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No Punches Pulled: NXT Takeover: Dallas 2016 Review

April 3, 2016 | Posted by Eric Presti
Finn Balor WWE NXT Takeover: Dallas
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No Punches Pulled: NXT Takeover: Dallas 2016 Review  

No Punches Pulled is a hard-hitting, no B.S., call-it-right-down-the-middle, review column dedicated to delivering unbiased thoughts and criticisms from the world of WWE to readers everywhere. Just because professional wrestlers pull their punches, doesn’t mean we have to pull ours.

WWE NXT Takeover: Dallas takes place from the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.

The Revival (c) vs American Alpha for the NXT Tag Team Championship

Atmosphere: The crowd was really hot for this match and, as usual, popped big for American Alpha. Throughout the match, Gable received resounding applause for everything he did and Jordan was well received entering the match. Dash and Dawson did a great job keeping the crowd in it by blocking multiple tag attempts from Gable. All the way to the end the crowd loved it. These two teams really set a great tone to kick off the night.

Finish: Jordan hits his corner spear and tags Gable for their signature assisted suplex bridge for the pin. WINNER and NEW NXT Tag Team Champions, American Alpha.

PJ: Pretty hot opener. I thought this was the right choice to open this gig. Other than the hideous botch, which didn’t really hurt the overall pace of the match, the work rate here was off the chart. Fast sequences, quick transitions and hot comebacks. If I could complain about one thing it would be American Alpha sort of winning and dominating a majority of the match. I appreciate The Revival’s old school approach of using dastardly methods to get on top, but they looked overmatched here to me, which is fine and it’s nitpicking but it is sort of hard to see where they go from here. I loved Jason Jordan in this match. Absolute house of fire and he throws the best dropkick for a guy his size possibly ever. (I’m a mark for Bob Holly’s dropkick though.) Though it felt like it was Alpha’s time here, I also can’t help but feel like more could have been done with The Revival’s reign. I don’t see them hitting the main roster soon, but man could that tag division use some real heels. Newly turned babyface New Day vs. Dash and Dawson? Yes please. Good match, without the botch this takes it higher but we can’t fault too much for it. The adrenaline of opening a PPV of that magnitude must be huge.

Eric: The pace of this match was outstanding. Both teams really putting in the effort and taking this match to the next level. Gable’s wrestling ability is off the charts and his fast sequences really lit the crowd up. Dash and Dawson being able to follow and keep everything crisp showed how hard they worked as well. A lot of what I’ve been reading on the Internet lately sees people saying things like “American Alpha: Chad Gable and that other guy…” I urge you guys not to sleep on Jason Jordan. This guy is a powerhouse and showcases it every single night. I’m not sure if these people were so blown away by Gable’s abilities that they forgot to watch the rest of the match, but Jordan constantly proves he is a star and is well deserving of his championship. Dash & Dawson performed great in this match as well, save for the botch. Luckily for them, even with the crowd taking a dump on it, chanting “You fucked up” and “Botchamania”, it didn’t greatly affect the quality of the match, hideous as it was.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Baron Corbin vs Austin Aries

Atmosphere: The crowd wasn’t too into this, by NXT standards at least. Aries got a decent pop, and then Corbin got a reaction, but it was sort of downhill from there. There were oddly dueling chants at one point, (there were in literally every match) but after Corbin poorly taunted the crowd too many times, this one ended up flat. The crowd at an NXT show adds so much by way of chants, reaction etc. that when these things are absent, it is stunningly apparent. So it was almost awkward at some points during the rest holds and I even believe I heard a boring chant at one point. Aries didn’t get quite the reaction we expected but it wasn’t as if there were crickets. We were really intrigued to see how the veteran of the ring, yet new to NXT guy would fare with the crowd against the relative rookie yet the NXT mainstay with the crowd. Turns out it wasn’t too appealing to some of the Lone Star State.

Finish: Austin Aries reverses the End of Days into a roll-up for the win.

PJ: This match was just ok for me. I feel like Corbin does better against bigger opponents like Joe. Aries tried his damnedest to sell for him, but excluding the spin out backdrop on the outside, his offense is shite. I cringed at the dreaded Yokozuna nerve hold. It resembled his match with Apollo Crews a lot and I’m starting to think the jury is out on Corbin and a tag team may best suit him. His taunting is rubbish; I can barely hear it on the TV, yet you’re taunting an audience of thousands of people. You’re not in Full Sail anymore, Toto. I like Aries getting the win and the roll up gives them a chance to further the feud. This wasn’t bad enough for me to not want to give them another try, so maybe their next effort will surpass this.

Eric: I’ve grown to appreciate Baron Corbin as time has progressed. I think his move set is relatively cool, I think outside the ring he’s a decent heel, and I like how he’s progressing. Unfortunately, this match wasn’t the greatest representation of that. I wasn’t a fan of his in-ring heelwork. Rather than interacting with the crowd as a whole, Corbin chose to interact and respond to individual members of the audience, pointing people out and responding. It didn’t elicit the proper crowd response, as a majority of the crowd didn’t react. Austin Aries really showed up tonight and sold hard for Corbin, but Corbin was too involved with the crowd to really hammer it home. Aries picked up the win, rightfully so, but I’m not a fan of the cheap roll-up for a debut. All in all, this was an ok match, but was definitely the worst of the night.

Rating: 2 Stars

Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Atmosphere: WOW. The crowd went nuts for Sami Zayn and then kicked it up to another dimension, waiting for Nakamura. As soon as the crowd saw Nakamura enter from the Gorilla Position, they went ballistic. While the two stood stoic and faced each other in the ring, it felt like Sting’s Survivor Series surprise debut. The crowd made this feel like the most important event in wrestling. The crowd wasn’t silent once throughout the entire match. The chants for each were so loud, it sounded as if everyone in the arena was chanting for both stars.

Finish: Shinsuke Nakamura hits Kinshasa for the three count.

PJ: Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit! I barely need to say anything in this section because if you have a pulse your thoughts were the same as mine. This is an instant classic that gives this show replay value for years to come. Nakamura is someone who I as a fan was familiar with. I always thought the flamboyant king of strong style was the best Japanese star to be able to translate to the WWE style, and so far, so good. He is a legit bad ass in the ring, and some of those strikes were very real. Take a look at Sami’s back. Unlike Itami, and Tajiri and a few others before them, Nakamura is not only and unreal wrestler, he has quirks and charisma that others who have wrestled in America for years don’t possess. He translates well to our audience. And to get to his dance partner tonight, the backstage opinion of Sami Zayn has to have gone up after this one. He pulled out all the stops in what looks to be his NXT swan song. He went out on his back like most do and did the job for Shinsuke, but in defeat he still shined as bright as the stars at night deep in the heart of Texas. This match was everything it was hyped up to be, it was a legit 5 star classic, and I don’t think that’s just because it’s fresh on the mind.

Eric: This was honestly one of the best matches I’ve ever seen (I’m sure I’ll catch some heat for saying that, but I don’t care). The crowd set the tone for the match and it felt enormous. It felt like Sting coming to WWE. Sure, maybe it wasn’t as big as Sting, but the crowd made it feel that way, and I was certainly was very happy to see The King of Strong Style in the WWE. These two tore it up the entire match. Nakamura is an absolute animal in the ring and Sami Zayn didn’t back down at all. Nakamura is know for being extremely stiff and Zayn took everything thrown at him and even got pretty stiff himself with a few of those shots. Both guys gave it their all for each other and the end result was phenomenal. I greatly enjoyed the crowd popping for both guys and even when they were trading punches in the middle of the ring, both guys got resounding “yay”s on their respective strikes. The end of the match was met with great sportsmanship, and the crowd showed huge support for both guys’ efforts. If Nakamura keeps putting on shows like that, he’ll be NXT Champion by next Takeover. This looks to be Zayn’s last match in NXT, so if it is, hopefully he is used properly on the main roster. This guy is a future WWE Champion.

Rating: 5 Stars

Bayley (c) vs Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship

Atmosphere: Very tough to follow the Zayn vs Nakamura match, but the crowd was still very much alive for this one. Both women were well supported by the crowd as dueling chants riddled throughout. A lot of great offense in this match and the psychology was great. Both stars were targeting limbs and really working to set the stage, working up to their signatures.

Finish: Asuka forces Bayley to pass out to the Asuka Lock. WINNER and NEW NXT Diva’s Champion, Asuka.

PJ: Loved this match. See a lot of people on the Internet complaining it failed to meet expectations. Disagree entirely. Despite following one of the greatest matches you will see this year, this match still got a great reaction and had rock solid pacing. What great counters and reversals from these two ladies. Not to mention the submission-wrestling clinic being put on. Wow. Asuka sold more, and Bayley was a little more vicious than usual, which is a trend I think they will play out if these two have future battles. I thought Bayleys working of the leg and Asuka’s working of the arm to butter each other up for their respective submissions was nice. Both ladies dominated short stretches, while the match up followed a more back and forth approach, which was nice. This definitely got better as it drew on which I believe most good matches do. This might be my favorite Bayley match that didn’t have Sasha Banks in it to be honest with you. Asuka is a great folly for her. I can honestly say I was fairly surprised with the ending. Asuka full on choking out Bayley was badass and very far from the handshake ending I was expecting from the two face ladies. Very cool, and color me very excited to see what the next step is.

Eric: This match was awesome. It did a great job following the previous match and it kept the crowd involved. Both women continued to prove that the future of the Diva’s division (or women’s division as I’m reading WWE will be changing the name Monday) is extremely bright. Asuka tore it up with her outstanding grappling skills and agility, while Bayley kept up extremely well and dished out her own submission clinic on Asuka. Bayley responded extremely well to the stiffness of Asuka’s moves (as none of Asuka’s NXT opponents have been unable to do). The ending of the match was my favorite part. As PJ stated, Bayley passing out is badass and I’m with my partner again in expecting a good-sport handshake at the end. Asuka getting out of the ring with the title and just staring Bayley down as she sat on the ground upset was amazing. No handshake at all. A, “you lost, so you get nothing”, attitude. This was great way to end the match as well as Bayley’s title run.

Rating: 4 Stars

Finn Balor (c) vs Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship

Atmosphere: Huge-fight feel here. Crowd is amped up for a brawl. Unfortunately right out of the gate we get TOO much of a brawl and Joe is busted open at they eyebrow. Now, normally this will be good for the grudge type feel these two are going for, however, the match was stopped 4 times to clean Joe up which the fans promptly dropped a deuce on. Fans chanted “Fuck PG”, “Let Joe bleed” and “Let them fight.” The commentators did a good job to play up how blood loss is a cause for stoppage in Boxing and MMA, but it’s inarguable that it didn’t take away from the match, and the audience’s reactions. The two men recovered ultimately and sent the crowd home happy.

Finish: Finn Balor reverses the Coquina Clutch into a bridge to pick up the victory. WINNER and STILL NXT Champion, Finn Balor.

PJ: I liked this match for what it was. It was a match that never could build momentum because of the stoppages. It’s hard to throw together sequences or display psychology while a doctor breaks up the match every minute. Both wrestlers are visibly pissed at this point too. They should just clean it up good once, and then let it happen. Use a clotting agent and do it right once, and then leave it alone. Not to mention I’m sure these wrestlers are blood borne disease free so what is wrong with a little blood? Other than that, my takeaways from this match are mainly how much of a beast Samoa Joe is. People say he’s lost a step since his 2005 heyday and while I’ll concede that, he is still damn fun to watch. I’d kill your aunt to see him battle Lesnar. His face wash move in the corner is one of the most pointless moves that I mark out HARD for. Didn’t quite get the chainsaw deal with Balor, but the paintjob and new blue addition to his tights were cool. I normally don’t like painted up wrestlers but he does pull it off. I loved the Hart/Piper Wrestlemania 8 finish. (or Survivor Series 96 SCSA vs Hart for you sticklers) but it leaves me wondering if they are going to milk this for another match? With rumors of Gallows and Anderson moving to the main roster, is Balor going to follow them NXT title still in tow? Is Joe hitting the main roster? I can’t wait for the Raw after Mania, it’s almost better than Mania itself.

Eric: I understand that if the bleeding is bad enough the doctors have to go out and do their best to keep the superstars safe, but in this case it definitely detracted from the match. I was getting visibly annoyed watching because every small bit of momentum that was built was immediately destroyed by doctor stoppages. At first, Joe was throwing everyone off, which added to the match, but eventually he gave up with the repeated annoyance from the medics and let them attempt to help. It happened a few more times and really hindered the quality. Joe is a legitimate animal in there and its only more apparent when you notice his surprising agility. Being 37 years old, I hope bringing Joe to the WWE won’t just wind him in a Rhyno-esque role where he just gets young guys over. Joe has quite a bit left in the tank and would fit in well with the upper mid-card and main event on the main roster. Regarding Finn Balor, I have to admit I don’t really like him. I think everyone likes him for his entrance, but outside of that he’s just a good wrestler with ok mic skills (I know I’ll get crucified for that). I think he definitely has a place somewhere on the main roster and hopefully the Balor Club will be it. To each his own.

Rating: 3.25 Stars

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Any event with a 5 star match deserves merit and warrants a rematch. Never mind a card with a 4 star women’s match sandwiched between a strong opener and a satisfying main event. NXT Dallas has replay value up the ying yang and we can guarantee you we will be revisiting it again really soon.