In a little over 24 hours, the stars of WWE NXT will converge upon the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in little ol’ Dallas, Texas. In the two short years the WWE developmental system has been airing “special events” (for goodness sake, they’re pay-per-views) on the WWE Network, this weekend’s Dallas production might just be the biggest show NXT has put on since their Brooklyn card. I promised DC I’d pump out a couple articles about WrestleMania weekend before the festivities really got started, so here goes on breaking down the NXT TakeOver Dallas card!
Apollo Crews vs. Elias Samson
Call me easy to please, but I’m actually kind of excited about this match. I have no clue what the Elias Samson character is about, and I couldn’t even begin to guess. However, for some reason he appeals to me. Physically, he’s a cross between Seth Rollins and Damien Sandow. He’s had some entertaining matches over the past few weeks, and I think with a talent on the level of Apollo Crews, this match Friday night can be something special. The best thing about NXT has been its ability to book a match on no more reason than the fact that two people don’t like each other and want to solve their problems with violence. I won’t lie to myself and say this will be a show-stealer, but I’m excited for it anyway.
Predicted Winner: Elias Samson
Reasoning: Elias Samson has already gotten his first loss out of the way. If NXT wants to build him as, at the very least, a solid part of their midcard, he needs a win over a star the caliber of Crews.
Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin
Baron Corbin has unfortunately been relegated – for lack of a better term – to welcoming in NXT’s big Indy name signings the past couple of Takeover events. He put on an *exceptional* match against Samoa Joe in Brooklyn, arguably his best special event showing to date. He had a great match against Apollo Crews in London, and I was actually shocked when he picked up the win. As much as I love both Joe and Crews, Austin Aries is arguably in a league of his own. Not many people can call themselves “The Greatest Man to Ever Live” and actually have the talent to back it up. Aries is one of the best professional wrestlers on the planet, and I am *STOKED* to see him on a niche platform like NXT, and with a talent like Baron Corbin. Corbin has shown he can hang with both big and smaller guys, and tell an absolutely amazing story. This one is gonna shock a lot of people.
Predicted Winner: Austin Aries
Reasoning: Simple, he’s The Greatest Man to Ever Live. However, this might be just the start of what could be one of the most compelling angles NXT has done in months.
Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is the match that sold me on writing this little prediction article to begin with! I have only been a Nakamura fan since January 2015, when I watched him and Kota Ibushi put on one of the best matches of ALL of 2015. I have only been a fan of Sami Zayn since February 2014, when I watched him and Cesaro put on one of the most exciting matches of ALL of 2014. Putting these two talents in the same ring is a recipe for success. Zayn’s legacy in building NXT, in helping to make it some of the most intense, compelling wrestling of the past two years, is the perfect counterpart to Shinsuke’s legacy from all around the world, especially in New Japan Pro Wrestling. When he’s on his game, there is no one better on the planet – both as a ring technician and an entertainer – than Mr. Nakamura. Given that this might be the biggest stage he’s ever performed, Shinsuke will bring every part of his soul into this match, and I have no doubts Zayn will be there every step of the way. This match has the potential to not only be the best match on the Takeover card, but the best match professional wrestling fans watch all weekend.
Predicted Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
Reasoning: I truly believe Sami Zayn was chosen for Shinsuke’s debut opponent because he could handle the King of Strong Style’s….style. ? This is going to be brutally hard-hitting, we’re going to get taken on an emotional roller coaster for however long the match is, and the story might just drain us before we even get to the main event. However, Nakamura will come out the victor in this insane battle.
The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) (c) vs. American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) – NXT Tag Team Championship Match
When Dash & Wilder first showed up as a tag team, I was NOT impressed. However, over the course of a few months, and especially once they won the NXT Tag Team titles from the Vaudevillains, I’ve become a believer. They aren’t flashy like Big Cass and Enzo, they aren’t characters like Gotch and English, and they certainly don’t have quite the appeal of Jordan and Gable. However, their hard-hitting technique, their focus on getting in, handling their business, and getting out has its own appeal. Jordan and Gable have taken over the NXT Tag Team division. They have meshed as well as just about any tag team I’ve seen in the past three years. They’re fun, they’re charismatic, they’re unbelievably talented, and they epitomize what tag team wrestling is supposed to be. The same can be said for Dash and Dawson (I still have issues with their tag team name, but that’s neither here nor there). I’m going to borrow DC Matthews’ prediction here and say that this match will set the foundation for what tag team wrestling (both NXT *and* the main roster) will look like for the next decade.
Predicted Winner: Jordan and Gable
Reasoning: It actually has nothing to do with Jordan and Gable, but all to do with Big Cass and Enzo. If ever there was a time for those boys to start dominating the tag team division as its biggest faces, it was back in August in Brooklyn. However, once Jordan and Gable crashed the party, it was clear NXT Creative was going in a different direction. Jordan and Gable are just now hitting their peak as faces, and beating Dash and Dawson could set both teams up for a feud that could indeed last across NXT and WWE for the next ten years.
Bayley (c) vs. Asuka – NXT Women’s Championship Match
Since Sasha Banks, has Bayley faced a more daunting mountain to climb than when she steps into the ring with Japanese sensation Asuka? When Regal announced this match-up, I was pretty surprised. Asuka has been in a pretty steady feud with Dana Brooke and Emma for the past few months, and only just recently started interacting with the current NXT Women’s Champion. I actually thought we’d see Asuka vs. Nia Jax before we saw Asuka competing for the Women’s Championship. However, now that this match *is* happening, I think I’m more excited for this than I was for Bayley’s Iron Man Match against Sasha. Both women bring a level of experience to this match-up that can only make for some of the best in-ring storytelling we’ll see in our lifetime.
Predicted Winner: Bayley
Reasoning: I don’t want to see Bayley on the main roster until there is a spot for her. If she drops the title to Asuka, that tells me she’s headed straight for Monday Night RAW, and I don’t think the other three Horsewomen are quite done telling their story over the Divas Title enough to bring Bayley into the picture. On the same side of that coin, as much as Asuka has been beating the crap out of Dana Brooke and Emma, I don’t think she’s completely ready to be the face of the NXT Women’s Division. Come back in 4-5 months when we’re heading into SummerSlam weekend, and my opinion might change.
Finn Bálor (c) vs. Samoa Joe – NXT Championship Match
Samoa Joe and Finn Bálor have been around this business for a LONG, LONG time, and while Bálor might have made his NXT debut first, it didn’t take Joe long to make his way to the main event scene right behind him. Doing quick research for this article, Bálor has been NXT Champion for over 9 months, and Joe has been his most intense opponent in those 9 months. Joe brings an athleticism and level of conditioning to this particular matchup that might actually give Bálor problems tomorrow night. Joe has never been more focused, more determined, in the past few months he’s been locked in this feud, and I think tomorrow night, we’ll see the absolute best Samoa Joe we’ve *ever* seen. It won’t be easy in the least. Then again, anything worth having is worth battling your heart out over, isn’t it?
Predicted Winner: Samoa Joe
Reasoning: I want to see Joe vs. Aries on a WWE platform. I want to see Baron Corbin thrown in the mix. I think NXT needs a dominant champion the level of Samoa Joe, and they need a heel champion the level of Samoa Joe. He can work with just about any talent on the NXT roster, and tell stories with his eyes closed. If he doesn’t win, I think this is the last we see of Joe in NXT. Third time’s gotta be a charm, right?
So, those are my analyses, predictions, and reasoning! Let me hear your thoughts, friends! What are you most looking forward to on the NXT TakeOver Dallas card? Who steals the show? Who shocks us the most?