Thanks for stopping bye and checking out the first NXT review of the new website. It just so happens to be a review of the go home show before the NXT roster begins final preparations for their NXT Takeover: Dallas show on Friday, April 1st. The NXT roster has been on absolute fire when it comes to their Takeover shows, so the pressure will be on the current crop of NXT stars to eclipse to success of the previous NXT specials this Wrestlemania weekend.
For memories sake, here’s a quick recap of the NXT Takeover: Dallas Card as it stands.
- Austin Aires makes his NXT in-ring debut against “The Lone Wolf”Baron Corbin
- Bayley defends her NXT Women’s Championship against Asuka
- American Alpha will attempt to pry the NXT Tag Team titles from The Revival
- NXT Champion Finn Balor puts his belt on the line against rival Samoa Joe
American Alpha def. Corey Hollis and John Skylar via pinfall
American Alpha’s made their way to the ring to meet the already waiting Corey Hollis and John Skylar to kick off another edition of NXT. Jason Jordan began the match in the ring instead of Chad Gable, which was a welcome shake-up of their usual game plan. The match was nothing to write home about-a quick five minute squash match, giving Gable and Jordan a bit of extra steam leading into their championship match in Dallas.
With their NXT Takeover: Dallas showdown with The Revival just days away, the NXT creative team was smart to allow Gable and Jordan the opportunity to showcase their unique mix of power and mat skills against a pair of game opponents. Graves and Phillips helped by playing up the idea that Jordan and Gables might have too much momentum for The Revival to halt.
- Gable and Jordan have been channeling Dusty Rhodes with those flamboyent singlets.
- I’m very curious to see how well The Revival and American Alpha can mesh their styles together at NXT Takeover.
Grade: 6.5/10. Nothing special, but did its job of showcasing Gable and Jordan heading into Dallas.
Finn Balor Interview
Finn Balor’s sitdown interview followed the American Alpha match, and honestly did little to help build on the groundwork already present for the NXT Takeover: Dallas match between Balor and Samoa Joe. Balor mentioned how obsessed Joe has become with capturing the NXT Championship, before highlighing his own obsession with winning throughout his career.
The promo was fine, but just days before his match against Samoa Joe, I was hoping for a bit more impassioned promo from the NXT Champion. He’s never exactly been a wizard on the mic, but considering the months of build-up going into this match, you’d think Balor would have more to mention than simply Joe’s obsession, a positive character trait that has been attached to pretty much every champion in NXT/WWE history.
- Why was Finn so damn oily throughout the promo?
- Normally, NXT hits it on the head with these miniature video interview packages, but something about this one felt lacking.
Grade: 5/10. Too generic for this wrestling fan.
Baron Corbin def. Mike Cuellari by pinfall
Next up, Baron Corbin took on Mike Cuellari, another indie superstar, making for the perfect squash victim considering Corbin’s anti-indie rhetoric. Corbin spent the entire match in control, playing off of the crowd like few other heels in NXT have been able to do. Corbin secured a win leading into his bout with Austin Aries after hitting Cuellari with the Deep Six. Corbin then began to attack Cuellari after the match at the behest of a fan in the crowd. Great heel stuff.
In most cases, i’d prefer for a wrestlers who have been wrestling as long as Corbin has been for NXT to move on from the squash matches and begin competing in longer matches, but Corbin is so excellent in those situations I haven’t really begun to mind. His upcoming fight with Aries looks interesting on paper, and should give Corbin the opportunity to prove his worth to the WWE brass.
- Corbin might need to work on his core a bit more before Vince allows for a main roster call-up. We all know how vain The Boss can be at times.
Grade: 7/10 Squash match done right.
Shinsuke Nakamura Video
The NXT production team put together a nice little video highlighting the arrival of NXT’s newest japanese import, Shinsuke Nakamura. Featuring short interview clips of AJ Styles, Matt Bloom, Kevin Owens, and Finn Balor, the video did an excellent job of giving fans who may not be familiar with the King of Strong Style, a quick refresher before his debut match against Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover: Dallas.
- Nakamura’s “King of Strong Style” nickname might be the best moniker I’ve ever heard.
Grades: 8/10. Solid promotional package for the debuting Nakamura.
The Revival v. Tucker Knight and Steve Cutler
The creative team dipped back into the well and booked The Revival almost exactly like they book American Alpha a few matches prior. The annoucers put over The Revival as…the revival of the NXT tag team division, while Dash and Dawson showed off they’re always fun to watch ground and pound offense in the ring. Tucker Knight and Steve Cutler actually got off more offense than expected, but it couldn’t save them from being squashed.
- I’m not too confident in The Revival’s chances of walking keep their belts. Enzo and Cass need to go over to finish their feud with The Revival before being called up to the main roster and it makes more sense if Dash and Dawson didn’t have the titles when they did it.
- Bull Dempsey’s pre-match promo on Samoa Joe actually got me a little peeved towards the way NXT has booked him. Bull-fit just murdered him.
Apollo Crews def. Alex Riley via pinfall
Apollo Crews took on Alex Riley in another short contest. Crews remained in control for most of the match, shaking off a brief flurry from Alex Riley to hit the Toss Powerbomb for the win.
Elias Samson made his way out to the ring to taunt(?) Apollo Crews after the match by singing some inaudible nonsense. It looks like NXT will be moving forward with the Samson/Crews feud that they teased last week. The NXT crowd did a pretty good job of masking his singing with boos. The creative team are going to have to work hard to salvage the Samson gimmick because so far its been dead in the water. I’m not too sold on a Samson/Crews feud, but things are just getting started, and i’ll give it some time.
- Crews is going to have to scrap the constant smiling if he doesn’t want to be eaten alive by the main roster.
- Is their anyone with worse luck than Alex Riley? From working an angle with the WWE champion to jobbing out on NXT.
Grade: 6/10 Crews needs a feud to build some momentum off of, just not sure if Samson is the guy.
String of Video Packages
After the Crews match, we got an awesome backstage promo from Corbin. He brought up Austin Aries and his absence since his attack a few weeks back. He discredited Aries indy background and threatened to send Aries back to the indy circuit to wow crowds of 50. Corbin’s been working hard on his promo work and it shows. His promos have gotten much better and his presence as a smug heel have only increased with each week. His run in with Aries should be fun, and this promo only made me want to see the bout more.
Next up we got another video package, this time, highlighting the upcoming Bayley v. Asuka, NXT title match. The video featured interviews with the other members of the four horsewomen picking Bayley over Asuka on Friday. Emma and Dana Brook put Asuka over as a dangerous striking machine. The NXT video team picked great footage for both wrestlers and was another hit package to hype up Friday’s event.
The last video was a response of sorts to the Nakamura video earlier in the night. A recorded interview of Sami Zayn was shown, in which he spook about his upcoming match with The King of Strong Style. Zayn played up his perceived role as the heart and sole of NXT, and called his bout against Nakamura and once in a life time opportunity. Hopefully, when both are main roster players, that will be far from the truth. In a similar style of the Balor promo, i would have wished for a bit more from Zayn here.
Samoa Joe v. Bull Dempsey
This matched didn’t really serve any purpose but to give Samoa Joe and impressive looking victory heading into Dallas. The operative phrases being, “impressive looking”. Bull Dempsey is on his way out of the company and was competing in what was probably his last match. Samoa Joe was actually caught a bit off guard early on, allowing Dempsey to get in some early offense. Joe regained control however, and got Dempsey to tap instantly when put into the coquina clutch.
After the match, Joe re-applied the coquina clutch on Dempsey, forcing Regal to send a couple of jobbers out to the ring to fed to Joe. They managed to get Joe to release his grasp, but only caught the eye of the Samoa Submission Machine. Joe tossed the jobbers out of the ring and went back to choking out an already lifeless Dempsey.
In comes Balor to save Dempsey. The two start brawling, and Balor gets the upper hand by dropkicking Joe to the arena floor. The two battle outside the ring, before Balor hits Joe with a running dropkick through the barricade. Always a great spot. They fight up the announcers booth, taking out Graves in the process. While security tries to separate the two, Balor comes flying off the announce table into Joe and the security guards. They trade a few more blows before being torn apart for good.
- When Dempsey started the match off hot I thought they might actually be giving him an alright send off. Then by the end of the segment I was sorely mistaken.
- Solid brawl from Balor and Joe, Corey Graves took one for the team with the annouce table spot.
- Someone should have gone through a table
Grades: 8/10. A fun brawl helped to cap off an otherwise forgettable NXT.
- Way too many squash matches for this episode of NXT to get any kind of positive rating. Too often creative phones it in on the go-home show instead of using all of their time to help pack their story lines with more substance.
- The Corbin/Aries feud was made to look at least comparable to the other bouts on the card.
- Nakamura’s debut is still the best thing in store at NXT Takeover:Dallas
- Samoa Joe has to go over at Dallas.