Bobby Roode vs Hideo Itami
May 20, 2017
All-State Arena in Chicago, IL
NXT Takeover: Chicago
NXT Heavyweight Championship
Itami had a lot riding on this match, as he had looked relatively unimpressive on TV in the build for this, and by all accounts lost a lot of steam since his debut. Not all of it was his fault, as he was riddled with one injury after another. Some of it was also the explosion of independent talent as he was on the shelf, to the point his aura had taken a hit as so many newcomers had come onto the scene and stole away some of his reputation as the best worker around.
The match ended up delivering, although it was an old school layout with the long, slow build and emphasis on selling. Much of the crowd didn’t react as strongly as they could have, although in fairness to Itami, the same can be said for some of Roode’s other matches and even some of the Samoa Joe vs Nakamura main events. The Ric Flair style world title matches don’t always work well with an NXT crowd that wants high spots and fast paced action.
They were also not far removed from an undercard match (Dunne vs Bate) that was one of the best WWE matches of all-time, which isn’t easy. All things considered, this delivered and Itami’s heel turn may be just what he needs.