It’s NXT Taking Over Dallas, Not WrestleMania 32
Remember when the build for WWE’s biggest show used to be exceptional? Sadly, this year’s road to WrestleMania has only excelled at disappointing its fanbase. Yeah there’s been an injury epidemic sweeping through the company but that isn’t the only thing plaguing the current product. WM31 produced the goods as I’m sure its’ successor will as well come show time but is that enough? If a card delivers the day of, does that excuse weeks of excessive shuffling? Because the last dozen or so episodes of RAW have featured more plotholes than Lost in Translation but to none of the same critical acclaim.
Storylines about shampoo endorsements aside, we’re conditioned to seeing something above and beyond the status quo whenever the calendar changes. Vince however seems more concerned with the logistics surrounding ’Mania than applying any logic to his weekly programming. The programs themselves have proved more frustrating than motion censored faucets and its been a trickle down effect from the top of the card to the bottom. Rusev knows what I'm talking about, don't you pal?
You have Ryback challenging Kalisto for the United States Title in what is essentially 2016’s version of Goldberg versus Rey Mysterio. A fizzling feud with no real heat source because The Big Guy’s been recycled more times than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise and his opponent is WWE’s kid-friendly alternative to Lucha Underground. We’re also guaranteed a fourth installment of Jericho/Styles which feels as unnecessary as Toy Story 4. Why not run with the Y2AJ angle up until ‘Mania before implementing the turn? New Day could’ve saved face and remained heels a little while longer. The performance those two teams put forth a few weeks ago would’ve been better suited for the global phenomenon anyway.
And how about the evening’s headlining acts? Lesnar versus Ambrose is face/face, Shane versus Taker is face/face and Triple H versus Reigns is heel/heel from where I‘m standing. Well more like tweener/tweener actually. Hunter’s an abusive authority figure on RAW and a proud papa on NXT… Roman’s scripted like a hero and jeered like a villain… What on Earth is the casual fanboy to think? Here the company is touting this dude as the next best thing and subjecting him to endless ridicule within the same breath; in effect making Reigns a more polarizing media figure than Adam LaRoche‘s son.
WWE should be treating viewers to a mouth-watering display but still haven’t learned from past mistakes. Instead of pushing the right buttons, they’ve managed to press the wrong ones for the fourth year in a row which is nearly as inexplicable as the Buffalo Bills’ unlucky streak through the record books. Vince wisely called an audible the past two years but failed to do so back in 2013 with Cena/Rock despite it being CM Punk’s year. Just like it was Daniel Bryan’s year in 2014. And Seth Rollins’ in 2015. And Dean Ambrose’s here in 2016. The McMahon clan are so desperate to build a foundation around Roman that now he’s stuck in concrete while others pave their own way to superstardom in the meantime. And hell Reigns could’ve been a trailblazer for all we know had upper management let the poor bastard forge his own path in WWE. Perhaps then he could’ve avoided a few branches to the face along his journey.
What’s even sadder is how they’ve pushed Finn Balor just as hard on NXT but to much happier results. Granted the reigning champ has 8 years in Japan to his credit and only about one-third the weekly exposure that Roman does (one-fifth if you count SmackDown) but, with serving size taken into account, its all relative. While his theme music and swat vest may suggest otherwise, Reigns has shown considerable character development compared to The Demon yet is nowhere near as likeable. Gee I wonder why that is… Hmmm maybe because Finn isn’t asked to do quite so much. Rather than being fired question after question, Balor is mainly left alone to wrestle which is perfectly fine with the Full Sail crowd.
The gears behind NXT play to his strengths whereas the levers operating the main roster merely toy with Roman’s weaknesses. They shove a mic in front of his face and place him in compromising situations far too often. Its embarrassing to watch and almost as nauseating as Sunny’s current disposition. Because of toxic booking, Reigns is drawing flies while Finn draws on a little makeup and sells out venues. The NXT brand is so successful because it knows its audience.
They’ve constructed a better card for Dallas than WrestleMania has and in half as many matches. WWE’s developmental branch has the competitive edge over a main roster who’s main concern seems to be getting outclassed by “lesser” competition at these Takeover specials. Because rather than relying on rematches and rivalries with no spark, NXT is set to ignite big D with the debuts of Austin Aries and Shinsuke Nakamura. Charlotte, Becky and Sasha are all primped for their shining moment inside AT&T Stadium. Elsewhere, Bayley will try to keep her head screwed on tight as Asuka drills it senseless with kicks.
And if that doesn’t send the point home, look no further than the Dudleys taking on The Usos. One team that’s struggled mightily to regain its relevance and another that’s failed to gain any outside of Total Divas. Fortunately, the live special two nights earlier promises to offer much more as The Revival defend their gold against the pure awesomeness that is American Alpha. For anyone who hasn’t laid eyes on Chad Gable & Jason Jordan, they’re a modern day World’s Greatest Tag Team but with stronger amateur backgrounds and marketable personalities.
I realize WrestleMania is a huge deal (price-wise anyway seeing as how it’s free for new subscribers) but watching NXT Takeover: Dallas is time better spent. Friday night’s broadcast will not only steal the spotlight that weekend but also cast a shadow over WM32 and it‘s no laughing matter. Unless Shane starts throwing more of those ridiculous punch combos. Seriously though, Vince’s top stars are gonna feel the pressure to perform more than a limp porn star come Sunday the 3rd. NXT may be the opening act but they’ll outperform the headliner once again and that’s no joke (even though Takeover: Dallas falls on April Fool’s). Anybody who believes otherwise is just kidding themselves.