WWE NXT presents TakeOver Philadelphia this evening, live on the WWE Network. The show looks to continue the pattern of excellent shows from WWE's developmental brand, with the TakeOver shows often surpassing the main roster PPV that occurs the next night.
Will tonight's event surpass Sunday's Royal Rumble? Both brands have great cards planned, and this one might be an even steeper challenge for NXT given the main roster is presenting a historic, first-ever women's Royal Rumble in addition to the men's version which is sure to make headlines with some surprise entrants.
So let's take a look at the TakeOver Philadelphia card and what might end up happening on tonight's show. The action begins at 8:00 p.m. ET on the WWE Network.
The Velveteen Dream, Patrick Clark of Tough Enough fame, is one of the brightest, up and coming stars on the NXT roster. He hit the radar in a big way at TakeOver War Games in his bout with Aleister Black. Tonight, he takes on another popular figure and long time star on the independent circuit, Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero).
This should be a fantastic bout once again, possibly even a match of the night contender.
Predicted Winner: Velveteen Dream
This match is a natural progression of sorts as the Undisputed Era (Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish) look to hang on to their titles against the former champions.
The Undisputed Era defeated Sanity for the titles at a NXT television taping in late November (it aired on the WWE Network in late December), so this feud with the Authors of Pain is their first big one since becoming champions. Though the 102 days that Sanity had the titles was impressive, the Authors of Pain held the belts for 203 days, much of 2017.
A victory over the Authors would cement the Undisputed Era's place in NXT as the top dogs. It may also be a hint that the Authors of Pain are headed to the main roster.
Predicted Winners: Undisputed Era
Here in the former hometown of ECW Wrestling, we get the obligatory extreme rules match.
Aleister Black continues to be one of the most intriguing talents on the NXT roster, a guy who could seemingly be brought up to the main roster at any point and succeed at a high level. On the other side of the ring, Adam Cole of the Undisputed Era has been one of the top independent workers in the world the last couple of years but hasn't really found his stride at NXT since debuting last summer.
This should be another very good match, and when it comes down to picking a winner, I'm going to have to go with the Undisputed Era taking a loss in this one if O'Reilly and Fish are going to hang on to the tag team titles.
Predicted Winner: Aleister Black
The NXT women's division is still trying to sort itself out following the departure of Asuka.
Ember Moon has been a good champion and logical choice in Asuka's absence, though the division is still missing the spark of year's past. Shayna Baszler, famous for her membership in Ronda Rousey's Four Horsewomen group, is a new name and certainly capable of having a good match with Moon. However, out of all the matches at TakeOver Philadelphia, this one is definitely the biggest question mark from an in-ring perspective.
I feel it's too early for Moon to lose the title, and I think the next logical champion remains Peyton Royce. Baszler and her friends might have a better night on Sunday should Ronda Rousey make her long-awaited WWE debut at the Royal Rumble.
Predicted Winner: Ember Moon
The main event of the evening will be the second time over the course of the last three TakeOver events that Johnny Gargano and Andrade 'Cien' Almas have met in the ring.
Their first recent clash, back at NXT TakeOver Brooklyn, gave Almas a win that helped propel him to the NXT championship back at TakeOver War Games. Meanwhile, Gargano has been fighting and clawing to find his way following his break from Tommaso Ciampa back in Chicago last spring. Gargano eventually won the number one contendership, catapulting him into the title position tonight in Philadelphia.
Though I wrote Dream and Ohno have a chance to be match of the night, I'd be shocked if this one wasn't after the event is over this evening. This should be a spectacular bout that will ultimately result in Almas retaining the title and perhaps the return of the "Psycho Killer" (Ciampa). It'd be the perfect time to bring him back, costing his former partner (Gargano) the title in a move that should ignite the continuation of what will be one of the best NXT feuds of 2018.
Predicted Winner: Andrade 'Cien' Almas