On April 1, 2016, NXT took over the Bailey Hutchinson Convention Centre in Dallas, Texas for the first Takeover show of 2016 and boy, was it something else.
NXT Takeover: Dallas was billed as the NXT's version of WrestleMania and that is exactly what it felt like.
Every match on the card was amazing; if the WWE tried to put on a two-hour special with just five matches using their main roster, they’d fail hard. The men and women of NXT, though, made this one of the most memorable nights of wrestling in a long, long time.
In true accordance with the WrestleMania spirit, Takeover: Dallas heralded a new era for NXT, but what do the results mean for the hottest wrestling brand in the world?
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We’ll start with the two debuts – 'The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived', Austin Aries, and 'The King of Strong Style', Shinsuke Nakamura.
Aries made his presence felt by defeating NXT mainstay, Baron Corbin. A victory over Corbin helped cement fellow TNA star Samoa Joe in NXT, and hopefully, it will do the same for the incredible talent that is Aries.
With NXT so heavily focused on cruiserweights, Aries fits right in with the NXT brief. Hopefully, we will see Aries take a path similar to Joe and rise to the top of the NXT card, before eventually making it up to the main roster, where he belongs.
Then there was the man that everyone had been waiting for. Shinsuke Nakamura arrived in NXT and he did so in a big way, defeating the Heart and Soul of NXT, Sami Zayn, in a babyface-on-babyface classic for the ages.
Nakamura was over like gangbusters among the smart crowd in Dallas and his victory, despite being at the expense a huge fan favourite, was met with rapturous applause.
In defeating Zayn, Nakamura has positioned himself at the very top of the NXT card, which is exactly where a competitor of his experience and skill should be. Whilst Aries fits the existing mould of NXT, Nakamura embodies their mission; to be constant bring new and exciting changes to the previously boring and stale landscape of WWE.
Nakamura brought Strong Style to a whole new audience and, hopefully, will pave the way for an influx of Japanese talent previously too afraid of interference in their style to come to America.
Both Aries’ and Nakamura’s debuts are extremely exciting for NXT as they herald the arrival of two massive stars in the brand. Anything short of the title picture would be insulting to both men and, hopefully, this is exactly where there will be in the months to come.
With Takeover: Dallas came the coronation of two new champions in NXT; Asuka as Women’s Champion and American Alpha as the Tag Team Champions.
Jason and Gable vs Dash and Dawson was your standard affair; heels vs faces with the massively popular duo going over to huge applause. Jason and Chad have been the fans’ champions for months now and it was made official on Friday.
The two men will hopefully enjoy a long stint at the top of the tag division and can continue to put on amazing matches that make themselves and their opponents look good, building new stars to replace those destined for the main roster following WrestleMania.
Whilst American Alpha became champion in the traditional fashion, Asuka’s title victory was anything but straightforward. Both women, Asuka and Bayley, were hugely popular but for very different reasons; Asuka for her hard-hitting style, unlike anything NXT had ever seen before, whilst Bayley’s charm and warmth make her irresistibly loveable.
Both women are worthy champions, Asuka from an athletic perspective and Bayley as a role model and epitome of championship spirit, which made it extremely hard to root for either woman in this contest.
Asuka winning the title heralds a new era for the women’s division of NXT, not only because she is such a different kind of competitor, but also because Bayley losing the title is the end of an era itself.
The NXT universe will have to get used to not seeing Bayley with the NXT Women’s Championship, but I believe that they soon will and they will also get used to seeing the Empress of Tomorrow crush her competition until the right woman comes along to win the belt.
Who that will be is still a mystery, but, when Asuka’s undefeated streak is finally broken, whomsoever breaks it will have some unbelievable momentum. The new champions in NXT mark the begin of a new age, which is exactly what a show on the scale of Takeover: Dallas should do.
NXT Takeover: Dallas will go down in history as one of the finest shows ever produced by NXT. Whilst feuds and rivalries climaxed in spectacular fashion at this show, there were far more beginnings that there were endings.
New stars, new champions and thousands of new possibilities for a brand that continues to innovate, excite and captivate.
What happened in Dallas will go down in history for NXT and, hopefully, an NXT special on WrestleMania weekend will become an annual tradition. I doubt anybody will argue against that.