The Rope Break #29: NXT Takeover: Philadelphia Review

By Curtis Suthard – 1/29/2018

Credit: WWE.com

Kicking off a HUGE weekend of wrestling, NXT Takeover: Philadelphia honestly delivered, as most NXT Takeovers do. With a relatively lite card of only 5 matches, the show was high energy and moved at lightspeed! So, let’s take a quick look back at these matches and all of the highs and lows of the event.

Credit: WWE.com

The Authors of Pain VS. The Undisputed Era (NXT Tag Team Championships): Things started off with a hard-hitting, chaotic match between NXT’s formerly unstoppable behemoths, The Authors of Pain and the new renegades on the block, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly of the Undisputed Era. And, when I say “Hard-Hitting”, I ain’t lying. These guys, especially the A.o.P. really laid into each other with some stiff-looking shots. The Authors proved themselves to still be a force to be reckoned with, as they controlled most of the match, just being the monsters that they both are. Though, Fish and O’Reilly levelled the field by using their speed and shady double-teaming to work the Authors down. Fish and O’Reilly targeted Akam’s (I think it was Akam) leg and kept him cut off as much as they could from his partner, Rezar, which was a sound tactic, as in the end it definitely helped them secure the win and retain their titles.

Credit: WWE.com

The Authors of Pain did a great job, in this match, as well. I felt the need to say that, because these two guys have done a good job by showing real improvement in each and every BIG match that they have had throughout their run in NXT. Are they ready for the jump to the WWE Main Roster? Yes. Are the Tag Divisions on either Smackdown or RAW ready for the Authors of Pain? That’s a bit murkier. Both show’s Tag Divisions are kinda weak, with only the teams at the top getting any real storylines or spotlight, while the rest languish in a limbo of sorts by working Pre-Show matches, jobbing out and just being a part of goofy backstage segments. Even the New Day has sort of lost a bit of their luster, to me, since they seem to be doing anything and everything BUT going after the Tag titles. The Authors could add something new to either show or they could just as easily end up “Ascenscioned” and written off completely, which would be a shame after everything they’ve shown in NXT.

Credit: WWE.com

Winners: The Undisputed Era

Credit: WWE.com

The Velveteen Dream VS. Kassius Ohno: Hot off of his breakout match at the last NXT Takeover, Velveteen Dream entered this one promising to knockout the “Knockout Artist”, Kassius Ohno, within 30 seconds. And….. he sort of did? Kind of? Throwing a punch that felled Ohno for a few moments. Velveteen then danced around the ring, celebrating, instead of going for a cover, which would have been a good cheap win for the guy and possibly the way this one should have gone down. But, instead, Ohno got back to his feet and the fight went on. I mean, they’ve got 2 plus hours to fill, right?

Credit: WWE.com

Anyway, the match was good, but a bit sloppy. Velveteen had a few of these miscues in his match with Aleister Black back in November, but that match moved so fast and was so good, that they weren’t really noticeable. This time around, the pace was a little slower and the flaws were a bit more obvious. Did that hurt the match? Not really. It just shows that for as over as Velveteen has become, he still needs to tighten things up a bit and maybe get a bit more comfortable in the ring. Maybe he even needs to start slowing things down a little bit and pace himself better. Other than that, the guy’s got it all and continued to build some momentum with the win over the veteran Kassius Ohno. I could see this feud continuing a bit, which would be a good thing for Dream, because he could really grow a bit with some help from Ohno.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: The Velveteen Dream

Credit: WWE.com

Shayna Baszler VS. Ember Moon (NXT Women’s Champinship): The weakest match on the card, this one was still decent, but just a bit boring. Ember looked good, but I’m not really convinced that she has the ability to really lead a match or stand on her own in a big match like this. When she was facing other, more experienced women, things went well. This time, she had someone who is still a bit too green, so there were big chunks of the match where almost nothing was happening.

Credit: WWE.com

Shayna worked on Ember’s shoulder/elbow, leading up to that little stomp thing she’s been doing, which led to Ember rolling around on the mat and clutching at her arm for a good chunk of the match. Which is something that is becoming a bit too much of a trend, for me, in Ember’s matches. Shayna then stood around shrugging and smiling a bit too much as all of this was going on, when she should have been all over Ember, covering her up, pulling her out of the ring or just getting around the ref and working her over some more. And then there was the ending. Shayna had Ember in an Armbar (of sorts) for what seemed like forever. Ember rolled towards the rope, screamed and yelled, writhed and rolled some more. This just went on and on and the ending of the match couldn’t have been more predictable if they had spelled it on the little Tweet scrawl at the bottom of the screen. In the end, Ember, who was still locked into the Armbar, rolled Shayna onto her shoulders and used her leverage to pin her. And, then because the end of the match wasn’t predictable enough, Shayna came running after Ember and locked her up some more on the ramp, not once but twice. All in all this wasn’t a great match, nor was it a really good match. But, it could have been worse. Right?

Credit: WWE.com

WinnerEmber Moon

Credit: WWE.com

Adam Cole VS. Aleister Black (Extreme Rules Match): I may have poo-pooed this match a little in my predictions. Not by assuming that this match would stink, just wondering aloud “How EXTREME could this really get?”. Well…were there tables, ladders and chairs? Yep! Were there Kendo Sticks? Yep! Was there blood? Yep! Were there super cringe-inducing bumps? Yep! Did Paul E. (Heyman, if you’re nasty) appear somewhere on the show? Yep! Did New Jack pop up and seemingly commit manslaughter as his entrance music boomed out on a seemingly endless loop? Well…no. But, I guess 5 out of 6 still kinda’ made it EXTREME. Though a Joey Styles “OH MY GOD!” would of clinched it for me.

Credit: WWE.com

Black and Cole did an amazingly good job. Both guys really went above and beyond in this match, which really shouldn’t be a shock. It seems that NXT is that perfect middle ground between “Let’s nearly kill ourselves to get noticed”-Indy wrestling and “Uh, no! That may not go over too well with our sponsors/investors”-WWE Main Roster. There were some spots in this match that I just wasn’t expecting and the only thing really missing was fire and thumbtacks.

Credit: WWE.com

But, if you haven’t seen this one yet, I would advise you to drop everything immediately and remedy that. One thing that made this match great, beyond all of the hardcore-ness of it all, is that there was still a little bit of a story being told throughout it. Black was seemingly trying to not lose his zen-like focus, no matter what Cole threw at him. Meanwhile, Adam Cole was just trying to chop the guy down and end him. But, all in all, it was Cole who seemed to be the one taking most of the punishment. From cutting his hand/thumb early on in the match, to getting launched into a ladder that was leaning in the corner of the ring, to being dropped onto the back of two back-to-back chairs, which resembled Bane breaking Batman’s back. How Cole made it into the back locker room area, let alone into the Royal Rumble match, I’ll never know.

Credit: WWE.com

In the end though, Black put Cole down with a well placed Black Mass Kick. Cole has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of though, as he delivered in spades. Aleister, on the other hand, keeps on truckin’ along and is hopefully heading towards an NXT title shot in the near future.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Aleister Black

Credit: WWE.com

Johnny Gargano VS. Andrade Cien Almas (NXT Championship): As great as the last match was, between Cole & Black, this one easily topped it. Almas’ first big title defense comes in the form of the ultimate underdog, Johnny Gargano. Now, being a longtime fan of the guy, I’m not sure that I would always count Gargano out, as an “underdog”, but that’s the gimmick that fits him easily. He’s great at taking a beating and making it look good. The only thing he does better, really, is coming back for more and pulling out a win when you don’t expect it. And, it seemed, more than a few times throughout the match, that Johnny had it in the bag, only to come up short. There were a ridiculous number of near falls, which almost began to border on silly.

Credit: WWE.com

Now, as good as Gargano looked in the match, Almas was just as good, if not just that much better. I’ve been crowing for a while now about just how great this guy can be, if given the opportunity to really shine. And, he showed that in this match. Andrade was in control for most of it and got plenty of chances to show off all of his abilities as a true leader in the ring.

Credit: WWE.com

To make things even more exciting, not only did Selina Vega get involved, with a wild Hurrincanrana onto Johnny, at ringside. But, this lead to Candice LeRae, Johnny’s real life, wrestling wife leaping the railing and going after Ms. Vega. All of these little touches helped add to this match and make it feel like one of the better main events in any recent WWE show that I can think of.

Credit: WWE.com

In the end, Johnny finally got pinned and lost the match, which wasn’t really unexpected. I’m sure that he will be getting a few more shots during his remaining tenure in NXT. This led to Johnny and Candice slowly making their way up the ramp, basking in the applause from the crowd and turning their backs just long enough for Johnny’s ex-Tag Team Partner, Tommaso Ciampa to attack with a crutch across Gargano’s back. Ciampa then just creepily stood there, with Candice trying to comfort her husband. This was a good ending to the whole shebang, not to mention a great setup for this future, highly-anticipated rivalry to continue with. But…I was sort of hoping to see Candice go after Ciampa. Now, I know we live in a TV-PG world right now, but how much more would the stakes be raised if Ciampa put his hands on LeRae. Maybe, they’re saving that for some time in the future to escalate the feud. I would love to see Candice cut loose and be involved.

Credit: WWE.com

Winner: Andrade Cien Almas

Credit: WWE.com

Alrighty! What a great show NXT Takeover: Philadelphia was! 4 out of the 5 matches were really great. The Women’s title match was a bit weak, but I don’t think that it really hurt the overall feel of the show and this is just another clear win for NXT. So….with all of that being said NXT Takeover: Philadelphia get a 4 out of 5 on the Official Nerd Nation Radio Pocket Protector Scale!

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