The latest live special from NXT, WWE's Developmental feeder promotion / in-house competition, is loaded.
Many have compared the TakeOver: Dallas card to WrestleMania 32's and found the Sunday show lacking. We'll hold off on weighing in on that until after we've seen both shows, but Friday night, April 1's show at Dallas' Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center offers a phenomenal line-up... so good, that we're going to have individual looks at each of the top four matches tomorrow.
Today, in addition to our prediction post earlier, we're previewing what constitutes an undercard for this super-show.
Maybe, anyway. There's one match we know is on the card, and one they set-up which everyone presumes will be part of the two hour broadcast but that WWE has not announced or confirmed.
Let's start with that one...
Apollo Crews vs. Elias Samson
Crews, like someone we'll talk about in a second who has a confirmed bout in Dallas, kind of got lost in the shuffle after London. His #1 contendership only put him in the line of Samoa Joe's fire, and though he eventually got a shot at Finn Bálor, it wasn't for the NXT championship. And he lost.
That left us with a man promising to turn over a new leaf, but in a couple of outings since losing to the champ, Apollo has looked much the same as he did in 2015. He did move toward using a Toss Powerbomb to finish matches, but that's it.
Recently repackaged as a busker with a messiah complex, Samson got the incessant hype video treatment before embarking on a series of squashes. Throughout his matches, he displayed both more aggression and a cockier attitude. Those elements both came into play when Johnny Gargano pulled out a win over the Drifter. When Samson put the boots to Johnny Wrestling after the match, his old Dragon Gate USA running buddy appeared to back Elias off.
Just this week, Samson taunted Crews with a serenade after his own quick victory over Alex Riley. The One Man Nation wanted to settle things then and there, but the heel took Full Sail's advice and drifted away...
As we mentioned, WWE has not officially announced this match for Friday night's 10PM Eastern time broadcast. Some sites report it will be aired live on WWE Network, others insist it'll happen, but be part of taping for future episodes. Honestly, given how little build they've had and both guys somewhat tenuous standing, it would probably be better to start telling the story on a Wednesday and build to something bigger. No matter who wins, they're destined to be forgotten on a big night like April 1.
Austin Aries vs. Baron Corbin
Truthfully, the build to this one isn't a whole lot more involved than Crews vs. Samson, but most fans are anticipating it more because: (1) it's the debut of a man who's held the World title in the two biggest non-WWE promotions in North America and (2) The Lone Wolf have taken his game to another level over the last four-to-six months.
The story begins with Baron Corbin's victory over Apollo Crews in London. That outcome was a bit surprising, and looked like it might propel him to bigger things. But with the return of Sami Zayn and there being nowhere other than the main event scene to put Samoa Joe, he ended up being the only man clearly eliminated in a #1 contender's Triple Threat.
Looked like he'd be as lost as Crews but, likely seeing how he was really coming into his own as a heel resentful of independent wrestlers taking his spot, the decision was made to use his tapping to Joe & Sami to set-up a vendetta again General Manager William Regal.
Promising "an eye for an eye" after the GM refused to keep him in the title mix, Corbin took out Regal's newest signee - someone the former football player would certainly like to send back to Ring of Honor - Austin Aries.
The first two-time champ in Ring of Honor (ROH) history, A-Double has never made it through the doors of WWE until now, but he's wrestled with several of its biggest stars like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles. Though he hasn't wrestled on television for the company yet, and only delivered one promo for a backstage location, the self-styled Greatest Man Who Ever Lived welcomed a fight with Corbin, since he's been proving himself to big guys with attitude problems his whole career.
With the match made for Dallas, there wasn't much else to do. But Baron dropped this pre-taped pipe bomb last night, and re-energized this brief program just in time for the big show.
It would be surprising to see NXT pin a loss on a debuting guy with Aries résumé, but TakeOvers have been known to have the occassional surprising outcome in undercard matches like this.
Tune in tomorrow night and keep it right here on cSs to find out if Crews and Samson make the show, and whether the Lone Wolf or A-Double will make a statement, in Dallas.