If 2017 was any indication, next year promises to have several NXT TakeOver shows that top WWE's main roster PPV shows. The first of these will happen in Philadelphia during Royal Rumble weekend on January 27.
Following this week's edition of WWE NXT on the WWE Network, we now know what the main event for NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia will be. Fans will see Johnny Gargano challenge NXT Champion Andrade "Cien" Almas. Gargano won the opportunity to challenge for the title by defeating Aleister Black, Killian Dain, and Lars Sullivan on this week's NXT broadcast.
Gargano has always seemed like the next logical babyface to carry the NXT brand. He seemingly would have assumed that role following his split with Tommaso Ciampa back at NXT TakeOver: Chicago in May. However, Gargano's momentum had somewhat stalled in the early fall. This is the chance for him to regain that momentum and win his first NXT singles title.
No other matches have been announced for NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia as of yet. Here is the official announcement from WWE pertaining to the main event.
NXT Champion Andrade "Cien" Almas vs. Johnny Gargano
Johnny Gargano has gone from a struggling singles career to one victory away from becoming the NXT Champion. Johnny Wrestling's NXT underdog story will reach its dramatic climax on Saturday, Jan. 27, at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia when he challenges Andrade "Cien" Almas for the NXT Championship.
Considering Gargano represents NXT's version of Rocky Balboa, a true underdog who has come out of nowhere to find himself in a huge title showdown, there may not be a better city to host this matchup than Philadelphia, the city that was famously the backdrop for the "Rocky" movie franchise.
Gargano was never even supposed to be involved in the series of matches to determine Almas' challenger in the first place. Yet, after learning of an injury to Velveteen Dream, General Manager William Regal inserted the talented Gargano into the fray. The former NXT Tag Team Champion — who had stumbled mightily since transitioning to singles competition — went on to defeat the highly acclaimed Kassius Ohno in a Qualifying Match before overcoming Killian Dain, Aleister Black and Lars Sullivan in a No. 1 Contender's Fatal 4-Way Match. That's a Knockout Artist, two monsters and a previously undefeated Superstar, for those keeping count.
Before Gargano can claim the NXT Title, he must defeat the red-hot Almas, a Superstar who has similarly gone from a struggling singles career to the top of NXT. Almas' career resurgence can be traced in part to the arrival of his business manager Zelina Vega, who has helped El Idolo focus and, at times, even offered a helping hand.
This title match won't be the first time these two competitors have met, with Gargano coming out on the losing side in their previous two battles. However, both clashes included timely interference from Vega. Will Almas' fiery manager make her presence felt in this title contest? And if so, can Gargano not only overcome the extremely dangerous Almas, but also Vega's distractions to become the new NXT Champion?
See who prevails in this storied showdown for the NXT Championship when Andrade "Cien" Almas and Johnny Gargano battle at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia on Saturday, Jan. 27, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, exclusively on the award-winning WWE Network.