Tonight is NXT Takeover: Philadelphia! Here is the Pulse Wrestling crew’s full match by match preview with predictions:
Andrade “Cien” Almas (c) (with Zelina Vega) vs. Johnny Gargano
Harrak: My God do I want to believe it’s Johnny Wrestling’s time! I’ve been backing Gargano for close to a decade now and even interviewed him for this very site back in 2012 when he was the defending DGUSA champion. He’s got what it takes to carry the ball as a talented, innovative, technically gifted underdog champion but I don’t know if this is the right time or showcase for him to win. I’m expecting an attack by a returning Tommaso Ciampa more than a Gargano title win here.
JT – I’m not sure if the fact that Almas is NXT champ speaks to a lack of depth on the roster or the belief that he has genuine potential, but either way I don’t really care. By the same token, I’d be surprised if Gargano walks away with the belt.
Michael – I like Almas more than most, I think. I like Gargano, but this seems like the perfect opportunity to bring Ciampa back to ruin Johnny Wrestling’s chance at the title and go full-bore Sicilian Psychopath on him.
Winner: Andrade “Cien” Almas
Schuerman – One can only assume that Gargano’s old partner costs him the title here, hopefully kicking off the much anticipated feud that should carry NXT for a few months.
Winner – Almas
NXT Women’s Championship
Ember Moon (c) vs. Shayna Baszler
Harrak: It’s crazy to think that after Asuka’s 510 championship reign that we maybe looking at Ember Moon’s reign ending already. Don’t get me wrong, Moon is a very good champion but look at Baszler and then look at the NXT roster. Aliyah, Kairi Sane, Candice LeRae, Taynara Conti, Bianca Belair… it reads like a “who’s-who” Baszler hit list. I believe there’s more money and interest in a roster trying to stop NXT’s version of Brock Lesnar than in Ember Moon.
JT – Baszler has shown some advances in the ring and Moon has been a decent Women’s champ, so this has the chance of being a good match.
Winner: Ember Moon
Michael – They just put the belt on Ember Moon after having a dominant and long-term champ. I don’t imagine they make a switch here.
Winner: Ember Moon
Schuerman – This should be a very interesting style clash. Baszler looks good, but can she really bring it? I think it’s too soon to put the title on her, but she is on the fast path.
Winner – Moon
Extreme Rules match
Aleister Black vs. Adam Cole
Harrak: Probably the main event of the night for me, this Black/Cole storyline has been stellar since the beginning. I’m sure readers are flat-tired of me singing the praises of Adam Cole (check out my interview with him here) but it’s nice to see that so far the WWE is getting him “right” since his debut. The same can be said about Aleister Black. Some may bemoan Black taking the pinfall in a fatal four way match but I honestly felt as if he was being held back by his undefeated streak. Now he can get into emotionally invested feuds such as this one where both men are able to showcase their personalities more than in just a one-on-one match. I’m going with Cole here as I predict 2018 to be a MASSIVE year for the former Wrestling Observer Rookie of the Year.
JT – this is really the only match I’m interested in watching, as Black and Cole both have great striking skills and like to hit hard.
Winner: Aleister Black
Michael – This match will be off the charts great and possibly the best match of the weekend. I think it goes one of two ways: either Cole wins to establish the Undisputed Era as THE faction in NXT, or Black wins to thrust himself into the number one contender position where he will take the belt off Almas in a month or two. Given my prediction of the title match, I guess I will go with option B.
Winner: Aleister Black
Schuerman – This, this is what I’m talking about! Two guys just going out there and laying it all on the line for our entertainment. Two great workers, and this should be a hard hitting affair. One can only assume that Black gets his revenge here, but with Cole and the Era lurking, you never know.
Winner – Black
NXT Tag Team Championship
The Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs. The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) (with Paul Ellering)
Harrak: Their title win might not have been on a big TakeOver event but this win with cement The Undisputed Era as THE tag team of 2018. Fish and O’Reilly’s style is completely foreign to the NXT/WWE audience and I’m curious to see how it meshes with the brute power of the AoP. One way or another though, UE leaves with the NXT gold.
JT – the Authors of Pain haven’t really recovered from their title loss, while the Undisputed Era have shown that wrestlers of average height can make an impact in WWE by kicking people really hard.
Winners: The Undisputed Era
Michael – Hopefully we get to see reDRagon (why aren’t they using the name) destroy the Authors of Pain here, but I am sure we won’t. Instead, we’ll get the AoP dominating the majority of the match only for one of the champs to get a fluke roll-up or something. Post-match, the Authors head to the main roster and enter the Royal Rumble.
Winner: Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly
Schuerman – I think this is one of those “foregone conclusion” matches. The time for the AOP has clearly passed, as they haven’t improved enough even with their size. The Era takes this.
WInner – The Undisputed Era
Kassius Ohno vs. Velveteen Dream
Harrak: Velveteen Dream may be the hottest homegrown NXT star since Roman Reigns. The former Patrick Clark only competed sparingly on the independent scene before securing a spot on WWE’s rebooted Tough Enough program. Even though he did not win, Clark won over the audience and WWE officials with his passion and commitment to the business and was signed to a developmental deal soon after the final episode aired. While many saw potential in Clark, I don’t believe ANYONE saw The Velveteen Dream inside of Patrick Clark! The gimmick has caught on extremely quickly with the NXT audience and Clark portrays the persona to the highest level; while his “coming out” match against Aleister Black (no pun intended) truly cemented Dream as the new star to watch. Ohno and Dream will put on a stellar match that should be a great glimpse into the bright future of the Velveteen Dream.
JT – it would be physically impossible for me to care less about this match. As Ohno was essentially brought in as enhancement talent, Dream gets the win. Yawn.
Winner: The Velveteen Rabbit
Michael – Can The Velveteen Dream build off his last Takeover performance? I have a feeling this match is on the card because Trips and everyone are really hoping so. As such…
Winner: Velveteen Dream
Schuerman – Dream is on the fast path, and has taken his spot and simply ran with it. Ohno, while a good hand, isn’t winning here.
WInner – Dream
Tags: NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, rasslin roundtable