Most hardcore wrestling fans (like myself and, more than likely, you if you’re reading an online wrestling blog) are probably looking forward to this weekend’s NXT TakeOver: Dallas event more than WWE’s WrestleMania card. With some absolutely outstanding match-ups taking place (not to mention two very highly anticipated WWE debuts), fans are chomping at the bit to see how this card and the in-ring performances set the tone for the entire weekend.
Hence, it only seems right that we review the card and make predictions. Let’s go!!
I love this match-up simply because it accomplishes a lot of things. For one, having Baron Corbin (someone who is extremely stale and still needs to improve his in-ring abilities) wrestle someone as technically sound as Austin Aries is a fantastic learning experience for him. Second, having Aries debut against a larger opponent who won’t be hurt by a loss is a great thing. If the match works out well, Aries will look as impressive as Finn Balor or AJ Styles or some of the other smaller guys working their asses off to become the “new” WWE superstar. Finally, the crowd will be super-hot for Aries and will legitimately make him appear like a star in his first match (very similar to how Styles debuted at the Royal Rumble). Is “The Greatest Man Alive” really that good? I don’t know if I ever seen him on the main roster or not, but I’ve been a massive fan of his in-ring work for over a decade now and am looking forward to seeing him shine in the spotlight.
WINNER: Austin Aries
I’ve been a fan of Dash & Dawson since they had their initial run in last year’s Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Team Tournament. I love that they’re a throwback tag team that doesn’t rely on size or gimmicks or high-flying in order to be successful (hence their team name). As I’ve mentioned previously, they’re very remenicent of teams like the Brainbusters and the Midnight Express…and that’s VERY high praise from a long-time tag team fan. Having said that, American Alpha is riding a tremendous wave of momentum right now. Jason Jordon is beginning to finally find his stride as a personality (he was already pretty solid as an in-ring performer) and Chad Gable is the future Kurt Angle of the WWE and a future major player in spite of his smaller size. I really think that it’s time to make the switch to a super-over babyface tag team (especially after months of teasing fans with Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady winning the straps). I would love a tag team feud between these two that lasts the next few months until the next TakeOver event, too. These two teams should give us a lot of fun matches in the weeks to come.
WINNERS: American Alpha
Without a shadow of a doubt, Bayley is a legit superstar without ever having debuted on the main roster. I’ve never been a fan of hers but I respect the hell out of what she can do inside of the ring. I don’t understand the fan adulation, but I guess I can see why the kids love her. The problem, though, is that she’s needed on the main roster. With Brie Bella retiring, Nikki Bella probably retiring, Natalya reaching the end of her run, divas like Naomi and Alicia Fox not reaching their potential, and the inept fuck-stain that is Eva Marie returning to nauseate us all…that pretty much leaves five women on the main roster who are capable of carrying the division (Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Paige, and Emma).
Bayley can be the Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat of the Divas division: a life-long babyface that can potentially rival John Cena in terms of “Make A Wish Foundation” appearances for children. I think she’s done all she can do in NXT and has defeated everybody there. It’s time for the new blood to break out and for the Four Horsewomen to fulfill their destiny together on the main roster. In order to do that, Bayley must lose and Asuka must win.
In terms of Asuka, I’ve been a massive fan of hers since her debut last year. She’s amazing inside of the ring and brings color, charisma, and uniqueness to a division that doesn’t have a ton of it (plus there’s something about her that just oozes sex appeal). I really think this should end up a similar outcome that happened when Bayley won the title from Sasha Banks: Asuka wins the title clean in Dallas and they have one more “blow-off” match at the next TakeOver that Asuka wins while Bayley debuts on the main roster.
At first, I really thought that Shinsuke Nakamura would debut similar to how KENTA, Prince Devitt, and Kevin Steen debuted: showing up on NXT television and having their name changed to something that could be used in WWE.
But then came Samoa Joe. And then AJ Styles. And then Austin Aries. And then the promotion of Shinsuke Nakamura under his own name. Now I’m thinking that it’s quite possible that we’ll see Nakamura using his own name both in NXT or on the WWE main roster (which he’ll be visiting VERY soon). It’s quite possible that he changes his name in NXT after WrestleMania weekend is over…but I just think the international appeal for the company would be to use his name, especially at this stage of his career.
Sami Zayn is going to have a great feud with Kevin Owens on the main roster over the coming months. Hell…he might even have an Intercontinental championship reign in his future, as well. There really isn’t any need for him to win this match-up against the debuting Nakamura.
I think I’m looking forward to this match more than any other the entire weekend. I know what both men are capable of and I think they’re going to fire on all cylinders in an attempt to have the best match of the weekend (and potentially of the year). If they wrestle an NJPW-style match, the NXT fans (and any casual WWE fans who happen to be watching) will blow up Dallas and chant “Match of the Year” before it’s done.
Of course, they could just be given 10-15 minutes to hit some high spots. Anything’s possible at this point.
WINNER: Shinsuke Nakamura
What’s most interesting about this match is that WWE, apparently, has main roster plans for both men. While Finn Bálor on the main roster was always a given, the fact that Joe has impressed higher-ups enough to be considered for a main roster role is fantastic to hear if you’re a long-time Joe fan (as I am). So when do they get called up? Does one get called up before the other? Does it happen right after WrestleMania or in a few months before SummerSlam?
The other really interesting thing about this match is the potential debut of the Bálor Club (i.e. Karl “Machine Gun” Anderson and Doc Gallows). It’s been teased for months now and with word going around that both former Bullet Club members are being penciled-in for the main roster sooner rather than later, you’ve got to wonder if they’ll debut to give support to Bálor during this match.
Here’s my take on all of this…
The Bálor Club won’t debut at NXT TakeOver: Dallas. Both Anderson and Gallows will be debuting with Finn Bálor on the main roster the RAW following WrestleMania. That’s my prediction, anyway. I think it will give the world a glimpse of what WWE will look like for the remainder of 2016 (with or without Shane McMahon in charge of RAW) and it will be a massive debut with a massive pop for all three members of the Bálor Club. The only real question, then, is whether or not Finn Bálor makes his RAW debut as the NXT champion.
My guess is “no”. I think Samoa Joe pulls out the victory here, opening up a world of new opponents for him over the next few months (Apollo Crews, Austin Aries, or even Shinsuke Nakamura) and giving him a bit of a spotlight before being called up. Hell…he could even end the match with a “respect” handshake with Bálor that turns him babyface, thus leading to title defenses against Baron Corbin, Elias Samson, or even someone like Tommaso Ciampa. Either way, having Joe in the top spot provides NXT a little shot in the arm with someone that hardcore fans love and casual fans respect.
I think this match will be fantastic regardless of the outcome. Seriously…I’m happy with either man exiting the building with the championship belt over their shoulder, but I just think it makes more storyline sense for Joe to win to free-up Bálor on the main roster.
WINNER: Samoa Joe
This is just what I’m thinking, but what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or hit me up on social media and let me know!