On Friday the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Centre bore witness to what will be considered a wrestling classic for many years to come. NXT truly arrived with Takeover: Dallas and finished the argument that they are no longer a developmental system but a fully fledged third brand.
NXT Tag Team Championship
American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) vs The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) (C)
So Alphas have been on one of the hottest streaks over the last 6 months and the fans have really taken a shine to Gable & Jordan (if you have yet to witness this just search Gable and Jordan chant on YouTube), while The Revival are the old school heels who have held on to this title with any number of dirty tricks. This match was a recipe for success and delivered on every level possible. The Revival looked strong throughout the match, isolating Gable a number of times and the Alphas’ pure wrestling skill kept them in the game in convincing fashion. A series of near falls followed by Jordan’s infamous suplex sequence sets up the Alphas to win via the Grand Amplitude to a thunderous pop from the crowd, proving that the fans will appreciate in-ring skill just as much as great characters. Quick cut to the crowd shows Hall of Fame member Jim Ross and NJPW star Kota Ibushi in the crowd, the announce team are quick to make reference to Ibushi being considered one of the top cruiserweights in the world and that the Global Cruiserweight series is happening this summer.
Austin Aries vs Baron Corbin
The indie killer vs ‘the greatest man that ever lived’ is effectively how this match was booked and despite the constant criticism the Baron Corbin receives he put on a solid showing in this match. So the back story to this match is Corbin, after losing a number one contender match amidst some controversy, went to NXT general manager William Regal to demand another title opportunity to which Regal declined. Fast forward a few weeks and you have Regal delivering an in ring promo to introduce NXT’s newest signing Austin Aries; during Aries entrance Corbin viciously attacks from behind screaming at William Regal “an eye for an eye”. So Aries is the Débutante star and Corbin the disgruntled existing star and they play these roles well through the match. Corbin takes an early leaded throwing around the smaller Aries, a deep six on the outside puts Corbin in the position to deliver The End Of Days but a stunning counter from Aries leading to a roll up victory and a rare defeat for the Lone Wolf.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Sami Zayn
Now we come to the dream match: Nakamura vs Zayn. The hype around Nakamura signing to WWE was off the charts and the expectation for his first match just as high. Well it certainly did not disappoint, a hard hitting 20 minute match with all of the spots you could hope for. A genuine fear for Nakamura was that WWE would water down his move set and not allow him to use his Strong Style strikes, but we can all lay these fears to rest as the forearm exchange with Zayn in the mid point of the match was something straight out of WrestleKingdom. With Sami leaving for the Raw/Smackdown roster it was easy to think this match would be a one sided showcase for Nakamura but this was not the case, Both men had the upper hand at different parts of the match and Nakamura’s 2.99 kick out from the Blue Thunder Bomb really made you think Zayn might even win. A stiff Knee strike to the back of Zayn’s head sets him up for the Kinshasa (Bomaye) giving Nakamura the victory and a quick post match hug leaves Sami in the ring to bask in the NXT universes appreciation of all he has given them.
NXT Women’s Championship
Asuka vs Bayley (C)
This was hard match to call because NXT are all about putting the title on a woman who can elevate the title, not a woman that needs the title to elevate them. Both of these women elevate the title in very different ways. Bayley has been a solid champion since beating Sasha Banks back at Takeover: Brooklyn and has really connected with the crowd, and has impeccable ring work. Asuka is the newer rising talent who due to her legitimate Strong Style has been booked as an unstoppable fighting machine (very much like a modern day ECW Tazz). Case in point: the opening exchanges of the contest are some smooth technical chain wrestling spots that are better than most wrestlers regardless of gender can execute. Stiff strikes from Asuka are countered with aggression from Bayley before we move into some submission hold with neither woman gaining much of an advantage. Bayley attempts to knock out Asuka’s kicking capabilities before attempting the Bayley-to-Belly, Asuka counters into the Asuka-Lock choking the Champion out for the victory. After the final video package for the main event we cut back to the crowd to be presented with a former TNA World Champion Bobby Roode stood in the front row, clearly another huge coupé for NXT.
Samoa Joe vs Finn Balor (C)
So firstly I would just like to have a little mark out moment over Balor’s entrance (honestly, how good was the Letherface tribute with him swinging that chainsaw around?). In the opening exchange Joe and Finn clash heads which splits Joe’s eye open; cue blood going everywhere and the ref / medical team rushing round to try and make it stop. Some people have criticised the ref halting the match a few times to tend the wound, but personally I feel Finn and Joe did a great job of using these moments instead of rest holds to get the heat in the beginning. Joe especially sold the fact he just wanted to get back in and rip Finn’s head off. Joe was the aggressor for much of the match which only looked even more legitimate with his face covered in blood; Balor as always had a strong showing getting in all of his usual spots including a particularly good No-sell comeback in the closing moments of the match. The match was a little shorter than expected but this is likely due to the cut on Joe’s face which is understandable. The finish to the match was also unusual (Joe trapped Balor in the Coquina Clutch, Balor reverses by running up the ropes and rolling Joe over backwards into a pin) with it not using either of Finn’s current finishing manoeuvres; however this could be a way of setting up Balor / Joe 3 at the next Takeover.