by James Toal
We are here! NXT came to take over Philadelphia and they brought one hell of an arsenal. So many memorable moments from this PPV it’s hard to believe that it was real. But, what match stole the show? How can they possibly top any previous Takeover PPV from the past? Well, before we get started. Let’s set the mood right with Paul Heyman’s promo packaged that got things initiated and fittingly left us waiting in anticipation for the opening brawl…
The Authors of Pain vs The Undisputed Era (C) – NXT Tag Team Championships
We kicked things off with a heel vs heel fight. These situations can only go so far given the fact that you’re questioning over which bad guy you want to cheer for. However, they still managed to bring us quite an entertaining opening match. While AOP did gain the early advantage thanks to their ambush, they hadn’t counted on Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly being excellent at isolating their targets. Fish and O’Reilly used their technical skills to bring down AOP. Finding weak spots like Akems’ knee and viscously attacking them.
For the finish, the AOP went for the Supercollider. But, a hurricanrana led Undisputed Era to steal the win with a roll up.
Winner: The Undisputed Era (Retained)
Kassius Ohno vs Velveteen Dream
This was certainly an interesting way to add some spice to the match card. Dream proclaimed that he would knock out Kassius Ohno in under 30 seconds, while also sporting his own boxing attire (we are in Philly after all). While Dream did succeed knocking out Ohno for a couple of seconds, he forgot to keep focussed and was treated to a knockout strike of his own. This back and forth encounter was not quite a comedy match but knew when to not take itself too seriously. It was a little messy in areas, two key examples were a Death Valley driver that didn’t look too smooth and DDT from Dream that looked so poor Ohno simply no sold it as he rolled onto his back. The dream seemed to struggle to handle someone of Ohnos’ size of and sadly parts of the match suffered because of this.
In the end, Dream won with an elbow drop from top turnbuckle. This won’t hamper Dreams attempts at getting over, he already appears to be the fan favourite judging from crowd reactions. Maybe just needs to practise handling a big guy that can go as fast as you.
Winner: The Velveteen Dream
Ember Moon (C) vs Shayna Baszler – NXT Women’s Championship
An intriguing bout that left us seeing Shayna as a diabolic monster. Shayna managed to pick apart Ember moon, even removing the use of her arm. When ember hit the total eclipse she couldn’t capitalise. Medics came down to inspect the arm but she pushed on. The tension rose as ember was cinched in an elbow lock, she struggled to get free all until Ember managed to steal the victory by leaping her body forward for the pin. Shayna refused to accept defeat and attacked Ember by locking her in a chokehold.
Shayna has cemented herself as one of the deadliest women on the roster. Even Ember Moon had to find a way to defeat her unconventionally, Shayna played her role perfectly and now we wait to see what’s going to happen in their next encounter.
Winner: Ember Moon (Retained)
Aleister Black vs Adam Cole – Extreme Rules
Running rings around Adam Cole, mocking him for even trying to use weapons on him. But even when Black dismisses a weapon such as the kendo stick, it came back to bite him as Cole went to town striking Black over and over. What Cole fails to understand is that his ego can cloud his judgment, which Black takes full advantage of as he waited for his moment to strike back and gain back momentum. The brutality continued, Cole being thrown onto a ladder certainly looked nasty but wasn’t enough to stop him from getting back up. An even nastier spot followed as Cole superkicked a chair into Black, which then led him collapsing onto the tables beneath. To quote Mauro; ” Holy Beep, indeed”.
It got even worse as Cole almost got impaled on the steel chairs, but fortunately Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish came down to support their fearless leader and dismantle Aleister Black. However! Sanity appeared and acted as the cavalry for Black. Undisputed Era and Sanity were down, leaving Black and Cole once again to fight one on one. Black used a double knee dive to drive Cole through the table, but not even this could stop the never-ending violence. But like most things, everything must fade to black. Aleister hit the black mass and secured the victory.
What a match, the story leading up to this moment was so satisfying and now we have an amazing culmination at the end of it. How could the main event even come close to topping this? funny you should say that…
Winner: Aleister Black
We got a good luck at who we’ll be seeing in NXT in the future! Tag team War Machine and Ricochet made an appearance, but we already knew that they’d be coming to WWE. But, we got an unexpected surprise. Former Impact star EC3 showed up, pretty much confirming that he’s coming to WWE. Surprisingly he seems to be keeping the EC3 name, what he does next will be worth watching.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 28, 2018
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (C) w/ Zelina Vega vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Championship
A masked mariachi band? You’ve got an excellent start already. Highlights how developed these two have become. they’re faster, determined, and more creative with their move set than their previous encounters. They’ve grown and learned as time has passed, now they’re using that new found knowledge to try and find a gap in their opponents armour. The battle of attrition had them pulling out every move they know, but still unable to keep the other man down for the three count.
It seemed like it was all over as Andrade built up a head of steam. But you could not keep Gargano down. Defiant as ever, Gargano took every move but resisted defeat. Using all of his energy, Gargano hit the tornado DDT on the ring apron but was unable to achieve victory. The tension was electrifying, the match kept going even when Gargano hit his Superkick leading him to get even more creative to try and put Almas away.
Almas hit the hammerlock DDT, but Gargano kicked out AGAIN! Zelina Vega tried to intervene once again, thankfully Candice LaRae hit back and we finally had a fair one on one fight. Sadly this battle didn’t have a happy ending. Andrade hit the double knees to Johnny onto the ring post, followed up by an elevated hammerlock DDT left Andrade retaining the title. As if the pain wasn’t bad enough. Johnny stood with his wife at the top of the ramp basking in what little positivity he could muster. Suddenly, Tomasso Ciampa appeared and cracked Gargano on the back with a crutch.
Wow, I mean wow! I thought to myself that they couldn’t top the Black vs Cole match. But I was so wrong. Thrills, spills and so much tension that left me on the edge of my seat constantly. Johnny Gargano, Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, well done on making possibly one of the must-see matches of 2018.
Winner: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (Retained)