Prior to NXT TakeOver Philadelphia, three matches took place, all of which were filmed as part of a live TV taping to air next Wednesday on the WWE Network: Nikki Cross vs Lacey Evans, TM61 vs. The Ealy Brothers, and Roderick Strong vs Tyler Bate in a #1 contender’s match for the WWE UK Championship.
In the first match of the night, Cross, who was super over with the Philadelphia crowd, defeated Evans. Also receiving a great reaction was TM61, who defeated the Ealy Brothers in their first televised match back since Shane Thorne suffered an injury nearly a year ago. The match was fast-paced and showcased both Thorne and Nick Miller‘s athleticism throughout. It was clear the crowd was into it and the support for TM61 was well noted.
— Chris (@SensesPunk) January 28, 2018
The third and final match saw Strong triumph over Bate, securing his championship match against Pete Dunne.
Bate, the first ever holder of the UK Championship, has been in-and-around the title picture for most of its existence. Coming into this match, he seemed the likely favorite to win and face Dunne one more time, building off their TakeOver: Chicago clash which was announced tonight as the 2017 NXT Match of the Year.
Strong meanwhile, has been in a bit of a holding pattern following his rivalry with then-NXT champion, Bobby Roode. The champ and his challenger engaged in a feud that was marked by its bitterness and how personal it got. Roode oftentimes insulted Strong’s backstory and made sure to note that in his NXT, Strong would never be champion. With Roode off to the main roster, Strong, finally got his retribution, defeating the Glorious One for the first time in Roode’s last NXT match.
This was a big win for Strong but he quickly got passed over in the world title picture. So much so that despite being one of the most pushed stars just a few months ago, the longtime Ring of Honor star, Strong wasn’t even on the TakeOver: Philadelphia card.
Strong and Bate wrestled a high-quality match where both men were about equally over with the crowd. Strong executed some creative backbreakers, including what looked to be a hangman’s DDT elevated into one. The match held a good pace and the Philadelphia faithful were engaged. It was a very physical match, with the last several minutes really providing for some excellent viewing. The match ended with Strong, doing exactly what he promised, making another memory in the city he called his wrestling home for the better part of 13 years.
Over a decade ago in Philly a group of guys made a statement. Philly would go on to be a place I… https://t.co/X7LEsdQqaz
— Roderick Strong (@roderickstrong) January 27, 2018
With the UK Championship still being mainly defended overseas, it is unlikely Strong or any other American will dethrone Dunne for the belt. That being said, this gives Strong something to do while he waits for his potential shot against NXT champion, Andrade Cien Almas, or waits for his next big feud, whatever that might be.