Taking place only two nights before the WWE likely breaks every indoor attendance record ever, the superstars of NXT will be filling up the ten thousand seat Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. An old facility in downtown Dallas, Texas.
This is the first NXT TakeOver of 2016 and many have been expecting it to be a sort of “changing of the guard” as new stars will take the spotlight as other move up to the main roster.
Lets see if those rumors hold true!
1. The Revival vs. American Alpha for the NXT Tag Team Championship
-So we have the rough and touch Revival walking in as the champions taking on the technically superior American Alpha! I love it.
-Chad Gable starts things off for American Alpha, and he is absolutely silky smooth in these opening minutes. At one point it looked like Dawson was going to botch a hip toss, but Gable turns it into an arm drag mid air. Incredible!
-It was all American Alpha in the beginning, as the challengers used their superior mat skills to overwhelm the champions. However, eventually Gable is isolated and the heels get some heat and punish the technician while Jordan can only watch.
-The Revival botch a top rope double team maneuver and the crowd immediately jeer them with “Botchamania!” chants. Somewhere on Twitter, Maffew shed a tear.
-The teams go in for the finish with several near falls. Roll-Ups Everywhere!
-The Revival attempt every manner of underhandedness they can think of but finally American Alpha land Grand Amplitude to win their first ever NXT Tag Team Championship!
-Excellent opening match. A bit too many near falls in the home stretch, and I wish the heels had got a little more time to work over the challengers, but all in all a perfect way to open the show.
-I seriously hope these two teams work another match at the next TakeOver. A Two out of Three Falls Match between these two teams would be an excellent rematch.
2. Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries
-The first debut of the evening, Austin Aries has beef with Corbin who attacked him as he made his introduction to the WWE NXT audience. To Corbin’s defense, he was only trying to get back at General Manager, William Regal, who he felt had passed him over time and time again.
-Announcers actually go with the story that Corbin is out to punish “indie darlings” who use their past accolades to try and pass him by when they arrive in the WWE. Amazing! That is how you get someone over. Give them motivation that makes sense.
-Corbin, however, is in control for much of the match and it is just rest-hold after rest-hold. He yells at the crowd and then does a wrist lock or a vice grip. It’s so droll even if it does make sense for his character.
-Aries finally gets to go on the offensive and things start to pick up. Corbin counters with a Deep Six on the outside and decides he could settle for a count out victory, but Aries gets back in at nine.
-Corbin is all over Aries. He goes for End of Days, but Aries rolls him up for a quick three count!
-Honestly, this was a bit of a lull for me. Corbin didn’t do enough with his time in control to make Aries comeback mean anything. Corbin has had better outings at TakeOver. This might have just been a case of the two being unfamiliar with one another and not having a ton of time to work with.
3. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
-The hype for Shinsuke Nakamura is unbelievable! A man, who a decade ago, would have had no chance of ever making it to the WWE, is now the biggest signie in NXT history.
-The two talents lock up and trade holds as the Dallas crowd chants “Shinsuke’s Gonna Kill You!” There is so much enthusiasm for this match.
-Zayn has an answer for almost every offensive strike and knee Nakamura brings to the table. So many people were focused on his debut that they forgot what a force Zayn could be.
-After multiple big maneuvers, the two just begin forearming the daylights out of one another until they both literally exhaust themselves.
-Nakamura then turns a crucifix into an arm bar and when Zayn blocks that he turns that into a triangle choke! Awesome sequence were both looks so impressive.
-The final minutes of this were just breathtaking. I can’t even go through it all here, but Zayn and Nakamura deliver an incendiary finish for an incredible debut. My mouth dropped when Namakura kicked out of the Blue Thunder Bomb. There is so much to love about this match.
-This match was supposed to be a showcase of what “The King of Strongstyle” could do, but I’ll be damned if Sami Zayn didn’t wrestle like he was almost offended that he had been so overlooked in this match up.
-Nakamura won in his debut with his running knee and pinned Zayn in (what appears to be) his final match as an NXT competitor. The two men embrace as the crowd chant “Thank You, Sami.”
-Nakamura brought it. Zayn brought it. One of the best matches under the WWE’s banner this year (so far), and this might even superpass Zayn’s amazing work with Cesaro a few years ago. I’ve seen Nakamura’s work with AJ Styles in the past, and now I’m ready to go back and uncover more. This man is going to do very well in NXT.
4. Bayley vs. Auska for the NXT Women’s Championship
-I have to say, this feels like the first real threat to Bayley’s reign as champion as everyone who has been put in front of her since Sasha Banks has not even been in the same league as the NXT Women’s Championship. However, since her debut Asuka has been nothing but impressive and quickly shot up the ranks of the division.
-Asuka dominated the offense of this match and because of this we saw a very submission and mat-centric contest. Bayley had moments of offense, but never really got out of the blocks in my estimation.
-The challenger unseated the only fourth ever NXT Women’s Champion after working over her left shoulder for a majority of the match and locking in her Asuka Lock. It was a pretty decisive victory for “The Empress of Tomorrow.”
-The fans in Dallas were not happy to see one of the most likeable and wholesome WWE Diva’s ever lose her title. This was a more than serviceable title match, but it was given the “dead spot.” It had to follow what will go down as one of NXT’s greatest matches ever, Zayn and Nakamura, and go on before the NXT Championship Match. Tough spot for any match to be.
5. Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship
-The two start trading punches and Balor busted open Joe’s right eye within seconds of the opening bell. This lead to Joe having to improvise and more or less adlib the first five-or-so minutes while medical staff coarsed the Samoan into having his eye tended to before getting back to the action.
-It looked like Joe was all good to once again go after Balor, but the referee again called for medical attention which seemed to just flat out piss of the challenger and the Dallas fans.
-Balor stole Bret Hart’s finish from WrestleMania VIII and Survivor Series ’96. Awesome! Joe looked legitimately shocked.
-Both men worked hard, but in the end this still felt like a 10 minute match stretched out to a near 20 minute match, and that isn’t fair because it certainly was not their fault.
-I’m sure the multiple referee stoppages really irritated both Balor and Joe as they would have surely been looking to match or surpass the excellent Zayn/Nakamura contest from earlier in the night. I mean, safety precautions or not these interventions definitely distracted from the performances. I’m happy they wanted to make sure Samoa Joe did no permanent injury to his eye, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t adversely affect the flow of the match.
-When they actually got to the action, Champion and challenger had great exchanges. They made the best out of a very bad situation here.
I was chomping at the bit to see this show all week and man did it deliver. Everything I hoped. I still feel like there are a few NXT TakeOver specials that supersede this show, but maybe only one or two.
Shinsuke Nakamura absolutely unapologetically stole the show with Sami Zayn in one of the best matches I’ve seen in a long time. Zayn was not about to leave NXT with a whimper and he helped make Nakamura the next big name to carry the NXT brand as he bid Dallas farewell.
This was a great show, and when your weakest match is Baron Corbin and Austin Aries having a forgettable affair in the middle of the card, you are putting out a pretty good product.
I was disappointed in how the main event was hindered and was expecting a bit more out of the NXT Women’s Championship match, but neither match was horrible or unwatchable.