When it was announced that the first NXT TakeOver live event of 2016 would be on April Fools’ Day, I knew it was prone to be a great show. And it was. Here is my review. Enjoy.

NXT Takeover Dallas_collage

It’s time for me again to write a review about an NXT special event. And since it’s WrestleMania weekend, what better to choose the NXT TakeOver: Dallas show? The match card looked great before: high profile debuts with Austin Aries and Shinsuke Nakamura and great title matches.

For the first time I also rate the matches in terms of wrestling style, story telling and all around entertainment. In each category there are six hearts to achieve. Of course, this rating system is highly subjective. So, I invite you to discuss the matches with me and give your own ratings in the commentary section. And now enjoy!

American Alpha vs. The Revival
NXT Tag Team Championship match

  • Match duration: 15:13 minutes
  • Winner: American Alpha (new NXT Tag Team Champions)
  • Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
What an opening match that was. I simply have to give the full six hearts in every category here. I couldn’t care less about The Revival before that match. I had seen their matches before but they were still missing that extra edge for me. Now this match right here made me at least respect them. Because I actually loved to hate them. They were the perfect heels in this match against the perfect faces in American Alpha who deservedly won.

Like it should be, the match started off slower than the match went on. But it wasn’t boring at all. If you’ve got the wrong opponents or just limited wrestlers, the start of a match can be boring if you know you’ve got quite some time to tell your story. NXT already travels all around the country, so they can be sure that fans who attend these special shows away from “home” also know about those NXT wrestlers. But they also know that a lot more people watch those shows on television than the weekly NXT shows. Such are still pre-taped and like we saw recently, even matches taped in January were only shown in March. So, these live events are also there for new fans who never watched NXT before and probably don’t have much of an idea about the guys in the ring.

And here storytelling worked to perfection. Scott Dawson of The Revival started things off against Chad Gable of American Alpha. And both of them used the early minutes of the match to make it clear who were the good boys and who were the bad boys. Throughout the match, especially Scott Dawson used smack talk against American Alpha. The Revival also cheated when the referee wasn’t watching and when he was watching. The very tag partner outside the ring always tried to interfere or cover up some cheating strategy. The audience was really into this match, interacted, cheered and booed. And there finally also was the “This is awesome” chant.

Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
And it was. Once it was clear to everybody who the heels and faces were, Dawson and Gable started the real match with some great mat wrestling. Jason Jordan and Dash Wilder were also involved early on, sometimes with a face-off inside the ring to create even more crowd reaction. Usually during a match, pace increases and makes for an intense finale. But during this match, the pace was fast very early and still increased later on. Chad Gable and Jason Jordan wrestled to perfection, and even though the motto of The Revival is “No Flips, Just Fists”, they still did a great job to add to the entertainment.

I can’t really write about all the great spots, near covers and breathtaking moves during this match. There were simply too many. It also wouldn’t be fair to take this match apart because it worked from start to finish not just at a few spots. Emotions ran already high at the start and they even increased during the match. And when American Alpha finally won, it was just the perfect ending.

Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries

  • Match duration: 10:44 minutes
  • Winner: Austin Aries
  • Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥


Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
The last match I watched with Austin Aries was also the last match of Jon Moxley and this man’s farewell match from the Independent Circuit. That was on 19 April 2011 at EVOLVE 7. And now Austin Aries made his debut in NXT. But the most exciting aspect of this match for me was to watch Baron Corbin more and more taking over the glitter from Aries’ body to his own. I also still like Corbin’s new move, the Deep 6. He hit it on Aries outside the ring and Aries barely made it back inside the ring. For the win, Aries countered the End of Days into a roll-up. And to be honest, this was the only way for Aries to win this match to make a successful debut in NXT plus protecting Baron Corbin as the destructive force of NXT.

Prior to that, Baron Corbin was able to show his evil dominance and he really got better with smack talk and looking indeed angry – there was more emotion visible in his face and he wasn’t as boring as he was in previous matches. But the match itself still was too long for Baron Corbin. Some holds happened to be too long. There were moments when I didn’t enjoy the match and was thinking about doing something else. That didn’t happen at all during the first match. So, I had to rate down this one. For some reason I also couldn’t fully accept Austin Aries as a face and because of that wasn’t able to really feel for him when he oversold Baron Corbin’s moves.

Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

  • Match duration: 20:09 minutes
  • Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura
  • Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
This clearly was a farewell match for Sami Zayn as well as a welcome match for Shinsuke Nakamura. So, it was pretty clear that Shinsuke Nakamura would claim the victory here. I haven’t seen any match by Nakamura so far but certainly knew about him and all the hype he got and that was around this match before. And he certainly was a well deserved opponent for the farewell match for Sami Zayn.

Probably my most favourite part of this match were the early shenanigans by Nakamura: strong style also means theatrically mocking your opponent in high comical fashion. What I also liked was the quasi heel turn by Nakamura during the match when he started bleeding from his nose and as some revenge went nuts on Sami Zayn without any rules anymore. And just after the match Nakamura turned back face when he offered Sami Zayn his hand to show respect to his beaten opponent.

There was also this long fist fight in the middle of the match that was highly entertaining. A long fist fight can be the most boring part of a match ever. But if you’ve got two opponents who not just know a few wrestling moves but also how to act and sell, how to pick up pace, how to react and fight to the audience’s reactions, then you can get one great fist fight – like it was here.

Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
With just over twenty minutes of match time, both men got enough time to shine and in Nakamura’s case: show what you are capable of and what the NXT crowd can expect from you. Of course I didn’t have much choice but give two full six hearts to the wrestling and the story telling for this match. I just wasn’t that much involved in this match that I gave a total of five hearts to the whole match. I wasn’t emotionally invested during the whole thing like I was during the first match. But it certainly was an instant classic and worth re-watching. Great farewell for Sami Zayn, too.

Asuka vs. Bayley
NXT Women’s Championship match

  • Match duration: 15:23 minutes
  • Winner: Asuka (new NXT Women’s Champion)
  • Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


For some reason I could sense that Bayley would lose her title in this match. In the wake of WWE burying the “Diva’s Championship” together with that ugly (and disrespecting) butterfly belt, maybe they want to reunite The Four Horsewomen in WWE for the real Women’s Revolution in WWE. So, Bayley had to lose this NXT Women’s Championship and lose her re-match to go up to the main roster. What I missed though was a better built-up to this match between Bayley and Asuka. There was no real heat between them, no big confrontation. We also didn’t have a contract signing this time.

Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
The big missing point about Asuka is her lack of speaking English, so promos are basically reduced to her smile. I’d like for her to have some manager, maybe a girl who is great on the mic but not so much inside the ring – maybe because of injuries, so she isn’t allowed to wrestle anymore. Basically something like Paul Heyman does for Brock Lesnar. Like Lesnar does, Asuka could smile to some statements, nod generously to the crowd’s reaction etc. I miss something like this in NXT and would love to see Asuka with a female manager.

So, because of the quick built-up to this match, storytelling wasn’t that easy. I didn’t really know if Asuka was playing the heel here until she refused to pay Bayley proper respect after the match. Asuka looked down at Bayley, and finally there was some heat against her. Until then there were some great spots but the finish was too long. There were too many holds, so the crowd wasn’t on it’s feet during the last hold as much as they would have been a few minutes before. The finish itself was good because Bayley didn’t have to tap out – she just phased out. That showed Asuka’s strength and Bayley’s unwillingness to give up on her belt with the tap-out.

Samoa Joe vs. Finn Bálor
NXT Championship match

  • Match duration: 16:22 minutes
  • Winner: Finn Bálor
  • Wrestling style: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Story telling: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
  • Overall: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
It probably wasn’t part of the planned storyline that Samoa Joe was busted open just above is right eye within the very early stages of this main event. I say probably because very quickly this injury was added to the storyline: commentators spoke about it, the referee together with several doctors were in desperate try to close the cut but Samoa Joe wasn’t much about those forced breaks. And I actually started to feel for Samoa Joe and wanted for him getting the title. He also looked much more intimidating with all this blood on his body than Finn Bálor with his body paint.

Now I’m still not much of a fan of Finn Bálor. The guy certainly can wrestle but for some reason I don’t connect with him. I think it’s because he’s not very good on the mic and he barely shows any emotions during matches. This whole storyline is basically carried by Samoa Joe and that’s just not good enough for the supposed Face of NXT. Many NXT fans like him, there’s no doubt about it. But I also got the vibe from the audience that many fans were disappointed about Finn Bálor retaining.

Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
Credit: wrestling-giffer on Tumblr.
Now, maybe it was this early injury to Samoa Joe that the match lacked that high entertaining stuff that you expect from the main event of a live show. It was also cut short with about five minutes shorter than Zayn vs Nakamura. Maybe due to Samoa Joe’s injury, I don’t know. The finish for me was disappointing, too. It protected Samoa Joe because he didn’t have to take Finn Bálor’s finisher but lost at a roll-up. This storyline probably continues and Samoa Joe might be even more obsessed with Finn Bálor and the NXT Championsip now.


Credit: WWE on Instagram.
Credit: WWE on Instagram.
The General Manager of NXT, William Regal, wasn’t part of the show this time. He didn’t have to calm down anyone or get beaten out of the ring. But at least he got a nice backstage picture together with Funaki and a surprising spectator in Kota Ibushi on the Instagram-Account of the WWE. That, of course, caused speculations about Ibushi possibly being the next NXT signee for NXT. But noting official was said yet.

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