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.
NXT’s Adam Cole Discusses Creative Freedom
NXT Champion Adam Cole is at the height of his success with the promotion, recently defeating Johnny Gargano in another instant classic to capture his first NXT Championship, and he is talking about how things go down in NXT.
Unlike much of the main roster, where promos are often scripted and comedy-acts are more common, Cole says that superstars in NXT get a bit more creative freedom, as he had with Gargano for their match.
“One of the coolest things about NXT is we have a ton of creative liberties to come up with the story and the vision we have for the match” Cole said, during an interview with TalkSport. “Of course, there’s input and advice given and there’s suggestions or, you know ‘we need something this way’ (but) we do have a lot of freedom, which is great.”
Cole added that he and Gargano came up with the format for their two out of three falls classic at NXT Takeover: New York.
Fandango, Apollo Crews, Killain Dain Make Returns to NXT
WWE is starting to allow superstars on their main rosters to transition back to NXT, much like they did with Tyler Breeze, who recently returned to NXT, where he had his most success, following around 2 years of meandering on the main roster following his callup.
Fandango, Apollo Crews, and Killian Dain made their returns to NXT tv at Winter Park, FL at Full Sail University for Thursday’s NXT TV tapings.
Fandango, also making his return from injury, made the save for his Breezango partner, Tyler Breeze, who was on the receiving end of an attack at the hands of the Forgotten Sons. Crews made his return to take on Kushida in singles competition, and Dain made a brutal attack on Matt Riddle following Riddle’s win over Arture Rass.
Fandango had been out of action after suffering a shoulder injury back in July 2018.
Tommaso Ciampa Undergoes Successful Surgery
Ciampa is expected to miss 3-6 months as he recovers from the surgery.
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