By Frank Lucci
With WrestleMania upon us, it’s for fans and Superstars alike to gear up for the biggest night of WWE’s calendar year. Before ‘Mania fully takes hold, NTX’s Takeover: Dallas special proceeds WWE’s flagship Pay-Per-View this Friday on the WWE Network.
It’s no secret that NXT is slowly gathering more eyes on the product, generating consistently positive reviews and selling out a large portion of their events. Due to WWE’s lackluster booking of their main roster, even WrestleMania has been overshadowed by the NXT Takeover series. While ‘Mania will always have a special aura around it, the young talent at NXT have Wrestlemania 32 beat. But enough doom and gloom, here is Spaceman Frank’s NXT Takeover: Dallas predictions.
Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin
Aries received a hero’s welcome when he stepped into Full Sail University (and when I saw him at NXT Live in Albany) and Corbin’s vicious attack on the former TNA talent roughly 30 seconds after he stepped through the curtain was perfect. Aries is a great foil for Corbin and his indy wrestler hating ways (although whenever Corbin shows up on Raw I imagine that gimmick will change to hating cruiserweights). Corbin is primed to takeover (pun intended) the number one heel spot of NXT after Samoa Joe inevitably jumps to the main roster, and for that reason I see him defeating the newcomer in a fun match.
The Revival vs. American Alpha (NXT Tag Team Championship match)
Both teams are red hot right now and with the titles on the line, this could steal the show. The Revival have proven they can work with anyone and their smash-mouth old-school style has been sorely missed among the tag team division. Dash and Dawson had the best match against Enzo and Big Cass at WWE Roadblock and they seemingly can do no wrong when it comes to being bad. Meanwhile, American Alpha has been playing lights-out ball both in the ring and on the mike since they burst on the scene. The extremely likable duo of Jason Jordan and Chad Gable is like watching Attitude Era Kurt Angle team with himself. Both teams could easily walk away with gold, but I predict The Revival to win simply because their personas are more wrapped around being champs (plus I don’t want them to fall into the abyss former champs Blake and Murphy are currently wallowing in).
Apollo Crews vs. Elias Sampson
Directionless but lovable babyface versus heel with “go away” heat from the crowd. Crews has yet to find a rival that bumps him up to the upper echelon of NXT through a show stealing performance. In addition, his smiling yet oddly passive aggressive interview personality needs to evolve before he is ready for the big time. Sampson has a gimmick that garners Eva Marie heat from the crowd, but needs to channel that initial momentum into something the crowd can respect. It will be interesting to see how both men do in this match, given that it has the least amount of hype and neither can afford a loss at this junction. Sampson wins via cheating to solidify his stance in the company as Crews continues to drift.
Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura has NXT fans abuzz and his main roster debut seems to be heading in a similar direction as AJ Styles was in January. The big international superstar looks to be WWE’s biggest signee of 2016 and Nakamura could find himself in the title picture before the year is out. Standing in his way is Sami Zayn, one of the most beloved NXT wrestlers of all time in what very well may be his final Takeover appearance. This match should be great, but I would not be surprised if Zayn keeps some energy for his Wrestlemania ladder match later in the weekend. With the former NXT champion having to work double duty, I see Nakamura winning this match in a fun but safe affair.
Bayley vs. Asuka (NXT Women’s Championship match)
The battle between two of NXT’s best and brightest women will most definitely have fans divided as to which competitor they want to see win. Asuka has been on fire since her debut and the Japanese star has been raising the bar when it comes to physicality in women’s matches. At the same time, Bayley continues to be the face of NXT (perhaps even more than NXT champ Finn Balor, who has been notably absent from NXT television as of late). Bayley is afraid of the threat that the aggressive Asuka presents, which is refreshing when compared to her usual John Cena-lite attitude towards rivals. This points to a potential heel turn from Asuka, but I see that happening after Bayley retains her title at Dallas.
Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe (NXT Champion match)
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to be the logic behind the NXT title picture.
The two men put on a clinic at the last Takeover event in London and their second encounter will definitely be another classic. One big problem I have however, is the lack of Balor in NXT compared to Joe. While Balor has been nursing an injury, Joe has had a great rivalry with Sami Zayn that was Pay-Per-View worthy in and of itself (how often do we see a full broadway aka one hour match on Pay-Per-View, let alone TV?). This puts Samoa Joe way ahead of Balor in terms of momentum.
On the other hand, the constant Bullet Club (or Bulletproof as WWE now calls it) still has fans buzzing about the NXT Champion in 2016. Either men could make the jump to the main roster after WrestleMania, but considering Joe’s age and hot streak I see the Samoan brawler getting called up first. Balor retains the title so Joe can head to Raw and the champ can reunite with his friends sooner rather than later.