Last night NXT put on yet another spectacular show. When all was said and done, NXT TakeOver: Dallas gave us two title changes, a Match of the Year frontrunner, two in-ring debuts, and ringside appearances by two international (currently non-NXT) superstars. So at the end of the day, what does NXT look like going forward?
There were four big stories that came out of NXT TakeOver: Dallas. These stories involved two in-ring debuts for the brand and two very big appearances that could potentially change the landscape of NXT over the summer months.
“The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” Austin Aries made his NXT in-ring debut with a win over Baron Corbin. On one hand I really felt bad for Aries to have to sell for a big oaf like Corbin. You could tell by the disdain of the live audience that he just isn’t connecting like he should, even as a heel. NXT audiences really appreciate in-ring ability, of which Corbin has very little. In addition, his progression has been slow with little visible improvements…so Aries had to put in some hard work in order to (a) make himself believable as a smaller talent with the ability to hang with the big boys while (b) selling enough to make Corbin still look dominant. While this match showcased his skills, it certainly wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen Aries. I’m really looking forward to seeing him take on some more capatable opponents over the coming months, perhaps even in the WWE Global Cruiserweight Tournament.
Speaking of the Cruiserweight Tournament, one of the biggest shocks of the night was seeing one of the most coveted free agents in all of wrestling, Kota Ibushi, attending the NXT TakeOver event. Because of the upcoming tournament, there are names being brought up that would have never been considered at any other time as participating under a WWE banner. One of those names is Ibushi, a 12-year veteran of DDT and New Japan (primarily) who is considered one of the greatest high-flying performers in the world. Despite primarily considered a cruiserweight, he has battled some of the best wrestlers in the world and would be considered a legitimate threat for the NXT championship, having already defeated Finn Balor for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship back in 2011. Having recently battled the top performers in New Japan (including Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, Ricochet, Hirooki Goto, AJ Styles, Tetsuya Naito, and Togi Makabe. Having Ibushi in NXT would be a MASSIVE coup for the company.
The other shock came in the form of former TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Bobby Roode. The rumors over the past couple of weeks since both he and Eric Young quit TNA had seen Young being the person of interest by NXT and Roode asking too high of a price for WWE tastes. However, it was “The It Factor” who appeared on the live broadcast. This is another MASSIVE coup for the company if he ends up signing (and it’s likely that he is if he was showcased on live television like that). Roode is one of the best all-around performers that TNA ever had, having been a 2-time World champion, 8-time tag team champion, and most recently the TNA King of the Mountain (whatever that means). Having debuted back in 1998, this Canadian-born superstar is near the end of his career at age 39, but if you take a look at him you would never know that…you’d think he was still in his physical prime. If he were to enter NXT, I doubt you would see him there for very long. At 6’0″ and 240lbs, he’s a perfect embodiment of what Vince likes in a WWE main roster performer. And with his years of experience, he would be a very welcome addition to the WWE locker room.
Finally, the biggest non-title story of the night came from the NXT in-ring debut of Shinsuke Nakamura in a legitimate Match of the Year candidate against Sami Zayn. The crowd cheered and chanted for him like the true superstar that he is. If any casual WWE fan happened to be watching the show because they had the WWE Network for WrestleMania, they’d have thought the second coming of Hogan himself had entered the ring. And props where they’re due…Zayn gave one of the best performances of his career, giving Nakamura everything he could want in a “strong style match” and then some. Nakamura was able to hit all of his key moves while making Zayn look like a damn skinny Superman at the same time. I don’t know how long he’ll be in NXT, but Nakamura’s already a huge superstar and Vince should be thanking his lucky stars that Triple H knows unique talent when he sees it. I don’t care what it takes…just give me more and more Nakamura. The man will be in a major WrestleMania match within the next three years.
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!