NXT TakeOver: Dallas aired on April 1st 2016 and it was NXT’s own WrestleMania. It came with the small crowds, huge enthusiasm and quality matches that we expect from NXT. As well as having all three titles on the line, most of the big familiar names were there, too – Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn, Bayley – and new faces like Austin Aries and Shinsuke Nakamura made their debuts. All in all, it was a great show and a fantastic start to WrestleMania Weekend. Here’s a quick rundown of the results.
NXT TakeOver: Dallas
The show starts with a promo about Texas, for some reason, like we’ve forgotten where it is. The two biggest events of the night – the NXT Championship and the NXT Women’s Championship – are shown before the smaller matches – namely the NXT Tag Team Championship and Austin Aries’ debut. It does a bit to hype the viewer up, but I don’t get the weight behind any of the matches. If they had showed super promos, then maybe, but neither Bayley nor Asuka have clashed that much and Balor and Joe have had a huge fight last week, yeah, fine, but show more of that. Make this PPV into something fantastic.
The crowd chant NXT! NXT! at an odd timing and pop like motherfuckers when American Alpha come out. To be fair to them, American Alpha are the best tag team in the business right now. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan are so over. When I saw them in Glasgow, they lost the match and still got a standing ovation. Great lads. Old Gable is slapping the fuck out of hands on the way to the ring as well. Jordon does the Brock Lesnar jump, but has the charisma to pull it off without making it look bored.
Cut to our announcers – Tom Philips (in Jew suit) and Corey Graves (dressed like he’s on his way to a prom). These two guys are the best in the business at the moment and clearly enjoy being here. Graves correctly states that, “This is our WrestleMania.”
The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) come to little heat. Their music, however, is class. Their t-shirts say, “No Flips, Just Fists” which is fine, but neither Jordan nor Gable use a lot of flips. Maybe it should have said, “No Towels, Just Testicle Attacks” or something. The crowd start a chant already, done to the tune of 2 Unlimited’s “No Limit”. Then they change it to another tune as Gable gets a slap in the corner. The crowd chants some more and then the wrasslin’ begins.
Tag Team Championship: American Alpha def. The Revival via Pinfall in 15:15
Gable gives Dawson a slap and The Revival chat in the corner for a while. As is usual for an American Alpha match, Gable takes a pounding for most of the match until Jordan comes in like a big dog and scares everyone off. He’s like The Rock, only with a legit wrestling background. Dawson does some behind-the-ref’s-back eye-raking and Jordan takes over, calls Gable in for some stereo Irish Whips and Flips. Jordan just looks ruthless. The comparisons to Brock Lesnar are true and fair, though Jordan looks like less of a cunt. Gable takes over and is predictably beaten to a pulp because of it. Dawson goes to super-backdrop Gable but is reversed. Follows is a lot of chain-wrestling and dropkicks.
The best spot so far is when The Revival go to double-suplex Gable and Jordan comes in to save him. The Revival are then stereo-German-suplexed by American Alpha. For a split second, the Revival look into each others eyes and touch their faces so tenderly before being dropped on their God damn heads. The crowd pops and Jordan does a victory lap. Crowd chants NXT! NXT! as if it invented wrestling. Revival are irishwhipped into each other outside and Gable’s fluffy hair gets in his face as he is knocked to the ground by the Revival. Some beating of Gable followed by an attempt at a double team. The crowd cry “You fucked up!” followed by “Botchamania!” at this. The Revival nod their heads as if to say, “Yes. Yes we did.”
Hot tag to Jason Jordan but Gable misses, rolls away, crawls under Dawson’s legs and gets the tag. Jordan cleans up, t-bone suplexes the men followed by brutal spears and more suplexes. The Revival knocks Jordan to the ground, tries to cheat the pin and botch another suplex. Two pin attempts followed by Gable springing across the ring. Double team is countered, Jordan goes for the pin and Gable dropkicks Wilder away. More two-counts followed by a whole bunch of two-counts. Every way two men can pin each other follows. It’s like the Kama Sutra of pinning.
Jordan gets the tag, runs outside while Dawson is distracted, spears him and the two hit their finisher for the win. We have new champs! And the crowd goes ballistic. Jason Jordan looks like he is crying and with good reason, they worked their socks off during this match. Great bunch of lads.
In terms of a curtain-jerker, this is an absolutely great start to the PPV: fast paced, emotional, full of great spots and the losers leave to let the faces celebrate in peace. Long may American Alpha reign.
Jim Ross is in the crowd alongside Kota Ibushi. The announcers seem confused about this and Corey looks like he’s having a seizure for a while. New UK tour is announced but nowhere near me so fuck them.
Promo is cut for Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin and Corbin comes down wearing his Skyrim cosplayer outfit. Austin Aries “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” comes down. He’s wearing a waistcoat that could have just been a Stone Cold one from twenty years ago with “Austin” on the back, but it says Aries instead. How this man is not a heel is beyond me.
Austin Aries def. Baron Corbin via pinfall in 11:29
Austin Aries deserves a better match than this. He wails on Corbin in the corner for a while and then batters him out of the ring, then hits him with a double axe-handle nothing and blah blah blah. The match is the drizzling shits and consists of Corbin running away a lot, being battered sideways by Aries, hitting Aries with one move that puts him out of commission for a minute or so, then rinse, lather, repeat. Neither look very powerful, neither look impressive and this goes on for ten minutes. I blame Corbin for this entirely.
Aries reverses the End of Days into a pin and the Greatest Man That Ever Lived has the Shittest Match On This PPV.
WrestleMania promo! Why they don’t have shots of Paige screaming, “THIS IS MY HOUSE, AJ,” mixed in with the song, I have no idea. The Rock will be there, apparently, which is exciting if the Rock didn’t turn up to every WrestleMania. The band Yelawolf have a song named Fiddle Me This, which sounds shit.
Cut to Finn Bálor! He’s on his way to the arena wearing a Star Wars T-shirt (Rey&Finn&Poe&BB-8) and a redesign of Dolph Ziggler’s DZ top that says BC for Bálor Club, presumably.
Not long for a promo on Shinsuke Nakamura, the “King of Strong Style”, which is great thing to be king of, all things considered. Sami comes out and gets a huge pop. Nakamura comes out and is so flamboyant and so over that it is difficult not to like him. His trousers are clearly padded as well. The man loves socks in his jocks.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Sami Zayn via pinfall in 21:19
What a match! Lots of strikes and spots. Nakamura gets bust pretty early on and is bleeding from his nose. Sami and him go back and forth over and over. Very little wrestling moves but a lot of strikes, submissions and the crowd seem to enjoy the men batter the crap out of each other, at one point chanting, “Fight forever!”
All in all, it is not a wrestling match, more of a Fight Club match with some simple suplexes in the middle of it. Shinsuke finally gets out of the Exploder suplex, hits Sami with some mental ball-lariat, a high kick to the head and the pin. After the match, they hug, shake hands and the crowd thank Sami. Well, that’s him, I suppose. Close the door on the way out.
Promo for the Bayley vs. Asuka match. this has very little build-up beyond Asuka staring creepily at Bayley’s belt. Bayley looks unhappier since winning the belt, I don’t think I’ve seen her smile outside of her entrance.
Asuka enters first with her kimono, cherry blossoms, merch with her own face on it and weird mask. She is a stereotype and seems to enjoy every second of it. Bayley’s music hits and out she comes. The crowd seem to love her. Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Men are there, waggling away. I don’t like Bayley that much, but the crowd do so that’s okay I suppose. Asuka looks worried, probably because she knows how the crowd will react to the ending.
NXT Women’s Championship match: Asuka def. Bayley by TKO in 18:25
The crowd do not know what to make of this and neither do I. Asuka and Bayley are both faces with Bayley being the fan-favourite. Neither have strayed from this on the build-up to the match. However, unlike Neville vs. Zayn last year, we cannot get behind Asuka as the young upstart desperate for a win as she has given no indication that she wants it that badly. Basically, Asuka comes across as someone who just takes what she wants but has not displayed this ruthlessness with Bayley, only with Dana Brooke and Emma.
The match starts off fast paced with both women giving it their all and surprising each other. Asuka does a lot of fast strikes and Bayley responds with reversals. The match comes across as the clearly superior fighter Asuka is overwhelming the heart of Bayley. The crowd sing along but are otherwise silent during the match. Asuka hits a bunch of submissions, all of which are reversed and Bayley takes a huge hit to her arm because of the armbars. Asuka finally gets a Asuka Lock and wins to little fanfare. The crowd seem confused and concerned for Bayley. Even when she lifts the belt above the ring, the crowd is unresponsive, disappointed.
The main event is almost upon us and is in need of a promo almost as long as God. Out comes Joe and even though he is a heel, we love him because he’s so entertaining. Even if his theme tune sounds like a toilet being flushed. I’m sure Joe uses the toilet, of course, but is that all his character is? A terlet?
Finn normally comes out in some sort of dress for his PPV matches. Sometimes it is just bodypaint, but in London, he dressed like Jack the Ripper. He’s in Texas now, so what could be possibly-
HOLY SHIT FUCK IS THAT A FUCKING CHAINSAW.
Yeah, he comes out with a working chainsaw. Clearly the teeth have been removed or he is mental chicken oriental. He sees the NXT belt in the aisle and slithers towards it, bringing it to the ring for the match. Outside of The Undertaker, Finn has the best and most elaborate entrances in recent memory. He’s also wearing Spider-man red and blue pants. Fair play to him.
NXT Championship match: Finn Balor def. Samoa Joe via pinfall in 19:30
The beginning of the match is marred by a botched headbutt where Joe is bust open. This ends up with a lot of officials coming to clean him up. The crowd hate the slow in pace and chant, “LET HIM BLEED!” constantly. Even Finn does not know what to do, feigning injury for a while before finally barking, “Let the man fight!”
The rest of the match is okay, but the two men are clearly put off by this. Because of Joe’s size, a lot of Finn’s wrestling cannot work so they are relegated to strikes, submissions, reversals and timewasting. Both men are very much frustrated and find it hard to build the momentum back up from Joe’s bust eyebrow. Finn does a great ‘Taker-style sit up, where he does a wee pushup to get to his feet. Finn’s hubris almost costs him the match as he does his Cous de Grace double stomp and lifts Joe up for the Brainbuster only to have the Coquina Clutch put on him. Weak reversal and pin by kicking off the turnbuckle and Finn retains.
Could have been a great match but marred by timewasting due to Joe’s injury. Joe stomps off when the match is over, turns to stare at Finn and the show is over.
All in all a great PPV but could have been far better.