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NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia Review: Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano

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Below is my review and star ratings for NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia which took place from the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia (8 P.M. on WWE Network)

NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish def. The Authors of Pain (w/Paul Ellering) to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles

  • Rating: ***2/4

Authors of Pain attacked Fish and  O’Reilly before the match. O’Reilly delivered kicks to Rezar. O’Reilly applied a triangle and then followed it up by delivering some ground and pound strikes. Akam and Rezar with shoulder tackles to Fish and O’Reilly on the floor.  Fish is sent shoulder first into the ring steps. Akam delivered a hot shot wheelbarrow to O’Reilly on the  ringside barrier. Fish attacked the back of the leg of Akam on the floor. Fish spears Rezar through the middle ropes. Akam battled back by delivering a uranage to Kyle from the corner but Fish continues to kick at the injured leg. O’Reilly applies a knee bar to Akam.  Both Fish and O’Reilly continue to work on the injured leg of Akam. O’Reilly applied another knee bar. Fish tags in and delivered a slingshot senton onto the leg of Akam for a near fall.  gets a near fall. Rezar finally gets the hot tag and delivers a spinebuster to O’Reilly. Rezar delivers a combination fallaway slam/Samoan drop to Fish and O’Reilly which looked really nice for a near fall. Another highlight was when O’Reilly kicked Rezar as Fish delivered an Exploder suplex for a near fall. Akam tags in and sets up for the Final Chapter but Fish delivered a jumping knee. O’Reilly applied another knee bar as Fish chokes out Rezar. Rezar dumps Fish onto O’Reilly to break the hold. O’Reilly delivered a kick but Akam battled back by delivering a t-bone suplex. Akam then delivered a series of knees to the head of O’Reilly.  Akam delivered a buckle bomb to O’Reilly and then followed it up with more knees.  Akam and Rezar deliver the Super Colliders to Fish and O’Reilly.  O’Reilly delivers a head scissors and sends Akam into Rezar. O’Reilly rolls up Akam and gets the win. 

  • This was a good match to open the show. Fish and O’Reilly are terrific as a team as they used a simple fundamental style to work on the injured both part throughout the match. 

War Machine was shown in the crowd and got a nice pop from the crowd.

The Velveteen Dream def. Kassius Ohno 

  • Rating: **1/4

Dream got big reception for his entrance. During the pre-show Dream predicted that he would win the match in less than 30 seconds. Dream delivered hard strikes to Ohno in the corner. The crowd counted  with Dream and wants a referee stoppage but it doesn’t happen. (Fans didn’t like this) Ohno got up and delivered a rolling elbow as Dream’s mouthpiece came out. Ohno delivered a series of kicks to Dream. Dream delivered a spine buster to Ohno. Dreams kicks at Ohno’s head and delivers a series of punches. Dream delivered a suplex but Ohno kicked out. Dream worked on the back as he applied a camel clutch to Ohno. Dreams delivers more strikes to Ohno in the corner. Ohno delivered a big boot and back senton to Dream. Ohno delivered a cyclone kick for a near fall.  Dream made a comeback by delivering a super kick and followed it up with a twisting DDT for a near fall.  Ohno delivered a bicycle kick and a big boot. Ohno charged at Dream who caught him and delivered a mistimed Death Valley Driver that didn’t look good for a near fall.  Ohno delivered a rolling elbow for a near fall.  Ohno missed a rolling elbow attempt as Dream delivered a rolling DVD. Dream dives off the ring post (missed Ohno by a bit) but delivered the Purple Rainmaker elbow drop for the win. 

  • This was a fine match but had some mistimed spots. Velveteen Dream is great and has the potential to become a huge breakout star. Ohno is great but is stuck in mid-card role and is there to help put people over. 

NXT Women’s Championship Match: Ember Moon def. Shayna Baszler to retain the NXT Women’s Title 

  • Rating: **3/4

Moon delivered a snap mare and followed it up with a series of dropkicks. Moon delivered a nice looking suicide dive to Baszler on the floor. Baszler counters a handspring slash and delivers knee strikes for a near fall. Baszler stomps on the elbow of Moon. Baszler with a knee drop to the arm of Moon. Baszler applied an arm bar to Moon. Moon battled back by delivered a back heel kick and front kick. Moon delivered a springboard cross body for a near fall. Moon climbs to the top turnbuckle and delivers the Eclipse to Baszler but hurts her elbow in the process. The referee calls for medical assistance as Moon screams in pain. Baszler is laid out as the medical staff is checking on Moon. (The crowd didn’t like this at all) The match continued as Baszler applied a cross arm breaker to Moon who gets her foot on the bottom rope. Baszler reapplied the cross arm breaker.  Ember rolls through but Baszler holds on. Moon scratches away at Baszler’s arm but Baszler’s continues to apply pressure. (This sequence was done well) Finish came with Moon bridges Baszler and rolled her up for the win.  

  • This was fine. Didn’t mind the finish as it protected Baszler and we didn’t get a title switch. After the match, Baszler applied the rear naked choke to Moon twice as the referees tried to pull her off. This was good and likes sets up rematch. Baszler works really well as a badass heel. Something is missing with Moon but not sure what. 

Trevor “Ricochet” Mann was shown in the crowd and got a huge pop from the crowd 

Aleister Black def. Adam Cole – Extreme Rules Match

  • Rating: ****1/4

Black and Cole both received pretty good reactions during their entrances. We get a “This is Awesome” chant before the match begins. Cole quickly grabs a chair as the fans chant “ECW” Black avoids a chair shot and gains possession of the chair. Black sits back down on the chair for a nice pop. Cole tosses chairs and garbage cans into the ring. First highlight of the match was when Black attempted a quebrada but Cole delivered a kendo stick shot to Black in mid-air which looked really nice. Cole delivered some more kendo stick shots. Cole then places the kendo stick against Black’s mouth and delivers a back cracker for a near fall. The crowd chants for tables and Cole gets one from under the ring for a big pop and sets it at ringside. Black and Cole battle on the turnbuckle. Cole attempted a superplex but Black countered by tossing him off onto a garbage can which didn’t feel good. Black delivered a running knee strike for a near fall. Cole was bleeding on his hand. (The medical staff checked on Cole. The crowd booed this.) Black grabbed a table and also brought out a ladder.  Cole delivered a baseball slide into the ladder to Black. Cole delivered a step up enzugiri and strikes in the corner. Cole does his pose as Black places him in an electric chair position and tosses him tailbone first into the ladder which got a nice pop. Cole attacked Black with a chair. Black with a double foot stomp. Black climbs the top turnbuckle. Cole tosses a chair at him but Black throws it away. Cole delivers a super kick as Black goes crashing threw the tables for a big pop. Cole set up two chairs which were placed back-to-back. Black recovered and delivered an Attitude Adjustment as Cole went back first onto the chairs. (This looked disgusting) The crowd chanted “You Deserve It”. Black delivered a Shining Wizard to Cole into a chair. Black goes for a cover but Fish and O’Reilly break it up. Fish and O’Reilly deliver Chasing The Dragon to Black on the floor. SAnitY comes out and brawls with Fish and O’Reilly. Killian Dain delivered a suicide dive to everyone on the floor.  Black delivered a double foot stomp to Cole through the announcers table. Cole delivers a super kick to Black in between the ropes. Cole grabs a chair. Black got up and delivered the Black Mass for the win. 

  • This was an awesome match and had some cool creative spots. Black and Cole worked really well together. Both guys come off like superstars and should be the face of NXT. 

EC3 who has officially signed with NXT was shown in the crowd and got a big pop.

NXT Championship Match: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (w/Zelina Vega) def. Johnny Gargano to retain the NXT Title

  • Rating: *****

A mariachi band under Lucha Libre masks played Andrade theme. Almas Mauro Ranallo mentioned his background as La Sombra and came out with the mask on. Great mat wrestling to start the match. Gargano delivered a head scissors and a drop kick. Almas with chops in the corner. Gargano with a head scissors and then clotheslined Almas to the floor. Almas avoid a running senton as Gargano goes crashing to the mat. Almas chokes Gargano with an inverted face lock into the ropes. Almas with a sleeper hold. Gargano delivers a seated roundhouse kick to Almas. Gargano avoids a double foot stomp and delivers an overhead suplex into the turnbuckles. A back-and-forth strike exchange. Gargano with a middle rope face buster for a near fall. Gargano with a slingshot spear for a near fall. Almas countered a head scissors and delivered a face buster for a near fall. Gargano moved out of the way of a moonsault. Almas delivered a standing moonsault for a near fall. Gargano delivered strikes. Almas delivered a back elbow for a near fall. Gargano with a super kick for a near fall. Almas sets up for the middle rope hammerlock DDT but Gargano counters with a super kick. Almas counters a springboard spinning powerbomb and delivered a running knee strike to Gargano into the turnbuckle. Almas countered a slingshot DDT by delivering a inverted DDT for a near fall. Gargano delivered a slingshot DDT for a near fall. Almas goes for the running knee but Gargano counters with a big clothesline. Gargano sets up for the running knee but Vega grabs his foot. Almas sets up for the hammerlock DDT but Gargano counters with an inside cradle for a near fall. Gargano delivers the running knee strike for a near fall. Almas places Gargano in the tree of woe position. Almas delivered a double foot stomp to Gargano to the floor. Almas slamed Gargano into the LED ring apron.Almas delivered a running double knee strike into the corner for a near fall. Almas and Gargano exchanges strikes. Gargano delivered a super kick, a reverse hurricanrana and then transitions into the Gargano escape. Vega grabs Almas hands. Almas rakes Gargano in the eyes. Vega delivers a head scissors and sends Gargano into the ring post. Almas delivers a hammerlock DDT but Gargano kicks out. Vega tries to interfere again but Candice LeRae chased her to the back. Gargano delivered a slingshot DDT for a near fall. Gargano once again applied the Gargano escape but Almas got his foot on the bottom rope. Almas slams Gargano into the ring post. Almas delivers a running double knee to Gargano into the ring post. Almas delivers a hanging hammerlock DDT for the win. 

  • This was an incredible main event and will go down as one of the best matches in NXT history. It’s just January, but we got an early match of the year candidate. Gargano was unbelivable in this match and his selling was just awesome. The crowd loved this match and were going nuts for the pin fall attempts. Almas was great as well and has improved a lot. Vega is a star and has added a lot to Almas character. 

Postmatch 

LeRae was in the ring with Gargano after the match. The crowd have him a standing ovation. They walked to back and stood on the ramp. Tommasa Ciampa returned and attacked the back of Gargano with a crutch as the crowd booed really loudly. Ciampa walked away as LeRae checked on Gargano. 

Overall 

NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia was a really good professional wrestling show. The Almas/Gargano and Black/Cole matches are worth watching. A thumbs up show! 


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Image Credit — WWE

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