NXT, WWE's Developmental flagship-turned-competing brand, will be putting on their latest live special tomorrow (Friday, April 1, 2016) in Dallas, Texas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.. The two hour TakeOver: Dallas is launched by a Kickoff show at 9:30PM Eastern, available on the company's online outlets, followed by the main card a half-hour later, exclusively on WWE Network
Set for the card: NXT champ Finn Bálor defends again against a raging Samoa Joe, while Women's titleholder Bayley faces her toughest task yet in the unpinned or submitted Asuka. In the pairs division, champs Dash & Dawson will try to hold onto their belts against one of the hottest acts in the business when they face Chad Gable & Jason Jordan.
Plus, Austin Aries is out to teach Baron Corbin a lesson.
Oh yeah (or should I say, Yeah-oh?)... some guy named Shinsuke Nakamura is coming to send former champ Sami Zayn off to the main roster in style.
If you're new or just getting back in to what many feel is the best wrestling show WWE produces week-in and week-out, we've got previews that break down each of the matches on the card coming up for you between now and the opening bell. And, we've assembled a motley crew of Cagesiders who watch & love NXT to give us their thoughts & predictions on each.
Let's get to it.
WWE NXT TakeOver: Dallas PREDICTIONS
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn
Sean Rueter: You'll be getting plenty of my thoughts on all these matches before and after the show, and the team has lots of good, interesting, funny stuff for you to read below, so I'm just gonna tell you who my inner mark wants to win. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura
Bill Hanstock: Oh boy, this sure looks like the potential match of WrestleMania weekend on paper. It also is definitely the match most likely to make me cry, as it will almost certainly serve as an unofficial (or even official) farewell to NXT for Zayn. It won't reach the emotional heights of Bayley vs. Sasha, but if a giant NXT crowd starts a thunderous "THANK YOU SAMI" chant at the end I am just gonna lose it. I predict that Nakamura gets an impressive first win, in part to make Zayn's hopeful Intercontinental title win two days later even sweeter. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura
Tonya Rodgers: WWE has rolled out the red carpet for the King of Strong Style and Sami's story on NXT is all but done. Pretty easy guess on who's winning this one. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura
Kyle Decker: This one feels like a no brainer. There's no debate on Zayn's future. He's already in the Intercontinental Title ladder match the night following TakeOver. He's already a main roster talent. Nakamura is going to spend some time in NXT because if he wasn't he wouldn't even be having this match. Shinsuke can have his impressive win in a debut match that's most definitely going to kick ass. And Zayn will ride off into the NXT sunset. Pick: Nakamura
Vidence: Given that Sami Zayn is now on the main roster, this feels like one of the easiest ones to predict. Like Sasha Banks and Kevin Owens before him, Sami Zayn will do the honors as he leaves NXT for Nakamura and begin his fulltime career on the main roster. I don't see Shinsuke staying long in NXT, and don't see him taking many losses while he's there, especially if they want to build him up for a big match in Japan in July. Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura
ReverendKain: Does it even really matter who wins this one? Pure super indie dream match fodder. I would posit that it is in fact we, the fans, who are the winners here. But I gotta make a real pick, and Sami's on Raw every week now, so... Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura
TMadeBurner: Don't be a silly goose. Sami isn't (shouldn't, anyway) defeating the debuting King of Strong Style. But is this match really even about a winner and a loser? For me, it's definitely not. This is quite literally wrestling for wrestling's sake. We don't have much of a story. We don't have much of a reason for these two to square off. I don't care. This match is going to be me geeking out for hopefully/approximately 20 minutes. Nakamura is going to win with a Bomaye. Sami may figure out a way to detach his head from his shoulders on the sell. I am probably going to need suspenders to keep my pants from flying off, though maybe a belt is more prudent?
Samoa Joe vs. Finn Bálor
Sean Rueter: One is the baddest man in NXT. The other is a cosplayer with nice abs. Pick: Samoa Joe
Bill Hanstock: I think this honestly might be the hardest match to predict of the entire WrestleMania weekend. Because Joe sure seems poised to be the one guy right now with a hope of beating Bálor. On the other hand, Joe sure doesn't need that title. On the other other hand, you have Finn's two good friends laying in wait, ready to stick their noses into things. On the fourth hand, they don't have to get involved all and could just show up at RAW with their buddy on Monday. So many hands! I'll guess Bálor finally completes his heel turn with the help of the Bulletproof Bálor club and retains his title by hook or by crook ... pissing off all of NXT in the process. Pick: Finn Bálor
Tonya Rodgers: In a perfect world, Joe will MDK the NXT Champion and begin a reign of terror as champ that hasn't been done in quite a while. Too bad the world isn't perfect. Pick: Finn Balor
Kyle Decker: This is Joe's time to win the title. With Finn Balor likely getting called up and a Bulletproof Balor club on its way (and rumor that the main members of the Club will debut on the main roster), it's likely Finn will drop the title. Also, if the plan is for Balor to retain, it doesn't make that much sense having him defeat Joe twice before doing so. Especially if Joe is going to be in NXT for awhile. (If Joe is getting the call up prior to Balor, that will negate most of this. However, I have a feeling the younger guy with more years in front of him will be getting the call first.) I expect Joe to win here to start the era of Bad Ass Joe that no one can beat. Pick: Joe
Vidence: This one is a real toss-up for me. I think I'm going to go with Samoa Joe, largely out of wishful thinking. It seems like NXT is Finn Balor's Hotel California, but this really feels like a graduation day type show for NXT. Both shows could use it. The main roster desperately needs a shot in the arm that Bulletproof (among others) could provide, and NXT feels like it's in the senioritis stages it was in in the early to middle of last year. Once people like Owens, Charlotte, Sasha, and Becky moved on, NXT was at its best, because it was able to plug in fresh new acts like Asuka, The Revival and Gable and Jordan, elevating acts to prominence like Samoa Joe, and cementing Bayley and Finn as Aces of their respective divisions. What makes NXT special is that it's so focused on the rise, and the rise is often the best part of professional wrestling. Once people reach the top, then they move on, which is what makes NXT such a fun show. So to cut a long story, well, not short, how about less long, let's go with the Samoan Submission Machine. Pick: Samoa Joe
ReverendKain: I got burned last time, but this time, I think it's real. Balor's old running buddies are making their way over soon and that means a change is coming. While I could totally see Balor Club running roughshod over NXT, it doesn't really fit this match unless Joe's gonna turn right back. Always possible Finn could retain and they could tread water a little longer, but we've been at sea for months now. Nope, I think Balor ends his Friday night unconscious at Joe's feet, still playing the hero. Prediction: Samoa Joe
TMadeBurner: Joe has been on fire. To me, he's the male performer of the year on NXT thus far. Killer promos, killer matches and all the fire. Finn, the character, bores me. He'll be The Demon here, probably. Maybe a cowboy demon. Joe is so decidedly the heel in this situation that I can't envision a situation where they pull off a double turn and Balor gets his club, finally. I guess they could debut as faces but that really doesn't make much sense now does it, debuting a face stable to help Finn retain. I think this particular run of Finn's needs to end. I think it's time to spice up the character a bit and I don't think you do that if he's still just holding the title. Then again, I think there's rumors of Joe's pending call up as well. GAH! No clue, really. Guess is Finn retains.
Bayley vs. Asuka
Sean Rueter: Can't believe all you alleged Huggers doubting the most inspirational female character since Willow Rosenberg. Pick: Bayley
Bill Hanstock: Up until just a couple days ago, I was absolutely convinced that Asuka would win this match. Now, I'm not so sure. If Asuka is going to lose her first match in NXT, it should be against Bayley. At the same time, if Bayley is going to lose the title, it should definitely be to Asuka ... it just doesn't have to happen on THIS show. So I'm going with Bayley to retain, but I won't be surprised either way. In fact, I expect to be thoroughly delighted by this match, regardless of the outcome. Pick: Bayley
Tonya Rodgers: I am not one to doubt the Empress of Tomorrow. I just hope there's something left of Bayley to debut at Smarkamania. Pick: Asuka
Kyle Decker: When I first thought about it, my guess was that Bayley is going to lose and get called up three nights later. But the more I think about it, I'm thinking that's not how it goes down. I don't think Bayley gets a call up until closer to the summer. Because I think there will be a title change at WrestleMania regarding the Divas title, I don't think there's a place for her in the main roster story just yet. Instead I bet Sasha wins and spends the next 3-4 months running through the competition, and Bayley comes up at SummerSlam, which feels like more of a fit. Also, this Asuka/Bayley build has been rather lackluster. It's really has just been those two teaming against Eva Marie and Nia Jax. This story doesn't have the fire that warrants a title change, especially a title change where the face of NXT loses. I expect Bayley to retain (perhaps Nia and Eva interfere and muddle things) and for this feud to continue so it can get the build it deserves. Pick: Bayley
Vidence: For months I thought this would easily be Asuka, and Bayley would debut at post-Mania Raw, because that's too perfect a time to debut her to get the best possible reaction, but what makes me a bit skeptical is that there are so many women in the division right now, and it begins to feel like Bayley might not have room in the short term. You have the NXT three with one of them likely split off after Mania while the other two keep feuding, and you have all the women in that 10 woman tag. Some of them will move back to Superstars and Main Event, but I have to think one or two come out of it factoring into the women's division, and WWE isn't likely to run three women's stories at once, even with the weak roster depth such that Triple H needs the Dudleyz for his back-up. Bayley has been ready for this for months and absolutely deserves to be on the main roster, so I'll double down on my wishful thinking from the Finn/Joe match. Pick: Asuka
ReverendKain: So, I saved this one for last, and honestly it's because I kinda don't have any strong feeling on the outcome. Like, obviously it's gonna be an incredible match. Entirely likely it's NXT match of the night, although I'm not gonna give into super hype and say it might steal the weekend because I got too much pride in Evolve to do that. But much like Nakamura/Zayn, it's kind of a match built around how awesome of a match it's gonna be rather than what implications it has, but without quite so obvious an outcome based on callups. Clearly, though, Bayley's gonna go up sooner rather than later, so I guess I gotta go with that, even though there's the usual meta trepidation about picking a full slate of title changes. Prediction: Asuka
TMadeBurner: Very much no idea what to put here. Logically, I think Asuka wins. They've hyped the hell out of her since debut, she's beasted everyone she's ever been in the ring against, has shown no weaknesses. Bayley is great as a face in peril role and I expect that to continue here. In my head I could kind of see this being a Brock vs Cena at SummerSlam type situation where Asuka just beats the holy hell out of my favorite hugger and Bayley just gets a handful of desperation spots we all kind of buy into. But that is not my official prediction because sometimes, the heart wants what it wants: Bayley by sneaky pinfall and Asuka continues beating her post match for the official heel turn because nobody should cheer that happening to Bayley and if you do you are a monster.
The Revival vs. American Alpha
Sean Rueter: #NoFlipsJustFists. Also, no rolling around on the mat with fancy technical moves, and singlets designed by hyperactive four year olds with a box of neon sharpies. Pick: Dash & Dawson
Bill Hanstock: If the Revival retain on WrestleMania weekend, what are we even doing here? Brandon Stroud is right when he refers to this match as an absolute layup. The pop for American Alpha is going to be off the charts and I'm looking forward to our favorite boys in NXT defending against all challengers for months to come. Pick: American Alpha
Tonya Rodgers: Pretty disappointed that Enzo & Cass never got to beat the Revival so I will have to be content with Gable & Jordan doing the honors. Pick: American Alpha
Kyle Decker: This is one match that I was pretty sure off the bat would be a title change. And while I've debated it more because the Revival has been so damn good, I think they will crown American Alpha as the next tag champs in Dallas. They are too good to pull the "lose now and win later" card. I think a long feud with the Revival continues after TakeOver, but America Alpha will be trying to defend their titles against the old school duo. Pick: American Alpha
Vidence: Who can ever tell what's happening with the NXT Tag Team division. Enzo & Cass should have won these belts on about four occasions by now. I don't think they make the Enzo & Cass mistake here with how strongly they've built American Alpha both in vignettes and in-match performances. The performance against BAMF was particularly dominating. Plus, with New Day being face now, might not be a bad idea to call up the Revival to work toward a matchup between the groups down the line. Pick: American Alpha
ReverendKain: Do I have to? Really? Crap. Well, I hate to break my own kayfabe here, but even though Jordan and Gable both have legs (and thus are weak to my boys in The Revival's loving ministries), I think it's their time. After all, New Day just turned face and could use a wicked heel team to pick them apart. And they got SIX legs. Perfect. Prediction: American Alpha
TMadeBurner: Gable and Jordan are superstars to these eyes. Gable might be small in stature but if you could stand on charisma he'd be about 8 foot tall. Jason Jordan might be the WWE ideal and they just didn't realize it. He's big, he's got muscles, and he can work the mic a bit as we've seen recently with the vignettes. Then there's The Revival who just bring me back to the glory of Arn and Tully (or Arn and Ole, if that's your cup of tea). No flips, just fists is an outstanding heel motto/gimmick for them. Oh you like all these guys doing cool stuff and flipping around just to punch you? Well we're going to chop block your knee. Then we're going to work that knee over. Then you aren't walking anymore, flippy guy/big man! I'd hate to see what happened with Zo and Cass's never ending and never realized journey to the tag titles happen with Gable and Jordan. I think you strike when the irons hot and they're the hottest team in your tag division right now. You definitely can delay the payoff to the point it no longer makes sense but I'm going with Gable and Jordan via Grand Amplitude though I will not be too broken up if this ends with a Shatter Machine and a pinfall for The Revival.
Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries
Sean Rueter: Arrggh... until his promo last night, I was going A-Double. Now, it's time for NXT to take a page out of the Lucha Underground playbook for stars debuting from other promotions. Pick: Baron Corbin
Bill Hanstock: Baron Corbin as indie-hater is one of the biggest no-brainer gimmicks in recent memory and also one of the best. I'm just delighted that this match is happening, because I couldn't imagine a better initial feud for Aries. The smart play would be to put Corbin over, because he's starting to get into Tyler Breeze territory of not winning the big one, but I just can't see Aries losing his big debut match. Pick: Austin Aries
Tonya Rodgers: Corbin kinda needs to win here to remain a threat but I don't see NXT having Aries lose his first match with the brand. Pick: Austin Aries
Kyle Decker: It would be surprising if Austin Aries signs with NXT just to lose his first match to Baron Corbin. While Corbin is the young guy and Aries the veteran, Aries needs to get the win to become an established top guy in NXT. I don't think AA is ever going to the main roster, so to cement him as a man to beat in NXT, he should win at TakeOver. Expect the Greatest Man who Ever Lived to show how he's earned that moniker. Pick: Austin Aries
Vidence: NXT rarely has people they see as big stars lose their NXT debut, and I can't see Aries being an exception to that rule, especially with the bravery in which they booked his debut to see him viciously destroyed by Corbin before ever really establishing himself to the audience. To then lose the match to Corbin would damage him too much. Pick: Austin Aries
ReverendKain: This is kinda tricky out the gate. Corbin's been a freight train for essentially his entire run, after all, and Aries is your hot new signing you don't want to dork out immediately. And, barring unforeseen circumstances, probably a guy who's holding down the NXT brand for a good long time. Corbin's gonna find out that this is one guy he can't send back to AIW. Prediction: Austin Aries
TMadeBurner: I've been all sorts of over the place on Corbin since he debuted. Was head over heels in love with the guy upon debut, dug his look and End Of Days was awesome. Then he squashed folks forever and ever and it got pretty boring. But then he cut that stuff out and started hating everyone who had an indie background and he told Crews to go back to Ring of Honor and he made my heart skip a beat. Aries on the other hand has done exactly nothing since coming in. At all. Attacked from behind and beaten up by Corbin and your run of the mill pre-tape. I can't imagine you bring in an Aries just to job him out in his first televised match. I think Aries spends much of the match working from bottom, Corbin looks like a beast but loses to some kind of roll up/flash finisher.
Those are our picks... who you got, Cagesiders?