NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega were all smiles as they kicked off NXT, and why not? Almas is the new NXT Champion after dethroning Drew McIntyre at TakeOver: WarGames.
Making their first appearance on NXT since the momentous title victory, Almas showcased an energy not seen before from the highly acclaimed luchador. Almas proudly recounted his triumph over McIntyre, including how he injured the now former NXT Champion.
With the wily Vega by his side and his confidence sky high, can anyone unseat NXT's new top titleholder? The NXT Universe will find out at TakeOver: Philadelphia, when the winner of a No. 1 Contender's Tournament — which will take place over the next few weeks — challenges Almas.
This battle of heavyweights pitting Killian Dain vs. Trent Seven was a classic, old-school clash that at times resembled two grizzly bears duking it out. Seven — schooled in British Strong Style — used his hard-hitting offense to take The Beast of Belfast off his gigantic feet. Dain's unrivaled combination of strength and agility was just too much for the British grappler to handle, however.
Dain continued to wow the NXT Universe, delivering a massive Vader Bomb to Seven en route to an impressive victory in the first match of the No. 1 Contender's Tournament for the right to challenge NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas at TakeOver: Philadelphia.
Just when we thought the rivalry between Sonya Deville and Ruby Riott was over, they show that not even being on separate brands can keep their disdain for one another at bay.
With Deville now a Raw Superstar and Riott a Smackdown LIVE Superstar, the heated adversaries used their old stomping grounds in NXT as the home for their escalating conflict to play out.
Two weeks ago, Riott scored the victory over the former MMA fighter, but The Jersey Devil evened the score this week in a No Holds Barred Match.
The contest stayed within the ropes for the most part, until Riott flew head-first onto Deville on the outside. The move backfired, though, as Deville caught Riott in a vicious triangle chokehold when she tried to get back into the ring.
In a typical match, Deville would have to break the hold as Riott laid across the ropes, but with No Holds Barred rules in effect, the move was completely legal. Riott refused to tap out and instead passed out, resulting in Deville being declared the victor.
Will we see these rising rivals face off in a rubber match?
It was revealed prior to this No. 1 Contender's Tournament Match that Velveteen Dream would be unable to compete due to injuries suffered at TakeOver: WarGames. As a result, General Manager William Regal inserted Johnny Gargano into the bout.
Despite having a significant size disadvantage, Johnny Wrestling took full advantage of this huge opportunity. Gargano's struggles since becoming a singles wrestler have been widely discussed, but you wouldn't have known the Cleveland native had been struggling based on his performance against one of the world's greatest grapplers in Kassius Ohno.
The two squared-circle savants put on a show for the NXT Universe, leaving the fans hanging on every vicious kick to the jaw. Dueling chants of “Kassius Ohno” and “Jonny Wrestling” rang throughout Full Sail University as both competitors put on a “Match of the Year” candidate with just a few weeks remaining in 2017.
What Gargano lacks in size he makes up for in heart as he miraculously kicked out of some of Ohno's most devastating strikes. After a grueling back-and-forth, the determined Superstar locked in his Gargano Escape submission to force Ohno to tap out, moving Johnny Gargano forward to the Fatal 4-Way No. 1 Contender's Match.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Killian Dain defeated Trent Seven in a WWE NXT Title #1 Contendership Qualifying Match (3:00)
- Sonya Deville defeated Ruby Riott by Referee decision in a No Holds Barred Match (9:00)
- Johnny Gargano defeated Kassius Ohno in a WWE NXT Title #1 Contendership Qualifying Match (13:00)
Other on-screen talent