It was an action-packed weekend in WWE. Perhaps the second biggest PPV of the year took place in the Royal Rumble and Takeover: Philadelphia again proved the future of the company is very bright. Matt and Austin discuss the two big events.
NXT Takeover: Philadelphia
Undisputed Era def Authors of Pain to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships
Austin – Real good match which isn’t a surprise from these two. Looks like next up for Undisputed is War Machine. AoP should see a call up soon. I thought it was a good way to start the show with a pretty predictable finish.
Matt – The result was not surprising but still an enjoyable match. Interested to see if this rivalry is really over or if we will soon see a rematch. Fish and O’Reilly still continue to find ways to win even when they seem like the underdogs.
Austin – Would you be in favor of a rivalry continuation or like to see them move on?
Matt – I would like to see a War Machine vs. AoP #1 contenders match. I, personally, would like to see Fish and O’Reilly get called up before the Authors of Pain.
Austin – We’ll see how they take it. I think if they do call AoP up that could be a good transition for them to do it.
Velveteen Dream def Kassius Ohno
Austin – WWE made the right call with Velveteen winning. The dude is just so good and he plays a perfect heel role even with a questionable character. I like how they played Velveteen getting his “30 second knockout” without ending the match that soon. It was an interesting twist and made him look strong. Interested to see what’s next for him.
Matt – See, I actually wanted to see him get the 30 second knockout. I’m kind of glad he didn’t because then we wouldn’t have gotten the great match that followed. It’s good to see WWE continue to push Velveteen Dream with the momentum he currently has. As long as he stays in NXT, I think his stock will continue to rise. Good choice in using a vet like Kassius Ohno to help put him over.
Austin – What do you think would be a good next step for Velveteen? It might be a stretch, but what about Adam Cole?
Matt – I don’t necessarily see that just because Velveteen doesn’t have a team around him like Cole with Undisputed Era. Maybe a rivalry with a debuting Ricochet?
Austin – I think if you went with Cole you could have him win it and gain some credibility back without really stunting too much momentum. I just don’t see a realistic avenue to transition to it. Who would you have win the Velveteen-Ricochet feud?
Matt – At first, I think you have Ricochet win. He’s the new guy that some people may have never seen before. Having him pick up a win against the red-hot Velveteen Dream instantly peaks people’s interests. From there, it’s fair game.
Ember Moon def Shayna Baszler to retain the NXT Women’s Championship
Austin – I was really interested to see how WWE was going to pull this off. You don’t want to kill Shayna’s momentum but you also don’t want to take the strap off Ember so soon. This is about as good as they could get without Baszler losing by DQ. She dominated the match and was caught with a surprise rollup at the end for Ember to pull it off. Good match. It gives Shayna even more of a reason to continue her heelish antics, which she is playing so well.
Matt – While this match was good, it moved a little too slow for me. The roll up seemed to take awhile to get but I think that was the right decision. The ambush afterwards shows that this is not even close to the last time we will see these two fight it out.
Austin – How long would you take this before Shayna gets the strap and an, assuming, Ember call up?
Matt – The women’s main rosters are so congested right now that I think you have to keep this going until at least the Takeover before Mania, probably even until right before SummerSlam.
Austin – I think the right approach after that point would be Kairi taking on Shayna, you see any other plausible choice?
Matt – At this point, no. The NXT women’s division isn’t incredibly deep.
Aleister Black def Adam Cole in an Extreme Rules match
Austin – It was a toss up as far the result would go, but this is exactly how you do an extreme rules match. They used about everything in the environment, it was brutal, there was near falls, the assumed Undisputed Era interference. Just a great match. These two literally tore the house down. Not a lot of people are in favor of Adam Cole losing, but I’m in favor of it in terms of Aleister Black. I think this provides a good avenue for him to set his eyes on the main belt.
Matt – Finally, an extreme rules match that looked and felt like one. These two are incredible together and just about equal in everything. I know we had talked before the match about who we thought would win and we were split; you being for Aleister and me for Cole. I wanted to see Cole win this just to set up a rubber match, but I’m not disappointed about the result and the match as a whole.
Austin – Black had an interesting tactic of not wanting a weapon while Adam Cole had one. Did you like it? I think it just shows his badass persona even more.
Matt – Maybe that just plays into his psychological mindset of using his opponent’s moves against them.
Andrade “Cien” Almas def Johnny Gargano to retain the NXT Championship
Austin – Just. Incredible. This went far and above expectations that were already pretty high. It’s now February at the time of reviewing this, and we have a Match of the Year candidate. Near fall after near fall. Submissions that you almost knew were going to end the match. These guys got over 30 minutes in the ring and used every single bit of it. Ciampa returning at the end to add insult to injury is perfect. I thought they were going to have him come out mid-match but I like the route they took instead. It makes Almas’ victory look even more credible. You now have a potential challenger in Aleister Black and Ciampa-Gargano didn’t need a title for fuel.
Matt – This is why NXT is arguably better than the main shows. These guys are not “superstars” in the sense of a Brock Lesnar or John Cena, but they put on one of the best matches we have seen in a long time. I like the continual interference from Zelina Vega even though it didn’t lead to the victory (which is good). The interference from Gargano’s wife helped push the fact that this was a family thing for him. I’m glad that he took the L so it could set up the Gargano-Ciampa feud. There’s too many good rivalries on the horizon for this one to be focused around the title. Great way to end a fantastic show.
Austin – This was the first NXT show of the new year and it’s going to be tough to top. We had a good tag match to start the show, a true extreme rules, and a potential Match of the Year. Just a great show. NXT is going to be fun to watch this year.
Matt – And only going to get better. We are seeing incredible matches like these and have a new crop of talent coming in. Ricochet, War Machine, Candice LeRae, and EC 3 should bring some new blood into an already exciting environment. Let’s also not forget about people coming back from injury such as Drew McIntyre. This is the best NXT has ever been and continues to prove that at each show.
After one hell of a show, we still had the main show to go on Sunday.
AJ Styles def Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn to retain the WWE Championship
Austin – Decent little start. They added the twist of KO taking the fall but Sami missed the tag so he technically should’ve been the legal man. It was a predictable finish but a good showing. You had to expect some kind of controversial finish and they achieved just that.
Matt – A little surprised that they started the show with this match but it served its purpose. AJ retained, there was a controversial finish, and it created a bit of a split between KO and Sami.
Usos def Gable & Benjamin to retain the Smackdown Tag Championships in a 2 out of 3 falls match
Austin – This was interesting just for the fact that it didn’t go all three falls. I liked how they did it because when’s the last time we saw that? The Uso’s keep all of their momentum and showed that Gable and Benjamin still aren’t on their level. Job well done, WWE.
Matt – We are so conditioned as wrestling fans to expect all 3 falls to take place. So I agree with you that it was good to change things up and surprise us with only 2. I honestly didn’t see any of this match, but that sounded like the biggest takeaway
Austin – Did you like the Uso’s only needing two falls?
Matt – I did because I think it demonstrates how dominate they really are or can be. The Uso’s are so much better since making their heel turn.
Shinsuke Nakamura wins Men’s Royal Rumble
Austin – Why in the WORLD was this match placed here? Once we got down to the final five or so, that’s where the match was made. I loved seeing Rey Mysterio make an appearance. Andrade Almas made a surprise appearance and performed really well. Kofi used pancakes for his crazy save this year. WWE booked this perfectly. Roman did not need this win. Having him be the last eliminated was perfect and really put over Nakamura. Shinsuke vs AJ at Mania should be a war.
Matt – Very surprising placement of this match, but not a bad match in general. Not many surprise entrants which was a little disappointing but I love the result. I am still a little surprised that Roman was not the one to eliminate Cena but I agree with the booking of having Roman eliminated last. It was kind of cool how they had the “new vs. old” in the final six even though it was odd to see those guys align. Some very good showings from Finn and Andrade. Very excited for Styles vs. Nakamura at Mania for the title. Dream match, indeed.
The Bar def Rollins & Jordan to win Raw Tag Team Championships
Austin – Seemed like an abrupt ending and I wonder if it had anything to do with Jason Jordan’s legit injury. This is the only match from the entire weekend that I didn’t predict correctly. The match was hardly anything special. They did a good job in the title loss being because of potential dissension between Rollins and JJ.
Matt – Nothing spectacular here, but once again did its job. Furthered that story between Jordan and Rollins and maybe the way they had Jason get “injured” will create the idea of him being a wuss while giving him time in real life to heal from his actual injuries.
Brock Lesnar def Braun Strowman and Kane to retain the Universal Championship
Austin – This match didn’t meet expectations. It wasn’t the greatest match but that could also be due to everyone preparing themselves for the Women’s Rumble. They made the right move in Kane taking the pin. The match felt a little rushed.
Matt – Predictable winner and predictable finish. Did the right thing in having Kane take the pin but just wasn’t that great of a match, in my opinion. We won’t see Lesnar again until March and it will be interesting to see what Braun continues to do in his quest for the title.
Asuka wins Women’s Royal Rumble. Ronda Rousey debuts afterwards
Austin – I admit, this was worthy of the main event. The match was good, there were a lot of surprise appearances, and a viable contender won. I don’t know how to feel about Ronda Rousey’s appearance. I like and am excited that she’s in WWE, just weird timing. That was Asuka’s moment and Ronda stole it. It was still notable but that’s all that everyone is talking about. It’s not the first ever Women’s Rumble, it’s not Asuka winning, it’s Ronda Rousey. I don’t know how they could’ve done it any better, but just left a weird taste in my mouth.
Matt – This match has everything you expect from a Rumble: surprise appearances, superstars in there for long amounts of time, reunions/breakups, etc. I hated that Nikki Bella was one of the last two, but that may be in part to my own personal bias. Agree with the decision of Asuka winning and I kind of liked how they had Ronda debut. Everyone was expecting her to be #30…..and she wasn’t. I loved bringing Trish out as #30 (again, due to my own personal bias). By not having Ronda in the Rumble, it made everyone question whether she was actually coming. And then bam….she’s here.
Matt and Austin – Pretty damn good show. The start of the men’s rumble was a little slow, the women’s was fun all throughout. There was some dead time in between the rumble matches but that is to be expected. I’d say they probably made the right choice in picking all the winners. Let the Road to WrestleMania begin.