Wrestling & MMA

Triple H talks Ciampa status, Itami, WWE NXT TakeOver: Chicago

WWE NXT Tag Team Champs The Authors of Pain (Rezar and Akam) will defend their belts against #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) at NXT TakeOver: Chicago on Saturday, May 20 live on WWE Network from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill.
WWE NXT Tag Team Champs The Authors of Pain (Rezar and Akam) will defend their belts against #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) at NXT TakeOver: Chicago on Saturday, May 20 live on WWE Network from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. Photo By Jim Varsallone

WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul Triple H Levesque held a conference call with media worldwide on Friday, May 19 to discuss several topics including NXT TakeOver Chicago, which is Saturday, May 20.

Levesque: “NXT TakeOver from one of my favorite arenas from anywhere in the world, the Allstate Arena in Chicago. That building is just a magical place. The fan base there is incredible, and I look forward to bringing them something a little bit unique from what goes there on a regular basis. This being the first time NXT comes in there, a little grittier and a little bit more down-n-dirty, so to speak, and I think NXT TakeOver on Saturday will deliver that.”

Main Event: Glorious Bobby Roode defending the NXT Championship against Hideo Itami

Levesque: “It’s a really big card. Bobby Roode against Hideo Itami and Hideo with something big to prove here. Kind of a stutter stop in his career. He’s had to sit back and watch a lot of people come in and make a name for themselves and make a way for themselves, while he’s had set-back after set-back after set-back…I feel like he is looking to really make a statement Saturday. Get himself moving in a positive direction.

“I have nothing but respect for Hideo, and everything that he’s gone through. It’s difficult to leave a place that you’re a big star and a big name – be one of the first guys to take that big gamble and come over and be presented in a big way and then have set-back after set-back after set-back.

“Some of that set-back starting out in being uncomfortable and intimidated and just struggling to find his footing. That happens with some of the talent. I don’t care where they’ve been and how good they’ve been. Some come in and struggle with it. Some don’t. I don’t know why that is. I think it’s a confidence issue and just feeling comfortable in the environment. We try to make them feel as comfortable as possible, but it is what it is.

“As hard as I’ve seen [Itami] work, as good of a guy that he is, he has put his heart and soul into making this happen. Whenever somebody gets injured like that, I feel terrible for them, and I think he almost feels bad for us – like he’s been this bad investment for us. I don’t see it that way at all. I’m optimistically excited about this opportunity that sits in front of him on Saturday, and I think he’s a big player, and he will rise to the occasion, because that’s what big players do.”

Asuka (champ) vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross in a Triple Threat Match for the NXT Women’s Championship

Levesque: “It’s exciting to see the evolution of a couple of our newer talent in Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot…and Asuka continues to be Asuka.”

Authors of Pain (champs) (Akam and Rezar) #WarIsOurPeace with Paul Ellering vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) in a ladder match for the NXT Tag Team Championship

Levesque: “The match that I’m really excited about, and I know this has been going on for a while, but I’m excited about it to see the final chapter probably of Authors of Pain versus #DIY in a ladder match, which always brings something unique to this.

“#DIY, probably one of the most popular and most accomplished tag teams that we have in NXT, kind of in their wheelhouse, and AOP are just two young guys that haven’t been doing this for a long time, but they just really continue to impress me. When you look at the length of time they’ve been in the actual business period, it’s very short, and they’ve come a long way. I’m really impressed with them, and I’m looking for something big from this. To me it has the potential to steal the night by far.”

Ciampa injured his ankle during a #DIY tag match against SAnitY at an NXT house show on Thursday night, May 18 at the BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Ky., near Cincinnati.

Levesque: “I wasn’t there. I didn’t necessarily see it, but from the report, he turned his ankle. I’m not sure exactly doing what, but he turned his ankle somewhere in there. As a precaution everything shut down and stopped, and they got him out of there. He went for an X-ray [Thursday night], and there’s no break, no fracture. He’s got an ankle sprain.

“When I text with him [Friday morning], he was feeling better and was up moving around and felt like he was not going to have an issue with it [Saturday]. It really wasn’t bothering him. It was not nearly as bad as they thought it was. So he’s up moving around, but that will be for the medical team to decide.

“Obviously our doctors will look at him, and they’re going to want to make sure he’s ok to go, but as of right now, he’s in, but we’ll see where that goes. It will be an interesting day. Hopefully he can hang in there. I’d hate for him to lose that opportunity. He and Johnny are so excited. Chicago is where they cut their teeth. The opportunity for them to be there -- tag titles with AOP -- in some ways for them is their hometown, their home base, I can’t tell you how excited those two are about this. So I would hate to see that something ruined that for them. This is a moment for them, and they’re very, very excited about it. I’m sending out the good juju over the phone to Ciampa, so he can make it.”

Tyler Bate (champ) vs. Pete Dunne for the WWE United Kingdom Championship

Levesque: “Then something different for NXT -- following off [Friday night’s] UK Special [streaming live on WWE Network] – is Tyler Bate defending the [WWE] UK Championship against Pete Dunne in a rematch from a great match that they had at the UK Tournament. This should be something special – completely different styles, completely different presentation of the European style. Two amazingly talented guys. Tyler is 20, and I think Pete is 23. It’s just amazing where they are at in their careers and where they have the potential to go.”

- WWE NXT TakeOver: Chicago

WWE’s NXT TakeOver: Chicago is 8 p.m. ET Saturday, May 20 live on WWE Network from the Allstate Arena in (Chicago) Rosemont, Ill.

Glorious Bobby Roode defending the NXT Championship against Hideo Itami.

Asuka (c) vs. Ruby Riot vs. Nikki Cross in a Triple Threat Match for the NXT Women’s Championship.

Authors of Pain (c) (Akam and Rezar) #WarIsOurPeace with Paul Ellering vs. #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa) in a ladder match for the NXT Tag Team Championship.

Tyler Bate (c) vs. Pete Dunne for the WWE United Kingdom Championship and more.

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