Drew McIntyre def. Sean Maluta
Needless to say, McIntyre is a completely different competitor than he was during his last stint in WWE years ago. I don't know whether they didn't allow him to be this good or if he just wasn't motivated, but either way, he is absolutely killing it right now. McIntyre looks like a badass every time he's in the ring and Maluta sold well for his offense. I could certainly see McIntyre gunning for the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn 3.
Sonya deville def. Lacey Evans
I feared the worst when I saw this match was happening because both of these ladies are still extremely green, but it actually wasn't the drizzling shits, surprisingly enough. Granted, it wasn't good at all, but at least they tried and Deville and Evans showed signs of potential. Evans is a total smoke with an interesting backstory, while Deville is already infinitely better than she was a few months ago, so I'm looking forward to watching them progress in the months ahead.
Kassius Ohno def. Andrade "Cien" Almas
I've been shocked by how Ohno has mostly been spinning his wheels since arriving in NXT a few months ago, but this was the perfect opportunity for him to return to form and he did so sensationally. Of course, working with a quality opponent such as Almas undoubtedly helps, and Almas had his moments of brilliance here as well. It was a very hard-hitting affair from start to finish that I liked a lot. With Almas losing to almost everyone in the promotion, I'm curious as to what's next for him.
Hideo Itami Attacked NXT Champion Bobby Roode
First of all, I'd like to show some love for the video packages that aired over the course of the night highlighting Itami's most memorable moments in NXT, adding quite a bit to his story of wanting to claim the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Chicago. Roode's promo was on point as always as he crossed personal territory in calling Itami a failure to his family if he doesn't win on Saturday, which brought out a fuming Itami who laid out everyone in sight, including Roode. Itami hitting another GTS on Roode here basically means he won't win at TakeOver, but it was a cool final visual heading into the event.
The card for TakeOver: Chicago looks great on paper and the build for the live special has been strong over the last month or so. The closing segment was the only real thing on this show that had anything to do with TakeOver, but the episode on the whole was quite enjoyable. Ohno vs. Almas was a blast, the opener was brief but fun, and even the weak women's match helped a new talent get over. Even the vignettes looking at the WWE United Kingdom Championship match at TakeOver were well done, so this show easily gets two thumbs up from me.
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