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 tonight 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. Gargano even went on to defeat Velveteen Dream on the Jan. 24 episode of NXT after he put his NXT Title Match opportunity on the line.
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 showodwn for the NXT Championship when Andrade “Cien” Almas and Johnny Gargano battle at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia tonight at 8 ET/5 PT, exclusively on the award-winning WWE Network.