WWE‘s Royal Rumble weekend is a few days away, which means the Road to Wrestlemania is about to begin. While many fans are excited for the annual 30 man over the top battle royal – as well as the first women’s Royal Rumble match – there are folks who are looking forward to this weekend’s NXT Takeover: Philadelphia event.
This Saturday’s NXT Takeover, which takes place the night before the Royal Rumble in the Wells Fargo Center, features five matches on the main broadcast, one being the NXT Championship bout between Andrade “Cien” Almas and challenger Johnny Gargano.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 25, 2018
Also on tap is the NXT women’s title match between Ember Moon and challenger Shayna Baszler and the tag team championship bout with titleholders The Undisputed Era – Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly – facing former champions The Authors of Pain.
There are two non-title matches on the card. Adam Cole will face Aleister Black. Although Black and Cole are not fighting for NXT gold, they will no doubt beat the tar out of each other as their match is under Extreme Rules.
Rounding out the card is Kassius Ohno, who will face off against the Velveteen Dream in a match announced by Triple H in a media call.
WWE has made a tradition of holding NXT Takeover events on the night before bigger pay per view events. While the WWE and NXT Universes get to devour two nights of wrestling, there are some fans who will watch and enjoy NXT, then are exhausted the next day.
There are also multiple wrestling events happening this weekend, such as New Japan Pro Wrestling’s New Beginning of Sapporo events on Saturday and Sunday.
Even though it seems like there is too much wrestling for a person to consume in the course of two days, wrestling fans should at least carve a little bit of time of time during the weekend – at least 2-3 hours – to watch NXT Takeover: Philadelphia.
One reason is fans will appreciate the quality of wrestling put on by the performers at the event.
For being designated as WWE’s developmental brand, NXT has some of the best wrestling in the world. This is a credit to the performers – both experienced and new – who sign with the company and the trainers at the WWE Performance Center.
But the performances are turned up to 11 at Takeover events. Every NXT Takeover event in the last year has produced a “Match of the Year,” candidate from non-title matches like Velveteen Dream vs. Black at NXT Takeover: Houston to the WWE United Kingdom title bout between Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate at NXT Takeover: Chicago.
The NXT championship match between Gargano and Almas has the potential to be the match of the year. Their bout at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III set the bar to an unattainable height that evening. Their rematch on an October episode of NXT also delivered.
The other three contests have the potential to steal the show. Fans can expect Bazler to turn up the intensity when she faces Moon for the title, while Cole v. Black will be a memorable slugfest.
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) January 25, 2018
Fans will also be in store for an entertaining match between the Authors of Pain and the former reDRagon. Can O’Reilly and Fish use their speed and technical skills to out match and out class AOP?
There’s also the possibility that Ohno and Dream could be a breakaway. Even though this match came out of nowhere, both wrestlers have the capability of putting on great matches.
Viewers at home not only have the opportunity to watch good wrestling, they can listen as NXT’s commentary team – Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness and Percy Watson – shine as they put over the matches and the talent.
— Kyle O'Reilly (@KORcombat) January 21, 2018
Besides seeing the popular NXT superstars, there are usually cameos from NXT alumni and WWE superstars, as well as the on-screen debuts of new wrestlers. One example is Bobby Roode, who was a face in the crowd at NXT Takeover: Dallas. Drew McIntyre was sitting in the front row at NXT Takeover: Orlando – the next day he announced he would be wrestling on the NXT brand.
WWE recently announced the signings of popular talents Ricochet, Candice LeRae and War Machine and there is a chance we could one or all four of them at Takeover.
Fans may even see LeRae stand in the ring and celebrate with Gargano if he wins the NXT Championship.
NXT Takeover: Philadelphia brings an air of uncertainty when it comes to the men’s and women’s championship bouts.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 18, 2018
Although Almas is 2-0 against Gargano, there is a chance “Johnny Wrestling” could usurp him as the NXT champion. Fans who have watch Gargano struggle to make it to the top of the NXT mountain will finally see him win the big one.
NXT Takeover: Philadelphia may only have four matches at this point, but the brand will pack a lot into the show that fans will enjoy and be talking about until the next Takeover event, which is scheduled for April 7 in New Orleans.
Tommaso Ciampa Undergoes Successful Surgery
Ciampa is expected to miss 3-6 months as he recovers from the surgery.
Ricochet to be Featured on RAW and SmackDown for Time Being
NXT superstar Ricochet made his surprising main roster debut last week during RAW and his debut on SmackDown the following night, and at least until after WrestleMania 35, he will be featured on both shows.
“I will be on RAW and SmackDown going forward,” Ricochet said, according to WPSD Local 6. “At least until after ‘Mania. After ‘Mania it’s gonna be one or the other, I’m assuming, I don’t know. But, that’s what I’m assuming. But yes, going forward, I am now an official member of RAW and/or SmackDown.”
In celebration of his ascension to the main roster, over 60 of his friends and family held a surprise party to commemorate the milestone.
“This [surprise party] was beyond amazing, It was awesome, Ricochet recalled.
“I got to see family, friends, people I haven’t seen in a long time. I was honestly surprised when I walked in, this was great. It just makes you happy to see that many people care. Whether it is close friends you have known since you were three years old, or people maybe you have never met, it is just cool that you can inspire so many people. Doesn’t matter where you are from, you can live your dream.”
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? February 18, 2019
For Raw, they opened the show by saying that a bunch of NXT superstars will make their debuts on the show. This list included Johnny Gargano, Aleister Black, Tomasso Ciampa, and Ricochet. While Gargano, Ciampa, and Ricochet all made their debuts through tag matches, Aleister Black got his singles debut against Elias. It was a solid match which Black won, and helped establish him as a threat for the future.
For Smackdown, we got to see Ricochet’s singles debut and it was great. He defeated Eric Young in a few minutes. His athleticism and high flying ability is entertaining to watch from start to beginning. Hopefully, he makes his way up to the top quickly because he is one the best things going forward for WWE.
For Raw, the segment between Lacey Evans and Heavy Machinery felt like a waste of time. During an interview with Heavy Machinery, Evans came out, walked up and down the entrance aisle, then made Heavy Machinery do it. They did so and then the segment ended. This literally felt like WWE just threw that in there to kill time for their show.
For Smackdown, while we finally got to see Asuka on Smackdown since the Royal Rumble, we still have yet to see R-Truth for the past few weeks. It really feels like WWE just flat out doesn’t care about the United States Championship at all.
The Final Verdict
With Elimination Chamber done and Fastlane the next PPV up, WWE needed to ramp the focus to that. With the sudden announcement of NXT superstars making their debuts this week, there was some confusion within WWE’s storytelling. For example, Bobby Lashley for some reason helped out Baron Corbin in his match against Braun Strowman at Elimination Chamber. But, when it came to Corbin’s tables match against Strowman to start Raw, he was nowhere to be found. With that said, I will have to say that Smackdown had the better show this week too. We got build up for Fastlane main event as well as other matches on that PPV. While Raw, still is trying to figure out what to do for that show.
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