Following up from the breakdown of superstars missing from NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia, let’s turn our attention to the polar opposite of the spectrum: the superstars who will not only perform, but likely steal the show in some capacity.
Whether it’s in a scripted or non-kayfabe sense by factoring in everything from wins and losses, how much of an emphasis they’re given on the show, their momentum for the next TV episode, match performances and everything between, here’s my shortlist for who I think will be stealing the show at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia.
The way I see it, either Johnny Gargano is walking out of Philadelphia with the NXT Championship in his possession, or he’s losing this match because of interference from Tommaso Ciampa.
In the latter scenario, Ciampa should be on this list, because he’ll be the big shocker that everyone would be talking about, but it’ll all funnel through Gargano, who will also get the extra nudge of going through a fantastic match and almost becoming the champion before being screwed over.
I’m wholeheartedly expecting Gargano to look like a million bucks, putting on a great show with Almas and really hyping up the crowd to the point where it feels as though his time is finally coming, only to hit a heartbreaking reversal with Ciampa that allows Almas to retain the title and sneak away with a victory.
Of course, following that whole transaction, people will be more interested in seeing Gargano vs. Ciampa at TakeOver: New Orleans than necessarily wondering who will get the next opportunity against Almas, which is why you don’t see him on this list.
Then again, if Gargano simply wins the title, that is even more of a reason to bump Almas and put Gargano on here, making it a 2-0 rationalization. Sorry, Cien.
This includes all three members, as I’m going into this event expecting not only for Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish to retain the NXT Tag Team Championship against The Authors of Pain, but also for Adam Cole to defeat Aleister Black.
In my mind, the Extreme Rules situation opens up way too much of a possibility for Fish and O’Reilly to interfere, which makes it an unfair situation against Black and can allow for him to be defeated without looking weak.
Sure, Cole can lose to Black and it won’t hurt the stable’s overall value, but I definitely don’t think the tag titles are changing hands and if you’re going to bet as much on The Undisputed Era as it seems WWE is betting, you might as well go all-in by having Cole be victorious, too.
Following this event, The Undisputed Era will continue to tout themselves as the crown jewels of NXT and they’ll have all that much more reason to believe what they say.
Ember Moon / Shayna Baszler
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know who to pick between these two, and I’ve been struggling with it ever since the tapings revealed that this match would take place.
There’s a perfectly reasonable argument for either of these women to leave with the NXT Women’s Championship and the outcome of this match depends entirely on what WWE’s future plans are, which is something we don’t know for sure.
The women’s Royal Rumble match is the following night and I can definitely see a situation where Shayna Baszler dethrones Ember Moon, even though she’s so fresh as the champion, just because Moon could be one of the top candidates to fill in one of the empty spots in the battle royal.
However, even if that’s the case, Moon doesn’t need to drop the title to be able to do that. She can easily still be justified as a participant because she’s the NXT women’s champion and the top of the division.
And yet, the same thing applies to Baszler. If she wins the title from Moon, does that propel her to being someone they’d want to put in the Royal Rumble and keep the momentum going?
With the rumors that Ronda Rousey could be in the match, maybe Baszler is in it as well, and maybe that even points to Moon retaining the title since Baszler winning the belt and appearing in the Royal Rumble would be doubling down and giving Moon nothing to do.
Hell, what if they’re both in the Royal Rumble and they eliminate each other just as a means to further along this feud in NXT?? Does that mean Baszler wins the title, Moon eliminates her and they keep fighting, or does it mean Moon retains the title and Baszler is pissed about her loss and goes out for revenge?
I honestly don’t know who to pick to win this match, but I do think that both women will play equal parts in putting on a great show and that this feud will extend past TakeOver.
Does he fight Killian Dain? Does he fight Roderick Strong? Maybe both at the same time in a triple threat match?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think it really matters, because it seems as though the bottom line is that Lars Sullivan is the one getting a push since he’s the focal point and has the momentum on his side.
Granted, on a list of wrestlers who will steal the show and whatnot, I don’t think Sullivan is going to be someone the fans are going gaga over by the end of the evening, as I think he’ll be largely forgotten about when the event is through, but in the scope of the kayfabe field of competitors, he stands out to me as someone who will have another win in his column and possibly a dominant performance worth some buzz if he is able to take down Killian Dain.
Those are my picks, but who do you think will end up being the primary focal points? Drop your predictions in the comments below!