Review and Results: NXT Takeover: Philadelphia (27.1.2018)

Last night, NXT presented NXT Takeover: Philadelphia. Once again, they put on a show that the following WWE PPV (in this case, Royal Rumble) will struggle to better. Why do that to themselves? Why not have NXT Takeover and the WWE PPV on separate weekends? Logistically, it makes sense to have them on the same weekend. But the WWE PPV always struggles to better its “developmental” brand’s offering. NXT Takeover gave us one Match of the Year contender in its main event and only two (relatively) forgettable matches.The Undisputed Era (c) vs Authors of Pain (NXT Tag Team Championship Match)

I presume Authors of Pain are babyfaces now. They sell a hell of a lot more than they did in the past! Obviously, becoming babyfaces has weakened them. I struggled to believe that they’d have good chemistry with The Undisputed Era, as surely they’d have to be beat down by Reilly or Fisch in order to build up the hot tag! However, Reilly and Fisch just about managed to make their beat-downs of Akam (still can’t figure out who is who!) look convincing by targeting his leg. Yes, it was a little sloppy in places (the AoP are a lot better at beating up people than being beaten up!), but it provided a moderately thrilling opener for NXT: Takeover. But the AoP have outstayed their welcome in NXT. Move them up to the main roster. Now!

WINNERS: The Undisputed Era

VERDICT: 6/10. Seeing AoP selling a lot is not why I watch AoP matches; I want them to batter people! Reilly/Fisch and AoP took a while to click, but when they did they put on an entertaining opener!

The Velveteen Dream vs Kassius Ohno

Is Ohno doomed to play the jobber? I think so. Here, Dream and Ohno put on a hard-hitting match. But it stuttered due to the number of botches in the middle of the bout. After his match against Aleister Black at NXT: Takeover War Games, anything would be a comedown. But this dragged after Dream’s great character work at the start. The crowd didn’t care about Ohno and cheered Dream. But they have no reason to cheer Ohno, do they?

WINNER: The Velveteen Dream

VERDICT: 6/10. Dream and Ohno didn’t have great chemistry and botched a surprising number of times during this bout. It was decent, but nothing more.

Ember Moon (c) vs Shayna Baszler (NXT Women’s Championship Match)

Why put Baszler into this position? Why not have Shayna work her way through the women’s division in squash matches for a few months? You know, earn a title shot? Here, she looked out of her depth. After stomping on Moon’s elbow and causing an injury, Baszler didn’t really know what to do. Shorten this match by five minutes, and you’d have something watchable. Instead, it dragged on and on. Moon hit the Eclipse but couldn’t make the pin due to her arm injury. However, she managed to survive an arm bar for over a minute not long after that…who booked that? Baszler is far too green to be in the championship picture at this stage.

WINNER: Ember Moon

VERDICT: 4/10. This was the worst NXT: Takeover match I’ve seen for a long time. Baszler shouldn’t have been anywhere near the title. And whoever booked the match needs to be fired.

Aleister Black vs Adam Cole (Extreme Rules Match)


So maybe the first half of NXT: Takeover wasn’t great…but it approached greatness with Black and Cole. They brutalised each other in a match that the ECW crowd would have lapped up in days gone by (well, apart from the slight stoppage to stop Cole’s thumb bleeding…). In these PG days, this is about as extreme as WWE/NXT gets. And it was glorious/wince-inducing to behold. A particular highlight was Black’s AA on Cole onto two unfolded chairs…stood back to back to each other! It looked like it could have legitimately broken Cole’s back in half! Okay, the match didn’t need the interference from Undisputed Era/Sanity, but that didn’t take away from a delightfully hardcore match.

WINNER: Aleister Black

VERDICT: 9/10. Apart from the lack of chairshots to the head and blood (the infamous stoppage rule came in to play to stop Cole’s thumb bleeding), this was as close to hardcore/extreme as you’ll get in these PG days. Brutal and hardcore, exactly what Philly wanted! 

Andrade “Cien” Almas (c) vs Johnny Gargano (NXT Championship Match)

Almas and Gargano put on a stunning opener at last year’s NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. They have incredible chemistry together. Here, they blew everything else away on the card, and most NXT: Takeover main events. Think about it: the NXT Takeover main event is usually very good, but not the best thing on the card. Almas and Gargano put on a main event for the ages. Truly, it’s already a Match of the Year contender! It could be an even better NXT Takeover main event than Zayn/Neville or the Fatal 4-Way match. I was on the edge of my seat ten minutes in, and twenty minutes I was almost on the floor! I could have watched these two wrestle for another half an hour! The crowd lapped up Gargano’s courageous showing and clearly were deflated after his loss, but that only lead to a bigger emotional moment: Ciampa returning and clouting Gargano with a crutch! Simply put: an awesome and awe-inspiring main event.

WINNER: Andrade “Cien” Almas

VERDICT: 10/10. #FightForever. Almas and Gargano put on the one of the best NXT Takeover main events (and main events full stop!) ever.

OVERALL VERDICT: 8/10. The low points were the women’s match and the Dream/Ohno botchfest. But the final two matches more than made up for those two. The Extreme Rules match was brutally brilliant. The main event was one of the best matches I’ve ever seen!

What did you think of NXT Takeover: Philadelphia? Leave your thoughts/comments below!

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