Celebrating the Future in the real Birthplace of America – NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia Recap

The Eagles may be headed to Minnesota, probably to start a riot and burn anything not covered in snow, next Sunday but tonight the current leaders of NXT and the future superstars of the WWE make their way to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to steal another of the “Big 4” weekends from the main roster.  So let’s see what Triple H and company have for us this evening.

The Kickoff Show

There was a lot in the kickoff show, and not just a bunch of last minute matches added to try to sell network subscriptions going into the event.  The matches on this card sell themselves.  What we did get was:

  • SAM ROBERTS AND SAMOA JOE ON THE SAME KICKOFF PANEL!!!  Can you tell this excited me greatly?
  • The NXT Year End Awards were given out.  Your winners were:
    • Overall Competitor of the Year and Female Competitor of the Year: Asuka
    • Aleister Black cleaned up, taking home Male Competitor of the Year, Breakout Star of the Year and Rivalry of the Year for his work with Velveteen Dream.
    • Tag Team of the Year went, thankfully, to Sanity.
    • The UK got a well deserved match of the year award for the Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate match from TakeOver: Chicago.
    • WarGames was your favorite TakeOver of the year, even though Chicago was overall the better show.
    • And the people have spoken, and while I had a sneaking suspicion that he was going to be huge, the Future Star award went to Cezar Bononi.
  • Zelina Vega argued the greatness of Almas with Sam Roberts and Samoa Joe.  This woman is fire.  I think she could cut promos opposite Paul Heyman and hold her own.
  • Paul Heyman delivers a rousing opening video for the event, highlighting that even though this weekend is the start of the road to Wrestlemania, the future is now, and #WeAreNXT.  #HeymanForABetter205Live.

NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia

I’m just going to quickly note that I don’t understand why the guy that’s always in the front row with the older lady at PPV events was dressed as Tommy Wiseau this evening.  He probably doesn’t know either.

The Undisputed Era successfully defends the Tag Team Championship against the Authors of Pain

Jeremy had it right in our prediction post.  This was a match entirely meant to showcase Fish and O’Reilly.  Authors of Pain didn’t have to take a ridiculous loss to help get this over for the Era, as pick up a sneaky roll up for the pinfall.  Congrats to the Undisputed Era, and hopefully we were further right in assuming that this would be the last NXT appearance for AoP as they’ve been primed for a main roster call up for quite a while now.  Don’t let the fact that this recap is short imply that it wasn’t a good match, it was just fairly short.

Kassius Ohno will now have to say the name…..

The first thing that has to be acknowledged is that Velveteen Dream has the ring attire award for the rest of time.  The tights featuring Aleister Black in Houston were already amazing.  Tonight, he’s taken a page straight out of Joe Fraser’s book, wearing boxing trunks in a bright purple with both he and Ohno’s faces seemingly airbrushed on them.

In a promo taped prior to the event, Velveteen Dream promised to knock out the knockout artist in 30 seconds tonight.  He thought he’d gotten it, landing one hell of a strike early and dropping his opponent.  While he celebrated, Ohno recovered and laid him out.  This match was pretty good, but it would appear that Kassius Ohno really is the veteran that can be trusted to put on good matches while getting the younger talent over as Dream lands the Purple Rainmaker and picks up the pinfall.  

Ember Moon spends an entire match in submission holds, still retains the Championship.

90% of this match time was Shayna Bazler with Ember Moon on the mat in some kind of submission hold, but even after five minutes of being thrown back and forth in an armbar, Ember managed to roll herself up on top of the challenger while still in the armbar and sneaking away with a pinfall to retain the championship.  I do have to give the booking a lot of credit here, as Ember Moon hit an Eclipse early and sold the hell out of a bad landing on her left arm (which would then get locked into the armbar forever) to make us all think it was over and we’d have to deal with the QoS as the Women’s Champion already.  I do hope she’s alright though, because I don’t know that she’s a good enough actress to have pulled off that level of realistic pain.

Shayna in her frustration would lock in a Cochina Clutch on Moon as the trainers were attempting to get her up the ramp, knocking the champ out.  Are we supposed to believe that these six guys couldn’t pull her off?  I don’t buy it, but whatever.

I’ll tell you who won, but seriously, go watch this match as soon as you can…..

This match featured about every weapon you’ll normally find under the ring, an electric chair drop on a corner propped ladder, a back drop onto the uprights of two folding chairs……and Sanity coming to the aid of a heavily outnumbered Aleister Black.  Just go watch it.  What the hell are you waiting for?  You can read the rest of this when you get back.  Black lands the Black Mass as Cole was going for the kill with a steel chair to pick up the pinfall.  Seriously, are you not watching it yet?


Throughout the evening, NXT’s newest signings were shown at ringside, as War Machine and Ricochet were out earlier in the night, and Candice LeRae was out to cheer on her husband in his title opportunity, as was a less publicized signing for NXT, EC3.  I knew he had to be coming at some point having just left Impact, I just expected him to appear in the Rumble match.  I’m excited.  To an extent he was one of the few reasons to keep up with Impact.

You know exactly what you’re getting when you get Almas and Gargano in a match together, but not in the predictability sense.  You know you’re going to get a phenomenal match, and this one didn’t disappoint.  Gargano was throwing it all on the line, and taking plenty of bumps, including a missed rolling senton off the apron all the way to the floor that sounded like it really hurt.

False finish after false finish, some Vega distractions and bloody mouths all went into a second straight fantastic match.  Johnny Gargano is the second coming of Daniel Bryan.  He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s made that level of connection with the audience and he puts it all out there.

Did I mention the false finishes?

Vega kept getting involved and Candice LeRae had enough, coming over the barricade to take her out and chase her off into the backstage area.

These guys beat the living hell out of each other, but Johnny Gargano would eventually fall to the Hammerlock DDT as Andrade “Cien” Almas retains the NXT Championship.

Final Thoughts

Mauro Renallo was absolutely en fuego this evening, not that either of us are surprised.

Adam Cole and Aleister Black put on a match that won’t soon be forgotten, and is sure to be in the upper tier of the match of the year picks come December.

I’m going to be completely honest with you, if it weren’t for the insane levels of boredom I experienced during the Women’s Championship match, this one would be an A+.  I’m going to give in an A, but let it be known that it is getting some extra love because both of the final two matches were absolutely incredible.


Oh yeah, there was this too……