NXT TakeOver: Dallas Recap: Getting the Party Started
Hello Three Count faithful, it has been a long time since I've come before you to recap an NXT event. I've missed my covering NXT during my time away from The Three Count, and I'm happy to be back bring you coverage NXT: TakeOver Dallas, the first show to kick off WrestleMania weekend. TakeOver:Dallas certainly has some big shoes to fill after last year's TakeOver event in Brooklyn tore the house down. I've been out of the loop with NXT for awhile, but despite that I went in with pretty high expectations. NXT has proven in the past that they can consistently book a solid show, and I didn't expect any less from TakeOver: Dallas.
American Alpha vs. The Revival (c) – NXT Tag Team Championship Match
I was surprised to see this match kick off the show, but I can understand wanting to put on a solid first match in order to get the audience going. I was surprised by the amount of chain wrestling at the start of this match, especially when you look at The Revival's brawling style. Despite this strange start, the match did a great job of pulling me in. American Alphas made a great showing as the never say die babyfaces, and The Revival's use of heel tactics reminded me a lot of a match we would have seen twenty or thrity years ago. I love old school heel work, Wilder getting a blind tag on Gable was fantastic and, even better, was Dawson crawling under the ring and pulling Jason Jordan off of the apron to prevent Gable from gettting a hot tag. From bell to bell this match felt like a real clinic, and getting to see Dawson lock Gable into a Gory Special made me giddy.
The match had some good spots, but was filled with solid action through out. All four men came out of this looking amazing and seeing the Alphas get their first NXT gold made the payoff on the match feel all that much better. This match really showed how WWE should be booking their tag matches on the main roster, and I hope that the teams up there were taking notes.
Your winners (via Grand Amplitude), and new NXT Tag Team Champions, American Alphas!
Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries
I mentioned above that I haven't really been following NXT regularly prior to this show, and it really does bother me to see Baron Corbin still being featured so prominently. Anyone who was around during my tenure on Three Count knows that even back then I was getting tired of the constant stream of enhancement talent being fed to Corbin in an attempt to make him look good, and it's sad to see that they still haven't bucked that trend. I'm sure this is similar to the situation with Roman Reigns where someone feels that Corbin has "the look" but, at least from my perspective, Corbin hasn't improved much over the past year. This bring us to this match, where Corbin faces a debuting Austin Aries, a former TNA World Champion.
First off, I noticed almost immediately that this match featured an absurd amount of rest holds. I get that Cobrin gets gassed easily, but you'd figure a guy that's been doing this for over a year and had previously been in the NFL would have slightly better condition than this, but hey, who am I to judge? The match was pretty slow, and as mentioned above, gave ample opportunities for Corbin to catch his breath. Watching this really made me feel sorry for Aries, because it really felt like he was having to slow himself down in order to hang with Corbin, and I feel that affected the flow. Toward the end of the match we did see a great spot as Corbin hit a fantastic Deep Six onto the mats outside of the ring and left Aeris laying prone, almost causing the match to end in a count out. Aries managed to get back in the ring and Corbin went for the End of Days, which was reversed into a roll up. Aries won the match, but it was pretty underwhelming. I don't know what is planned for him next, but I hope that he won't see a second outing against Corbin. These two men had no chemistry in the ring and it lead to a boring match that felt out of place on the card. No disrespect to Austin Aries of course, but knowing that Apollo Crews vs. Elias Sampson got bumped from this card and this didn't should speak to the quality of this match. Aries deserved a better debut match, and hopefully he'll be able to bounce back from this one quickly.
Your winner, via roll up, Austin Aries!
Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Once I heard rumors of Shinsuke Nakamura coming to the WWE, I had some pretty mixed emotions. I mean, WWE hasn't exactly had the best track record when it comes to getting Japanese stars over when they come to the company. You don't need to look any further than Kaientai or Tajiri to see how WWE has handled Japanese talent in the past. Their more recent acquisitions of Hideo Itami and Asuka have shown a bit of a bright spot. Itami has been out for about a year with a shoulder injury, but he was being booked very strongly prior to suffering that injury.
While I was concerned about his coming into the WWE, we learned a few weeks ago that Nakamura would be making his WWE debut against Sami Zayn at TakeOver: Dallas. As soon as his music hit (which is fantastic, by the way) we saw Nakamura walk onto the stage and nothing about him was changed. He kept his look, his character, even his in-ring style seemed largely untouched from his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling. This was a pleasant surprise, and the fans in attendance in Dallas made that know as Nakamura would receive a "Holy Shit" and "This is Awesome" chant before even doing anything at the start of the match. Once Zayn and Nakamura got going, the two men tore the house down. This match was nonstop action and from bell to bell was one of the best modern wrestling matches I've seen on WWE television. I am not even sure I could properly critique the match, I was totally mesmerized by these two athletes. This is undoubtedly an early contender for match of the year, and it shows that Nakamura could actually be a major player in WWE in the future.
Wrestling fans won't be disappointed in this match, stiff strikes, incredible spots, both Sami Zayn and Shinsuke Nakamura when all out to put on an amazing match. The two men would even recive a standing ovation during the match, and then once again after the match ended. Nakamura would ultimately clinch the victory with a Kinshasa (Bomaye in NJPW), and Sami Zayn would receive an ovation from the crowd for what will likely be his final match in NXT. This match felt like a passing of the torch from Zayn to Nakamura, and I can't wait to see what WWE will do with him next.
Your winner, via Kinshasa, Shinsuke Nakamura!
Asuka vs. Bayley (c) – NXT Women's Championship Match
It isn't easy to follow a match like Zayn and Nakamura put on, and I can admit that I was amped up after that match, which caused me to get a little burnout at the start of the women's title match. However, this quickly changed as Bayley and Asuka weren't about to let themselves be upstaged by the men. NXT has long been at the forefront of women's wrestling and this was not exception. These two put everything on the line and put on a fantastic match and in the end, Bayley would finally be unseated by Asuka ending her her NXT Women's Title reign at 223 days.
The match was great, but I do have a problem with the ending as Bayley would be put into the Asuka Lock and, instead of tapping out, would pass out. My issue with this is that its the kind of booking that WWE would do with John Cena, and while I understand this was likely done to keep Bayley strong, this finish just feels like its overdone in WWE as a whole and I would have preferred to see a clean win.
Your winner (via Asuka Lock) and new NXT Women's Champion, Asuka!
Samoa Joe vs. Finn Bálor (c) – NXT Championship Match
Before I dive into this match, I do want to talk about something that WWE did prior to the match starting which, I imagine, hints at plans for the future. Through out the course of the night, the camera had shown various personalities like Jim Ross, Michelle Beadle, Stephanie McMahon, Scott Hall, and X-Pac, but before this match they showed, and acknowledged, Bobby Roode. For those who are unaware of the gravity of this, Roode was a TNA Original and spent twelve years in the company. He is a two time world champion, six time tag champ, and, like Austin Aries and Samoa Joe before him, looks to be a former top TNA star who is jumping ship to WWE. Seeing Roode on WWE programming was just as surreal as seeing Austin Aries or Shinsuke Nakamura, and I loudly said "holy shit" upon seeing him on my screen.
On to the actual match, I am not entirely sure why, but seeing Finn Bálor come to the ring holding a chainsaw was just absurd, almost on the same level as some of the things WWE did in the early 90s. While watching this I had to wonder if Bálor had stolen Terry Funk's chainsaw from Dean Ambrose just to walk to the ring with it because he thought it would be cool. Once both competitors his the ring, they explode out of the gate. We don't see much chain wrestling, and in the initial exchange we see Samoa Joe busted open just above his eye, which turns this match into one of the bloodiest affairs in recent memory. Throughout the match, the ref and ring doctor interrupt the match to check on Joe, which leads to massive boos from the crowd and chants which include "Let Joe Bleed" and "It's Not PG" among others.
This match would end up being one of the hardest hitting of the night and was an absolute slug fest. At the end Joe finally locked Bálor in the Kokina Clutch and just when it looked like we were going to have a new NXT Champion, the Demon battled back, running up the turnbuckle, turning a reverse bulldog into a pin to retain his NXT Championship. An angry Samoa Joe left the arena, while occasionally looking back at the ring, but ultimately would not take post match revenge on Bálor. While I was expecting Joe to win the NXT Champion going into the match, with a mere two weeks separating Bálor from being the longest reigning NXT Champion, I can't see him dropping the title before the next TakeOver event, which will likely happen during SummerSlam season. Overall this was a fantastic match, it was hard hitting and it was shocking to see so much blood during an NXT match.
The TakeOver events have managed to outshine the main roster network specials with almost every event and this is no exception. Despite the hiccup that was the Corbin/Aries match, this was a fantastic show from start to finish and a great way to kick off WrestleMania weekend. Everyone involved in this show deserves to give themselves a pat on the back, as they put on an amazing event. WrestleMania 32 is going to have to be something really special to top this event, and if I were on the main roster right now I'd be worried about Triple H's kids continuing to show me up at every turn. NXT is one of the best things in pro wrestling today for a reason, and it's still the best thing that WWE is producing currently. With the prospect of a third championship win for Roman Reigns tomorrow night, it's good to know at least one of WWE's brands actually keeps its fans happy with great matches and storylines month after month.