Barnett’s Blog: Ten NXT TakeOver: Dallas observations from an in-person perspective

nxttakeoverdallasBy Jake Barnett

There’s already a lot of analysis out there regarding the match outcomes from yesterday. I’ll try to avoid rehashing most of that and give you my Top Ten Takeaways from inside the building.

• Shinsuke Nakamura owned the crowd from the second he walked out, but Sami Zayn still had strong mindshare in the crowd and many around me were disappointed to see him lose. Coming away from the match, I think it will be hard to contain Nakamura in NXT. His charisma and presence are so large that he feels like a giant among men.

• The WrestleMania weekend crowd was a double edged sword. They made for an extremely lively event, but they also had some chants that made NXT less friendly to families with children, of which there were many. The “F&%$ PG” chants carried into the parking garage, and I heard several Dad’s loudly reminding people that kids were present. The fact that the crowd was also so fervent about their desire to see blood was also disappointing. WWE has a duty to make sure talent doesn’t let adrenaline push them to compound an injury with permanent consequences, and cuts near the eye are certainly worth closely examining.

• Steve Austin appeared at one point in the back of the room behind the commentary desk to observe some matches. There were other WWE Management, Celebrities, and Legends in the building. Jim Ross got noticed right away as he walked in, and got a strong reaction from the crowd. It was also very interesting to see both Kota Ibushi and Bobby Roode get noticed on camera, which could mean great things for NXT in the near future.

• The Asuka win over Bayley got an audible gasp from the crowd. I wasn’t certain how people would react to Asuka defeating such a beloved character, and I’m not certain what the future holds for Bayley either, but it was very encouraging to see the level of emotional investment people had on display. They had an impossible act to follow coming after Zayn and Nakamura, but the crowd embraced both women and the match. With rumors of the WWE replacing the Divas Championship with a Women’s Championship at the Raw after WrestleMania, it seems like now could be a good time to introduce the Bayley character to the Raw audience. I know some disagree with that, but they are never going to have a better moment and a more favorable audience than Monday.

• Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor found a way to have a very good match despite Joe’s unfortunate cut disrupting the flow of it a few times. I was kind of surprised to see them use the finish from the Intercontinental Championship match between Bret Hart and Roddy Piper from WrestleMania 8, but it worked in this context. The Demon entrance with the chainsaw seemed to get a mixed reaction online, but the people in the building reacted big time for it. Maybe it’s because the people I saw online didn’t make the connection with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the show being in Dallas?

• The Kay Bailey Hutchinson center felt like the right size for NXT. They probably could have sold out a larger arena like the American Airlines Center where Raw is held, but I think they’d have lost something in the process. There’s something to be said for being the hottest ticket of the weekend, as well as having the atmosphere and noise that comes from being in a packed smaller arena. As I’ve said before, WWE should consider this approach for Smackdown.

• American Alpha lit up the place with their energy to start the show. Gable is extremely impressive to watch live and I think if there is a breakout star from the team it will be him. The Revival were universally hated and I hope they add some new wrinkles to their act following this loss. With a little more expressive personality I think they could be a great heel team. They have an Arn and Tully thing going that is hard to ignore.

• Elias Samson got immediate hate when he walked out for the pre-show bonus match. He and Apollo Crews lost the crowd mid match when Samson slowed the pace and worked rest holds, but they rebounded with a decent finish.

• Stephanie McMahon was not popular when she was shown on camera before the Women’s Championship Match. I know WWE wants to position her from a PR standpoint as being a huge advocate for women inside the company, but their approach lacks subtlety and comes across as Stephanie attempting to bigfoot the actual competitors with her presence. Combine that with the character she plays on TV and the entire thing seems completely tone deaf.

• It was great to be in the arena for a competently booked show with a hot crowd. I had my objections to some of the crowd antics but for the most part WWE crowds are filled with good people. Everybody around me was great (except that one drunk guy I had to tell off, you know who you are) and the experience on the whole was very enjoyable. I’d recommend attending NXT anytime it heads to your hood.

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