NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia aired live from the Wells Fargo Center on the WWE Network. Andrade “Cien” Almas defended his NXT Championship against Johnny Gargano. Ember Moon defended her NXT Women’s Championship against Shayna Baszler. Undisputed Era’s Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly put their titles on the line against The Authors of Pain. Velveteen Dream battled Kassius Ohno and Adam Cole faced Aleister Black in an Extreme Rules match.

Here are 5 takeaways from NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia:

Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly Escaped With The NXT Tag Team Championships

The Authors of Pain attacked Undisputed Era before the match started. Rezar beatdown Fish for a minute when the match started and Bobby quickly tagged out. Rezar knocked O’Reilly to the mat and connected with a series of punches. O’Reilly broke free and rolled out of the ring. Fish joined him and the tag champs regrouped by the barricade.

Fish tagged in and booted Rezar in the midsection. Rezar lifted Fish up and drove him into the corner. Akam tagged in and continued the beatdown on Fish. O’Reilly tagged in and was greeted with a Flapjack from Akam. O’Reilly and Fish rolled out of the ring again but AOP sprinted after them. AOP launched Fish into the steel steps and then face first into the barricade.

AOP teamed up on O’Reilly in the ring and beat him down. Akam seemed to tweak his knee during the exchange. Bobby Fish saw it on the outside and connected with a kick to his injured knee. Fish then sprinted across the ring and tackled Rezar through the ropes and the two Superstars fell to the floor outside the ring.

Fish and O’Reilly teamed up on the injured Akam and beat him down in the corner of the ring. Bobby Fish hung up Akam’s injured knee on the ropes and then connected with a series of kicks. Akam launched Fish across the ring but O’Reilly connected with a chop block to Akam’s knee from behind. Akam tried to tag out but O’Reilly prevented it by applying a Knee Bar.

Akam broke free and finally was able to tag in Rezar. O’Reilly charged at Rezar but Rezar was ready and planted him with a Spinebuster. Rezar lifted up O’Reilly but Bobby Fish leaped onto his back. Rezar showed off his ridiculous strength and connected with a Fallaway Slam to O’Reilly and crushed Bobby Fish as he fell to the canvas. O’Reilly drove his knee into Rezar’s shoulder and tagged in Fish.

O’Reilly and Fish teamed up and beatdown Rezar in the corner. Bobby Fish connected with an absurd Exploder Suplex that sent the gigantic Rezar flying out of the ring. Rezar booted Fish in the face and turned O’Reilly inside out with a massive Clothesline. Akam tagged in and hobbled his way towards Fish.

Bobby Fish locked in a Sleeper Hold on Rezar as O’Reilly had Akam trapped in a Knee Bar. Rezar threw Fish on top of O’Reilly to break both holds and all four Superstars fell to the mat. Dueling chants of “Undisputed!” and “AOP!” broke out in the crowd. O’Reilly booted Akam on his injured left leg a couple of times. Akam caught him and hit an overhead Suplex. Akam Clotheslined Fish off the ring apron and then Powerbombed O’Reilly into the turnbuckle.

Rezar sprinted into the ring and booted Fish in the face. AOP went for the Super Collider but O’Reilly countered into a Hurricanrana that sent Akam into Rezar. Rezar tumbled out of the ring and O’Reilly rolled up Akam for the pinfall victory.

This match started off slow and the crowd was quiet for the first few minutes. However, the match really picked up and the crowd responded. The match turned out to be very good and I’m expecting a long run with the tag titles for Undisputed Era. I’m always impressed watching Akam and Rezar perform in the ring. I think they are a great team and Paul Ellering’s menacing face in the background pacing around the ring always adds to the match.

Velveteen Dream Outlasted Kassius Ohno

Velveteen Dream vowed to knock out Kassius Ohno in under 30 seconds and came down to the ring in shorts like a boxer. Before the match he put in a custom mouthpiece that a shirtless man was holding on the entrance ramp on a pillow. The crowd started counting and Dream connected with a massive right hand that knocked Ohno to the canvas. Dream started celebrating like he won the match and Ohno leveled him with a massive elbow that sent Dream’s mouthpiece flying.

Ohno followed it up with a big boot but Dream responded with a Spinebuster. The crowd chanted for Velveteen as he connected with a series of jabs. Dream knocked Ohno to the mat and danced over him. Dream connected with some kicks to the midsection while shouting at Ohno to quit. Dream locked in a Chin Lock but Ohno quickly got out of it.

Dream beatdown Ohno in the corner and taunted him. Dream booted Ohno in the face a couple of times but Ohno shrugged them off. Dream applied another Chin Lock and started booting Ohno in the midsection again. Dream got Ohno back in the Chin Lock in the middle of the ring. Ohno battled out of it and countered Dreams attempt at a Suplex and slammed him to the mat.

Ohno hit Dream with a big boot and followed it up with a running Senton. Ohno hit the Cyclone Kick and went for the cover but Dream kicked out at two. Dream hit a Superkick and then hit a DDT that wound up looking like an awkward Sister Abigail for a two count. Ohno tried to leap onto Dream but Velveteen caught him and hit an ugly looking Death Valley Driver. Ohno hit the rolling elbow for a two count.

Dream struggled to lift Ohno again but connected with a big time Death Valley Driver. Velveteen Dream then climbed to the top rope and hit the Purple RainMaker Elbow Drop for the pinfall victory.

This was a decent match. There wasn’t much build for it and there were definitely a few rough-looking moments towards the end. The sky is the limit for Velveteen Dream and I’m guessing 2018 is going to be a big year for him in NXT.

Ember Moon Survived A Grueling Match With Shayna Baszler

Ember Moon defended her NXT Women’s Championship against Shayna Baszler. Shayna has been attacking members of the women’s division in NXT since joining the roster. Baszler stated that you have to stir up waters to catch fish and that Moon is the big fish in the pond.

Moon controlled the match early and dove Baszler to the corner. Shayna knocked Ember to the mat with a smile on her face. Moon booted Baszler in the face three times in a row and knocked her to the mat. Baszler rolled out of the ring to regroup but Moon didn’t feel like waiting around. Moon hit a ridiculous Suicide Dive and knocked Baszler to the floor.

Back in the ring, Shayna took control and booted Moon in the face for a two count. Baszler stomped on Ember Moon’s extended arm like she did to Dakota Kai a couple of weeks back on NXT. Baszler then focused her attack on Moon’s injured arm and locked in an Arm Bar. Baszler beatdown Moon in the corner and started to taunt the NXT Women’s Champion.

Moon hit Baszler with a slap to the face and followed it up with a punch that knocked Baszler to the mat. Ember connected with a springboard Crossbody for a two count. Ember Moon connected with the Eclipse but landed on her injured left arm and screamed in pain on the mat. Ember was in so much pain that she couldn’t go for the pinfall and the referee called for the medical staff to come to the ring.

Ember wanted to continue the match and grabbed Baszler by the hair. Shayna quickly locked in an Arm Bar but Moon got her foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. Shayna dragged Moon back to the middle of the ring and lockdd in the Arm Bar again. Moon rolled through but Baszler wouldn’t let go of the hold. Moon escaped into a pinfall and covered Baszler to retain her title.

Shayna Baszler attacked Ember Moon after the match and choked her out ont he entrance ramp. Mauro Ranallo shouted that he lost a lot of respect for Baszler here and hopes NXT GM William Regal fines her.

https://twitter.com/WWENXT/status/957434698124242944

The last few minutes of this match were a roller coaster ride. I thought Moon was going to tap out but she battled through the pain and was able to escape with a victory. This was a good showing by Baszler too. She is quickly becoming one of the more despicable characters on NXT and was able to get the crowd to hate her even more after tonight.

Adam Cole & Aleister Black Tore The House Down

Ricochet was shown in the crowd before the match.

Adam Cole faced Aleister Black in an Extreme Rules match tonight at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia. The crowd chanted “this is awesome!” before the match even started. Black knocked Cole out of the ring and flipped across the ring before taking a seat in the middle of the ring.

Cole got pissed off and grabbed a chair from timekeeper’s area. The crowd chanted “ECW!” as Cole brought it into the ring. Black ducked under the chair shot and booted Cole in the leg. Black stole the chair from Cole and Cole rolled out of the ring. Black took a seat on the chair and waited for Cole to get back into the ring. Black threw the chair out of the ring and then launched Cole over the top rope. Black booted Cole in the face outside the ring but Cole connected with a knee to the midsection.

Cole threw Black into the barricade and threw a trash can into the ring. Cole then grabbed a kendo stick from under the ring as Black grabbed one of his own. Both Superstars got into the ring with a kendo stick and stared at each other. Black threw his kendo stick out of the ring and dared Cole to charge at him. Cole laughed and called Black stupid. Black avoided two swings by Cole and knocked him to the mat. Black went for a springboard Moonsault but Cole blasted him in the chest with the kendo stick while he was in midair.

Adam Cole started to taunt Black and then planted him with a Backstabber as the kendo stick was pressed against Aleister’s face. The crowd chanted “get the tables!” and Adam Cole obliged and grabbed a table from under the ring. Cole set up the table outside the ring but took his sweet time doing so as Black recovered in the ring.

Black and Cole battled on the turnbuckle. Black hopped down and slammed Cole on top of the trash can in the ring. Black connected with a running knee strike to Cole’s face for a two count. Black grabbed another table from under the ring and set up next to the other one outside the ring.

Cole battled back and set up a ladder in the corner of the ring. Cole connected with an Enziguri and then beatdown Aleister in the corner. Cole took a break to pose and shouted “Adam Cole bay-bay!”. This allowed Black to lift him up onto his shoulders and Aleister walked across the ring and slammed Cole on top of the ladder.

Black charged at Cole again but Cole hit him in the ribs with a chair. Black missed with a kick but connected with a Double Stomp to Adam Cole’s midsection. Black started climbing up the turnbuckle and Cole threw the steel chair at him. Black caught the chair but Cole hit him with with a Superkick and Black fell through the two tables next to the ring.

Cole dragged Black into the ring and went for the cover but Black kicked out at two. Cole set up two steel chairs back to back and walked towards Black. Aleister popped up and lifted Cole in a Fireman’s Carry and dropped Cole onto the chairs (ouch!). Cole grabbed a chair again but Black sprinted across the ring and booted the chair into Cole’s face.

Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly came down to the ring and attacked Aleister Black. They dragged Black by his legs to the announce table next to the ring. Mauro and Percy got out of the way as Fish and O’Reilly got set to slam Black through the table. SAnitY joined the party and attacked Fish and O’Reilly. Killian Dain hit a giant Suicide Dive that took everyone out besides Black and Cole.

Cole went over to Black and tried to Suplex him off the barricade through the table. Black blocked it and connected with Double Knees off the barricade and through the table. Black brought Cole back into the ring but Cole somehow hit a Superkick out of nowhere and both Superstars fell to the mat. Cole grabbed a steel chair and shouted “I am going to end you!” and charged at Aleister Black. Aleister was ready and connected with the Black Mass for the pinfall victory.

Wow. What an awesome match this was. The kendo stick spot was ridiculous where Cole bashed Black in the chest while he was in the middle of a Moonsault. Cole being dropped on top of the two chairs in the ring looked awesome. Black’s Double Knees off the barricade through the announce table was also amazing. This is one of those matches that I will definitely go back and watch a few times in the future. The crowd was electric for it and the match rose to the occasion. Wrestling is at it’s best when the crowd is on the edge of their seat for every single move. This match had that and it was really fun to watch.

Andrade “Cien” Almas Retained His Title In An Incredible Match With Johnny Gargano

EC3 was shown in the crowd before the match.

Andrade “Cien” Almas came down to the ring with a mariachi band and a mask. Almas took off the mask halfway down the entrance ramp. Almas and Vega raised their fist in the air in the ring and Vega shouted words of encouragement at him. Johnny Gargano’s music hit to a loud pop from the crowd.

The crowd chanted “Johnny Wrestling!” as the match started. Almas leveled Gargano with a shoulder tackle. Almas went for a Hammerlock DDT but Gargano tried to counter it into the Gargano Escape. Almas rolled out of it and the two Superstars stared at each other as the crowd cheered.

Gargano connected with a Dropkick an followed it up with an Arm Drag. Gargano transitioned into an Arm Bar in the middle of the ring as the crowd chanted “Johnny Wrestling!” again. Almas escaped and sent Gargano to the corner. Gargano Clotheslined Almas out of the ring. Almas missed with a Moonsault off the apron but landed on his feet. Gargano went for a Cannonball off the apron but Almas got out of the way and Gargano crashed to the floor right in front of his wife, Candice LeRae in the crowd.

The action returned to the ring as Almas focused his attack on Gargano’s back. Almas slowed the match down and controlled the next few minutes. Gargano finally was able to fight back for a moment but Almas tied him in the ropes. Almas went for a Double Stomp but Gargano got out of the way. Gargano connected with an Exploder Suplex that sent Almas flying into the turnbuckle.

Gargano slammed Almas face-first to the mat for a two count. Johnny then hit a slingshot Spear through the ropes for another two count. Almas connected with a Facebuster and went for the cover but Gargano kicked out at two. Vega shouted at Almas to stay on Gargano from ringside. Almas climbed up to the top rope and went for a Moonsault but Gargano rolled out of the way. Almas landed on his feet and went right into a standing Moonsault that landed on Gargano as we was rolling away. Almas went for the cover but Gargano was able to kick out.

Gargano connected with a Superkick for a two count. Gargano and Almas connected with punches at the same time and both Superstars fell to the canvas. Almas connected with a knee to Gargano’s face and then perched him up on the top rope. Almas went for the DDT that defeated McIntyre at WarGames but Gargano wiggled out of it. Gargano then hit a ridiculous Superkick between Almas’ legs and into his face.

Gargano went for a Sunset Flip Powerbomb but Almas escaped and hit Double Knees. Almas went for Double Knees again but Gargano got out of the way. Almas hit a Tornado DDT for a two count. The entire crowd stood up chanted NXT as the two Superstars were on the mat. Almas lifted Gargano up in a Fireman’s Carry on the apron but Gargano broke free.

Johnny connected with an Enziguri and followed it up with a slingshot DDT on the ring apron. Gargano brought Almas back into the ring and went for the cover but Andrade kicked out at two. Almas hit a Jawbreaker and an elbow that knocked Gargano to the corner. Vega shouted at Almas to remain on the attack. Almas charged at Gargano but Johnny got up and hit a big time Clothesline. Gargano then slammed Almas into second rope. Vega distracted Gargano and Almas hit a Dropkick. Gargano connected with a kick of his own for a two count.

Almas connected with a Double Stomp on Gargano while he was hung up between the ropes. Almas then bashed Gargano into the ring apron and brought him back to the ring. Almas connected with Double Knees to Gargano’s face for another two count. Almas slapped Gargano in the face and grabbed him by the hair. Johnny connected with a couple of punches and dropped to a knee after every one out of exhaustion.

Johnny connected with a Superkick and followed it up with an absolutely insane inverted Hurricanrana. Johnny then locked in the Gargano Escape in the middle of the ring as the crowd erupted. Almas tried to break free but Johnny wouldn’t let go. Vega grabbed Almas’ arm and the referee got distracted. Almas then raked Johnny’s eyes to break the hold.

Almas went for the Hammerlock DDT but Gargano blocked it and knocked Almas out of the ring. Gargano hit a Suicide Dive but Zelina Vega hit Gargano off the apron with a Hurricanrana than sent Johnny into the steps. Almas planted Gargano with the Hammerlock DDT in the middle of the ring and went for the cover but Gargano somehow kicked out. Vega tried to attack Gargano outside the ring but Candice LeRae attacked her and chased her backstage. The crowd chanted “thank you Candice!” as Gargano climbed to the ring apron.

Gargano connected with a slingshot DDT and went for the cover but Almas kicked out. Johnny locked in the Gargano Escape in the middle of the ring. Almas was able to get his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. Almas shoved Gargano into the ring post on the apron. Almas then hit Double Knees into the ring post and the crowd gasped in shock. Almas then planted Gargano with the Hammerlock DDT for the pinfall victory.

After the match, Tommaso Ciampa attacked Gargano from behind while he was on the entrance ramp with Candice LeRae. Ciampa hit him with a crutch and stood over him. The crowd chanted “a**hole!” as Ciampa walked backstage.

This match was special. I thought Adam Cole and Aleister Black stole the show but this match wound up being even better. The energy in the building was unreal for this match and the entire crowd was ready to see Johnny Gargano become NXT Champion. This was a match of the year candidate and it is going to be tough to top it. Mauro kept comparing Gargano’s popularity and story to Daniel Bryan’s and that is accurate. It is obviously on a much smaller scale right now but he definitely connects with the crowd.

I love the pairing of Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega. Zelina has completely turned his career around and she has made Almas seem much more legitimate. He looks like a champion now. He has always had the incredible in-ring skill to become one, but Vega as his manager has just put him over the top as a character. She’s great on the microphone and her getting involved in his matches is awesome.

NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia was shaping up to be a decent show. However, the final two matches on the card were great. The main event between Gargano and Almas was special. That is the best way to describe it. A review post or a video doesn’t do it justice. Find the time to watch this match as soon as you can if you missed it. As a wrestling fan you will not regret it. There might be some exciting moments tomorrow at the Royal Rumble with surprise entrants or whatever. I’m confident in saying that nothing is going to top tonight’s main event at the PPV tomorrow.