Your Average #NXTTakeOver: Philadelphia Preview & Predictions
The night before the Royal Rumble is no longer the final day of preparation. Thanks to the success of NXT, fans now get an NXT TakeOver event that sometimes outshines the main roster PPV. While it’ll be tough to outdo the Royal Rumble, TakeOver does have a solid card set up. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
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The Velveteen Dream vs. Kassius Ohno
This match was just added last night, and it’s between two guys who need a big win. NXT loves to back themselves into this corner, but I have faith the match will deliver. The build reminds me of Ohno/Itami, where Itami insulted Ohno, lost a match, then Ohno gave him the ‘I told you so’ treatment. Dream did that when Ohno lost to Gargano, then Dream lost to Gargano, then Ohno confronted him backstage and now we have a match. Dream had the match of the night with Aleister Black at the last TakeOver, so he has a lot to live up to Saturday night. The key for him is going to be avoiding the KO and using his athleticism to his advantage. I’m not sure how much longer Kassius is going to hang around in NXT, so I think Dream should go over here.
Prediction: Velveteen Dream picks up his first big win at an NXT TakeOver
Extreme Rules Match: Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black
NXT doesn’t usually venture into gimmick match territory for their TakeOver specials. That’ll change when Undisputed Era’s leader Adam Cole takes on Aleister Black in an Extreme Rules match. These two first squared off on the December 13th episode. Black defeated Cole in that match, earning a spot in the #1 contender Fatal Four Way. Cole took offense to not being in the match and more or less cost Black his chance at a title shot by attacking him. A few weeks later Black and Roderick Strong were challenging Fish & O’Reilly for the tag belts. Once again Cole interfered and cost Black a win.
Usually an Extreme Rules match would favor the guy who REALLY wants to hurt the other guy. While that would be Black in this case, the no DQ stipulation means that Fish & O’Reilly can interfere throughout.
The positive for Black: Undisputed Era has made A LOT of enemies. If Fish & O’Reilly interfere, don’t be surprised if Roddy Strong or Sanity come out to even the odds. Aleister Black is still undefeated in singles action, so this will be a very interesting outcome.
Prediction: Aleister Black
NXT Tag Team Title Match: Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish (C) vs. Authors of Pain
Remember when I said Undisputed Era has made a lot of enemies? Well none are more vicious and powerful than the Authors of Pain. The Authors were the most dominant team in NXT for a long stretch of time, and they’ll be looking to regain that distinction against the tag champs. The Authors don’t have as much experience as Fish/O’Reilly, but they make up for it in size and strength. They’ve beaten a who’s who list of all time NXT tag teams, including The Revival & DIY. Fish & O’Reilly have been more opportunistic than dominant, but they certainly know how to win. I do think that Black beats Adam Cole, which makes it hard for me to pick against the champs here. Undisputed Era has been impressive since debuting and I don’t think having all three guys lose at a live special is the right call. Plus, Authors of Pain need to be on the main roster wrecking people ASAP.
Prediction: Fish & O’Reilly
NXT Women’s Title Match: Ember Moon (C) vs. Shayna Baszler
Poor Ember Moon. She’s been a star in NXT since her debut, but could never win the big one against Asuka. Asuka moved to Raw still undefeated, but Ember continued to scratch and claw her way to the top. She competed in the Fatal Four Way match for the vacant title at WarGames and FINALLY won the title. How is she rewarded? A match against Shayna Baszler, who has been murdering women for weeks on NXT TV. Moon is definitely up to the task, but this is a hell of a first title defense.
The build for this match has been perfect. Ember is not only a fighting champion, but she’s a champion with a moral code. Shayna Baszler has been terrorizing the women’s division for weeks and the only person to stand up for the fallen has been Ember. Just like in the movies, the hero is only as good as the villain, and Shayna is one hell of a villain. I love that she has an actual MMA background, because it makes everything she’s doing seem a bit more dangerous. While Ember has the wrestling advantage, all it takes is one misstep for Baszler to apply the Kirifuda Clutch. If that happens Saturday night, Ember’s reign will be a short one. Shayna has a ton of potential, but Ember deserves at least a few successful title defenses.
Prediction: Ember Moon
NXT Title Match: Andrade Almas (C) vs. Johnny Gargano
It’s not often that the main event steals the show at TakeOver, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen in Philly. These two have already fought twice, including the off the charts match at TakeOver: Brooklyn. Interestingly enough, that match is what started Almas on his current hot streak. Since defeating Gargano in Brooklyn, Almas has been the star of NXT and enters TakeOver as the NXT champ. Gargano went in the opposite direction post Brooklyn and honestly owes his spot in the title match to a little bit of luck. Gargano was given a spot in the Fatal Four Way #1 contender’s match after Velveteen Dream was injured. To his credit, he earned the victory in that match, and now goes on to fight someone he has never defeated.
There are two people to remember heading into this match. Candice LeRae just signed with WWE less than two weeks ago. She is Gargano’s real life wife, and also someone who could even the odds if Zelina Vega gets involved. The other is Tommaso Ciampa. He was injured in May after turning on Gargano, and his expected return is early 2018. Last time I checked, it was early 2018, and what better time to return than when Gargano is in a title match? He’s also been selectively active on Twitter lately. IF Ciampa is healthy, NXT would be crazy to do anything but Gargano vs. Ciampa for the NXT title at the WrestleMania show. In order for that to happen, Gargano would have to win Saturday night.
Prediction: Gargano wins, Ciampa attacks post match similar to Owens/Zayn after Sami won the NXT title.