Although WrestleMania is tomorrow we may have already seen the best WWE match of this weekend, if not the entire year, in last night’s Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura classic at NXT Takeover: Dallas.
Nakamura defeated Zayn in a match that is sure to wind up as a strong match of the year contender in wrestling polls across the board. The match served a dual purpose as Nakamura’s NXT debut and the final major NXT appearance of Zayn, who is now on the main roster.
Words cannot describe the awesome it was. The expectations were already through the roof and they both delivered the goods. I highly recommend watching this match as soon as humanly possible if you haven’t done so yet. I’d go so far as to say the match alone is reason enough to subscribe to the WWE Network.
Known as the “King of Strong Style,” Nakamura has been one of the best wrestlers in the world for a number of years. He debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2002 and was a major star there for virtually his entire tenure. He holds the distinction of being the youngest IWGP Heavyweight Champion in history which is the same championship that was held by current WWE stars Brock Lesnar and A.J. Styles.
Zayn has been the lifeblood of NXT for the last three years. Not only is Zayn a tremendous worker, but he has an ability to connect with the fans in a manner similar to Bayley and Daniel Bryan thus making him a great underdog babyface. Unfortunately, this aspect of his character hasn’t translated that well since being on the main roster.
Zayn appeared to be on the fast track to main roster superstardom last summer when he wrestled John Cena for the U.S. Championship on Raw. Unfortunately, Zayn injured his shoulder during their encounter and was out of action for several months. He is one of seven participants in tomorrow’s ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship.
Aside from Zayn-Nakamura, the rest of the Dallas card was great. From start to finish it was the best Takeover special that NXT has produced. Here are my observations from the rest of the show:
- Chad Gable and Jason Jordan defeated Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson in a tremendous opener to win the NXT Tag Team Championship. Both teams were great. Gable, in particular, is one of the best young talents in the entire business. He should wind up as a next generation version of Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit or Daniel Bryan inside the ring.
- Austin Aries defeated Baron Corbin in his NXT debut. The match was good, but was the weakest on the show. Say what you will about Corbin, but he has really stepped up his game in every facet to become one of the brand’s most entertaining acts.
- Asuka defeated Bayley to win the NXT Women’s Championship. Although they had a hard time getting the crowd behind them following Zayn-Nakamura, they ended up having a very good match. Asuka had Bayley locked in the crossface chicken wing when she passed out. The fans were genuinely stunned by the title change even though Asuka has been pushed as an unstoppable monster from the moment she arrived on the scene. I sense a rematch coming at the next Takeover special.
- Finn Balor retained the NXT Heavyweight Championship against Samoa Joe. This was a super main event. Joe came across as the most aggressive monster heel in the company next to Brock Lesnar. He got busted open above the eye early on. The medical staff came out to work on the cut every time it reopened, which was about four times. Joe would get upset and push them aside whenever they came to assist which made him come off as a huge babyface to the audience. While the constant stoppages did detract from the action in some ways, it also added a great deal of heat. The outcome was surprising since most figured Balor was dropping the title and heading to the main roster.
- Japanese sensation Kota Ibushi and former TNA star Bobby Roode were both shown at ringside. Ibushi is surely going to participate in the upcoming Global Cruiserweight Series tournament while Roode must be close to coming to terms on an agreement with the company.