NXT Takeover: Dallas. In short, the matches were great and the worst was mediocre . I figured I’d rank the night’s matches on a scale of 1 to 10. This was difficult, as all of the matches were top-notch and may have even out done Wrestlemania (I’m also trying to keep my family from making me play Bingo…f**kingBingo).
Obviously don’t read further if you haven’t watched the show, and smack your wrist because you’re a naughty boy or girl and then go and watch it!
#5 – Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries
Winner: Austin Aries – Reversed End of Days into a Rollup
This match may be the lowest ranked on the list, but that does not mean it was bad. Mediocre yes, but not bad. It’s actually the best I’ve seen Baron Corbin. Everything from his entrance (those lights!) to his in ring taunts are starting to solidify him as a top heel in NXT. He may look like Vince tried to create an edgier Roman Reigns in a lab, but he’s a lot better than people give him credit for. Former TNA darling Austin Aries was decent in his NXT debut. Despite the nearly 10 foot height difference between the two, there were some great moments of Aries arial work, and Corbin’s size being exploited, billing him as a Samao Joe-esque monter heel. However, given the former X-Division champion in Aries, I was definitely expecting a lot more high-flying spots to show him off properly to the non-smarks in the crowd (as if there weren’t any!).
Overall a decent match that made both performers look strong, but marred by time restraints (11 minutes) and a lack of flare from Aries.
#4 – NXT Women’s Championship: Bayley vs. Asuka
Winner: Asuka – Submission after Bayley passed out in the Asuka Lock
Again, this match’s lower ranking does not mean it was awful. Like I said, this was a great show overall and there’s not that much difference between these next 4 matches. The NXT Women’s Championship has constantly seen great matches, and Bayley vs. Asuka was no exception. The former NJPW seasoned veteran against pretty much the face of NXT ensured a stellar match. This was definitely more ground based than expected, with brilliant transitions between stiff submissions, from guillotines to ankle locks to armbars and even a kneebar from the Hugger, Bayley and Asuka displayed the true potential of proper women’s wrestling in the WWE. The match was fast paced, with no pauses between submission and top rope spots. The only reason that this match isn’t ranked higher is due to the finish. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited when Asuka took Bayley’s back and got both hooks in (wow, this feels like I’m reviewing a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fight…the Asuka lock is basically a rear naked choke) and the KO finish allowed Asuka to look strong and Bayley to look tenacious a la Stone Cold passing out in the Sharp Shooter. Bayley’s loss sent an emotional shockwave throughout the arena, and if this was her NXT swansong then hopefully she’ll take the main roster by storm (she should definitely be called up at this point, she deserves it). One more ’bout with Asuka could round this off.
However, the finish this time round not only left things dubious, but has been used by WWE a couple of times now, and it’s starting to lose its impact. I would love to see Asuka and Bayley go at it again at some point. Maybe a 2 out of 3 falls match or something before Bayley’s callup. The two clearly have an awesome in-ring chemistry that audiences would like to see more of. But for now an awesome match’s only downpoint was its finish.
#3 – NXT Tag Team Championship: The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) (c) vs. American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable)
Winners: American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable) – Gable pins Dawson following the Grand Amplitude
It’s rare an opening segment match is one of the night’s best (the Last Man standing match from this year’s Royal Rumble being a key exception). But, setting the tone for a brilliant show, American Alpha and The Revival pulled it off in a spectacular clash of babyface and foil heel tag teams (making it more dynamic than the main roster). Honestly, I loved this match from start to finish, as both teams fed off of each other superbly and told an awesome story. Multiple double team spots including saves from Jason Jordan and multiple counters between two teams ensured a constant back and forth. The Revival maintained a constant foil air, by attempting to keep Chad Gable from tagging Jordan in, including a great spot from Dash Wilder pulling the rug out from Jason Jordan’s feet to prevent a tag being made. This resulted in explosive knockdowns once he was eventually tagged in, and massive pop from the crowd, launching Dash and Dawson with throws and many-a-suplex. The match’s final minutes were tag team poetry, featuring a countered pin by Dawson, followed by a blind tag from Jordan, and then another Gable, allowing the two to land the grand amplitude.
There was one problem with this match (causing laughter from The Revival actually). This was a botched double team spot towards the middle of the match, prompting the smarky crowd of Dallas to chant “You Fucked Up, You Fucked Up” and “Botchamania *clap clap, clap clap clap*.” Whilst I don’t agree with that reaction, it was that spot which caused a slight lull in the match before any sort of recovery. Still, a great match with a clear story and brilliant tag team wrestling. This is what the main roster needs.
#2 – NXT Championship: Finn Bálor (c) vs. Samoa Joe
I was there live the first time that these two titans clashed back at Takeover London, and that was a battle (to put it lightly). Well, their second clash was a WAR. Right from the get go, Samoa Joe was busted open, prompting a great technical exchange between two of NXT’s finest. Even with his face cut, Joe worked one hell of a match, proving great athleticism for a man his size with leaps through the ropes, described by Corey Graves as “Godzilla destroying Tokyo”, prompting Tom Phillips to say “Godzilla didn’t have wings!” Bálor provided the perfect answer to this with agile counters and prominent strikes. Submissions on Samoa Joe’s part were executed brilliantly, transitioning flawlessly between a deep Boston Crab and a Crossface toward the match’s conclusion, culminating in a beautifully placed Muscle Buster. Having Bálor kick out of Joe’s signature moves made him look unstoppable whilst making Samoa Joe look like an incredible monster heel done right. Having the match end with the rollup from the Coquina Clutch rounded things off well, maintaining Samoa Joe’s monstrous status whilst allowing Finn Bálor to maintain his calculated nature as champion.
The only drawback from this match was the constant stoppages, due to the cut above Samoa Joe’s eye. I understand that these things have to be done, and it certainly wasn’t helped by the ubersmark crowd chanting “Let Joe Bleed, Let Joe Bleed!’ and “Fuck PG, Fuck PG” constantly. Other than that, the match was amazing and a trilogy would give both men’s storylines a definitive close.
#1 – Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
There were fights, there were battles and there were wars. But Nakamura vs. Zayn outdid every single match on the Dallas card to near perfection, both men wanting to bring their absolute A game to create an art piece of true beauty (wow,that sounded wanky). Zayn came out swinging, following the ovation for the King of Strong Style. Nakamura followed suit with a series of stiff knees and kicks, cementing the fact that WWE had not reduced the man’s strength based character. Zayn pulled out every iconic spot with a furious energy to match Nakamura, with his now infmaous over the top rope moonsault and cross-boddy combo, combatted by Swagsuke’s multiple ground & pounds with his hammer-like knees. There were points where it looked like Zayn might take it, featuring a brutal Michinoku Driver and a brilliantly executed Blue Thunder Bomb following a missed Helluva Kick. Submissions were once again executed brilliantly, featuring a triangle choke and armbar from Nakamura (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game was strong for NXT!). The ending segment where the two traded brutally strong elbows to the head allowed Zayn to display his own brand of Strong Style, and gave a full display of the toughness of Nakamura. The final payoff with Shinsuke’s Kinshasa (formerly the Boma Ye Knee) rounded off the match of the night. Giving Sami Zayn the NXT sendoff he deserved and giving Shinsuke Nakamura the Earth-shattering WWE debut only befitting of the King of Strong Style.
Like I said, NXT Takeover: Dallas was a brilliant show, and could even rival Wrestlemania in its execution. All 5 matches were of at least a decent standard, if not a spectacular one, with 4 of the 5 matches being of an unbelievable standard. Nakamura vs. Zayn clearly stole the spotlight, but All 3 championship matches were absolutely top notch. The strange thing is, none were gimmick matches. It was all just straight up, old fashioned, PG pro-wrestling. This is what fans of the industry want. Your move Wrestlemania.
Disclaimer: At this point, I know Wrestlemania has finished. I also have not watched the full show yet. Spoil it, and I will end you 🙂