very Beyonce “I’m just living my best life” approach to separating from her husband. They probably won’t be called up until next Mania, so that gives us ample time to run parallel stories that can end with them reconciling. They’ve told such a good story up to this point, I hope they don’t fall down now.

DeFELICE: Tomasso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano. Wow! I never would've thought that a run-of-the-mill tag team betrayal would've led to the most intense, personal, and perhaps even the greatest NXT rivalry of all time. The storytelling here has been masterful. Every little bump in the road has been so enjoyable to watch and it really saddens me that the other weekly television programs are not as compelling. This is by far the one match I'm looking forward to more than any other during Money In The Bank weekend. There is one hiccup for me and that's the stipulation is damn near identical to their initial encounter. Rumor has it that their match was slated to be Last Man Standing, but was switched to accommodate the WWE Championship match at Money In The Bank. This is unfortunate as that simple switch of the stipulation would have shown more evolution. However, I think both men will work hard to outdo their previous encounter and will up the intensity tenfold.

I feel like Johnny has to win here, just to allow him to move forward. However, it wouldn't surprise me if Tomasso wins and we get an I Quit Match in Brooklyn. While the mere mention of that possibility makes me want to root for Tomasso and pick him to win here, I do think we need to move forward and put the main event spotlight back on the NXT Championship. If I had to pick, gun to my head, Johnny Gargano wins and exorcises his demons so that he and Candice can move forward in NXT and live happily ever after.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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Robert DeFelice is a journalist and marketing student. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram as well as his apparel website Time Killer Apparel and his pro wrestling blog PandemoniuMania.


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