Charly Caruso welcomes us to the pre-show, alongside her panel consisting of Sam Roberts and Samoa Joe!
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 28, 2018
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:
The award for @WWENXT‘s Rivalry of the Year goes to @WWEAleister and @VelveteenWWE, but the latter is using his acceptance speech to make a BOLD prediction for tonight’s #NXTTakeOver: Philadelphia! pic.twitter.com/3ecCpIzJp5
— WWE (@WWE) January 28, 2018
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.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 28, 2018
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!
— WWE (@WWE) January 28, 2018
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!