WWE “NXT Takeover: Dallas” Report
April 1, 2016
Live from Dallas, Tex.
Aired on WWE Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
- NXT Title match: Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn
- Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin
- NXT Women’s Title match: Bayley vs. Asuka
- NXT Tag Title match: The Revival (Dash & Dawson) vs. American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable)
Pre-Show Report (9:30 p.m. EST)
WWE kicked off Takeover with a half-hour pre-show hosted by Renee Young, Mauro Ranallo, and Lita from the balcony area of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
WWE cut to “earlier today” footage of Samoa Joe and NXT champion Finn Balor arriving at the building ahead of their NXT Title main event.
Later, new NXT announcer Cathy Kelley interviewed Sami Zayn about facing Shinsuke Nakamura. Kelley, a new hire from the Afterbuzz pipeline, asked Zayn about the importance of the match. Zayn said he understands Nakamura’s reputation, but he doesn’t want Nakamura to establish his NXT legacy on his name.
WWE went to a video package on the Dusty Rhodes Statue Unveiling from Thursday night at Axxess. WWE showed Triple H leading the unveiling while Goldust and Cody Rhodes stood by. Goldust thanked everyone for their support of their family and Cody told the audience to talk to the statue because Dusty was a good listener.
The pre-show closed with Renee, Mauro, and Lita wrapping up the preview show. Ranallo and Lita seemed to disagree on every match pick.
NXT Live Report (10:00 p.m. EST)
The NXT special kicked off with a historical look at Texas Wrestling – from Shawn Michaels to Stone Cold to the Von Erichs to Stan Hansen to the Sportatorium. Now, NXT brings it forward with the latest NXT Takeover special, Dallas edition.
Live from Dallas, WWE showed a sold-out convention center. Tom Phillips and Corey Graves introduced the show from Dallas and then American Alpha’s theme music played to a big reaction. Jason Jordan and Chad Gable, in matching warm-up suits, bounced down to the ring hyped and pumped for the NXT Tag Title match. The Revival’s music played next to bring out the tag champs.
1 – THE REVIVAL (SCOTT DAWSON & DASH WILDER) vs. AMERICAN ALPHA (JASON JORDAN & CHAD GABLE) – NXT Tag Title match
Dawson tried to get into Gable’s head early on by taunting him with playful slaps. The crowd taunted back with a “Which one’s Dawson, which one’s Dash?” chant. The tag champs hugged it off, then Gable slapped Dawson back. The four men nearly came to blows in the middle of the ring before things settled down.
They built to a tag to Jordan, who wowed the crowd with a huge dropkick to Dawson that deserved a replay. Dawson, embarrassed, took out his anger on Jordan with an eye rake behind the ref. But, Gable helped him neutralize the tag champs with a stereo back body drop. Double dropkicks followed, then double German Suplexes to get the crowd in a frenzy. American Alpha ran around the ring super-pumped as The Revival recovered on the floor.
The match moved to the floor, where American Alpha met the tag champs with punches. But, suddenly, Dash smashed Gable with a clothesline. Stan Hansen-quality there. Dash rolled him back into the ring and the heels began exchanging tags working on Gable. Dawson extended the punishment with a Gory Special submission stretch, but Gable countered with a sunset flip to escape. Double DDT to Dash and Dawson, but Gable still could not make a tag. Blown spot and the crowd let Dash & Dawson know about it.
Finally, a hot tag to Jordan, who cleaned house on the heels, including another textbook dropkick. T-bone suplex to Dawson and Jordan dropped the straps on his singlet. Jordan charged Dash in the corner, then suplexed Dawson for a close two count. Dawson made a comeback, then tried to pin Jordan with his feet on the ropes, but Jordan kicked out. Dash continued to interfere from the outside, but Gable broke up another pin attempt.
Chaos in the ring, then Jordan scored a close two count on a sunet flip to Dawson. Then, it was Dawson against Gable. More pinfall attempts, more close calls. No one could get a three. Jordan then tagged in behind Dawson’s back, so he didn’t see Jordan coming with a corner spear. Jordan and Gable then combined for their Grand Amplitude tag team finisher. Gable scored the pin on Dawson for the win. And the crowd went nuts as AA celebrated in the ring with the belts.
WINNERS: American Alpha at 15:13 to capture the NXT Tag Titles. Solid tag team opener. The crowd was ready for AA to win the belts and NXT delivered the desired result. (***)
Ringside: WWE showed Jim Ross and Michelle Beadle sitting together. Then, Kota Ibushi next to Funaki. Phillips and Graves speculated on Ibushi being part of the Global Cruiserweight Series.
Earlier Today: NXT Women’s champion Bailey met with young fans at Axxess. She faces Asuka tonight. Meanwhile, Asuka warmed up by intimidatingly smashing a kickpad held by MMA fighter Seth Petruzelli.
Video Package: Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin feud.
In-ring: After a pause, Baron Corbin’s music played to bring out one of the most hated men on the NXT roster. Corbin was sporting a very dark and metallic leather jacket while looking intimidating with his facials. New, upbeat music played to bring out Austin Aries making his NXT in-ring debut. Not quite a match with Aries’s in-ring personality, but fine music.
2 – AUSTIN ARIES vs. BARON CORBIN
Aries came running out of his corner attacking Corbin in the corner, but Corbin over-powered him. Aries tried to fight back as the crowd picked up an “AUSTIN ARIES / baron corbin” chant. Corbin then pushed Aries off to the ropes, but Aries ducked and climbed on Corbin’s back to punish him with forearm strikes.
Aries suddenly exploded on Corbin with a rolling forearm smash, sending Corbin to the floor. Aries then climbed to the top turnbuckle and delivered a double axehandle to Corbin. Aries tried to follow up, but Corbin smashed him to the ground. Corbin then took Aries back into the ring to punish him… while also taunting the crowd. “I own this place!” he shouted.
Corbin slowed the pace with a nervehold, which Aries escaped, but took more punishment in the corner. Corbin just smashed Aries with repeated elbow strikes to the neck/shoulder, sending Aries down to the mat. “Ring the bell!” Corbin shouted at the timekeeper, saying this match is over. Corbin took his time yelling at the crowd, giving Aries an opening to fight back with slaps and strikes. Aries then flew at Corbin with a running forearm smash. More realistic-looking punishment clubbing Corbin in the ropes. Aries followed with a neck-snap across the middle rope.
As Corbin stumbled around the ring, Aries climbed up top and nailed a missile dropkick. Aries followed with a corner dropkick sending Corbin to the floor, then he flew out of the ring with a big suicide dive into the barricade. Aries stood up looking to punish Corbin some more, but Corbin caught him in mid-air and spun him down to the floor with Deep Six.
Aries made it back into the ring just before a ten count, so the match continued with Corbin breathing in deep anger. But, Aries looked back at him with an extended hand wanting more. Corbin charged Aries and pounded him to the mat before breathing in some more anger. Corbin wanted End of Days, but Aries flipped over Corbin and trapped his shoulders to the mat for a quick three count.
Post-match, Aries got the heck out of the ring while Corbin leaned on the bottom rope with a fish-eye look of emptiness and shock in his eye. Aries smiled on the outside while Corbin gathered himself and tried to keep his anger bottled up.
WINNER: Aries at 10:45. Nice surprise ending with Aries finding a way to beat the much-larger Corbin with a quick pin. It was an interesting crowd reaction for Aries. Perhaps the music did not set a good tone, but the crowd seemed about 6/10 for him when you would expect 8-9 out of 10 for a big-name independent wrestler making his NXT in-ring debut. Once the novelty of Aries being on the NXT roster wears off, he’ll be a natural heel, following Samoa Joe’s path. Meanwhile, Corbin looked good in this match. Nice progression for him. (**1/4)
Earlier Today: NXT champion Finn Balor arrived at the arena.
Up Next: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn, which popped the live crowd. And, of course, the Network feed started acting up.
Video Package: Sami Zayn returned to NXT and was told he’s facing this man … Shinsuke Nakamura coming over from New Japan.
Ringside: Scott Hall and “X-Pac” Sean Waltman were shown down at ringside excited for this next match.
In-ring: Sami Zayn was out first. Much stronger reaction for Zayn than he’s been receiving on the main roster since his false-start introduction. The crowd welcomed Zayn back by singing his theme music as he bounced into the ring. Zayn soaked up a good crowd reaction looking around the arena before WWE hit the Big Pause. (Note: The live Network feed was sadly FUBAR from this point until the very end of the match. We erase all of that with a re-report on the replay!) Lights down. “Nak-a-mura” chant. Green lights filled the video screen. Would they get the ultra-important element of Nakamura’s ring entrance right? A strong first note played. Nakamura emerged on-stage and re-mixed symphony music played with a Japanese influence. Nakamura emerged through the dark lighting wearing a flashy black jacket over his trademark red pants. WWE cut to Zayn smiling as he sat down in the ring watching Nakamura charismatically enter the ring as only he can do. “Holy s—” chant from the crowd as Nakamura stretched and finished his ring entrance. Graves said this is surreal. How did NXT land one of the biggest stars in the world, much less Japan? It’s like the Super Bowl winning team somehow landed the #1 Draft Pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
3 — SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. SAMI ZAYN
The crowd was just nuts before they even locked up. Nakamura and Zayn eventually circled the ring before Zayn tried to lock up, but Nakamura ducked the lock-up and showed his trademark charisma owning his space. They locked up next time and Nakamura took control of Zayn, who sold realizing he just walked into a three-point contest with Steph Curry. Meanwhile, Graves talked up Nakamura holding the IWGP World Title, like Brock Lesnar and A.J. Styles.
Another lock-up, then Zayn finally got Nakamura on the mat. “This is wrestling” chant from the crowd. Zayn hopped over Nakamura, then arm-dragged him to the mat. Nakamura regrouped in the corner as Zayn did Nakamura’s mannerisms welcoming him to fight. The crowd popped and Nakamura smiled. “NXT!” chant from the crowd. Nakamura then kicked Zayn in the gut and landed a double-knee drop to the face. Phillips brought up Nakamura revitalizing Strong Style in Japan, so he calls himself the King of Strong Style.
Nakamura managed to kick Zayn into the corner, then he wanted his trademark rapid-fire stomps in the corner, but Zayn grabbed Nakamura’s boot, not wanting to be victimized by the repeated boots. Zayn then suplexed Nakamura for a two count. Zayn landed a stiff forearm to the mouth, then a chop to the chest. Zayn followed with a flying boot to the jaw for a two count. Suddenly, Nakamura exploded out of the corner with a forearm smash. But, Zayn answered with a forearm smash sending Nakamura flying out of the ring to the floor.
Zayn tried to bring Nakamura back into the ring, but Nakamura cut him off with a big smash. Nakamura then delivered a huge running knee to Zayn’s head as Zayn rested on the ring apron. Back in the ring, Nakamura delivered another knee smash for a nearfall. Nakamura tried to follow with a suplex, but Zayn landed on his feet and sent Nakamura flying over the top rope. Zayn then nailed a flying dive to the outside.
Zayn quickly sent Nakamura back into the ring to deliver a flying cross-body, but Nakamura kicked out before three. Zayn stood up first looking to capitalize, but Nakamura kneed him in the head, then again. Nakamura then charged Zayn, but ran right into a Michinoku Driver. Zayn could not capitalize, though. Both men sold on the mat.
Zayn came to his feet first, then Nakamura. They traded forearm blows as the crowd chanted “Yay!” for both men. Forearms, strikes, the crowd to their feet. “Yes!” chants Daniel Bryan style. Nakamura came up bleeding from his nose as the forearms got stiffer and stiffer. Both men sold exhaustion standing on their feet not willing to give an inch. Zayn then bounced the ropes to land a forearm, which Nakamura answered. And again. Suddenly, Nakamura checked the blood and got fired up, striking Zayn with boots and knees. “King of Strong Style” chant from the crowd.
Reset, then Nakamura bounced the ropes and charged Zayn, who answered him with a huge inside-out clothesline. Zayn followed with another big clothesline. Zayn ducked his head, though, giving Nakamura an opening for an armbar submission in the middle of the ring. Zayn refused to allow Nakamura apply it full, though, so Nakamura switched to a triangle choke. Zayn blocked that, too, and managed to kick free of the hold to loud applause.
Zayn got up just pummeling Nakamura with punches and then repeated stomps to the head, with Nakamura bringing a fire out of Zayn. Zayn kicked Nakamura in the head, then Nakamura fired off a forearm, but Zayn transitioned to a Koji Clutch in the middle of the ring. The crowd definitely did not want Nakamura to tap out here. “Please don’t tap!” the crowd chanted. Nakamura then flipped Zayn onto his back and nearly scored a pinfall.
At 16:00, Zayn nailed a step-up enziguiri to knock down Nakamura again. Then, he fell to the mat selling exhaustion. “Fight forever!” the crowd chanted as both men sold on the mat. Nakamura reached his feet first and went for a Dragon Suplex, but Zayn blocked. So, Nakamura nailed a running dropkick to the jaw. Nakamura wanted a running attack out of the opposite corner, but Zayn charged for the Helluva Kick, only to have Nakamura duck at the last second. What a combo. Nakamura then wanted a Boma Ye knee strike, but Zayn countered with the Blue Thunder Bomb. Only, Nakamura kicked out just before three, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Nakamura rolled out of the ring to recover, so Zayn followed to the floor. Zayn wanted his torpedo DDT through the ringpost, but Nakamura kicked him right in the air, sending Zayn stiff in the corner. What a visual. Nakamura slowly climbed back into the ring as Zayn sold in the ring, but Zayn hopped to his feet and met Nakamura on the top turnbuckle. Zayn wanted a superplex, but Nakamura blocked. Headbutt. Kick. Corner charge, but Zayn blocked. Nakamura blocked an exploder suplex, though. Forearms. Strikes. Elbows to Zayn’s neck. Nakamura then climbed to the second rope for a giant knee strike to the back of the head. Nakamura then went to That Place gyrating in the corner before nailing his Boma Ye knee strike. It was good for the pin and the win. Amazing. Just amazing.
Post-match, the crowd went nuts for Nakamura as he celebrated in the ring. Nakamura then approached Zayn, who sold being frustrated that he lost trying to defend NXT as his “home.” But, he shook Nakamura’s hand and hugged him. Nakamura charismatically slipped out of the ring as only he can, giving Zayn the floor for his NXT send-off. Loud “Ole!” chants for Zayn, who cried soaking up the crowd.
WINNER: Nakamura at 20:07. Upon replay review, yeah, this was one of the greatest things to ever happen in a modern U.S. wrestling ring. It was as if New Japan’s product teleported to a WWE ring and the crowd was gifted the best Christmas present ever. It’s clear Nakamura carried over his New Japan run to WWE being at a completely different level than everyone else; the rest of the roster is just living in Nakamura’s world. He should be in the main event of WrestleMania on Sunday. Setting aside the physicality, strikes, and amazing sequence, the story was so great, too. Zayn having an edge wanting to defend his home turf knowing he was facing one of the top stars in the entire world made for a great simulated sports-like environment in front of a hot, invested crowd. (**********)
WWE ran a Hall of Fame ad for tomorrow night as a comedown from Nakamura-Zayn.
Video Package: The NXT Women’s Title feud between Bayley and Asuka leading to the semi-main event.
Ringside: Stephanie McMahon was shown standing in the crowd applauding the next match. The crowd naturally booed her presence.
In-ring: Asuka was introduced to the ring first as the challenger. Then, full ring intro for the crowd favorite defending champion Bayley, who was serenaded by song and audience involvement as the opening bell sounded. And the feed is now perfectly restored for this match.
4 — NXT Women’s champion BAYLEY vs. ASUKA — NXT Women’s Title match
Bayley and Asuka slowly walked around the ring before locking up to set the tone for a lengthy battle. Asuka landed an early hip attack rocking Bayley, sending her recoiling to the ring apron. Asuka wanted another hip attack against the ropes, but Bayley moved and landed a flying elbow from the second rope for a two count. Bayley then put Asuka in a guillotine choke, but Asuka broke free and Bayley sold a left ankle injury.
Asuka ended up on the floor and Bayley hobbled to the floor to roll her back into the ring. Bayley was all out of sorts, though, selling the ankle. But, she was able to snap off a precise Bayley-to-back side suplex. Both women came to their feet and tried simultaneous dropkicks, then simultaneous forearms. Suddenly, Bayley dropped Asuka to the mat and applied a submission working on Asuka’s ankle. Two ankle injury sells now in this match.
Suddenly, Asuka dropped Bayley to the mat with a cross arm-breaker. They went back and forth trading submissions as Bayley showed some heelish tendencies, deciding she had to bring something extra to match Asuka’s power and viciousness if she wanted to hold onto the title. Asuka eventually flung Bayley to the mat with a cross-face chickenwing. Bayley appeared to be in trouble, but she found a way to stay alive. But, Asuka re-applied the Asukalock and Bayley completely faded out. The ref had to call for the bell, ending the match.
Post-match, Asuka received the Women’s Title belt as the crowd sold shock over the outcome. Bayley eventually came-to and tried to gather herself as Asuka celebrated in the ring. The crowd tried to applaud Asuka’s victory, but they felt sad for the fallen champion. WWE showed Bayley selling the effects of the match down at ringside as Asuka continued to celebrate in the ring. Asuka eventually left the ring and stared down at the fallen champion, who tried to catch her breath while looking down at the floor selling sadness and disbelief. Asuka kept on walking, then celebrated on top of the stage.
WINNER: Asuka via TKO at 15:25 to capture the NXT Women’s Title. Asuka as the dominant, Awesome Kong-like women’s champion is a great follow-up to Bayley’s title quest story in the division. Now Bayley can graduate to the main roster (after her expected re-match) and Asuka has a number of opponents lined up. (***1/4)
Video Package: Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe in a re-match from NXT: London. It’s time for a fight.
Ringside: Suddenly, the crowd gasped and popped. Bobby Roode was down at ringside in a suit with a tough-guy, determined look on his face. Tom Phillips said he’s one of the hottest free agents right now.
WWE immediately cut to another TNA alum, Samoa Joe, who got himself fired up in the backstage area before storming through the curtain to the ring. It’s like NXT is rubbing this in TNA’s face how they messed up their roster and Creative through the years producing this type of show with the roster and assets TNA once had available to them. After a pause, The Demon emerged … wielding a chainsaw. Finn Balor did his full ring entrance revving the chainsaw before hitting the ring for formal ring introductions as Joe looked at him like a piece of meat ready for consumption.
5 — NXT champion FINN BALOR vs. SAMOA JOE — NXT Title match
Joe and Balor stared each other down, then Joe charged Balor in the corner. Balor side-stepepd and Joe shortly thereafter ended up with serious blood loss from his face. At first, it wasn’t clear if his face was covered by Balor’s trademark bodypaint or blood, but it became evident his eye was totally messed up. Doctors came out to work on Joe’s eye as the crowd booed. Meanwhile, Balor kept selling.
Joe was eventually allowed back into the ring, but he kept bleeding profusely, so doctors came in and out of the ring working on him to the crowd’s displeasure. Balor came back in the ring attacking Joe, who answered with a frontslam to regain control of the match. Joe then smashed Balor with a big boot before nailing a knee drop to the throat for a close two count. Kowada Strikes, as referenced by Graves on commentary, then Balor smashed Joe in the face to cut him off. This brought down the medical staff to work on Joe, drawing more boos.
The match resumed with Balor in control until Joe cut him off with a kick strike to the face. Suddenly, Balor smashed Joe to the floor and followed with a baseball slide dropkick through the ropes. Balor followed with a running punt to the face. Balor then tossed Joe back into the ring and tried to hit the Slingblade, but Joe blocked and suplexed Balor for a two count.
At 11:30, Joe stalked Balor for a running boot in the corner, but Balor intercepted with the Slingblade. Balor wanted a hesitation dropkick, but Joe avoided and slammed Balor to the mat for a close two count. Joe wiped away some blood, then wanted a powerbomb, and he connected. One, two, kick-out, into the Boston Crab. Classic Joe transitioned out of the crab to a cross-face. Joe wrenched back on the hold, but Balor flipped over into a double stomp to get some breathing room.
After a reset, Balor climbed to the top turnbuckle, but Joe cut him off and nailed a big enziguiri kick. He then hit the Musclebuster in the middle of the ring, but Balor kicked out! Joe sold shock as he slid away from Balor unable to process how the champ kicked out. Joe looked around the arena contemplating what to do as some of the crowd chanted “one more time.” Joe slapped Balor around, but Balor kicked him in the gut. Pele Kick to the head felled Joe like a tree in the woods. Both men sold on the mat.
Both men came to their feet and Balor knocked down Joe again, then hit the Coup de Grace. Balor stood up and shouted, then Joe grabbed Balor looking for the rear-naked choke, but Balor flipped him over Joe and trapped his shoulders to the mat. And it was good for a three count to win and retain.
Post-match, Joe sold shock that he got pinned. Balor caught his breath and WWE went to a replay of when Joe got cut in the eye in the opening moments of the match. Back live, Joe left the ring in an angry mood, then he turned around to stare back into the ring, where Balor held onto possession of the NXT Title belt. Balor held up the belt and played to the crowd with his trademark ring entrance pose, then NXT Takeover signed off 16 minutes past the top of the hour, going two hours and 16 minutes.
WINNER: Balor at 16:22 to retain the NXT Title. Surprising result, expecting a clean sweep for the challengers. It will be interesting to see if Balor shows up on main TV with the NXT Title, a la Kevin Owens last year. Or, if Joe gets called up instead of Balor. Overall, the blood situation definitely affected the match. It’s good that WWE has a blood policy in place to address it for the health of wrestlers, but it’s understandable fans would be frustrated by it happening throughout the main event of the biggest NXT show of the year. No-win situation. (***1/2)
NXT REAX: After watching the show, we’re looking for your Reax, 0-10 Score, and Best/Worst Match sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.