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Csonka’s NXT Takeover: Philadelphia 2018 Review

January 27, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Undisputed Era NXT Takeover Philadelphia

Csonka’s NXT Takeover: Philadelphia 2018 Review

NXT Tag Team Title Match: Champions The Undisputed Era defeated The Authors of Pain @ 15:00 via pin [****]
– Velveteen Dream defeated Kassius Ohno @ 10:50 via pin [***½]
NXT Women’s Title Match: Champion Ember Moon defeated Shayna Baszler @ 10:11 via pin [***]
Extreme Rules Match: Aleister Black defeated Adam Cole @ 22:04 via pin [****]
NXT Title Match: Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas defeated Johnny Gargano @ 32:20 via pin [*****]

– Follow all of my reviews at this link.

– My Top 23 EVOLVE Matches of 2017.
– My Top 24 ROH Matches of 2017.
– My Top 8 Matches of December 2017.
– My NJPW WrestleKingdom 12 Takeaways.
– My Top 38 WWE Matches of 2017.
– My Top 25 Matches of 2017.
– My 2017 NXT Awards.

– Paul Heyman narrated a great opening video package.

No Nigel tonight, they say he’s under the weather. It’s all a smoke screen; he’s winning the Rumble. But for real, this is a huge test for Percy Watson, who hasn’t been impressive in his NXT run on commentary.

NXT Tag Team Title Match: NXT Tag Team Champions The Undisputed Era (O’Reilly & Fish) vs. The Authors of Pain (Akam & Rezar): The AOP, who look in great shape, waste no time, attacking before the bell. Rezar and Fish begin, and Fish gets sent to the floor. He tags out to O’Reilly, but he’s easily overpowered to begin. Rezar beta son O’Reilly, but O’Reilly gets a triangle and he lays in ground and pound and then bails to the floor. Fish in now, lays in kicks, but is quickly cut off and double-teamed. O’Reilly back in and sent to the floor. The AOP follow the champions to the floor and the beatings continue. It’s all AOP here early. They work over O’Reilly in the ring, work quick tags and double teams, but Akam tweaks his knee. Fish attacks the knee, and spears Akam to the floor as O’Reilly takes over on Akam. The champions take the heat, working quick tags, isolating Akam. Akam tries to fight back, but Fish takes out the knee once again. Every time Akam fires up, the champions attack the knee and cut him off. O’Reilly works a knee bar now, but Akam makes the ropes. The champions go back to the double teams and Fish hits a senton atomico. Fish then kicks away at Akam’s leg, gets distracted by Rezar and Akam fights back and makes the tag. Rezar runs wild with big lad attacks, and hits a sack of shit/Samoan drop combo and picks up a near fall. O’Reilly cuts of the powerbomb with a guillotine, but gets tossed aside. O’Reilly hits knee strikes and Fish tags in and they work corner attacks, Fish hits the XPLODER for a near fall. Rezar continues to fight back, hitting a lariat and Akam is back to his feet in the corner. He gets the tag, Fish tags out Rezar as O’Reilly locks on a knee bar on Akam. Rezar slams Fish onto O’Reilly to break that. Everyone is down. O’Reilly back to attacking Akam’s leg with kicks, Akam fires up and hits an XPLODER and follows with knee strikes and takes out Fish. He buckle bombs O’Reilly, lays in more knee strikes as Rezar takes out Fish. The AOP goes for the super collider, but O’Reilly RANAs Akam into Rezar and rolls him up for the win. Champions The Undisputed Era defeated The Authors of Pain @ 15:00 via pin [****] This was a great match, with tremendous yet simple work by the champions here, nullifying the power advantage of the AOP, Akam sold very well and Rezar showed great fire in his comebacks. The champions were just smarter with their gameplan, and managed to sneak away with the win and did so without any shenanigans. It was a simple and old school story, with the smaller heel champions just executing better than the monster challengers. The AOP deliver again on a takeover, and they are still very young guys, and only getting better. Fish & O’Reilly delivered as expected as well.

– War Machine are in the crowd.

– Dream has promised a 30-second win tonight.

Velveteen Dream vs. Kassius Ohno: Dream is wearing MMA shorts and had a special mouthpiece given to him by his entourage. The crowd counts as they work to the corner; Dream lays in strikes and drops Ohno with a big right and celebrates, but doesn’t cover. Ohno kills him with the elbow, knocking out his mouthpiece and kicks him to the floor. Ohno rolls him back in, and Dream cuts him off but runs into a kick. He hits a spinebuster, cutting off Ohno. Dream follows with strikes, and then a suplex. Dream now lays in kicks, celebrates and lays in knees to Ohno. He then chokes him out in the ropes, and grounds Ohno. Ohno battles to his feet, and Dream follows with kicks and strikes. Dream continues to attack, laying the boots to Ohno. Dream up top and hits the double axe handle for 2. Dream continues to keep Ohno grounded, working a modified camel clutch. Ohno powers out, but Dream hits a kick, but Ohno hits the dump suplex. We get a double down, they get back to the feet and trade strikes. Chops by Ohno follows and then the running clothesline and big boot, The running senton follows. Ohno hits the cyclone kick, covering for 2. Dream then gets a backslide for 2. The superkick connects and then the spiked DDT follows, again covering for 2. Dream up top and leaps off into the kick and elbow strike. Dream then counters into the DVD, and that gets 2. Ohno fights back, hitting the ripcord rolling elbow for a good near fall. Dream hits the rolling DVD, heads up top and the elbow drop off the post connects! Dream picks up the win. Velveteen Dream defeated Kassius Ohno @ 10:50 via pin [***½] This was a very good match, with Dream delivering again in back to back Takeover performances. He didn’t win in 30-seconds, but won a very good back and forth match against a very game Ohno, recovering from last week’s loss to Gargano. Dream was insanely over here, and simply comes off as a star ready to break out. They had one off spot near the end, but they recovered and it didn’t take away from the overall package.

– Johnny Gargano is in the locker room with his family.

NXT Women’s Title Match: NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon vs. Shayna Baszler: Baszler grounds things right away, they work to the corner and Baszler lays in a leg kick and rounds things again. Moon battles back, takes out the leg and follows with dropkicks. Baszler bails to the floor. Moon follows with a suicide dive. Back in and Baszler cuts off Moon with knee strikes and then stomps on the elbow, ala what she did with Dakota Kai a few weeks back. Baszler now targets the arm, grounding Moon and stomping away at the arm. Baszler looks to set up an arm bar, stretching out Moon’s arm. Baszler goes back to strikes and kicks, and then goes back to the arm. Moon fires up with strikes, connects with kicks and hits a springboard high cross, covering for 2. Moon hits a forearm, heads up top and hits the eclipse, but can’t cover, due to the arm. The ref calls for the trainers, and they arrive to check on Moon. Baszler is still down. Moon refuses help as the crowd hates this, chanting bullshit. Baszler now locks on an arm bar, Moon fights and makes the ropes. Baszler attacks with another arm bar, Moon again fights, rolls and tries to escape, but Baszler rolls with her and keeps the hold. Baszler lays back and really pulls on the arm, Moon rolls, but fails to escape; she then stacks up Baszler, who won’t let go and picks up the pin. Champion Ember Moon defeated Shayna Baszler @ 10:11 via pin [***] Baszler did really well for her first major stage NXT match. The match was good, with a nice story and finish that played well into Baszler’s mentality of not letting go, allowing Moon, the resilient babyface to fight through and pick up the win and retain. Moon’s selling of the post eclipse injury angle played well as they built to the finish.

– Post match, Baszler attacks and chokes out Moon.

– Ricochet is in the crowd.

Extreme Rules Match: Aleister Black vs. Adam Cole: The crowd is totally into this even before they start. They trade strikes early, and Black sends Cole to the floor. Cole grabs a chair, Black counters and takes the chair from him. Cole again powders as Black sits in the chair. Black tosses the chair and then tosses Cole as they brawl to the floor. Cole cuts him off and gets out more weapons. He tosses them in the ring and then maintains control on the floor. They both get kendo sticks, slide into the ring and we have a standoff. Black tosses his away, Cole is happy and then misses shots and Black works him over, but the moonsault press is cut off with a kendo stick shot. Cole follow with more kendo stick shots, and chokes out Black with the kendo. Cole follows with a backstabber, covering for 2. He lays the boots to Black, as the crowd wants tables. Cole gets one and sets it up on the floor. Cole back in and continues to attack Black. They work up top, Cole looks for a superplex to the floor, but Black fights him off and press slams Cole onto a trashcan. Cole is bleeding a bit, Black to the floor and gets another table and sets it up next to the other one. Black now grabs a ladder, to the delight of the crowd. Cole dropkicks it into Black and pulls the ladder into the ring. He sets it up in the corner, as his hand is bleeding. Cole looks for a suplex, countered and Cole then hits an enziguri. Cole follows with corner strikes, but Black picks him up and slams him onto the ladder. Cole gets checked on by trainers, causing a delay in the match; Black then covers for 2. Black sets up a chair, lays Cole’s face on it but Cole fights back, using the chair and then he sets it up. Cole is slowed due to he back, Black then hits the double stomp and lays Cole on the chair. Black up top, but Cole tosses the chair to him and hits a superkick and Black flies off the ropes and through the tables. Cole drags Black back into the ring, and covers for 2. Cole sets up chairs, but Black hits the AA onto the tops of the chairs. Black now hits the running knee, sending the chair into Cole’s face, but O’Reilly & Fish arrive to make the save. They wipe out Black on the floor, and Cole yells instructions to them. They dismantle the announce table, and Sanity arrives to make the save, continuing their issues with O’Reilly & Fish. Dain is in the ring and hits a big boy suicide dive onto the pile! Cole to the floor and Black fights him off and hits a meteora onto Cole, putting him through the table. Black rolls him back in, but eats a superkick. Cole grabs the chair, but Black hits black mass and picks up the win. Aleister Black defeated Adam Cole @ 22:04 via pin [****] I think that this took a bit to get going, but they had a crowd that was into everything, which allowed them to keep the heat and work to turn things around and deliver really great second half. I am not a big fan of the run-ins, but due to the rules of the match, and the fact that it made sense, continuing the Sanity vs. Undisputed Era feud. The closing stretch was really great and heated and added a ton to the match as a whole. At the end of the day it came together, it worked and it was rather great. With that win for Black, if Almas retains, I can see Black vs. Almas over Mania weekend.

– EC3 is in the crowd, and commentary called him a new NXT signing.

– Almas has a masked mariachi band to play him to the ring. He even busts out the old La Sombra mask for part of his entrance. LOS!

NXT Title Match: NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas (with Zelina Vega) vs. Johnny Gargano: These two have had some great outings together. Gargano was one of the best WWE performers in 2017, and Almas hit his groove once Zelina was paired with him, we could be in for something really great here, but Almas is 2-0 vs. Gargano. The crowd is behind Gargano big time here. They lock up, work some back and forth to begin, Almas works some slick escapes. They work to the ground, battling for position and into a standoff. They work into a series of counters, each man looking for thier finish, but again ending in a standoff. They again work into counters; Gargano hits a RANA, dropkick and then grounds things, working the arm. Almas escapes, and then lays in chops and that takes Gargano down. Almas follows with more chops, but Gargano fights back, hits a RANA and then takes Almas to the floor. Gargano follows with an apron superkick, but crashes and burns on the apron cannonball. Candice is at ringside and concerned. Back in and Almas covers for 2. Gargano fights back, but Almas gets the dragon sleeper in the ropes. The basement dropkick follows, and Almas covers for 2. Almas now grounds things with the chinlock, Gargano tries to fight, but Almas cranks back on the hold. The crowd tries to rally Gargano; he fights to his feet, and hits the rolling kick. Gargano is slowed by his back, but lays in chops, but Almas puts him in the tree of WHOA, but misses the double stomp. Gargano hits the overhead suplex into he buckles. Gargano fires up with forearms, they trade center ring, both fire up and v starts taking Alms down with strikes. Gargano hits the forearm and then the flatliner off the ropes for a good near fall. Gargano now hits the slingshot spear for another good near fall. Gargano now hits an enziguri but Alma s cuts off the head scissors with a slam, covering for 2. Almas up top and lands on his feet and then hits the standing moonsault, and that gets 2. Alma slights up Gargano with big forearms, Gargano fires back but Almas about kills him with a spinning back elbow for 2. They then work into a double down off of clotheslines. Back to the feet and Almas hits an enziguri. Almas sets Gargano up top, follows him up but Gargano slides out and hits the trapped superkick. Gargano follows him back up, and Almas counters the sunset bomb and then misses the corner knees, but Almas counters the slingshot spear and hits an inverted tornado DDT for a great near fall. Things are really picking up now. They work to the apron, Almas looks for a hammerlock DDT, Gargano counters, and they trade rights and Gargano hits the enziguri. Gargano hits a slingshot apron DDT and they fall to the floor. Gargano rolls Almas back in, and covers for 2. Almas blocks the Gargano escape, hits a jawbreaker but Gargano fires back with strikes. Almas cuts him off with the back elbow, charges but Gargano kills him with a lariat. LAWN DART by Gargano! He’s fired the fuck up, but Vega distracts him, Almas hits a dropkick, but Gargano gets the roll up for 2. SUPERKICK by Gargano but Almas kicks out! My word. Gargano pulls himself to he apron and now heads up top. Almas tries to stop him and does by crotching him. Almas up top and hits the double stomp to the apron! Almas slams Gargano to the apron and then repeatedly slams him head against it. Back in and Almas sets Gargano in the corner, hits the charging knees, but Gargano survives and kicks out! JONATHAN WRESTLING IS ALIVE! Almas is pissed, slaps Gargano and talks shit to him. Gargano will not quit. Almas picks him up, and Gargano fires back with strikes, throwing with al he has left. Almas fires back with chops, but Gargano hits a superkick and reveres RANA! GARGANO ESCAPE LOCKED IN! Almas fights, Gargano keeps pulling back, Almas rolls and Gargano keeps it locked in. Vega tries to help, allowing Almas to rake Gargano’s eyes. Gargano fights off the hammerlock DDT, sends Almas o the floor and hits a suicide dive. Vega hits a RANA, sending Gargano to the steps. Back in and Almas hits the hammerlock DDT, BUT JOHNNY KICKS OUT AGAIN! This crowd is begging for Gargano to fight back and win. Gargano rolls to the floor and Candice takes out Vega! GET HER CANDICE! They brawl to the back and Gargano back to the apron and hits the enziguri and slingshot DDT, but Almas kicks out! Gargano escape locked in, Almas fights, and makes the ropes. They work to the apron, but Almas posts Gargano. Almas hits the charging knees against the post! The ref checks on Gargano, but Almas pulls him back up and looks for the draping hammerlock DDT, hits it and Almas retains. Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas defeated Johnny Gargano @ 32:20 via pin [*****] This was an absolutely spectacular match, and the best I have seen so far in 2018. I know we’re only in January, but this was everything I want from wrestling. It had great action, a great villain and an absolutely lovable and awesome babyface that the live crowd was trying to will to victory and hell, I was here at home. This had the action, the great work, the drama and the storytelling that made me more emotionally invested in a match since Shibata vs. Okada from last year. The near falls, the teases, the fight from Gargano and Almas just being a cocky asshole, cutting all of that off constantly, and the final 10-minutes almost had me out of my seat. This was simply an amazing effort from both guys, from Vega & Candice, as it all came together perfectly as they put on the best WWE match since Bate vs. Dunne last year. GO WATCH THIS NOW!

– Post match, Candice checks on Johnny as Vega & Almas exit. Gargano gets a standing ovation as he makes it to his feet. He and Candice look to go to the back, but that rat bastard Ciampa returns and attacks Gargano with a crutch! Ciampa walks off as Gargano is laid out and Candice checks on him.

– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
NXT Takeover: Philadelphia 2017 was an absolutely great show, with two great undercard matches, the other two being good & very good, and a certified MOTY contender from Almas 7 Gargano that makes this a must-see show.