Welcome one and all to the TJR preview of Takeover: Philadelphia. It’ll be interesting to see how this show is remembered since we have the likes of Candice LaRae, Ricochet, & War Machine coming in. If all of them come into NXT, this roster could be the most stacked it’s ever been. That’s certainly saying something. The landscape would certainly be drastically different at Takeover: Orlando. There’s not nearly as much buzz for this Takeover as even there was for War Games, and that buzz was slightly down from Brooklyn. There seems to be only one match with true appeal, that being Cole vs. Black, but I do think there’s genuine interest in seeing if Gargano can climb the mountain and become champion. Beyond that… meh? That’s the sense I get.

There was not a 5th match added to the card on NXT TV, but per Triple H in a media conference call on Wednesday, Kassius Ohno will take on The Velveteen Dream. They had a very short backstage interaction that was put on WWE’s Youtube Channel and WWE.com where Ohno ended up shoving TVD into a door. Obviously not much to say about this match, and it’s getting a little annoying that we can’t build up 5 matches consistently. This feels like the 4th or 5th Takeover in a row where the last match was added at the last minute. I would expect TVD to go over since he needs a win to help continue the momentum he’s gained.

NXT Women’s Title Match
Ember Moon (c) vs. Shayna Baszler

As much as WWE thinks Baszler is a big name, I don’t get the sense that this is a match fans were clamoring for. Heading into this last week of NXT TV, I felt this may be the weakest NXT Women’s Title Match ever on a Takeover. I didn’t believe that Baszler was a serious contender, but she showed a lot in her face to face promo with Ember. I definitely feel they want to make Shayna look strong for her next step, which I believe will be at the Royal Rumble and then end up doing something with her buddy Ronda Rousey. I don’t see a title change here, but for the reasons listed above, I can’t see Shayna losing cleanly. I think she’ll get DQ’ed by being over aggressive, maybe even choking out Ember and not letting go, but the title will stay where it is.

Prediction: Ember Moon retains by Disqualification

NXT Tag Title Match
The Undisputed Era (c) vs. The Authors of Pain

I wish this match had more of a story behind it coming out of War Games. The story was Sanity and Undisputed Era while AOP was on the back burner and although these teams have history, it doesn’t feel like it, as there was no mention of it during the quick build up. The tag division is stacking up quickly, with TM61 returning and War Machine coming in, plus The Street Profits coming up and someone like Heavy Machinery still in the fold. I expect TM61 to get a big push, as anyone that gets the “get to know them” video treatment, ends up with a big push. So I can see TM61 becoming the next challengers and then we have a massive secondary feud with AOP and War Machine. That would be a ton of fun to watch. Authors of Pain continue to prove that when you put them in the ring with top talent, they up their game, and I would expect nothing less for this match. I think this is going to be a lot of fun and has showstealer potential.

Prediction: The Undisputed Era retains

Extreme Rules Match
Adam Cole vs. Aleister Black

This match has been hyped more than the NXT Title match in my opinion. It feels like the true main event, and rightfully so, as it features the brand’s top two stars. This should be the best match on the card and honestly anything less will feel like a disappointment. They have a lot to live up to with an Extreme Rules match in Philadelphia. It’s going to be a hot crowd obviously, and I think they’ll expect everything including the kitchen sink in this match. Black has a pinfall victory over Cole already and I would find it hard to believe they’d have Cole take a second pinfall victory this soon.

As much as the tag title scene looks crowded all of the sudden, the NXT title picture is even more so. It’s hard to imagine what would be the title match at Takeover: New Orleans when it could be any combination of the four men in these two main events, plus the likes of Ciampa when he comes back, and Ricochet if he’s to debut in NXT. Strictly because I can’t see Cole taking a second loss this soon, and a loss by Black wouldn’t hurt him at all in this situation, I’m going to take Cole.

Prediction: Adam Cole

NXT Title Match
Andrade Almas (c) vs. Johnny Gargano

Will he or won’t he? That is the question. There is no denying that NXT has done a tremendous job of building Gargano up as the ultimate babyface. And it all comes down to this, whether he’ll be able to cash in on his opportunity to become NXT champion. So will he or won’t he? It’s really tough to say. If he becomes champion, he has natural challengers in Adam Cole and Tommaso Ciampa. However, if Ciampa returns at this show, doesn’t it add that much more to their story if he costs Gargano his shot at the title? A part of me thinks that Ciampa will return and cost Gargano the match, but ultimately in a card that feels like it’s going to go heel heavy on results, I see Gargano winning the title and getting the ultimate moment of redemption, only to have Ciampa cut it short and take him out after the match. Ciampa then comes out afterwards and say that he could’ve taken out Gargano any time he wanted, but it’s that much sweeter to him to do it while taking the NXT Title as well.

I haven’t even touched on Almas and even though a loss would make him the definition of a transitional champion, I don’t think that’s a bad thing in this instance. He was never going to sniff the title six months ago, then Zelina Vega came into his life and he got so hot, that they put the title on him. He’ll be fine moving forward because he’s better off now than he could’ve hoped for just a few months ago.

Prediction: New NXT Champion, Johnny Gargano

More times than not, Takeover comes through even stronger than expected, and in a wrestling hotbed like Philly, I feel that no matter what the card looks like, this show will do the same. Don’t forget to join us this Saturday for live coverage and until next time… don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, but if you do, name it after me.