With everyone counting down the days until WrestleMania, it seems like as good a time as any to remind people that there’s something even better happening that same weekend in Dallas. On Friday April 1st, NXT will be invading the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and putting on a show that WrestleMania can only pray to match. While Mania may have the bigger stars and obviously has the larger name recognition, there are a bevy of reasons that the real main event will be two nights before.
NXT has just been getting better with age as everyone involved learns and adapts from what happened the week before. Their TakeOver specials have been improving steadily from the first one to TakeOver: London with no reason to believe that they will slow down anytime soon. Not to mention that this is the biggest show NXT has ever done and there should be no doubt that when the time comes in a little under a month that TakeOver: Dallas is going to be the event that every wrestling fan is talking about.
Just taking a look at the card will be enough to get any wrestling fan amp’d up but when you throw in the storytelling and overall atmosphere that go hand in hand with the NXT Specials and that’s exactly what we’re going to get, something special. The event in Dallas is going to be two jam packed hours that everyone watching won’t be able to get enough of. There will be a dramatic shift in the landscape of NXT on this night with every title up for grabs in matches that could go either way along with a debut that will shake the brand to its core.
POSSIBLE NXT SPOILERS AHEAD
Between the debuting Austin Aries taking on Baron Corbin who is a seriously under rated heel, The Revival defending their tag titles against American Alpha, Apollo Crews vs. Elias Sampson, Bayley putting the title on the line against Asuka, Samoa Joe and Finn Balor battling it out for the NXT Title, and last but far from least, Shinsuke Nakamura making his long awaited debut in what is most likely Sami Zayn’s final match in NXT, this event is one no one can miss.
15. The Card
One of the biggest advantages TakeOver will have over WrestleMania the following night is that from the show opener to the main event the crowd will be on their edge of their seats throughout. Outside of possibly Apollo Crews against Elias Sampson (which to be fair could be great as well) every match scheduled to take place could not only just steal this show, but steal the thunder away from WrestleMania as well. There are phenomenal athletes, superb storytellers, and some of the best all around wrestlers in the entire world sprinkled up and down the card making it sure to be one of the most exciting events of the whole year.
14. The Big Fight Feel
The atmosphere around any major TakeOver event is always something special but you have to look no further than the recent events in Brooklyn and London to see just how special it is when NXT leaves their sleepy home in Florida. Combine that with what’s sure to be an excellent night of wrestling and you have a building that’ll be rocking from the opening bell until the NXT Title is handed to whomever is able to walk out victorious. Holding TakeOver events the same weekend as a major PPV is always a risk as we saw with Brooklyn and SummerSlam because the little NXT show has a terrific chance of setting such a precedent that the main product simply can’t follow and the crowd knows it.
13. The Match Quality
We touched on this subject a little bit in the previous entries, but it deserves a special mention due to the in ring product that will be put on display is going to be simply tremendous. Every single competitor scheduled for a match is capable of putting on a tremendous performance and when you pair them up like NXT has heading into this event, you’re guaranteed to see something you’ve never seen before, something that’ll leave your jaw on the floor.Whomever goes on first will set the bar with each following contest looking to up it higher and higher until it’s firmly out of reach for WrestleMania.
12. The Unpredictability
The biggest complaint I hear about the current wrestling product is that it’s just become too predictable. It’s a very fair argument following the events from Survivor Series onward, especially when it comes to the main event scene. Everyone expected Roman Reigns to win the WWE Title tournament, then for Sheamus to cash in, only for Reigns to come back and defeat the odds to recapture his title before HHH made his “shocking” return to win the title at the Rumble. With TakeOver however it’s the complete opposite with every title match on the card capable of going either way. Will it be Joe or Balor walking out as top dog? Can American Alphs be the team to knock off The Revival so soon into their run? Can Asuka be stopped? All questions that will have our eyes on the televsion.
11. TakeOver’s History
As anyone who is a fan of NXT is surely aware, every time the promotion has put on a TakeOver special, they have gone all out to make sure it’s an event that not a single person watching will forget. From Neville taking the title away from Bo Dallas in NXT’s first ladder match to Finn Balor’s remarkable entrance and performance at TakeOver: London it’s a sure thing that there will be at least one match or one moment that sticks in your head far longer than anything else. You think that they won’t try to outdo themselves yet again at their biggest show in NXT history?
10. The Build
Outside of Lesnar against Ambrose, there isn’t a single contest so far on the WrestleMania card that has fans waiting to see what happens week to week. We know Reigns is going to come back and get a revenge beating against HHH, we know that Charlotte is going to keep interfering and running away from her competition, and we know Shane McMahon and The Undertaker are going to cut promos without the other guy in attendance. Meanwhile NXT has mastered the slow build, having competitors do little things each week that are different yet keep the story moving forward. No one knows what to expect in the lead up to the event adding to the unpredictability factor and adding overall excitement that Mania hasn’t yet.
9. Bayley Defending Her Title
The most over women in perhaps the entire WWE will once again be in the limelight defending her Women’s Title. Bayley was more or less a female Sami Zayn, someone who management could trust to put on quality matches but for whatever reason were holding back slightly having them suffer constant losses in their biggest matches. Since Bayley was given the ball at TakeOver: Brooklyn in an unbelievable match against Sasha Banks however, she has shown that no matter who it is she’s up against Bayley will always be able to get the crowd invested. Given that Bayley was able to get a compelling contest out of Nia Jax so early in her career, the sky’s the limit when she’ll go one on one against a competitor the level of Asuka.
8. American Alpha Gets Their Shot
It’s almost impossible to compare the tag division in NXT with the one on the main roster as the “developmental” brand has been giving a masters course in how to properly build up tag teams. Between The Ascension, Enzo and Cass, The Vaudevillians, and now American Alpha, there has always been at least one team that the fans were dying to see at one point or another. To say the crowd is going to be behind Jason Jordan and Chad Gable is about as big an understatement as I could make, as just seeing the crowd reaction when they make their way to the ring is going to be worth every penny. If they can pull off the victory and hold the belts up high in the middle of the ring, the roof might actually get blown off the building.
7. Balor Looks To Add Another Classic
With the impending arrival of the Balor Club becoming more and more evident, it’s only a matter of time until Finn and friends find their way to Monday nights. While he might be on the way out, there’s no doubting that Balor has done it all in NXT and will yet again look to come out of a TakeOver event looking like the most impressive star on the card. Ever since he debuted as Hideo Itami’s partner looking to battle The Ascension, Balor has always been treated as a star and has proven time and time again that’s been given exactly what he deserves. One of the cornerstones of NXT is going to be gone before we know it, and I have a feeling that he’s looking to go out with a huge bang.
6. Austin Aries Debut
Here’s a dirty little truth about me, I actually used to watch TNA. Shocking I know, but it was guys like Austin Aries that kept me even vaguely interested in the product. The Greatest Man That Ever Lived is going to make a huge splash out the gate, as he’ll be chomping at the bit to show everyone watching what he’s capable of. The short version is he’s capable of everything, he can go with anyone in the ring, he can spar with anyone on the mic, he can hang with anyone outside the ring. We’re all extremely lucky that NXT has been a oasis of sorts for these former TNA and Independent stars as adding someone with the resume of Austin Aries will bring instant credibility and firepower to the show.
5. Asuka Continues Dominance
Ever since she gave that little evil smirk to Dana Brooke and Emma during her debut segment, Asuka has been the most dominant women NXT has ever seen. She doesn’t have to be built like Nia Jax or Awesome Kong because she’s a straight ass kicker and Asuka knows it too. Never afraid of a challenge or a fight, she has been taking itto the best that NXT has to offer and has been coming out victorious time and time again. Asuka has been booked perfectly so far and it’s incredibly compelling to see where she goes from here. Going one on one against Bayley, these two have a chance to top the classic Bayley vs. Banks matches and make a legacy all their own.
4. Samoa Joe Tries To Takeover
In the beginning of his NXT journey, Samoa Joe found himself floundering a bit. He looked a little slower, a little less vicious, in general just not like his old self. That all got flipped on it’s head following Joe’s heel turn on Finn Balor. Ever since coming out to attack his former partner Joe has had a fire burning in him that hasn’t been seen in years. He’s back to being a no nonsense, Samoan Submission Machine and it fits him perfectly. The contest he and Balor put on during TakeOver: London was just a preview to what the two will accomplish on this night, which is a scary thought when you go back and see just how great that contest was. It’s Joe’s time to be on top and it’s going to take a brave soul to step up and try to knock him down.
3. The Crowd
It’s just a matter of fact that a crowd can completely make or break an event. While London was a great in ring show, it was the added spark and excitement that the crowd provided that truly made it something special. With the vast majority of those that will be in attendance being the true die hard types that make pilgrimages to WrestleMania, that’s sure to be the case yet again. Every year the crowd at Mania and the Raw that follows is the most fired up crowd of the year, now imagine having that crowd mixed in with an NXT environment and I’d be willing to watch an empty ring for two hours just to hear what they can come up with.
2. Nakamura Making His Presence Felt
This moment alone might just be enough to push TakeOver above WrestleMania in terms of excitement. To the casual fan, the name Shinsuke Nakamura might not mean very much but to everyone that will be attending the event and everyone that finds themselves reading this list, just hearing that he’ll be coming to town is enough to send chills down your spines. Nakamura is one of the most charismatic wrestlers on the planet, and a hell of a worker on top of it, and will put that on full display when he finally makes his debut. We have to enjoy his NXT matches as much as possible because Shinsuke is a true force in the wrestling world so it won’t be long until he gets the call to the big leagues.
1. Zayn’s Swan Song
Now that Sami Zayn has made his way to Raw to set up a continuation of his great feud against Kevin Owens, it’s safe to say that this will be his last match with NXT. Zayn has accomplished everything a superstar could hope to while down in Florida, including putting on multiple match of the year contenders against Cesaro and being involved in one of the best storylines in recent memory with his road to redemption leading to Zayn finally capturing the NXT Title. Sami was the face of NXT for a very long time and if it wasn’t for an unfortunate shoulder injury during his U.S. Open Challenge match against John Cena, Sami Zayn would’ve been on the main roster already. Sami has put on classic match after classic match and going up agsint Shinsuke Nakamura will lead to at least a match of the year contender, if not the early winner. Zayn will be greatly missed in NXT but getting to see him go out with a match like this is something no one should miss.
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