NXT TakeOver: Chicago Results: Highlights, Analysis, and Grades

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Roderick Strong vs. Eric Young

Result: Roderick Strong defeats Eric Young via pinfall.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This was the latest of the matches to be built up by NXT, as Strong got attacked by Young after his No. 1 Contenders Match for the NXT Championship. The former ROH star immediately demanded SAnitY and got them at TakeOver: Chicago.

Strong came through the crowd to surprise attack Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe. A great touch to something we rarely see happen anymore, and a wise one on Strong’s part. You could see the look in Young’s eyes when he didn’t have his partners with him.

Through the first five minutes, Roddy managed to go through SAnitY and fend them off. That was until Dain bulldozed him at ringside, which the referee didn’t see. The cameras didn’t show this, so Tom Philips had to quickly clarify what just happened. Not a great production job, but only minor. Wolfe came in with his own cheap shot, too, moments later. So this started to look like every other SAnitY singles match we’ve seen since debuting.

What’s also amazing is how far Strong has come since struggling at TakeOver: San Antonio in January. The crowd hardly cared for him, due to NXT not really telling us who this is or why to root for him. However, with two simple video packages on Strong’s life outside the ring, it became that easy to learn and connect with him, thus leading to the loud chants and reactions he received at the Allstate Arena.

The turning point came when Strong hit a dropkick on Young, who was in mid-air already. It got his momentum back with vicious knee strikes, that sounded like ridiculously hard hits.

Strong took out SAnitY with one big strike to Young on the turnbuckle, which saw the Leader land onto Wolfe and Dain. This left them one-on-one, hitting an eye-popping backbreaker for the win.

This is by far the best and most inspired version of Strong we’ve seen. Maybe it’s not even that — we were just made to care about him more. It’s nice to see Superstars not have their popularity manufactured, which has made Strong’s rise feel natural and refreshing. Based on what we saw, we’re going to get plenty more of this.

It’s going to be hard to keep Strong away from the title picture, although Drew McIntyre and Aleister Black are lingering. This will depend on the result of tonight’s NXT Championship Match, too. Either way, big things are in store for this Superstar.