Lars Sullivan Attacked NXT Champion Aleister Black
I'm surprised by how infrequently Black has appeared on NXT TV since he won the NXT Championship at TakeOver: New Orleans, but I guess that adds to his mystique. This segment served to cement Sullivan as Black's next challenger and establish him as a threat to the title by laying him out. Sullivan's slow and steady rise to super stardom over the last number of months has been fun to watch and I think they'll exceed expectations with their match in Chicago.
War Raiders def. Cody Vincent and George Hixon
Aside from feeling like the second coming of The Bludgeon Brothers (even though they had the gimmick first), War Raiders are totally different than any other tag team NXT has right now based off what they can do in the ring. They're always such a blast to watch and their latest outing against these two local athletes was no exception. I could certainly see them getting a crack at the NXT Tag Team Championship sooner rather than later.
EC3 def. Fabian Aichner
EC3 is the complete package and screams "star," so needless to say, this was another solid showcase for him. It wasn't much of a match, mind you, but even Aichner looked good in defeat per usual. What was really worth nothing about this was how Johnny Gargano took this opportunity to announce that it will be him vs. Tommaso Ciampa in a Chicago Street Fight at TakeOver, and it was clear EC3 wasn't too pleased about that. I'd be all for a feud between them in the near future.
Ricochet def. Chris Dijak
It's about damn time Dijak debuted on NXT TV after signing with the promotion back in the fall. He has plenty of potential to be a breakout star eventually and I was so happy he had the chance to shine against someone the caliber of Ricochet. Even with the bout being so brief, Dijak showed off what he was capable of and left an impression. Meanwhile, I thoroughly enjoyed the Ricochet and Velveteen Dream verbal exchange, successfully setting up their TakeOver clash.
NXT Women's Champion Shayna Baszler def. Dakota Kai
Kai is such a likable underdog, and although it was pretty apparent she wasn't winning here, I loved how much of a fight she gave Baszler. They told a great story with Baszler taking pleasure in bullying Kai around before Kai battled back with the crowd behind her. It wasn't enough to earn her the victory, mind you, but Kai definitely gained something from this outing. Afterward, Nikki Cross made it known that she has her sights set on the NXT Women's title, so expect Cross vs. Baszler for the belt to be made official for the card soon.
This, this was the show I had been waiting weeks for, where most of the matches for TakeOver: Chicago were confirmed for the card. We now know it will be Undisputed Era vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch for the NXT Tag Team Championship, Ricochet vs. Dream, Black vs. Sullivan for the NXT title, and likely Baszler vs. Cross for the NXT Women's title. That's a loaded show right there, and I can't wait to be in attendance for it. Thus, this was an excellent edition of NXT on the whole. Next week will feature Kairi Sane vs. Lacey Evans in a rematch as well as Lorcan vs. Roderick Strong.