For all practical purposes, NXT TakeOver: Dallas was the biggest show in the history of WWE’s developmental league. Just days before the record-breaking WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium, NXT staples like Sami Zayn and Finn Balor fought on the same card as TNA greats Samoa Joe and Austin Aries and Japanese icons Shinsuke Nakamura and Asuka. All three titles were on the line, as the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas was sold out. During the most important weekend on WWE’s calendar, the most hardcore members of the WWE Universe were treated to another amazing NXT show on Friday night.
Because of the ever-increasing popularity of the NXT brand among the most serious of professional wrestling fans, the tickets for TakeOver went fast. Most of the second-market tickets were over $200. A ticket in the seats above and behind the entrance ramp (section 31, as pictured below) were no different.
Having arrived early, there was plenty of time to check out the NXT merchandise. As one would expect, t-shirts and other souvenirs were available for all of the top NXT Superstars, even if they weren’t scheduled to be on the show (like Hideo Itami or Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady).
Being in a wheelchair, the ticket I received for my seat was not accessible. After explaining my situation to someone at the KBHCC, they directed me towards Mark Carrano. It appeared a few others were having the same seating issue as I was having. Carrano was taking it upon himself to seat the two other guests (as well as their friends), and I patiently waited just inside the doors so that I could see the ring.
While the ticket I had received was for a seat near the very top, Carrano found a seat for me on the floor, right by the aisle. I actually missed the first dark match completely. Manny Andrade defeated Christopher Girard in a match that happened without any announcement that the show was beginning. In the second dark match, Apollo Crews defeated Elias Samson. Samson got as much heat as anyone else on the card.
NXT made a great decision by opening the official event with American Alpha. They were as over as anyone else on the card, and the energy they opened with got the NXT Universe in Dallas primed for an exciting show. The crowning of new NXT Tag Team Champions was followed by Austin Aries making his NXT in-ring debut by defeating Baron Corbin. The quick roll-up finish will likely result in at least one more match between the two.
While the Corbin/Aries match was slow in a few places, the Sami Zayn/Shinsuke Nakamura match that followed amped things up. The crowd was hot for both competitors, and as the old expression goes, they left everything in the ring. Shinksuke wins his NXT in-ring debut and Sami Zayn moves on to the WWE Intercontinental Championship Match at WrestleMania. Prior to the main event, Asuka defeated Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship in a hot match that abruptly ended when “The Hugger” passed out rather than tapped out.
In the main event, Samoa Joe was busted open early, resulting in the fans chanting “F*** PG!” at the sight of blood. Finn Balor retained the NXT Championship in another match that the fans in attendance went crazy for.
Additional notes from the live experience at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas:
- There are absolutely zero handicap accessible seats in the upper level (the cheaper seats). At least three parties at Friday night’s event paid for cheap seats and ended up with seats on the floor-level that were handicap accessible.
- Mark Carrano was as friendly and as personable as he appears on Total Divas.
- Concession stand food is a guilty pleasure of mine, so I rarely eat before I attend an event like this. While I can’t be sure that this is always the case, the only options for food were nachos, potato chips and popcorn.
- As much as the Monday Night RAW after Mania has become a must-see end to the “WrestleMania weekend,” TakeOver appears to be the new must-see beginning. The excitement was palpable in the arena that night
[Image via Facebook/Dustin Murrell]