By Zack Zimmerman
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NXT Takeover: Dallas
Aired live on WWE Network
Dallas, Texas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center
An intro video played, beginning by touching on Dallas wrestling history, before declaring that the NXT revolution had arrived. All of the featured matches were given a brief spotlight… The NXT Takeover Dallas graphic aired…
Inside the arena, fans chanted “NXT” as the commentators welcomed viewers. American Alpha made their entrance in olympic-style matching warm-up suits and received a great ovation. Tom Phillips and Corey Graves checked in from the booth. The tag champs were out next to a wave of boos.
1. NXT Tag Team Champions The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) vs. American Alpha (Chad Gable and Jason Jordan) for the NXT Tag Team Championships. Dawson backed Gable into the corner and gave him a few belittling slaps to the face to draw the ire of the crowd. At the minute-mark, the two went full speed with a series of holds and reversals which ended with a surprise near-fall by Gable. Things broke down into a standoff between the two teams before the match began again shortly after the two-minute mark. Gable was taken down by a series of shoulder tackles and an arm drag before he made a fun comeback with a really neat variation of an old-school flying headscissors.
Jordan tagged in and wiped Dawson out with a great dropkick. The advantage didn’t last long, however, as Dash distracted the ref and Dawson raked the eyes to take control for his team. Before long though, American Alpha fired up with tandem back body drops on the champs. AA began to isolate Dash as Gable targeted the left arm. Dawson managed to tag himself in and got the better of Gable, but Gable came back with a rollup attempt and a springboard cross body for a quick two. Gable was rolling with dropkicks and when it appeared that Dash and Dawson were going to use a numbers advantage, Jordan evened the odds and the challengers sent the champs flying with tandem german suplexes, which got a huge pop.
There was a blind tag spot, which led to Gable being blindsided by a hard clothesline at ringside. The champs began to isolate Gable and kept him grounded while the crowd tried to rally for him. Gable showed good fight, but his hope spots were quelled at every turn. Dawson used a nice Gory special one point before my feed glitched and Gable somehow double DDT’d the champions. Before he could make the hot tag however, Dash had crawled under the ring and yanked Jordan off the apron. There was an awful awkward spot where Dash wasn’t legal but went for a false finish pin and the crowd ate them up with “Botchamania” chants.
Finally around the 11-minute mark, Jordan took the hot tag and came in with all of the suplexes on the champions. My feed continued to freak out and somehow Jordan got knocked off the top rope and the champions looked for the cheap win with feet on the ropes, but Jordan kicked out. There were a series of back-and-forth near-falls on roll-ups before Jordan looked for his corner spear. Dash pulled Dawson out of the way though, and Jordan ate the turnbuckle. Gable had tagged himself in in the meantime and engaged in a great series of fancy pin attempts with Dawson, including the classic double bridge up. They were somewhat casually brawling in the corner when Jordan blind tagged himself in. Jordan caught Dawson with the spear out of nowhere and one alley-ooo back suplex later, we have new NXT Tag Team Champions.
American Alpha defeated The Revival in about 15:15 to win the NXT Tag Team Championships.
The crowd went wild as the new champions celebrated. Replays aired and the emotional new champions help their titles high and embraced in the ring… Jim Ross and Michelle Beadle were shown in the crowd, as well as Kota Ibushi and Funaki. The commentators said it was interesting that one of the best cruiserweights on the planet is there when they have a tournament right around the corner… A NXT Live tour commercial aired…
Zim Says: It’s really unfortunate that there was that awkward bit in the middle there, because otherwise that match was really excellent. Between my wonky feed tonight and the pace of the match, that was a nightmare to cover, but I enjoyed it very much. Good work from both teams. As will be the came with everything tonight, I’ll have much more time to elaborate in audio form with Jason Powell after the show for Dot Net Members.
Bayley was shown signing autographs at Axxess. Asuka was shown practicing her striking backstage… A video package aired hyping the upcoming Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin match…
Back in the arena, Baron Corbin made his entrance. He was wearing a new jacket that appears to have some reptilian skulls as shoulder pads. Austin Aries was out next.
2. Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries. Aries went right after Corbin with shots in the corner as the crowd dueled with “Austin Aries” and “Baron Corbin” which actually sounded pretty even. Aries was scrappy against his opponent who appears to be about two feet taller, but Corbin used his power to his advantage. Aries continued to fight though, and rocked Corbin with a rolling elbow before going all the way from the top rope to the floor with an axe handle. Phillips actually referenced Aries ending a 600+ day title reign by Samoa Joe at one point in their careers (ROH).
Corbin staggered Aries when he hung him up on the top rope, and then ran over the smaller man before going to work. Corbin showed some good aggressiveness, sliding Aries shoulder-first into the ring post under the bottom turnbuckle. He then fought not-so-aggressively, settling into a nerve hold. Yes, in 2016. Aries fought to his feet, only to take a beating from Corbin in the corner leading to a two-count. Corbin yelled for the timekeeper to ring the bell and just end it now.
Corbin began to toy with Aries, who continued to show some fight. He finally began to make some progress with a series of hard chops. Aries hit a double knee strike on Corbin’s back and then hung him across the middle rope before coming off the top and hanging him up. Aries hit a neckbreaker across the middle rope and then took Corbin down with a diving missile dropkick. Aries hit his Heat Seeker dropkick in the corner and then the suicide dive through the bottom and middle rope.
Aries picked up running momentum, but Corbin used it all against him and planted him at ringside with the Deep Six spinning slam. Aries looked to be down and out, but managed to re-enter the ring just before the ten-count. Corbin showed some frustration as Aries goaded Corbin on from the mat. Corbin hoisted Aries to his feet and put a beating on him, while soaking in the boos from the crowd. Aries flipped over the End of Days attempt and caught Corbin in a surprise leg clutch pin for the win.
Austin Aries pinned Baron Corbin in about 10:45.
Corbin sold disbelief in the ring as Aries slipped out to the ramp and smirked…
Zim Says: That was completely fine. It didn’t overstay its welcome and the matchup worked for me. I expect to see a dastardly, vengeful Baron Corbin coming out of this, which might add a nice new edge to his character.
Samoa Joe and Finn Bálor were shown arriving earlier… The commentators turned to the video package building Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura… Scott Hall and Sean Waltman were shown at ringside…
Sami Zayn made his entrance to a big ovation and the crowd joyfully singing along with his theme. Anticipation began to swell before the lights cut out and the crowd chanted “Nakamura.” The opening riffs of his new music played and the man himself walked out onto the stage. The crowd wen wild as the man who must be seen to be understood strutted and grated to the ring. Nakamura struck his pose in the ring as the lights cut out again and a spotlight hit him. He stretched in the corner as the crowd chanted “holy shit.”
3. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. The crowd continued to go bonkers, with “holy shit,” “Nakamura,” “Zayn,” and Yes!” chants. The two didn’t even touch until well after the minute-mark, and when they did, they fought to a clean break with Nakamura doing his trademark gestures. Zayn avoided an early flurry and the two backed off and circled once again. The atmosphere in the crowd continued to be frenzied as they chanted for “both these guys” during a series of armlocks and counters.
Zayn sprung over Nakamura and got the better of him with his trademark series of arm drags before throwing a little of Nakamura’s own swagger at him to the delight of the crowd. Nakamura looked for a lockup, but surprised Zayn with a low kick and caught him with a flurry ending in a leaping knee drop for a casual early pin attempt. Nakamura rocked Zayn with an enzugiri, and then another when Zayn tried to counter Nakamura’s stomp in the corner.
Zayn came back with a suplex for a quick two-count and caught Nakamura with a nice leg lariat for another pin attempt. Nakamura showed some fight, but Zayn knocked him off the turnbuckles and sent him toppling to ringside. Zayn looked to capitalize with Nakamura on the ring apron, but Nakamura got the better of him and hit a knee strike and jumping knee drop with Zayn draped over the edge of the ring.
Nakamura gave Sami the Vibrations in the corner and then hit a leaping knee strike to Zayn’s mid-section draped across the top turnbuckle. Zayn flipped over the reverse powerslam and sent Nakamura toppling to ringside before wiping him out with a big flip dive over the ropes. Back in the ring, Zayn came off the top with a high crossbody for a near-fall.
Zayn looked for a suplex, but Nakamura caught him with a knee and then landed a barrage of knee strikes to Zayn on the ground. Nakamura ran the rope to gain momentum, but it was turned against him as Zayn tossed him up and planted him with a wicked Michinoku Driver. Both guys were down selling the effects of the match, leading to a series of “yay-boo” strikes where there really wasn’t a “boo.” The two traded back and forth and back and forth until Nakamura’s nose began bleeding, and then they continued trading some more.
Nakamura began to tee off with Zayn bouncing off the ropes. Zayn slung down against the ropes, selling that he might be out, but Nakamura just repeatedly shoved his foot into Zayn’s head and face. Nakamura hit the ropes, but he was turned inside out by a wicked clothesline from Zayn. Zayn looked to follow up, but Nakamura caught him with a tremendous flying armbar attempt. Zayn kept his arms nearly clasped, but Nakamura transitioned to a triangle. Zayn worked to his feet with the hold still applied and fought his way out by stomping on Nakamura’s face.
Zayn returned the ruthless boots to the head from earlier, and then dropped Nakamura into the Koji Clutch mid-ring.The crowd chanted “No” and begged “please don’t tap” as Nakamura struggled in pain. He eventually fought back to his feet and rocked Zayn with another kick to the head. The crowd chanted “fight forever.”
Nakamura caught Zayn with a running leaping kick, and then miraculously axoided an explosive surprise Helluva Kick attempt. Nakamura hit the reverse powerslam, but avoided the Boma Ye and planted Nakamura with the Blue Thunder Bomb for a huge near-fall that brought the crowd to their feet and left them erupted in a standing ovation.
At ringside, Zayn looked for his torpedo tornado DDT, but Nakamura caught him coming through the turnbuckles with a kick to the head. Back in the ring, the two battled down from the top turnbuckle and Nakamura fought his way out of the corner exploder with a vicious series of elbow strikes. Nakamura hit a diving knee to the back of the head, and then struck his pose before connecting on the Boma Ye knee strike for the win.
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Sami Zayn in about 20:00.
Post-match, the crowd went completely ballistic before replays aired. Nakamura celebrated and did his “Yeaoh” pose before approaching Sami Zayn who was seated in the corner. Nakamura offered his hand, and after a moment of thought, Zayn accepted and the two embraced. Nakamura made the classy move and left the ring to the departing Sami Zayn, who was serenaded by the Dallas crowd with his “Ole” song and a huge, extended, standing round of applause. Zayn soaked it in and slowly left the arena before giving one final wave at the top of the ramp…
Zim Says: That was absolutely splendid. It completely lived up to the hype and the crowd enhanced this match as well as anyone could’ve asked for. Just awesome. That was the pre-injury Sami Zayn spark that I’ve been dying see and another incredible moment towards his legacy as the “heart and soul of NXT,” as they’ve been calling him. I have to think it’s a strong contender for MOTY at this point.
Samoa Joe was shown warming up backstage… Halestorm was thanked for their song… The video package aired for Bayley vs. Asuka that aired on this week’s episode as well as the pre-show…
Back in the arena, Stephanie McMahon was shown sitting ringside and was booed roundly. Asuka made her entrance, which included a new creepier mask and cherry blossom petals falling from the ceiling onto the stage. The commentators noted that Asuka is still undefeated. The champion was out next with a whole army of inflatable tube men around the stage. She got a great ovation as well, as expected. Both ladies were given fun formal in-ring introductions.
4. NXT Women’s Champion Bayley vs. Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship. The crowd sang the same song that they were singing in London, which was much better when it was original and new. Bayley quickly grounded Asuka with an armlock, but Asuka worked back to her feet with little effort and rattled Bayley with a forearm. The two went back-and-forth, avoiding each other high-impact sliding maneuvers and ending in a standoff.
Asuka caught Bayley with a flying hip attack early, but Bayley came back moments later with a diving reverse elbow. Bayley hit her series of elbows in the corner, and then came off the top once again, this time with a flying cross body for a quick two. Bayley looked for her sliding lariat, but Asuka caught her in a Fujiwara armbar. Bayley managed to make the rope and forced the break.
Bayley managed to get Asuka hung up in the tree of woe and then sprung off the bottom rope with an elbow drop, which was good for a two-count. The crowd dueled with both chants before Bayley hit a Frankensteiner right into a pin attempt for a near-fall. Not missing a beat, Bayley floated right into the guillotine choke that she used against Nia Jax in London. Asuka looked to be in trouble momentarily, but she fought out and briefly applied an ankle lock of her own.
Bayley sent Asuka toppling to ringside and then swung herself through the ropes into a ‘rana, but came up appearing to have tweaked her knee. Back in the ring, Asuka began to no-sell shots and fired up with a hard running dropkick. She teed off with a series of stiff kicks and then came off the middle turnbuckle with a quick missile dropkick. Bayley showed some fight, but Asuka popped her up into a kick to the chest and then rocked her with a sliding knee strike for a near-fall of her own.
Asuka looked for the hip attack, but Bayley caught her and dumped her backwards with a back suplex. Bayley looked to follow up, but Asuka rocked her with a kick and both ladies were down. The two met mid-ring and traded some stiff shots, when suddenly Asuka leapt up for a flash dropkick, but Bayley caught her in a kneebar for a great spot. Bayley then realized she had done some damage and immediately went hard to work on Asuka’s leg with kneebreakers, shin breakers, and a dragon screw. Bayley looked to follow up once again, but Asuka caught her with a flying armbar.
Bayley managed to roll it into a pin attempt and ducked some rapid kick attempts by Asuka. After some back-and-forth, Bayley hit her sliding lariat and then locked in the hammerlock armbar combination that she used in the closing seconds of her Ironman match against Sasha Banks. Asuka managed to reach the ropes however, and caught Bayley with the spinning kick. Asuka followed up with a suplex and the armbar, which she tried to turn into the Asuka Lock. Bayley showed all the fight in the world, but Asuka leapt to the mat and sunk the hold in deep. The crowd chanted for Bayley and she rolled, managing to fight to her feet, but Asuka dragged her back down.
The crowd rallied, hoping for one last comeback attempt, but Bayley went out and the referee called for the bell. The crowd let out a very mixed response.
Asuka submitted Bayley in about 15:20 to win the NXT Women’s Championship.
Asuka celebrated with her new title and Bayley sat in the corner appearing to be on the verge of tears. Replays aired and Asuka continued to celebrate as Bayley sat at ringside being tended to by referees.
Zim Says: That was a really fun back-and-forth match. I think the crowd was a little bit deflated by the finish, but I don’t think there was a way to end Bayley’s reign that wouldn’t have been a little bit deflating, and I think passing out to Asuka’s hold is a perfectly acceptable way for the strong babyface to lose the title to another strong babyface. I, for one, can’t wait for the rematch. I also can’t wait to see how Bayley’s character possibly responds to this, and where she goes from here.
The video package built up to the main event… Back in the arena, Bobby Roode was shown sitting ringside…
Samoa Joe was shown behind the curtain, before his music hit and he made his entrance. The heartbeat sounded signaling the presence of The Demon. Bálor made his entrance in the demon garb, and was carrying a running chainsaw. Both competitors received formal in-ring introductions. Joe got a large majority of boos, and Bálor was cheered loudly.
5. NXT Champion Finn Bálor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Championhip. Joe charged right after Bálor and the two aggressively brawled in and out of the ring. Joe came up bleeding heavily from around his right eye less than a minute in, before Bálor wiped him out with a big flip dive over the ropes. Joe shook it off and viciously threw Bálor over the barricade, buying himself some time to try and wipe off the blood. The two continued to brawl and the crowd booed loudly every time the referee tried to step in and treat the wound. Bálor avoided a shot in the corner, but Joe knocked him off the apron and followed up with the elbow suicida to establish firm control.
A team of doctors stepped in and the crowd chanted “let them fight” and “bullshit.” Joe was forced out to the ramp where the doctors stopped the bleeding and the crowd raged. Back in the ring, Joe raged as well, driving Bálor into the mat with a hard slam out of the corner. Joe stayed in control and hit his twisting enzugiri moments later. Once again, the referee called the doctor in to tend to the wound. The crowd chanted “f**k PG” as Bálor impatiently paced in the ring. Once they were good to go again, Joe went back to work teeing off on Bálor.
Joe hit a flurry of offense culminating in a knee drop as Corey Graves noted that it was a headbutt in the opening exchange that opened Joe’s eye. Bálor hit a hard dropkick to the face and mounted a comeback with a series of running forearms. Bálor hit a few hard running chops in the corner, and another to knock Joe off the turnbuckles to ringside. Bálor went out to the apron and caught Joe with the PK to ringside, and then looked to follow up back in the ring.
Bálor charged, but Joe caught him with an overhead belly-to-belly for a two-count. Joe looked to follow up with a running kick, but Bálor caught him with the Sling Blade. He looked to follow up himself, but Joe countered and squished Bálor with a running senton. Joe hit a powerbomb, which he transitioned into the crab, and then the crossface. Bálor fought to his feet and hit a desperation leaping double stomp and both guys were down.
Bálor charged and hit another Sling Blade before connecting on the shotgun dropkick. Bálor went up top but Joe cut him off. Joe rocked Bálor with a wicked enzugiri and then spiked him with the Muscle Buster, but Bálor managed to kick out a hair before the three-count. Joe briefly sold the despair before looking to go right back to work. Bálor and Joe traded strikes and shots, which ended in a Pele Kick and another double-down.
Both men were back up for the count of nine, but Bálor fired up with a scream of intensity that appeared to intimidate Joe. Bálor hit a third Sling Blade, the shotgun dropkick, and the Coup De Grace. Bálor looked to follow up as he has been lately, but Joe slipped behind and locked in the Coquina Clutch. Bálor looked to be in trouble, but in a moment of hope ran the turnbuckle and flipped over Joe, pinning him to the mat for the surprise win.
Finn Bálor beat Samoa Joe to retain the NXT Championship in about 16:25.
Joe sold utter disbelief, but opted to simply slip out of the ring and leave quietly rather than make more trouble. Joe made it more than halfway up the ramp before he turned around, shot a look like he was thinking about doing something, but then turned back and simply walked out of the arena. The show closed with Bálor celebrating in the ring, still champion…
Zim Says: Interesting match. The blood actually would’ve added a lot to the vibe had it not been for the constant interruptions by the medical staff. It was a very good match, but it continued an emerging trend of Finn Bálor main events coming up short of at least one or two other matches on the show, as I think both preceding matches overshadowed it in hindsight. I’m also a little bit surprised at the finish, as I expected Finn to be headed upwards, so I’m curious to see what the next steps are for both he and Joe. Coming out of this show, that’s actually a common theme. There are lots of directions for lots of different characters to go based on the results tonight, now it’s on the folks in charge to capitalize on those possibilities and put together some compelling programs. As a whole, I think this was the strongest NXT Takeover special to date and I’m really looking forward to going back and re-watching the show as a fan without a laptop in front of my face.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for Jason Powell and myself on the Dot Net NXT Takeover Dallas recap podcast!
Throw comments, questions, criticisms, or corrections @DotNetZim or DotNetZim@gmail.com; always happy to discuss.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Frank Zarrillo discussing his film "The Wrestler: A QT Marshall Story", which includes appearances by Matt Riddle, Damian Priest, Gerald Brisco, Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino, and many more, the involvement of Marshall's wife and mother, and much more. Stick around after the interview for Powell's audio review of Wednesday's AEW Dynamite television show...