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The Lowedown: WWE NXT (03/16/16) Review

The Lowedown

How was NXT?

sami zayn waits to find out his opponent at takeover dallas

Sami Zayn surprisingly was the one to start off NXT, coming down to the ring not for a match but to talk about going to war with Samoa Joe last week, in an episode of NXT that was practically a match from beginning to end –there was a promo cut at the beginning.– Zayn said if his arms would have been just a few inches longer, the outcome of last week’s match would have ended differently, because he could have broken the submission hold, and Sami believed he would be the one to face Finn Bálor for the NXT Championship. Right as Sami started talking about the thing that was nagging at his brain, feeling like a proud papa of NXT, but knowing he doesn’t have a match at NXT Takeover DallasWilliam Regal came out to announce that Sami would indeed have a match, against this man:

sami zayn shinsuke nakamura

Shinsuke Nakamura has arrived, and he will be the one to face Sami Zayn on April 1st at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Arena in Dallas. I’ve known this for quite some time –this taping took place over a month ago,– but I couldn’t find footage of the recorded message anywhere. It seemed like no one had their phone out to record what was going to take place on the screen, which really surprised me, and not even WWE posted it, unlike all of their Austin Aries stuff. Sure, WWE posted about Nakamura being signed and such, but they didn’t play this video, instead, WWE made fans wait with baited breath to hear what Nakamura had to say to the WWE Universe for the very first time.

NXTSami Zayn, I will see you in Dallaswhere Shinsuke Nakamura takes over.”

Nakamura does have a thick accent, but in speaking softly, and against a friggin’ wall, it was somewhat difficult to discern what he said. Lucky for Nakamura, and for NXT, I’ve watched the scene about a dozen or more times, because no matter how many times I watch it, it gives me chills. Not only was this my opportunity to witness the “debut” of Nakamura in NXT, but it answered a few questions, like what was said, would he use his name, would his nickname be acknowledged, and how would the NXT crowd react. We know what was said, and that was awesome, but in regards to the answers to the other questions, he himself said Shinsuke Nakamura, as did Corey Graves after the recording ended, and when the screen turned on to start the recording, the crowd went nuts, then exploded when Nakamura flipped his hair out of his face, then chanted, “holy shi*” as Zayn stood in the ring soaking in what just happened. As for his nickname? Graves asked Tom Phillips if Tom knew who that was, Graves said it was Shinsuke Nakamura, and Phillips responded by saying, “The King of Strong Style!”. My grin was plastered on my face from ear to ear, knowing that all the things I wanted to happen, from Nakamura keeping his name, to keeping his nickname, up to hoping the audience would be familiar with who it was so the reaction could be felt in the building and all throughout the streaming world, it all was a resounding, “yes”.

Nakamura is my favorite wrestler on the planet today –which is going to be complicated because Bálor is/was my favorite in NXT,– so him being in NXT, under the WWE banner, is one of the happiest moments of 2016 for me. Top that off with knowing I’ll be in the crowd the night he debuts in the ring, and you’ve got an absurdly happy Shaun on your hands. This is going to be spectacular, and I’ll be shocked if Nakamura and Zayn aren’t given at least a solid 20 minute match; but I will say one thing to prep anyone unfamiliar with Nakamura’s work: his matches typically start off slow, then build into a glorious crescendo of signature moves and finishers, until someone is incapable of moving any longer. When these two begin their match, I expect to see them figure each other out over the first 5-7 minutes, and then for things to start getting really heated around 12-15 minutes, resulting in everyone holding their breath for the final 10 minutes or so, wondering who’s going to win. Nakamura is wholly exciting, but he works a very stiff version of WWE-style wrestling, where a full blown story is told from beginning to end. This guy has been bred for this business, and he’s meant to work well in the WWE; all that will hold him back is himself, his English –which is quite good, but he’s not going to cut a pipe bomb-esque promo,– and his booking. If WWE wants Nakamura to succeed, he will have no problems in accomplishing that plan, but if they don’t see him as a top-tier guy, and just want him around for PR’s sake, then he’ll settle in nicely as an outstanding worker who doesn’t reach the heights true fans know he’s capable of.

Hype Bros took on Angelo Dawkins and Kenneth Crawford, in what was sadly a squash match:

discus punch hype ryder

When NXT announced the signing of Crawford some time ago, they talked about Crawford being a physical specimen, about getting a perfect score on his military physical test, I thought they’d do more with him. He’s a good looking dude, seems to be grasping things quickly, and has a lot of accolades behind him, so him just being fodder right now seems like an odd choice. Maybe he’s paying his dues though, and he’ll get his own time sometime in the near future, but for now, he needs to lose?

NXT recapped a bit of their time in Columbus for the Arnold Classic. It was a really fun time, with great matches at the Thursday show, but the event itself We weren’t able to attend due to work.

Emma and Dana Brooke ran into Deonna Purrazzo backstage, where the Mean Girls insulted Deonna for not listening when Deonna thought she’d defeat Asuka, and Emma/Dana both told Deonna that she’d get torn to shreds. Emma said no one was stopping the Emmalution, but Deonna promised that the Emmalution can be stopped, and Deonna would be the one to stop it. As expected, Deonna didn’t even come close to accomplishing that mission:

emma vs deonna

If we’re supposed to take any of these upcoming names seriously, shouldn’t they win every now and then? What’s so difficult about having Deonna or Santana Garrett win with a roll up? Something that seems like a fluke victory, so it doesn’t necessarily hurt Emma. I’m just tired of Emma beating all these foes, only for her to end up in a match against a bigger name, where the match is good, but Emma loses. It seems pointless to me. Why build her up, then have her lose? Is it a Bray Wyatt scenario, where he’s built up over a few months, defeating smaller foes, so that when he faces a significant enemy, we believe he’ll win? Is that what’s going on with Emma? When you know they’re not going to win the big matches, it does start to take away from things; but at least in the case of Bray, he’s got insane mic work, and an outstanding character to fall back on. Emma is great in the ring, but her character is pretty standard, and her mic work isn’t anything that transports us to another place, like Bray’s does.

Tommaso Ciampa went to battle against Jesse Sorrensen:

ciampa discus clothesline ciampa tucks sorrensens head and kneesciampa taps jesse

We haven’t seen Ciampa run through someone like a buzzsaw thus far –other than his joke filled match against Bull Dempsey,– so it was surprising that Ciampa –who’s still not officially signed with NXT– got that kind of win. I’m curious to see where they go from here with Ciampa, and who it is they’re building towards him facing. I’d like to see Joe end up with the Title, and us get another big time match between Joe and Ciampa.

Nia Jax and Eva Marie ran into the two headed monster that was Asuka and Bayley. It was a ridiculously fast match given the participants, where all four got some time in the ring, but I figured this would go for a solid ten minutes with how many times we’ve seen them interact as of late.

asuka kicks eva

Eva started to get the upper hand on Bayley –with some help from Jax,– taunted Asuka in the corner, causing Asuka to step in the ring, which grabbed the ref’s attention, but Bayley was there to attack Eva, Suplexing Eva, going for the pin, only for Jax to break things up:

jax leg drops eva

Unfortunately for Eva, Bayley had rolled out of the way, causing Jax to land her Leg Drop on Eva, and Jax reacted appropriately afterward, looking shocked and apologetic. Bayley Dropkicked Jax out of the ring, the referee ran to the ropes to check on Jax, Asuka side kicked Eva between the ropes, and Bayleyhit the Bayley to Belly on Eva, calling it a night:

bayley to belly

Regal once again came out to make an announcement in regards to Takeover Dallas. That announcement? That Asuka would be the one to face Bayley at what should be NXT’s biggest event of the year. I adore Bayley, I want her to be on the RAW after WrestleMania so the world at large can appreciate one of the most talented, wonderful people/wrestlers on Earth, but for Takeover Dallas, I want Asuka to kick Bayley’s face off.

Austin Aries was asked about his reaction to what went down last week when Baron Corbin blindsided the self proclaimed, “Greatest Man Who Ever Lived” during Aries’ debut. Aries spoke confidently, didn’t stutter, came off like the veteran he is, informing Corbin as well as the NXT Universe, that Corbin will be sorry for his actions last week.

American Alpha and The Vaudevillains were in competition to determine the Number One Contenders for the NXT Tag Team Championships, and they did not disappoint. Jason Jordan and Chad Gable were on a clear cut mission to be the ones to face The Revival at NXT Takeover Dallas, but Aiden English and Simon Gotch were determined to get back to the top of the mountain. Once things really got going, I saw something that words cannot begin to describe the joy I felt, upon seeing Gable unleash what is arguably my favorite Suplex I’ve ever seen:

chad gable suplex aiden english

This was an even match from the first bell, with neither team holding control for more than a minute or two at a time, but when Gable slammed English with that Suplex, I thought it was all over, until Gotch slid in for the save. Jordan came in, helped even things up, and after Jordan ended up on the outside, Gable sent a nice little gift to his Tag partner:

gable jordan gotch

While Gotch seemed taken care of, English had regained some spent energy, trying to put Gable away for good:

english powerbombs gable

Gable somehow found a way to kick out, garnering a reaction from English that was nothing short of hysteria. You could read it on English’s face, he didn’t know what to do to finish the match, what it would take to stop Gable, not after pretty much trying everything Aiden had at his disposal. What worked against English though was his fury after the Gable kick out allowed Gable to recharge a bit, Jordan was able to tag in without Aiden seeing, and in mere moments, American Alpha snatched the win from the clutches of The Vaudevillains:

american alpha finisher


NXT MVP: Chad Gable

That Suplex alone was enough to win the night, but his energy, his enthusiasm, all of it is so infectious, and as a fan, I can’t get enough of Gable. (Honorable mention goes to Nakamura who created my favorite moment of the night, which caused me to practically go into tears from excitement of what’s to come)


NXT LVP: The squashes

We saw some cool in-between stuff, along with a fantastic main event, but all the other matches that took place were quick little nothings. When the Women’s Tag match was over in the blink of an eye, I was blown away. We’ve been building towards this for how long, they’ve hyped it up for how many weeks, and then it’s over in less time than it takes to snap your fingers? That’s absurd. I get that a lot of NXT is still development, both in character, and in talent level, but squashes don’t need to be every match on the card save one, there can be other competitive ones on there.


Based almost on sheer excitement alone, from the reveal of Shinsuke Nakamura being Sami Zayn’s opponent at Takeover Dallas, to Asuka being tabbed as the challenger to Bayley’s throne, to American Alpha becoming the Number One Contenders, I was hyped even during matches that I didn’t have reason to care about. If we could have seen some more back and forth throughout the night, it could have been a great show, but for what it was, I give NXT a:

nxt gold 6

Shinsuke Nakamura…enough said

Asuka officially being announced as Bayley‘s opponent in Dallas

+ The main event

– Every other match was a squash

– I had no reason to care about pretty much anything else that happened on the show, that didn’t directly relate to NXT Takeover Dallas


That’s The Lowedown on NXT this week, thanks for reading, and remember to watch more wrestling!


The future is bright and full of suplexes!


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when shinsuke nakamura takes over

Shaun Lowe
The Lowedown

Shaun Lowe

Managing Editor at Sports Grumble
Site administrator and sports/entertainment fanatic, Shaun is a proud, stubborn and opinionated Ohioan. A life-long wrestling fan, Jaguars devotee and basketball enthusiast, but ultimately Shaun is a writer and creator at heart.
Shaun Lowe
The Lowedown

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