Johnny Gargano looks to realize his dream of being the NXT Champion when he challenges Andrade “Cien” Almas. Adam Cole battles Aleister Black in an Extreme Rules match. Plus, a few new wrestlers are coming to NXT!
NXT Takeover: Philadelphia
From: Philadelphia, PA
The opening for the show is narrated by Paul Heyman and effectively promoted the show, I’d say.
Opening Contest: NXT Tag Team Champions Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Authors of Pain (Rezar & Akam): Authors of Pain attack the champs before the bell sounds and the champs bail to the floor. Fish and Rezar start the match with Rezar shoulder blocking Fish to the floor. O’Reilly tags himself in to try his luck and delivers a few leg kicks to Rezar. Rezar shoves O’Reilly to the mat but Kyle delivers a few kicks. Rezar misses a strike on the mat but tackles Kyle and delivers several strikes. O’Reilly gets a triangle choke on Rezar but gets on top and strikes Rezar. O’Reilly rolls to the floor to regroup. Fish tags back into the match avoiding a big boot and kicks Rezar a few times. Akam gets tagged in and the Authors double team Fish with knee strikes. Akam stomps on Fish to keep him on the mat. Fish tags in O’Reilly but he gets driven face first to the mat and shoulder blocked to the floor. Authors shoulder block the champs on the floor and send Fish into the ring steps. The champs had looked to bail on the match. O’Reilly falls off the apron doing a face plant to sell the attack. Fish tries to escape but is caught by Rezar and dropped chest first over the railing. Rezar tags back in and legally beats down O’Reilly with right hands. Akam comes off the middle rope to deliver a kick but Akam appears to have landed awkwardly and sell his left leg.
Akam misses O’Reilly and gets to the apron where Fish kicks the left leg of Akam. Rezar clotheslines O’Reilly and Fish tackles themselves through the middle rope to the floor. Akam continues to be worked over the champs in the corner with several kicks. O’Reilly runs into an elbow strike in the corner but Akam gets crotched over the ropes by Fish. Fish beats on Akam with several more strikes and splashes the left knee. Akam shoves Fish away but O’Reilly chop blocks his left leg. O’Reilly tries to get a half Boston Crab locked in but is kicked down. O’Reilly gets a knee bar locked in on Akam in the middle of the ring. Akam is able to reach the bottom rope to break the hold. Fish gets tagged back in and works over Akam some more as the champs double team Akam with a kick to the chest and Akam falls over O’Reilly. Fish hits a slingshot senton onto the left knee. Fish continues to kick Akam several times on the left knee and punches Rezar on the apron. Akam backdrops Fish and tags in Rezar. Rezar cleans house with big boots and an elbow strike on O’Reilly, Rezar slams Fish followed by a spine buster on O’Reilly. Fish gets on Rezar’s back while Rezar had O’Reilly and he still hits a fallaway slam on O’Reilly for a two count. O’Reilly has a choke on Rezar but gets backdropped. O’Reilly knee lifrs Rezar and he gets backed into the wrong corner. Fish and O’Reilly deliver running strikes. Fish tosses Rezar with an exploder suplex for a two count. O’Reilly and Fish are nailed with a lariat and big boot. Akam gets the tag despite his leg injury. Fish knee strikes Rexar and O’Reilly has a leg lock on Akam. Fish has a choke hold on Rezar. Rezar tries to save his partner and slams Fish onto O’Reilly to break the hold. O’Reilly kicks Akam several times on the left leg. Akam gets a second wind and tosses O’Reilly with an overhead suplex. Akam knee strikes O’Reilly and decks Fish off the apron. Akam hits a buckle bomb on O’Reilly and goes back to knee strikes. Rezar big boots Fish to help his partner. AOP attempt the Super Collider but O’Reilly sends Akam into Rezar with a head scissors and pins Akam with a rollup! (***1/4. This started off kind of slow, but the storytelling they did with the left knee of Akam was excellently done. It played a role in the match the entire way and the finish was because of Akam losing balance due to his knee injury and getting pinned. The champs got lucky, but win clean and the AOP aren’t hurt too badly since the champs took advantage of an injury. It was a good way to start the show.)
Hanson and Raymond Rowe, also known as War Machine, are in the crowd and they have signed with NXT.
Backstage, NXT Heavyweight Champion Andrade Almas is talking to his valet, but we can’t hear what they are saying.
Earlier tonight, Velveteen Dream promised that he’d knockout Kassisus Ohno in less than thirty-seconds. Dream promises that they will all say his name. Dream appears to have a woman and a muscular man as part of his entourage during his entrance to give him a mouthguard.
Second Contest: Kassius Ohno vs. Velveteen Dream: The fans are counting to thirty-seconds to see how Dream does with his goal. Dream hammers away on Ohno in the corner and drops Ohno with a strike and he thinks that Ohno is out cold. Dream doesn’t cover Ohno and celebrates. Ohno gets up and nails Dream with a forearm strike followed by a kick to send Dream to the floor. Dream knocks Ohno off the apron with an elbow strike but Ohno boots Dream from the apron. Dream plants Ohno with a spinebuster. Dream continues to work over Ohno with strikes in the corner. Dream sends Ohno hard back first into the corner. Dream takes Ohno over with a snap suplex for a two count. Dream kicks the back of Ohno followed by an axe handle strike. Dream does a Rick Rude taunt and knee drops Ohno’s ribs. Dream chokes Ohno over the bottom rope. Dream stomps away on Ohno in the corner but Ohno fights back with a chop before getting taken down to the mat. Dream keeps Ohno on the mat with an abdominal stretch. Ohno gets to his feet but is sent face first into the corner. Dream continues to hammer away on Ohno with strikes. Dream kicks Ohno in the face, but Ohno doesn’t fall from his knees. Dream goes to the top rope and delivers a double axe handle for a two count. Dream keeps Ohno on the mat with a chin lock. Dream puts Ohno on his shoulders but Ohno escapes. Ohno hits a vertical suplex flipping Dream in midair. They begin to trade strikes with Ohno getting the advantage delivering an elbow strike, big boot and a senton splash.
Ohno boots Dream but only manages a two count on the cover. Ohno goes for a neckbreaker but Dream counters with a backslide for a two count. Dream superkicks Ohno followed by a DDT but Ohno kicks out at two. Dream heads to the top rope but is met with a kick. Ohno forearms Dream and comes off the ropes but is driven down with a Death Valley Driver. Dream has the cover but only gets a two count on the cover. Ohno nails Dream with a rip cord elbow strike but Dream kicks out on the cover at two. Ohno misses a forearm strike and Dream hits the rolling Death Valley Driver. Dream goes to the ring post and leaps off to hit an elbow drop for the win. (**1/2. Velveteen Dream may be my favorite act in wrestling right now. The character and his ability just grab my attention. He’s an excellent wrestler and entertainer. The match solid enough, though there were a few sloppy moments. It was a fine match to have added to the card and fill out the show.)
Backstage, Johnny Gargano is pacing in his locker-room with his family by his side. Candice LeRae is there, too. She has recently signed with NXT.
Third Contest: NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon vs. Shayna Baszler: Baszler takes Moon down to the mat to start the match and backs the champ into a corner. Baszler kicks Moon and hides behind the referee before dropping Moon to the mat again. Moon avoids a kick and leg sweeps Baszler after avoiding the chokehold. Moon dropkicks Baszler several times sending the challenger to the floor. Moon takes Baszler out with a suicide dive to the floor. Moon attempts a handspring into the corner but Baszler blocks it and kicks Moon for a two count. Baszler stomps on Moon’s left arm to keep control of the match. Baszler keeps Moon on the mat working on her left arm for several moments. Moon fights back with a series of kicks a forearm strike. Moon connects with a springboard crossbody for a two count. Moon heads to the top rope hitting an ace crusher. Moon can’t followup as she’s holding her injured left arm. Officials come down to the ring to check on Moon selling it as if she can’t continue the match. Moon is begging them to let her continue. Shayna takes Moon down and gets a cross armbar on the champion. Moon is able to reach the ropes to break the hold and save her title. Shayna goes back to the armbar in the middle of the ring. Moon tries to roll through the hold but Baszler keeps the hold on. Baszler wrenches on the left arm but Moon is able to roll through and pins Baszler to retain the title. (**. This is not the end of the story between these two. They didn’t really do much as the focus was on the arm injury angle. I’d imagine these two wrestle WrestleMania weekend in a submission match or something.) After the match, Shayna is disappointed in herself but that turns into anger. She goes to the floor and chokes out Moon on the entrance way.
Fourth Contest: Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black in an Extreme Rules match: They start off trading forearm strikes until Black kicks Cole to the floor. Cole goes to the floor and grabs a steel chair. Black sits down in the middle of the ring to taunt Cole. Cole misses a chair shot and Black delivers a kick to send Cole to the floor. Black sits in the chair to taunt Cole, who remains on the floor. Black sends Cole over the top to the floor and quickly follows to deliver a forearm. Cole stops Black with a strike and sends Black into the guard railing before tossing trash cans into the ring. Cole grabs a kendo stick but Black has one as well upon entering the ring. Black decides to toss his to the side and wants Cole to bring it on. Cole calls Black stupid and Black forearms Cole several times. Cole whacks Black with the kendo stick as Black attempted a springboard. Cole proceeds to whack Black over the back and chokes Black with the kendo stick. Cole yells at Black that he’s the main guy in NXT before hitting a backstabber for a two count. Cole stomps away on Black with stomps and goes to the floor. Cole goes under the ring and sets a table up on the floor. Black slams Cole off the top and Cole lands on the trash can. Black nails Cole with a running knee strike for a two count. Black sets up another table next to the table that Cole had done earlier.
Black isn’t done yet and grabs a ladder but Cole baseball slides the ladder into Black’s chest taking him out on the floor. Cole sets the ladder up in the corner before going to the floor. Cole appears to be bleeding badly as his hand is covered in blood. Cole attempts a suplex onto the ladder but Black counters it and attempts a suplex. Cole gets out and kicks Black into a corner. Cole hammers away on Black with strikes in the corner. Black has Cole on his shoulders and then slams Cole back first onto the ladder. The medical staff is checking on Cole’s hand, which appears to be where the blood is coming from. Black gets a chair and puts Cole’s head on it. Black comes off the ropes but is met with a chair shot to the midsection. Cole can’t lift Black up and misses a kick. Black connects with a double stomp. Black goes to the top but gets a chair superkicked into his face and falls off crashing through the two tables. Cole rolls Black back into the ring and gets a two count. Cole sets two tables up in the ring and Black hits a Death Valley Driver onto the two chairs. Black hits a running knee sending a chair into Cole’s face but here comes O’Reilly and Fish to make the save.
O’Reilly and Fish take Black out on the floor. They drag Black around ringside and bring him towards the announcers table. Sanity comes out and they attack O’Reilly and Fish for the save. Kiliam Dain takes everyone out with a suicide on the floor. Cole grabs Black on the timekeepers table. Black puts Cole through the announcers table with a knee drop. Cole superkicks Black as he enters the ring. Cole has a steel chair and is selling his neck. Black drops Cole with Black Mass and wins the match. (***. The crowd seemed to love the match, and it was entertaining even if it may have gone a little long likely because of the medical attention breaks that occurred during the match. There were a few spots that just didn’t make a lot of sense to me early on and took me out of the match. I’m not sure why Black would attempt a springboard moonsault when Cole clearly has a kendo stick in his hands. Stuff like that just takes me out a match. It’s a fun brawl with the usual hardcore spots. I wouldn’t call it a classic or anything I’d necessarily remember, though.)
In the crowd, EC 3 appears in the crowd and has signed with NXT.
Main Event: NXT Heavyweight Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano: Almas takes Gargano down to the mat and they trade some mat wrestling holds to start and have a standoff. Gargano gets a head scissors on Almas for a moment and they have another standoff. Almas shoulder blocks Gargano and avoids a leapfrog. Almas attempts the hammerlock DDT but Gargano breaks free and they have another standoff. Almas knee lifts Gargano and sends him into the corner where Gargano avoids a clothesline and comes off the ropes to hit a head scissors and dropkick. Johnny keeps control of Almas with an arm lock on the mat after an arm drag. Gargano gets backed into the corner where Almas gets a few knee lifts in. Almas chops Gargano to drop the challenger out of the corner. Gargano comes back with a head scissors off the middle rope and clotheslines the champ to the floor. Gargano avoids a moonsault off the apron and kicks Almas after avoiding a few trip attempts. Gargano misses a somersault dive off the apron hitting the floor. Candice LaRae is in the front row showing concern for her husband.
Almas rolls Gargano into the ring and gets a two count. Almas continues to stomp away on Gargano working over his back. Gargano forearms Almas several times and sends the champ into the ropes where Almas catches himself and puts a dragon sleeper on Gargano. Almas nearly wins following a kick. Almas keeps Gargano on the mat with a sleeper hold for a few moments. Gargano gets up and a tries a suplex but Almas gets free. Gargano stops the champ with a rolling kick on the mat. Gargano backdrops Almas to the apron but Almas puts Gargano in a tree of woe after avoiding a kick. Almas misses a double stomp and Gargano tosses Almas with an overhead suplex into the corner! Gargano forearms Almas several times and Almas battles back with strikes of his own. Gargano gets the advantage with a series of strikes and a kick to the head. Gargano forearms Almas in the corner and hits a middle rope swinging STO for a near fall. Johnny goes to the apron where he hits a slingshot spear on Almas for a near fall! Gargano kicks Almas in the corner but Almas drops Gargano face first onto the canvas. Almas goes to the top hitting a standing moonsault after Gargano rolled away. Almas has the cover but Gargano is able to kick out at two.
Almas forearms Gargano several times but Gargano fights back with strikes until an elbow strike by Almas gets a two count. Gargano superkicks Almas for a two count. They both attempt clotheslines and then drop to the mat after hitting strikes at the same time. Almas boots a charging Gargano in the corner and sits on the top turnbuckle kicking Gargano a second time. Almas puts Gargano on the top turnbuckle looking for a middle rope hammerlock DDT. Gargano wiggles free and kicks Almas between his legs. Almas avoids a sunset flip powerbomb but misses a running knee strike in the corner. Almas counters a slingshot spear with a DDT and a inverted tornado DDT for a two count. The crowd is appreciating the efforts of both men at this point in the match. They are both laid out in the middle of the ring trying to recover from the action.
They go to the apron where Almas attempts the hammerlock DDT but settles for a knee lift. Gargano gets out of a fireman’s carry and strikes Almas a few times followed by a kick. Gargano plants Almas with a slingshot DDT onto the apron! Gargano goes for the cover but Almas kicks out at two. Gargano tries to put the Gargano Escape on the champion, but Almas breaks free and is met with a forearm strike. Almas back elbows Gargano into a corner and attempts a double knee but Gargano comes out of the corner to hit a clothesline. Gargano hits the Lawn Dart in the corner but Almas hits a running dropkick in the corner. Gargano almost surprises Almas with an inside cradle. Gargano nails Almas with a superkick for a two count! Gargano heads to the top rope but Almas grabs his boot to stop him. Almas crotches Gargano on the middle rope and forearms Gargano. Almas delivers a double stomp off the top and Johnny hits the apron before hitting the floor. Almas rams Gargano’s head into the apron display. Almas nails Gargano with a running double knee strike but Gargano kicks out at two!
Almas slaps Gargano from his knees and Gargano fights to his knees after two slaps. Almas is met with a few left hands from Gargano. Almas overhand chops Gargano but is met with a super kick and a reverse hurricanrana! Gargano switches a tilt a whirl into the Johnny Escape! Almas is trying to reach the ropes but can’t roll through! Almas is able to rake Johnny’s eyes after Vega distracted the referee. Gargano avoids the hammerlock DDT and backdrops Almas to the floor. Johnny hits a suicide dive onto Almas while his back was turned. Vega head scissors Gargano off the apron into the ring steps! Almas plants Gargano with the hammerlock DDT but Johnny somehow manages to kick out at two! Vega is on the apron distracting the referee while Gargano goes to the floor.
Candice LaRae jumps the railing and attacks Vega on the floor as she went towards Gargano! LaRae brawls with Vega through the crowd towards the backstage area. Johnny pulls himself up on the floor and gets back in the ring. Johnny kicks Almas hitting a slingshot DDT from the apron for a two count! Gargano locks in the Gargano Escape looking for the submission. Almas is able to slide backwards and reaches the bottom rope with his boot. Gargano has Almas on the apron but Almas shoves Johnny backwards into the ring post hitting the back of his head. Almas delivers a running double knee splashing Johnny’s head into the ring post. Almas grabs Gargano from the apron and hits an elevated hammerlock DDT for the victory. (*****. What a great main event and an incredible performance by both men to close out Takeover. The match started a little slow, but when you go nearly forty minutes, that’s is to be expected. There was drama, the near falls were fabulously done. There were several times where I thought Gargano had pulled it off. I really enjoyed how they introduced Candice LaRae to NXT programming here and it put doubt into my mind as to who would win with Vega no longer at ringside. There twists and turns throughout and the action, when it really got going, was excellently done. Even in defeat, Gargano cemented himself as a top guy for NXT. A great match.)
After the match, Almas celebrates his victory and goes backstage. Candice LaRae checks on Johnny Gargano and the crowd gives him a standing ovation. Gargano rolls out of the ring holding his head and the referee wants to bring him backstage. Candice holds Gargano up as they walk backstage and Gargano looks bummed out about losing. Gargano turns around and acknowledges the crowd. Tommaso Ciampa appears from behind and hits Gargano over the back with a crutch. Ciampa coldly stands there while there is a noticeable welt on Johnny’s back from the crutch shot. Johnny has a look of horror on his face while LaRae checks on him. Ciampa limes away while Johnny struggles to regroup to close the show.
I thought this was a really good Takeover, despite there not being a lot of “buzz” surrounding it compared to other ones. The main event alone is must-see and the undercard has solid stuff to make this an easy recommendation. Gargano/Almas is a match I’d watch again and still jump out of my chair.
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.