Welcome to Ringside News’ coverage of NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia, where the crowd will be raucous and the action frantic.

Tonight’s TakeOver is all about taking what you’ve earned, and that couldn’t be more true in the case of Johnny Gargano. This time last year, Johnny Gargano was part of NXT’s most beloved tag team and enjoying a run in the main event scene against the likes of The Revival and A.O.P. By March however, Gargano’s partner, Tommaso Ciampa, turned on him in one of wrestling’s all-time great swerves, and beat the living crap out of Johnny Wrestling. Fast forward to now and Gargano has had a Daniel Bryan-esque couple of months that saw him rise from opening a TakeOver and losing, to getting a shot at the NXT Championship – ironically against the same man that he lost to. Tonight Gargano has the opportunity of a lifetime and an arena full of fans who are ready to see him do what many would have said was impossible, and become the figurehead of NXT. However, don’t be surprised if a certain figure from Johnny’s past shows-up and stops that from happening.

Also on the bill tonight, is the Women’s NXT Championship match, between the Champ Ember Moon, and the challenger Shayna Baszler. Rarely has a woman in NXT looked as intimidating and dominant as Shayna Baszler, who has choked out everyone she has run into and smirked while doing it. This is a massive test for Moon and it’s difficult to see how she walks out with the title after tonight. I for one would love to see Baszler stride to a straightforward win and begin a Lesnar-esque run of carnage and domination. One thing is for sure, this will be an awesome, hard-hitting affair that takes place 24 hours before the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match!

Elsewhere on tonight’s TakeOver show, you can see Aleister Black face Adam Cole in an Extreme Rules match. These two have had some bad blood for a while now and tonight will see them finally air their grievances and put it behind them. It’s difficult to see who wins tonight because I imagine NXT want to keep both men looking strong but my money would be on Black. Adam Cole’s buddies, The Undisputed Era’s Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, will be putting their NXT Tag Team Championship’s on the line tonight against the Author’s Of Pain. These two teams have amazing chemistry, as showcased at TakeOver: WarGames, so I expect a knock-down, drag-out brawl tonight. And then we have our final match of the evening, which is likely to open the show: Velveteen Dream Vs. Kassius Ohno. These two guys are both awesome in their own rights but I think WWE will keep pushing Dream at the expense of Ohno, who is clearly just an enhancement talent for NXT at this point.


So that’s our preview for tonight’s show. Let us know your thoughts and opinions via the Ringside News app and enjoy the show!

Kick-Off Show

Charly Caruso welcomes us to the pre-show, alongside her panel consisting of Sam Roberts and Samoa Joe!

Joe isn’t in character. He says he is very happy to be here and there’s a lot he’s excited to see tonight. Caruso asks what the prognosis is for his injury, to which Joe says he’s feeling good and healing quickly but the roster will feel better knowing that he won’t be in the Rumble tomorrow night. Caruso asks if we could see some title changes tonight and Roberts says that in NXT, titles don’t change hands often, but tonight could be the night, Joe agrees. The panel rundown the Royal Rumble card.

We go backstage and see Renee Young and Corey Graves, who will be handing out the NXT Year End Awards during the pre-show. Back with the panel and they send us to a video of the Aleister Black/Adam Cole feud. Samoa Joe says that he has been keeping tabs on both men throughout their careers and they’re both excellent. Joe says Black has a high-pedigree when it comes to kickboxing but that probably won’t help him in an Extreme Rules match like tonight, whereas Cole is a master strategist and he could win. Roberts says he thinks Black is more of an extreme individual but Cole has experience with nights like this.

We go backstage to Renee Young and Corey Graves again, who hand out the first award of the night: Rivalry Of The Year. The winners of the award are Aleister Black and Velveteen Dream. The Dream comes to accept the award and here is what he had to say:

After a quick break for more Royal Rumble adverts, we return to Renee and Corey, who give us the rundown for Male Competitor Of The Year. The winner of the award is Aleister Black! Renee asks Black how it feels to accept this award and he says he set out to do something different and unconventional and this award validates that. Renee informs Black that he also won the award for Breakout Star Of The Year.

We’re back with the panel and they’re amazed that Black is cleaning house with the awards. They start talking about Velveteen Dream and Kassius Ohno. Roberts says that Dream is on an upswing like nobody he’s ever seen before. Joe says Ohno is one of the toughest people out there and Dream will have a hard night. However both men agree that Dream is likely to carry his momentum and win.

The next topic of discussion is the Tag Team Championship match between The Undisputed Era and The Author’s Of Pain. Charly and Roberts talk about the power of the AOP and the destruction they cause. Joe says that’s all true but it takes more than strength to win a match and the Undisputed Era are master strategists. Roberts agrees and says that they’ve been together a lot longer than the AOP, so their experience could certainly be a factor. Joe counters by saying that AOP have one of the all-time great strategists in Paul Ellering, so he thinks that could give the former Champs the edge.

We head backstage again for another award and this time Asuka takes home the Female Competitor Of The Year, while Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate won Match Of The Year for their incredible showing at NXT TakeOver: Chicago. Tyler Bate comes to Renee and Corey and thanks fans for the award. He says it was an amazing moment and he hopes to share the ring with Dunne again this year. Speaking of whom, Pete Dunne has joined the pre-show panel. Dunne says he had two goals for this year, and that was to win the WWE U.K title and put the U.K division on the map, which he did in one night in Chicago. Roberts asks why he thinks he and Tyler Bate resonated with fans more than any other competitors in the U.K tournament, to which Dunne says they both had chips on their shoulders and they earned that spotlight. Joe asks him how it feels to be an ambassador for the U.K division and he says it’s great because he takes the title wherever he goes and that title isn’t leaving him, no matter where he goes or what else he wins. Finally, Charly asks what is next for Pete Dunne, to which he says more matches of the year and more awards. He is asked if he’d like to face Tyler Bate again and he says he already beat him twice, so who’s next?

We head down ringside to Mauro Ranallo and Percy Watson, who give a rundown for the entire card. Nigel McGuinness is not here tonight because he is under the weather. Back with the panel, they talk about the theme of NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia, which is “Into The Fire” by Asking Alexandria.

We get a video package for Ember Moon’s rivalry with Shayna Baszler. Caruso asks if Baszler’s relative lack of in-ring experience will be a factor and Roberts says yes. Joe says it makes her unpredictable because we don’t know everything about her, not to mention her extensive MMA training, which could very well help her shock the world and emerge Champion. Roberts says Joe and Baszler are similar in that they come in and snatch the gold from people, which Joe doesn’t take too kindly. Roberts predicts that Baszler will take the win tonight, to which Joe agrees and says violence is a loud communicator and Baszler has been talking very loudly.

Renee Young and Corey Graves come out on stage for the TakeOver fans in Philadelphia, to present the final award, NXT Overall Competitor Of The Year, which is between Asuka and Aleister Black. We get a cool video package for both of them but ultimately…Asuka is the winner!

Asuka comes out to accept her award and then we head back to the panel. They talk about her impressiveness, to which Joe says she is probably the most dominant female competitor in WWE history. We cut to backstage footage of Andrade Almas arriving at the arena, then Johnny Gargano putting his boots on. We get a video package of the rivalry between Gargano and Almas before breaking it down and making predictions. Joe says belief could be the most powerful weapon in the world and Gargano has lots of it. Zelinda Vega interrupts the panel and says it is a joke that Almas didn’t win any awards tonight, despite that he is the Champion. Roberts says Almas didn’t have a great year, he had a great end to the year. She says Almas should have won male competitor of the year, match of the year, and every other award. She says they need to talk about how he will remain Champion after tonight. Caruso asks Joe what he thinks of Almas’ chance of retaining. Joe says momentum is everything and Gargano has a lot of that, he says that Almas can win if he grounds Gargano. Vega says that tonight they will make an example out of Gargano, and they will beat him a third time in a row. Roberts asks her to acknowledge that this is a different Johnny Gargano than the one they beat, to which she says no because Almas is the Champion and Johnny doesn’t stand a chance. Joe says he has more experience than Almas, so how does she think they can stay on top, to which she says she doesn’t give away her strategies. Roberts says she would only be this fired-up if she wasn’t confident in her man’s abilities, but that just annoys Vega even more and she leaves soon thereafter.

That’s it for the Kick-Off Show, on to the main card!

NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia opens with a video package narrated by Paul Heyman, who has something of a history with Philly.

NXT Tag Team Championship Match
(C) The Undisputed Era Vs. The Author’s of Pain

Before the Champions can really settle in, The Author’s attack them from behind and we have a huge brawl. The Champions are cleared to ringside and the referee and Ellering stops the AOP from following.

The bell rings and Fish starts off for his team but heads to the floor as Rezar attacks. Fish enters the ring and is forced to tag O’Reilly. Kyle hits Rezar with stiff kicks and goes for the leg but gets shoved to the mat. O’Reilly tells Rezar to bring it as he sits on the mat. O’Reilly keeps going for the leg and drops Rezar on his face. Rezar with a double leg takedown and some offense. O’Reilly goes for an early triangle choke and transitions into a leg lock. O’Reilly with strikes but Rezar sends O’Reilly to the floor, where Fish checks on him.

O’Reilly enters the ring and backs into the corner as Fish tags in. Fish goes for the leg as well. Rezar rams Fish back into the corner and in comes Akam for some double teaming. Akam slams Fish to the mat and stomps as Ellering barks orders. Fish with a knee to the gut and a tag to O’Reilly. Akam unloads on O’Reilly and sends him back to the floor. The champs go to leave but Akam and Rezar run them over on the floor. Fish gets sent into the steel steps. O’Reilly gets stomped on the floor. Akam unloads on Fish and slams him face first into the top of the barrier.

The Authors with more double teaming but Akam clutches his knee and sells a left leg injury. O’Reilly sends Akam to the apron and Fish attacks the injured left leg while he’s on the apron. Rezar runs in but Fish runs in and tackles him out to the floor. Fish falls with him and they land hard. O’Reilly and Akam go at it now. Fish tags back in for some double teaming in the corner. O’Reilly tags back in and keeps Akam in their corner. The referee counts as they quick tags and double teams continue. Akam tries to fight them both off but they take out the leg again. Fish unloads in the corner again, focusing on the injured leg of Akam. Akam shoves Fish off but O’Reilly tags in and chops the leg out. O’Reilly goes for a leg submission but Akam tries to kick him away. Akam gets up limping but O’Reilly takes him back down with a kneebar. Akam finally makes it to the bottom rope but the damage has been done.

Fish tags back in and keeps Akam in their side of the ring. O’Reilly tags back in for more double teaming. O’Reilly with another leg submission, keeping pressure on the injured leg. Fish lands a senton and then hits Akam while he’s in a submission. Fish with more strikes to Akamm, then hits Rezar on the apron. Fish turns around and gets backdropped by Akam. Rezar tags in and unloads on both competitors with big boots. Rezar follows up with two big slams and strikes to O’Reilly as fans pop. Fish jumps on Rezar’s back while he has O’Reilly lifted up. Rezar nails a fall-away slam on O’Reilly and covers for a 2 count. O’Reilly stops a powerbomb but gets slammed to the mat. Fish with knees to Rezar.

Fish with a close 2 count on Rezar after a big suplex. Rezar stops another double team and lays both of the champions out. Fish stops a double team on O’Reilly. Fish applies a sleeper hold to Rezar while O’Reilly has a leg submission on Akam. Rezar sends Fish to the mat, which also breaks the submission. All 4 Superstars are down in the middle of the ring now. Fans do dueling chants now. O’Reilly with kicks to Akam, still focusing on the knee. Akam yells back at O’Reilly and blocks a kick, launching him across the ring. Akam with knees in the corner to O’Reilly’s face. Akam knocks Fish off the apron. Akam with a Buckle Bomb to O’Reilly. Fish runs in but Rezar floors him. AOP go for the Super Collider but it ends up backfiring as O’Reilly reverses the powerbomb into a hurricanrana with both members of AOP colliding. O’Reilly hits a roll-up and steals the win!

Winners: The Undisputed Era

After the bell, Ellering isn’t happy as the Champs quickly roll from the ring and lay down on the outside. Fish and O’Reilly stumble away with the titles as Ellering checks on The Authors. The champs talk trash from the stage as Akam, Rezar and Ellering look on from the ring, this one is far from over.

We return and see NXT’s newest tag team, War Machine, sitting in the crowd. They get a huge reaction from the fans in Philly.

It’s time for the next match and out comes Velveteen Dream, who claimed earlier that he would beat Kassius Ohno is 30 seconds! Dream is dressed like a boxer, because of Rocky I assume.

Kassius Ohno Vs. Velveteen Dream

As soon as the bell rings, the fans start counting as Dream promised the 30 second knockout. Dream treats this like a boxing match but actually drops Ohno but won’t pin him. Dream starts celebrating. Ohno gets up and knocks his mouthpiece out. Ohno boots Dream out of the ring next. Ohno follows but eats a back elbow as Dream heads back into the ring.

Ohno runs the ropes but Dream catches him in a spinebuster. Fans chant for Dream now as he goes to work on Ohno. Dream with offense in the corner now. Dream with a 2 count and more offense, playing to the crowd. Dream drops a big knee to the ribs and keeps Ohno grounded. Dream chokes Ohno on the bottom rope now. Ohno gets up with a big chop but Dream chops him right back. Dream keeps Ohno grounded now.

Fans with dueling chants for both men. Dream with shots in the corner and some trash talk. More chants for Dream as he kicks Ohno in the face a few times. Dream goes to the top for a big double ax handle and a 2 count. Dream keeps Ohno grounded and talks more trash now. Ohno reverses Dream’s suplex attempt and tosses him down to get a breather.

Ohno and Dream trade big shots in the middle of the ring. Ohno takes control with a big boot and a senton splash. Ohno with a Cyclone Kick for a close 2 count. Dream blocks a neckbreaker and backslides Ohno for a 2 count. Dream blocks a superkick and delivers one of his own. Dream with a spike DDT for another close 2 count. More back and forth as Dream covers for a close 2 count. Ohno nails the big elbow but can’t get the pin. Dream counters a move and nails the big Death Valley Driver. Dream goes to the top of the ring post, and leaps far across the ring for a huge elbow drop and the pin.

Winner: The Velveteen Dream

After the match, Dream stands tall as his music hits. Dream steps on Ohno and walks over him as he poses in the corner. We go to replays. Dream continues the celebration as Ohno walks to the back.

We see Maria Menounos in the front row, she will be the ring announcer for tomorrow night’s Royal Rumble. We then see Johnny Gargano pacing backstage, with his family in his locker room.

It’s women’s match time and we get a video package for the rivalry between Ember Moon and Baszler. The Queen of Spades is out first – her music starts with a horse, for the Four Horsewomen, and her entrance starts in the backstage like a UFC fighter.

NXT Women’s Championship Match
(C) Ember Moon Vs. Shayna Baszler

We get ring introductions to start this one, and it’s worth noting that Baszler got booed but the fans seemed fairly disinterested in Moon.

The bell rings and they lock up, trading holds. They go to the corner and break after the referee warns then. Baszler kicks Moon’s leg out. Baszler works Ember over on the mat now. Baszler smiles at Moon but Moon comes back with offense, including a pair of dropkicks. Fans cheer for Moon as Shayna goes to the floor for a breather. Moon runs the ropes and nails Shayna on the floor. We get a replay of the dive as Moon brings it back into the ring.

Shayna catches a cartwheel across the ring and nails knees to the face. Shayna with a huge kick for a 2 count. Baszler works Moon over and stomps on her arm, the way she did to Dakota Kai. Moon screams in pain as the referee checks on her. Moon holds her arm in a weird way to make it look broken but it looks silly.

Shayna with more offense on the fingers and the arm now. Baszler keeps control for a few minutes until Moon slams her for a close 2 count. Moon goes to the top and hits the Eclipse. Moon can’t get the pin because she lands bad on the arm that Baszler has been working on. Moon rolls around in pain as a referee calls for a trainer. Fans boo as two trainers come out to check on Moon. Baszler is still laid out flat on her back. We get a replay of the Eclipse.

The trainer is telling the referee something about Moon’s arm. Moon gets up and approaches Baszler but Baszler pulls her into an arm submission in the middle of the ring. Moon finally gets her leg on the bottom rope and the hold is broken.

Baszler pulls Moon right back into another arm submission in the middle of the ring. Moon tries to roll but Baszler tightens the hold after they re-position. Baszler pulls Moon’s legs away from the bottom rope and keeps the hold locked in. Baszler tightens the hold and screams out. Moon turns it over but Baszler tightens the hold again. Moon turns the submission into a pin out of nowhere to retain.

Winner: Ember Moon

After the match, Shayna and Ember are both shocked at the finish. Moon clutches her arm and rolls out of the ring with the title. Trainers check on Ember at ringside. We go to replays while Baszler sits in the corner with her hands on her head, still shocked. That finish was overbooked, went on far too long.

Trainers walk to the back with Ember. Baszler runs out of the ring and comes from behind, putting Ember in a choke hold. Trainers and referees try to pull Baszler off and the hold is finally broken. Baszler goes right back to the submission as fans boo. Ember is laid out as Baszler stands tall and backs up the ramp. Officials help Moon to her feet.

We take a look at the crowd and in the front row is none other than the sensational Richocet!

We get the video package for the next match, which will feature hardcore rules! Aleister Black is out first to a huge reception. Cole is out second and it’s really something to hear an entire arena shouting “Adam Cole Baby!”

Extreme Rules Match

Adam Cole Vs. Aleister Black

As soon as the bell rings, both men rush each other and trade shots in the middle of the ring. Black kicks Cole and sends him out to the floor . Black runs the ropes, springboards off and fakes the dive, and takes a seat in the middle of the ring. Cole grabs a steel chair as cheer for Black, then they start chanting for ECW. Cole comes in and swings the chair but misses, Black kicks Cole and the chair falls. Cole goes back to the floor for a breather. Black takes a seat in the chair for another pop from the Philly fans.

Cole comes back in but they quickly return to the floor. Black with a huge shot to the face. Cole turns it around and sends Black’s head into the apron. Cole brings a few chairs from under the ring. Cole hits Black with a few strikes. Cole tosses the chairs into the ring and delivers a running boot to Black’s face. Black fights back but Cole rams him into the barrier. Cole brings a kendo stick from under the ring but Black has a kendo stick of his own now. They meet in the ring and face off with the sticks as fans cheer for the chaos.

Eventually, Black tosses his stick out of the ring and tells Cole to bring it. Cole swings and misses. Black unloads with forearms and a kick. Black goes for a moonsault from the second rope but Cole nails him in the gut with a kendo stick. Fans chant “holy s–t” now as Cole takes a seat. The referee checks on Black. Cole with another big kendo stick shot to the back and some trash talking. Cole puts the kendo stick in Black’s mouth and pulls back while talking trash. Cole with a Backstabber for a 2 count.

Fans chant for tables as Cole works Black over. Cole rolls to the floor and brings a table out from under the ring. Cole sets the table up at ringside as Black recovers inside. Cole returns to the ring and decks Black. Fans chant for the table and Cole says they’re going to get it. Cole brings Black to the corner and tries to suplex him through the table on the floor but Black resists. Black decks Cole and throws him on top of the trash can in the middle of the ring. Black with a running knee strike for another 2 count.

Black brings a table from under the ring and sets it up it next to the table that Cole erected. The referee checks on Cole. Black brings a ladder from under the ring now and slides it in but Cole kicks it into Black, sending him back into the barrier. Cole leans the ladder up in the corner. Cole’s hand is bleeding now. Cole brings Black back into the ring and goes for a suplex onto the leaning ladder. Black fights him. Cole drops Black with an enziguri. Cole with kicks and punches in the corner now.

Cole unloads in the corner for a pop. Black has Cole in the Electric Chair now. Black drops Cole into the ladder in the corner. We get replays. Black with a 2 count now. Black stands a chair up now. Black runs the ropes but Cole jumps up and hits Black in the gut with the chair. Cole tries to lift Black onto the chair but a back elbow stops him. Cole avoids a few shots but Black stomps on him with both feet. Black positions Cole’s face onto the seat of the chair. Black goes to the top but Cole tosses a chair at him. Black catches it but Cole superkicks him from the top through the two tables on the floor. Fans chant “holy s–t” as the referee checks on Black.

Cole brings Black back into the ring and covers for a 2 count. Fans chant “this is awesome” now. Cole positions a chair and pushes another chair up against the first. Black jumps up and counters, slamming Cole on top of the two chairs. We get replays as Cole screams in pain – that spot was nasty as heck, Cole bounced right off of the chairs. Cole grabs a chair and uses it to get up but Black kicks it into his face. Black clutches his leg but covers for a 2 count as Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish run in to break the pin.

Fish and O’Reilly take out Black on the floor. They’re still beat up from the earlier match. They drag Black over to the announce table and start taking it apart. SAnitY runs down and stops the table spot. Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe beat Fish and O’Reilly around ringside. Killian Dain enters the ring and stares Cole down. Dain runs the ropes and nails a huge dive on EY, Wolfe, Fish and O’Reilly as fans chant for NXT. Black is still out on the floor. Cole goes after him. Cole tries to put Black through the announce table but Black fights him off. Black then puts Cole through the announce table with a big double knee spot!

Fans chant “Mama Mia!” like Mauro Ranallo – and I think he actually did say that after the spot. Black brings it back into the ring but Cole hits a superkick from nowhere and both men are down. Fans chant “this is awesome” as Cole crawls for the chair. Cole yells that he’s going to end Black. He charges with the chair but Black hits Black Mass for the pin!

Winner: Aleister Black

What a match. That match has certainly revived this TakeOver from mediocrity. There was some crazy and inventive bumps in that match. Black stands in the centre of the ring, shattered, while Adam is helped to the back by Fish and O’Reilly.

EC3 is shown in the front row! Previously known as Derrick Bateman on previous incarnations of NXT but he made a name for himself in TNA as EC3 and was genuinely one of the bright spots of the company for the past few years. Even just going by the faces in the crowd tonight, the future of NXT is very bright!

It’s main event time now and we get a video package for the Championship match. Out comes NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas with Zelina Vega. A Mariachi band performs his entrance and Almas is wearing a Lucha mask, which he takes off during the entrance. Johnny Gargano is out next. We get formal ring introductions for both men.

NXT Championsip Match
(C) Andrade Cien Almas Vs. Johnny Gargano

They lock up and trad holds and reversals to start the match.. Almas takes Gargano down first. They break as fans applaud. They lock up and trade holds again. We see Candic LeRae in the front row, Gargano’s wife and new NXT Superstar, sitting with Gargano’s family at ringside as the back & forth continues for several minutes.

Gargano takes control and hits a dropkick as Vega looks on from ringside. Gargano keeps Almas grounded and works him over. Almas turns it around in the corner with a handful of hair. Almas counters a move and chops Gargano to the mat. We get a replay of the chop as Almas keeps control and takes his time. Almas runs into a boot in the corner. Gargano with more offense and a clothesline to send Almas over the top to the floor. Gargano follows as they trade counters off the apron and the floor. Gargano leaps off the apron but Almas moves and Gargano lands hard on the floor, right in front of his family.

Almas brings it back into the ring and covers for a 2 count. Almas keeps control as fans try to rally for Gargano. Gargano fights back but Almas keeps coming with the counters. Almas with an inverted facelock on the ropes as the referee counts. Almas drops Gargano with a big kick for a close 2 count. Gargano finally fights to his feet and nails a big kick. Fans chant for Gargano again. Almas turns it around in the corner and turns Gargano upside down in a Tree of Woe. Gargano avoids the double stomp and nails a big suplex back into the corner.

They get up and trade shots in the middle of the ring. Gargano unloads and ends up hitting an enziguri. Gargano with more offense and a faceplant off the second rope for another close 2 count as Vega screams at ringside. Gargano with more offense. Almas counters but Gargano drops him for another close 2 count after a thrust through the ropes from the apron. Vega jumps on the apron worried. Gargano with another enziguri but Almas plants him for a pin attempt. Vega orders Almas to stay on top of Gargano and he tries to take the advice by stomping Johnny.

Almas goes to the top for a big moonsault but has to land on his feet as Gargano moves. Almas turns that into a standing moonsault for a close 2 count. They get up and trade shots in the middle of the ring. Gargano unloads with forearms but Almas floors him for another close 2 count. Gargano comes right back and floors Almas for a close 2 count. They trade shots in the middle of the ring again but they’re shot for shot and both go down. Fans applaud both men and cheer for their efforts.

Gargano gets dropped in the corner with a knee after more back & forth. Almas takes Gargano to the top for the big draping hammerlock DDT from the top but Gargano slides down and avoids it. Gargano superkicks Almas while Almas is still on the top. Almas hits the drive-by knees but misses the follow-up. They tangle in the corner but Almas hits an inverted tornado DDT from the top for another close 2 count as the crowd pops big and goes wild. Fans chant NXT as both men are down in the middle of the ring.

They tangle on the apron now. Almas tries for a DDT but it’s blocked. Gargano slides out of a fireman’s carry and hits Almas with strikes. Gargano kicks Almas with an enziguri but Almas hangs on the apron. Gargano with a big DDT on the apron, causing Almas to fall out to the floor. Gargano is also down on the floor. The referee counts as Gargano tries to bring Almas back into the ring. Gargano with a 2 count. Gargano tries for the Gargano Escape but Almas resists. Almas with a jawbreaker.

Gargano with forearms in the middle of the ring. Almas drops Gargano with a back elbow. Vega yells at Almas to put Gargano away. Almas charges but Gargano leaps out of the corner with a big clothesline. Gargano sends Almas into the second turnbuckle. Gargano is distracted by Vega, allowing Almas to attack from behind with a dropkick. Gargano counters a move and rolls Almas up for a close 2 count. Gargano ends up dropping Almas for another close 2 count. Gargano is bleeding from his lip now.

Gargano goes to the top as Almas tries to get to his feet. Almas cuts him off. Almas rocks Gargano as he climbs to the top. Almas nails a huge double stomp from the top to the floor. Gargano also falls to the floor. Almas sends Gargano into the apron and slams his head back into it a few times as the referee yells at him. Almas brings a dazed Gargano back into the ring. The referee checks on Gargano but Almas runs in with the knees in the corner. Gargano manages to kick out at 2. Vega can’t believe it.

Fans chant “fight forever” now. Almas slaps Gargano while they’re on their knees in the middle of the ring now. Almas pulls Gargano to his feet but Gargano decks him several times. They trade shots in the middle of the ring now. Gargano with a superkick. Gargano leaps and slams Almas on his neck with an inverted hurricanrana. Gargano runs the ropes but Almas catches him for a tilt-a-whirl. Gargano turns that into the Gargano Escape. Almas tries to get his foot on the bottom rope but Gargano re-positions. Vega pulls Almas’ arm but the referee sees it. The hold is broken as Almas rakes the eyes while the referee is distracted.

Gargano counters the DDT and backdrops Almas out to the floor. Gargano runs the ropes and nails a big dive, sending Almas into the barrier. Gargano brings it back into the ring but Vega sends Gargano into the steel steps. Almas brings Gargano back into the ring and hits the hammerlock DDT but Gargano still kicks out. Fans pop big for Gargano with the “yes!” chant now. Vega approaches Gargano on the floor but LeRae hops the barrier and spears Vega, then launches her into the barrier. LeRae chases Vega through the crowd and to the back.

Gargano crawls back into the ring where Almas is, as fans chant “thank you Candice”. Gargano counters a move and drops Almas on his head for another very close pin attempt. Gargano goes for the Gargano Escape again and gets it locked in. Almas pushes back and gets his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. They both roll onto the apron, where Almas slams the back of Gargano’s head into the ring post. Almas runs the apron and delivers the double knees, smashing Gargano’s head into the ring post again. Gargano looks dazed again as the referee checks on him. Almas pulls Gargano onto the ring ropes for a draping hammerlock DDT and nails it for the win! Wow!

Winner: Andrade “Cien” Almas

After the match, Almas celebrates as Vega returns to the ring. Almas and Vega leave as Candice returns to the ring to check on her husband. Fans start cheering for Gargano as he recovers. Candice helps Gargano out of the ring and up the ramp. Candice and Gargano stand on the stage as fans cheer them.

The end of show logo pops-up and that’s it…except for Tommaso Ciampa! Who hobbles onto the stage on crutches, behind Gargano, then grabs the crutch and whacks Johnny in the back! Johnny goes down and Candice tends to him while Ciampa just stares at his former partner. The fans chant “as$hole” at Ciampa as he stands before he walks off the side of the stage. NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia goes off with the air with Johnny Gargano beaten down on the ramp. The Psycho Killer is back!

That;s it for tonight’s show. Let us know what you thought and remember to come back tomorrow night for the Royal Rumble! Until then, safe travels!

Curtis Dillion

Curtis does our weekly live match-by-match coverage of WWE RAW and SmackDown for Ringside News. In addition to SmackDown, Curtis also does WWE & NXT special event coverage as well. He has been helping out at for Ringside News for many years.

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