WHAT UP WRESTLE BOYS AND GIRLS!
Before I begin my deep dive into the Chicago NXT Takeover from this past weekend, I would like to share with you the entirety of my firsthand experience with professional wrestling:
Yes, this was my very first experience at a professional wrestling event. I was an utter novice and a complete no0b. I am not an expert and my analyses should not be trusted, but I’m gonna write them anyway because-let me tell you- a live wrestling show was possibly the greatest event I had ever watched live.
I did not grow up watching wrestling and to be honest I never truly understood the appeal. As friends of mine (mostly Nick Potter) talked to me about it and explained how things work in the wrestling world, I began to understand the appeal. I enjoyed watching wrestling events on the television and as I began to accumulate knowledge of the WWE universe, I enjoyed it even more. Saturday night however at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois- I really, truly GOT IT.
From the beginning I was utterly blown away by the pure showmanship of the event. Nick and I arrived to the arena an hour before the show began and we were one of the very last people to find their seats. I’ve been to more sporting events than I could possibly count, and never before have I seen a crowd arrive so early. Before the event even began the incredible amount of passion surrounding me was obvious. It was infectious.
As the event unfolded I was constantly blown away by the crowd and their involvement in the show. Their chants would come seemingly out of nowhere, and yet would be perfectly coordinated. An example: A man with a broom was sweeping the mat before the show began. This was nothing exciting or noteworthy. To be honest I barely even noticed he was there. The rest of the crowd did notice him however. As he left the mat with less than a minute before the beginning of the event, the crowd, as if they were all part of one giant hive-mind, joined together in a chant of “One more sweep! One more sweep!”. How did 20,000 people manage to all chant the same silly thing for a random WWE employee with a broom? The magic of wrestling I guess? I didn’t understand it, but I loved it.
Oh yeah and the actual wrestling was pretty darn good too. Let’s talk about it!
Eric Young v. Roderick Strong
Now if you’re like me I know what you’re thinking. Roderick Strong? Really?? If you had asked me to make up a generic name for a wrestler, Roderick Strong would have been my third choice after Kent Hardpunch and Brock Smashman.
And unfortunately I don’t remember much about the actual wrestling that happened here. I know that Roderick was the face (good guy) and he defeated Young the heel (bad guy). But as far as I could tell, Roderick Strong was playing the role of generic muscly white guy. I literally just had to google him to try and remember anything significant about him. Whoops.
This doesn’t change the fact that I was still blown away by the athleticism of these wrestle boys. This was my first time watching these flips and kicks firsthand, and goddamn it was amazing.
Zach’s Rating: 4/10 (but still really cool)
Nick’s Rating: 5/10
Tyler Bate (c) v. Pete Dunne: United Kingdom Championship Match
OH. MY. GOD. YOU. GUYS. THIS. WAS. AMAZING.
20 year old (!!!) Tyler Bate fought his arch-nemesis and fellow Brit Pete Dunne for the first time in the United States. I knew a bit about these two boys before the match began (I had watched one of their previous fights on TV earlier that day), but I was not prepared for what I was about to see.
First thing’s first- Tyler Bate’s entrance.
Regardless of your interest in wrestling, I’m sure you are familiar with the idea of wrestling entrances. Lots of fireworks and lots of running around and yelling and getting the crowd fired up? Yeah, same, that’s also what I thought.
That is not how Tyler Bate operates.
The young Mr. Bate enters the ring to an upbeat, but not particularly intrusive song. As the song begins to play he appears from behind the curtain and he…walks slowly and waves politely to the crowd. Seriously. He walks, waves politely, and that’s it. IT WAS AMAZING!
It was a beautiful subversion of expectations and it instantly made him my favorite.
The match itself was even more beautiful than Tyler Bate’s entrance.
As I mentioned before, I am not a wrestling expert. I wouldn’t be able to name any of the moves these boys performed on each other. That doesn’t matter. You didn’t have to be an expert in wrestling maneuvers to know that this was a masterful display of athleticism and showmanship. Flips, spins, kicks. Near victories and shocking escapes. I don’t fully know how to properly articulate how spectacular this performance was. If you are able, you must watch this match.
Pete Dunne ended up winning the match and by extension the UK title belt, but as this point I didn’t care anymore. This was perhaps the greatest athletic performance of any kind that I have ever seen live. Tyler Bate forever, fam.
Zach’s Rating: 10/10
Nick’s Rating: 10/10
BRIEF INTERRUPTION FROM NICK:
This match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne absolutely topped their previous match from their January tournament, but it’s so much more than that. While I don’t have an official list (yet?), I am certain that this United Kingdom Championship match has to be in the Top 5 NXT matches ever put on, and I’ll be revisiting this one a whoooooooole lot.
PART TWO COMING SOON!