Friday, April 1, 2016

Best Coast Bias Previews Takeover: Dallas

Photo via Wikipedia
It may not have felt like this, but NXT's held out on us for quite some time. A quick perusal of what the kids call "teh Gugle" shows that the last time NXT actually taped something was January 27th. January 27th! What could necessitate Stamford's workrate brand going dark for over two months straight? Considering the shows that have aired in the interval have advanced the plot while admittedly at times being the vegetables we have to shovel down to get the four-scoop sundae for dessert it still doesn't banish the question - what the hell were they doing with all that off time their banged-up main roster sure would love to see as a modification to their own calendars?

It felt like the only answer would be they were building a spaceship. And while they aren't (...well, probably, certain debuts are probably going to get an epic entrance, more about which later), NXT is building something damn huge that'll actually get off of the ground and fly. This is the biggest weekend in WWE's history with WrestleMania 32 probably being the biggest show in company history and making another grand while you read that sentence.

And NXT still might blow them out of the water from a quality perspective not 48 hours beforehand. Ask an certain type of fan what they remember a few months ago from Brooklyn with regards to SummerSlam and you'll probably hear something along the lines of "Jon Stewart WTF?!" or the screw ending to the second iteration of Brock Lesnar/Undertaker. Ask that same fan about that Takeover, and they might bring up seeing Enzo Amore and Big Cass get treated like gods, or the crazy ladder match where Finn Bálor sent Kevin Owens to the main roster for good, or the Four Horsewoman's final ride making tear ducts rupture in the arena as well as at home.

This card's got even more possibilities on the board to make indelible, year-defining moments to where certain corners have bandied about Best pay-per-view/Network special event even before second one has aired. In certain cases, people have forgotten when March Madness was the day they were announcing the brackets while knowing to the second when it was going to be 7 PM Pacific on April Fool's.

Therefore, it's appropriate that the Lone Star Special has turned a bunch of us into gibbering Mojo Rawleys (Corey Graves would probably say that's repetitive, but that's why he's one of the best in the business). All this is a little something to remind us of how we got here and stay hyped.

Let's work our way up.

a) Elias Samson v. Apollo Crews

As of press time we're still unsure if this is going to happen on the show proper or not. Should it, Crews should win by throwing Samson into the overhead rigging so hard he develops a personality besides "non-union Mexican equivalent of Jason Mantzoukas on Brooklyn Nine Nine".

Austin Aries/Baron Corbin
Setup: Aries got signed and made a well-received debut that got as far as the ramp before the Indie Legend Killer, still piqued at GM William Regal over not getting another contendership shot after it took both Samoa Joe and Sami Zayn to get him to tap out, jumped him from behind and eventually laid him out with the End of Days on the floor. The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived dissuaded Regal from a formal punishment in lieu of this match.

Payoff?: I'd be perfectly fine with this being a seven-minute no contest or double countout, especially with Aries being the aggressor. Seriously, if a man said he was going to beat and humiliate me so bad I ended up Virgil's sidekick at DashCon 2016 I'd show up with a katana baptized in battery acid and try and shove it up his urethra. Aries has told us he's been bringing the fight to bigger guys since he got in the industry in the one interview he's got on WWE's TV dime; now's the time to show the few uninitiated what the former ROH and TNA World Champion can do on the biggest possible platform.

Bet On: Some sort of shady win by Corbin yet again to keep him in title contendership status while still having not clearly rid himself of the pesky A-Double. The Lone Wolf might be the best thing WWE's cultivated themselves in NXT from a purely developmental aspect, at least on the men's side of the roster, and there's no shortage of fodder for him to be a millionaire's Alex Riley to as he tries to get himself that elusive title shot. There is an extinction level event debut happening tonight, sadly for TGMTEL, it ain't him. Speaking of which -

Sami Zayn/Shinsuke Nakamura
Setup: WHO




*ahem* ...well, that was...slightly embarrassing.

Anyhow, when Sami failed to gain the number one contendership losing narrowly in a show-long best of 3 falls match against Samoa Joe, the next week Regal concurred that they had to find Sami something to do on NXT's biggest show of all the times and gave him this as a "present". Nakamura makes his WWE/NXT debut here with a resume longer than a DC-20 aircraft. You're psyched. I'm psyched. Everybody but Daesh is psyched. (Ed. Note - Honestly. I bet al-Baghdadi has a Network sub and is willing to forgo a bit of his "Death to the West" rhetoric to enjoy him some NXT, especially with Nakamura aboard now. - TH)

Payoff?: I mark out so hard it causes a new fault line to run through San Diego? I can't see the match through a curtain of tears? My resultant erection launches so quickly the last thing I see is God reaching down and before I can high five Her I die and a demure but beautiful Anna Kendrick shows up at my funeral, throws herself over my grave and wails "Baby, I thought we had more time!"? You tell me.

Bet On: An instant classic and probable MOTYC that goes 20-30 with the King of Strong Style getting a W with a second Boma Ye.

American Alpha/the Revival

Setup: The newly named Revival outsed the Vaudevillians as tag champs and have managed to fend off them and then Amore and Cass since last fall; the newly named American Alpha have, I believe, literally beaten every post-Graves set of tag champions culminating in the aforementioned Vaudies in a number one contendership match to earn their first shot here.

Payoff?: It's ridiculous on a card Charlotte McKinney stacked to say something like "this match is the one that could steal the show". And yet. A front-runner for Overlooked MOTY when 2016 ends with...

Bet On: ...and that's why this one is the hardest one to predict. You can really establish and further burnish the awesome work that Dash and Dawson have done as belt holders with a win here no matter if it comes cleanly but with deception or by out and out heeling. But I give a slight - like 52-48 - nod to the amateurs turned pros to get their first tastes of NXT gold in front of a rabid audience that'll be, well, you know.


Setup: Since becoming Champ in Brooklyn, Bayley has beaten everybody and defended the belt internationally. Beating TWB's Wrestler of the Year in a 30 minute Iron Maiden match, former manic pixie dream girls that remain perpetual disappointments to Mama Bliss, corporate hand puppet Total Divas and their rookie land monster henchwomen, even her best friend. You name 'em, she's beaten 'em. She has beaten everyone with the exception of the six-month tenured gaijin and former Ms. Most Dangerous who has these nasty habits of not losing, smiling creepily, and kicking women so hard that both in and out of character sometimes they end up taking the ferry to KTFO Island.

...I am really, really going to miss Bayley, you guys.

Payoff?: Another instant classic and possible MOTYC. Quelle surprise. Bayley shows her toughness. Bayley shows her heart. Somewhere between the twelve and twenty five minute mark, Asuka shows her one last roundhouse to the face; it's the last thing she sees as a champion.

Bet On: Of all my hilarious predictions, that's the one I feel best about, so expect Bayley to win via flash roll-up and Asuka to go heel and beat her like a rented goalie afterwards for that.

Samoa Joe/Finn Bálor

Setup: Since Day One, Joe has wanted what every male in NXT has wanted, the Big X. He said as much when he arrived; again before teaming with Bálor at the first annual Dusty Classic; again after they won it, even noting out loud on camera that he could've gone about this in less than aboveboard fashion but wanted to do this the right way. But when he lost a subsequent number one contendership battle royale, he lost it and has been busy choking people left, right and center ring since. A very narrow loss to Bálor happened in Takeover London's main event, but he's re-earned his spot first by helping turf former rival Corbin from the scene and then beating Sami Zayn in the aforementioned 2/3 falls bout. Finn's been the babyfaciest champion this side of Bayley, taking on and disposing of all comers while also showing increased aggression in past weeks; this led to a pull-apart brawl that went around the NXT Arena on this week's show and went to a standoff.

Payoff?: It sucks being wishy-washy, but there are outside forces at play here. If they (names: Anderson and Gallows) show up, Bálor wins and starts embracing his own black-hearted past. If they don't, Joe joins a prestigious list of future main roster bedrocks to hold Orlando's most prestigious title.

Bet On: The latter. Joe has been riding in the Wayback Machine, eating his Wheaties, call it what you want. But he literally may never have looked as imposing and awesome as he has in the past few weeks and he deserves to walk out with the belt here, and I suspect he will. Besides, you have to admit--the idea of Nakamura/Joe the night before SummerSlam with the Big X high up in the air beforehand turns you into an Andy Samberg gif. It's okay. It's not just you.

That's it. It's all over but the grappling. In the immortal words of a box office smash, time to make the f'n chimichangas.