From the NXT Arena at Full Sail University. Your commentators are Tom Phillips and Corey Graves.
This Week: Apollo Crews faces Alex Riley and Samoa Joe faces Bull Dempsey. We also get a final preview of all the matches for Takeover: Dallas.
This episode is pretty basic on the wrestling and is pretty much a final hype for Takeover, so like the pre-Brooklyn episode, I’m just going to recap the last bit of hype given to each Takeover match along with my prediction.
American Alpha vs. The Revival (NXT Tag Titles): Both teams get a showcase squash match with American Alpha looking quite dominant in theirs. Gable gets to throw some suplexes of his own and Jordan doesn’t even bother to drop his straps before they almost kill poor Corey Hollis with Grand Amplitude.
Prediction: In a show full of potential Match of the Year contenders, this one could be the show-stealer. American Alpha are perhaps the most consistently great thing on NXT TV right now and The Revival have shown that old-school tag wrestling can still be awesome to watch. They’ve been wrestling on live events to rave reviews and their styles should mesh incredibly well. The whole story of this match has been American Alpha’s coronation as the kings of the tag division and NXT is generally good at pulling the trigger on something at the right time, so anything else than American Alpha winning the titles will be the shock of the weekend to me.
Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries: Corbin gets a squash, finishing with Deep Six, but the fans get on his case so he adds in End of Days for good measure after the bell. Corbin then cuts a promo on Aries saying that what happened last time, will happen again in Dallas. Aries then can go back to wowing 50 people and sitting next to Virgil at conventions while Baron becomes the hottest star in NXT. We don’t see or hear from Aries at all. I thought he had a match at this taping but I guess they want to save his in-ring debut for Takeover, which makes sense.
Prediction: Corbin is best against smaller guys that are willing to bump around for him. I’d say Aries fits that description. I barely watched any TNA so I’m not all that familiar with Aries, but Corbin has quietly become pretty damn good in the ring since the Joe match in Brooklyn, so this should be a very good match. The result could honestly go either way, but I’m going to say Corbin wins but by pulling the tights or his foot on the ropes or something like that after he gets desperate.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn: We get a hype video on Nakamura with footage from Revolution Pro Wrestling UK and comments from many of his former opponents like AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and NXT head trainer Matt Bloom and his friend Finn Balor who all talk him up as being perfect for WWE. Sami brings up how he’s got a match at WrestleMania proper, but that doesn’t mean he’s taking his eyes off of Nakamura since he knows Shinsuke will want to make a good first impression on the biggest show in NXT history. Sami will make sure it isn’t made at his expense.
Prediction: Well…what else can you say? It’s Sami fucking Zayn vs. Shinsuke fucking Nakamura. These guys could probably put on a four star match hungover and half asleep. The only question with this match is if they are going to reign it in just a little bit since Sami has a ladder match 48 hours later at WrestleMania. Sami is going to earn his paycheck this weekend for sure. Hope he buys a lot of ice with it. As far as a winner, one would think that since this is Sami’s last NXT match and Nakamura is scheduled to hang around a bit, that Nakamura wins in a tremendous match, giving Sami Zayn the sendoff he deserves.
Apollo Crews vs. The Drifter (…maybe?): Crews takes care of Alex Riley fairly quickly and is interrupted by The Drifter who comes down with his guitar and cuts what seems like a Bray Wyatt promo set to music. Apollo invites him in the ring, but Samson backs off.
Prediction: If this match does happen (it wasn’t officially announced), it’ll probably be the cooldown match between two of the bigger matches to give the crowd some time to breathe. If Crews can’t beat the goddamn Drifter, he probably should just pack up his shit and go home.
Bayley vs. Asuka (NXT Women’s Title): A great video package hypes this match. Bayley’s fellow Horsewomen (Charlotte, Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks) and Carmella talk about how Bayley has shown the heart and skill to become the best around while Emma and Dana Brooke, two women who would know, bring up how dangerous Asuka is and what Bayley has coming to her. Dana: “When [Asuka] gives you that smile, it’s game over.”
Prediction: It’s a tossup between this and the tag title match for which match on this card I am most excited for. Asuka has been nothing short of a buzzsaw since coming into NXT, showing that you don’t need to say a word when a kick to the head gets your message across just as well. Bayley’s kind of had to reign herself in in her previous defenses against lesser skilled workers like Eva Marie and Carmella (though she’s still had entertaining matches) so I am sure she is relishing in the opportunity to work with someone with MORE experience than her. Another MOTY possibility and this very well could be the best match of the entire weekend. I’m picking Asuka to win the title here because, honestly, Bayley’s done everything she can in NXT and it’s time for her to rejoin the Horsewomen on RAW.
Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe (NXT Championship): Finn cuts a promo about how Joe has been obsessed with beating Finn for the title, but Finn has an obsession as well: to be the best. That obsession led him to beat Owens for the title in Japan and survive Joe’s first challenge in London. He’ll beat Joe again in Dallas. “Two more days, Joe. Two more days.”
Joe faces Bull Dempsey (RIP Bull-Fit) and chokes him out in short order. He clamps it on again after the bell and GM Regal sends people down to pull him off, but Joe just wipes them out too. Finn comes down to trigger a brawl and they fight up to the announce table where Joe chucks Finn over it, wiping Graves out in the process. Finn recovers as a gaggle of people hold Joe back but Finn dives off of the announce table onto the pile and the fight begins again until they are finally separated and we fade.
Prediction: Their match in London was tremendous and the feud somehow has gotten even more intense for the rematch, so I expect more of the same in yet another MOTY candidate. This kind of feels like a “Loser Goes to RAW” match as either guy (or honestly, both) are sorely needed on the main roster right now. I think I’m going to pick Joe winning the title here as, like Bayley, Finn has done almost all he can in NXT (though with Nakamura there now I’m not so sure of that).
OVERALL: You know, I started watching this show thinking that the build for Dallas was kind of lacking. There haven’t been that many money promos or huge moments to make you say “Whoa, I gotta watch that!”
Then it hit me: they didn’t have to do that because they’ve been subtly building to this card pretty much since late January or even earlier. The second Asuka stepped into an NXT ring you KNEW a showdown with Bayley was coming. When American Alpha began their rise you KNEW they were going for the tag titles. Even if the TV isn’t the most compelling thing every single week they still reward you for keeping up by letting you grow attached to these characters and care what they do.
The result: NXT Takeover: Dallas has the opportunity to not only overshadow the show drawing 80,000+ people two days later, but could go down as one of the best shows in WWE history.
Bring it on.
Bring. It. On.
I’m @PKIsTwitting on Twitter. Look for the Takeover recap probably sometime Saturday night or Sunday.