Be sure to check out Part One here.
Being a nerd and a businessman I’ve been to many convention centers in my time but none of them have been the size of the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Center in Dallas (I guess everything is bigger in Texas). To give you an idea of how big it is Axxess, the Superstore, and NXT Takeover Dallas were all held in the convention center and it didn’t even take up half of the building.
The first thing Shawn and I did was check out the WrestleMania Superstore and it was everything a wrestling fan could want in a store. I could be wrong but I feel that every current WWE gear that is on WWEshop.com was at the store, not to mention any and everything WrestlMania was there as well. Everything from toys to shirts, to title belts were there (which my son conned me into buying basically one of each of those categories, including a title belt).
When we walked in to the store WWE Superstar Kane was right at the front signing autographs (mask and all) which was a great fist impression for the store to make on us. Looking down at Shawn he was like a kid in some kind of store that sells sugary confections or something. He really didn’t know where he wanted to look first, then he saw the center kiosk with all of the shiny title belts. They had virtually every belt that WWEshop.com has plus a few that are not online. For those who know me, I’m notoriously cheap. I believe in saving money first and only spending it when needed (on things like food and bills) and sometimes on the occasional experience like WrestleMania. I had talked a big game about coming home with a belt but on the plane ride down to Dallas I had talked myself out of it. That was until I saw them in person and I got the itch.
I was able to avoid spending the money on a belt right then and there and convinced my son (who was just staring aimlessly at all of the belts) that we should go look at something else, and to no surprise at all Shawn went straight for the action figures. Needless to say I had budgeted money for a few souvenirs because this is a once in a lifetime kind of trip and I wanted it to be as memorable as possible and for kids a lot of the time that means buying things. The first thing Shawn picked out was an Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels two pack (and yes, if you haven’t figured it out, my son Shawn is named after Shawn Michaels). We looked around a little more and I grabbed some gifts for my parents, my cohort on this site Nelson (thanks for dog sitting) and my nephew John.
The more we looked around the more I felt the itch to get a title belt. I really didn’t want to spend the money but damn if I couldn’t resist. We went back over and looked and once again I was able to avoid dropping the dough. After the shop we took in some local TexMex, because you know, we were in Texas. I’m also proud of the fact that with the exception of breakfast we ate at locally owned restaurants the entire trip. I’m one of those people who like to try different foods and when I’m on vacation I try and hit up places unique to where I’m at. After our late lunch/early dinner we went back to the room to rest a bit before NXT Takeover Dallas.
I was excited for the whole weekend but I was most excited for NXT Takeover Dallas. Sure WrestleMania 32 was going to be a spectacle all unto itself, one I would never forget because I was there. However, Takeover wasn’t a spectacle, it was going to be all about the wrestling and their were three matches that I knew could easily overshadow anything on the Mania card.
The card was pretty stacked, we had The NXT Tag Team Champions the Revival vs American Alpha, Apollo Crews vs Elias Samson, Austin Aries vs Baron Corbin, Sammy Zayn vs Nakamura, NXT Women’s Champion Bayley vs Asuka, and NXT Champion Finn Balor vs Samoa Joe. The last three matches were the three I was most excited for, and as for my son he was really excited to see Sammy Zahn and Balor in person, and he was crossing his fingers that the Demon Finn Balor would show up.
The opening tag match was great, in fact it was one of the best tag team matches I’ve seen. Wrestling has sorely lacked good tag teams over the last 20 years, usually they’ve just been two wrestlers that the WWE doesn’t know what to do with just thrown together. Triple H and NXT have made it appoint to bring back real tag teams. Whether or not these teams come to NXT together or if they’re put together at the Performance Center is irrelevant, what is relevant though is the fact that we’re introduced to these wrestlers as a tag team, much like we were with the Rockers, the Hart Foundation, or Legion of Doom makes them feel like teams and in the ring they work really well as teams.
Early on in the Takeover I thought this match could steal the show, but knowing Zahn and Nakamura was still to come I knew that was a slim chance. The next two matches Crews vs Samson and Aries vs Corbin were fine matches, they hit their spots and everything was what we expect from NXT, crisp wrestling. What stood out for me with these matches were the heels Samson and Corbin. This isn’t a knock on Crews or Aries, they were quite good, but Samson and Corbin played the heel role at it’s finest. I’m not talking about today’s heels or late 90’s heels where its cool to root for the heels, no, these guys were classic 80’s heels who got all of the boos, especially Corbin. The boos for him were so loud that I thought there were a 100,000 fans in the arena as opposed to the probable 15-20,000 people who were actually there.
Then we were on to the match of the weekend (including WrestleMania) Sammy Zayn vs Nakamura. That match was fantastic from the entrances (the crowd reaction and participation to both again felt like 100,000 not a crowd a 10th of that size) to the opening square off, to every high spot, to the finish. These two faced off in a match that looked like they have faced each other several times, not for the first time. This, among other things that happened this weekend, felt like years down the road I and my son will say “oh yeah, I was there for that”, and this match was definitely one of them for several reason. We’ll be able to say we saw the first Nakamura match in the US and down the road when he and Sammy have an epic rivalry in the WWE we’ll also be able to say “we saw the very first time these two faced off.”
In the end Sammy put Nakamura over with a spectacular finish and Nakamura shaking Sammy’s hand before walking backstage to let Sammy enjoy his moment and say goodbye to the NXT crowd. It was a nice moment for Sammy and I hope the WWE crowd embraces him just like the NXT crowd did.
Next up we had the Women’s NXT Title on the line between Champion Bayley and challenger Asuka. Both women really brought it. Asuka brought the strong style Japanese wrestling while Bayley brought the charisma and excitement. The crowd, like the Sammy vs Nakamura match, was pretty much a 50/50 with pro Asuka fans chatting “Asuka’s going to kill you” and the Bayley fans replying in kind “Bayley’s going to hug you”.
Asuka ended up going over and becoming the new NXT’s Women’s Champion by choking out Bayley which is how I figured this match would end because of the promos that were cut for it with victims of Asuka saying how ruthless she was and how the other members of the Four Horse-Women saying how Bayley never gives up. As well as Triple H is running NXT he seems to show his hand a bit when it comes to who’s going over, especially since with my little knowledge of NXT going in (I had only watched a handful of matches) I predicted who would win and most of the time how. Predictability isn’t always a bad thing as long as the matches are entertaining and boy were these matches entertaining.
Lastly for Takeover we have the Main Event or really the third in a trio of Main Events because the final three matches were the Main Event for someone in the crowd, not to be little the other matches, but the card could have been the last three matches and no one would have complained. For our last match we have Samoa Joe challenging the NXT Champ Finn Balor, and going back to my son’s question, which Finn would show up? Would it be Bullet Proof Balor, the Demon Finn Balor, or Finn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (okay, that last one isn’t apart of NXT).
Joe came out to his menacing music and looked, well, um, menacing. Joe is just a brute of a man who reminds me of Bluto from the old Popeye cartoons. He marched down to the ring like a man on a mission and his mission was to bring home the NXT championship.
Then the lights went out and the screen went red and I leaned over to my son and said “I think you’re getting your wish and you’re getting The Demon” to that he just smiled and sat forward in his seat with a grin. The Demon Finn Balor came out with a chainsaw and waving it around wildly before tossing it aside and crawling (creepily, I might add) to his belt that was placed under a spotlight in the center of the entry way. From there the Demon walked to the ring and stood on the top turn buckle with a spotlight on him and arms waving to the music as a conductor instructing the crowd with the music.
The match was brutal with Joe getting busted open just above his right eye in the first exchange of elbows in the match. This would cause a bit of a problem in the match as the ref and trainers had to constantly go to Joe to clean blood off his face and it was just spewing from the cut above his eye. In fact at once the ref threw up the dreaded “X” with his arms which usually signals the end of the match and fans began chanting “FUCK PG!” which to the WWE’s defense this had nothing to with a PG rating but more to do with the consistent bleeding of Joe’s cut. Many UFC and Boxing matches get stopped for injuries like that because it literally blinds the fighter. However, Joe continued and the match was great.
This definitely have my favorite finish of the weekend. Both men hit their finishers and each false finish actually had me thinking the match was about to end, which is something hard for wrestling to do to me anymore. In the end Joe slapped on a choke which Balor reversed into a modified suplex/pin but Joe never let go a’lah Bret Hart vs Piper for the IC Title. Balor got the 1-2-3 and Shawn and I jumped out of our seats along with the rest of the arena.
If I had to rate NXT Takeover Dallas I’d give it a 12 out of 10. The entire night was just chalked full of wrestling with great stories leading up to the matches. In spite of what CM Punk may think of Triple H, after seeing NXT up close and personal I welcome the day when Vince McMahon hands over the producing reigns of the WWE over to Hunter.
It was a long day of traveling, checking in to a hotel, losing an iPad, but then the night set in, bellies were full, fan shopping was through and NXT blew our minds. It was a great night and as soon as we got into the room Shawn laid down and was down for the count.