NXT TakeOver: Dallas kicked off with an impressive tag team showing as The Revival, the defending champions and a group that has made a name for itself as old-school heels, dropped the belts to the up-and-coming American Alpha. A classic tag team combining a tough technician (Jason Jordan) with a charismatic athlete (Chad Gable), Alpha performed so well in winning the belts they looked like the best team in WWE, not just NXT.
Austin Aries def. Baron Corbin via pinfall
A well-known performer from major domestic promotions and most recently a former TNA heavyweight champion, Aries earned a victory in his big-match debut on Friday. The contest was quite neutral and relatively short with Aries going over via roll-up three count; it is likely the start of a continued feud between the two wrestlers.
Shinsuke Nakamura def. Sami Zayn via pinfall
Possibly the reason you were curious to read about NXT TakeOver: Dallas results in the first place, Nakamura’s in-ring debut with NXT was by far the highlight of the show. The “King of Strong Style” lived up to his moniker in a bloody and exciting fight with Zayn, who likely wrestled his last match in NXT (he’s already been called up to WWE and will be participating in WrestleMania 32 on Sunday). A true legend in Japan, it’s unfair to say Nakamura’s star was born on Friday, but WWE fans will no doubt be seeing plenty of him in the near future.
Women’s Championship: Asuka def. Bayley (c) via submission to win the title
Bayley entered the ring as over as she’s been, and the crowd was hot to see another thrilling affair coming out of the Zayn-Nakamura slugfest. The ladies delivered, though fans in attendance were not nearly as happy at the end of the match as the Asuka put Bayley to sleep with the Asuka Lock to become the new champion.
NXT Championship: Finn Balor (c) def. Samoa Joe via pinfall to retain the title
Joe being accidentally cut and bleeding profusely in the early going forced a slow start to the match, but it did not take long for the eye-opening back-and-forth action to commence with Balor’s athleticism being matched constantly by Joe’s brawn. A tremendous sequence by Balor looked to have won the match until Joe sank in a sleeper hold and appeared to be on the cusp of winning the belt. Instead, Balor reversed it into a pinning combination to retain his belt and stand tall in the middle of the ring. Fans got behind Joe, the designated heel, early in the match and were not as thrilled at Balor’s victory as normal. Still, it was yet another well-fought match by both men and a solid close to a tremendous NXT TakeOver.
Death, taxes and NX TakeOver delivering seem to be the only certainties in life. Once again WWE’s “other” brand came through in a big way. This time on the big stage, setting the table for WrestleMania weekend. For all the complaints about WWE these days, they sure have a great handle on how to present their NXT brand. NXT TakeOver: Dallas was no exception. Once again we saw a hot, live crowd treated to amazing matches and surprise appearances.
The match of the night, maybe the weekend and possibly the year saw the highly anticipated debut of Shinsuke Nakamura. This was also the likely swan song for Sami Zayn in developmental as he’s taken his talents to Monday nights from here on out. As expected, Nakamura’s debut did not disappoint and it’s going to be a fun ride in the coming months to see if WWE knows what to do with him long-term.
It is clear WWE is going for a much different vibe with the NXT brand than with their main offerings. NXT is for the hardcore wrestling fan that is familiar with the world outside the Universe. The direction of the main roster still has the primary goal of trying to suck in the casual fan. Without knowing the inner workings, it’s a safe assumption that the brass does not believe that sort of offering on a weekly basis would drive the company where they want it to be.
In baseball they say you can’t hit a home run every time up, but in pro wrestling NXT has proven it’s possible with these TakeOver specials. It would be nice if WWE could figure out a way to translate what they do with these specials to the monthly PPVs which seem to disappoint regularly. As evidenced by Roadblock, sometimes the only thing you need are simple stories and good wrestling.