On April 3, 2016, WWE held the 32nd annual WrestleMania. WrestleMania is unquestionably the biggest sports entertainment spectacle of the year, drawing as many as hundreds of thousands of fans live every year to watch the show. Two days earlier, WWE’s developmental brand NXT held their biggest event of the year, TakeOver: Dallas. While there’s no doubt more fans watched WrestleMania live and on the WWE Network, the fans who took the time to watch both shows seem to be in pretty unanimous agreement that TakeOver: Dallas absolutely blew WrestleMania 32 out of the water in every way a wrestling show is capable of doing so.
It’s not just that WrestleMania 32 was a bad show, although plenty of people could make the argument it was. More important than that, TakeOver: Dallas was an absolutely phenomenal event, and could easily go down as one the greatest event produced by NXT, if not the greatest event produced by WWE Network in general since its inception in 2014. Including the kick-off shows, this weekend WWE fans were treated to a combined 10 full hours of wrestling, so it might have been a bit much to take in for some people. If any wrestling fans out there were busy watching EVOLVE and missed both of the shows, and now only has time to watch one, here are 15 reasons TakeOver: Dallas is far more worth your time than WrestleMania 32.
15 The Length Was Much More Reasonable
14 It Had A Better Kickoff Show
13 The Commentary...Wasn't As Bad
While this list is focusing on the ways TakeOver: Dallas was better than WrestleMania, there are certain issues that transcend throughout all of WWE and caused problems at both shows. One category where this is across-the-board true is WWE's choice of announce teams. Even in this category, NXT featured the lesser of two evils, with the announce team of Tom Phillips and Corey Graves doing a significantly better job than Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton. Phillips and Graves still feel unpolished and have the feel of WWE’s corporate attitude permeating their every word, but they at least engaged in the matches and seemed like they cared about the results.
12 There Were No Lies
11 There Was Less Filler
10 The Surprises Were Better
9 The Matches Were (Much) Better
8 The Matches Had Better Results
The right person won every match at Dallas, but Mania more or less looked like a random crapshoot. In NXT, the best wrestlers won the titles, and newer wrestlers became superstars with just one match. The results of WrestleMania have problems all across the board, and could be varyingly categorized as bad, questionable, or just downright weird. In the bad category, none of the hundred thousand plus on hand in Dallas cared in the slightest when Roman Reigns won the WWE World Championship. WWE backed themselves into a corner with the match, since no result would do, but the one they went with killed the crowd along with the show.
7 It Was More Meaningful
6 The Real Diva's Revolution
5 The Crowd Was More Personal
Regardless of what we say about it, WrestleMania 32 will go down as one of the biggest and most important shows in WWE history. They’ve been known to lie about this in the past, but the attendance figure announced on the show claimed over 101,000 were packed into the AT&T Stadium. The crowd at TakeOver: Dallas was at best around 10% that large, but to a fan simply listening to the show instead of watching it, things would probably feel the other way around. The crowd at WrestleMania was huge, but they weren’t particularly active outside of a few moments when The Rock forced them into caring. They cheered for Sasha Banks, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, and a few others, but you’ll notice a pattern in that those wrestlers all lost their matches and gradually killed the crowd’s interest.
4 It Had A Better Main Event
During the main event of WrestleMania 32, in which Roman Reigns challenged Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the crowd didn’t really react much. This isn’t because they were in awe of a great match—they were bored. A few chants did break out during the match: “Roman Sucks,” “NXT,” Sami Zayn’s “Ole” chant, and “Nakamura” (twice) to name a few. By the time Roman Reigns earned his “big” “heroic” victory, WWE needed to blast off several gigantic fireworks displays in order to cover up how loudly the crowd was booing.
It’s not like this was just a bad crowd either—Reigns and Triple H absolutely got what they deserved. After an already 6-hour show, possibly the least charismatic main event superstar in WWE history faced a man who has basically been retired for five years. Both men have had incredible matches with the right opponents, but left to their own devices, Triple H only knows how to make himself look good and Roman only knows how to spear and punch people.
3 The PG Issue
WWE and NXT are both firmly within an era where all of their new programming is intended to receive a PG rating. TakeOver: Dallas was a victim to this, but somehow, WrestleMania 32 was allowed to overlook it in favor of one of the people responsible for the rule existing in the first place. During the TakeOver main event between Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe, Joe cut his eye pretty badly early on in the match. Blood gushed out of his face and covered his body, and the NXT medical staff needed to stop the match on a few occasions to make sure the blood didn’t get in Joe’s eyes. The crowd chanted “Let Joe Bleed” and “F*** PG,” voicing their opinion they didn’t exactly appreciate this policy. Bálor and Joe also seemed a little annoyed, pushing the medics away at first before accepting it was inevitable they’d interfere.
2 Less WWE Corporate Interference
WWE has received a great deal of fan vitriol over the PG issue, and they’ve heard quite a lot of guff about this next issue, as well. Self-promotion is one of the biggest keys to success in the entertainment business, so of course the most successful sports entertainment company in the world are masters of the field. Between almost every match for the first half of WrestleMania 32, WWE Network viewers were treated to an ad for some random WWE Network program that may or may not even be related to wrestling. It was fun when they teased The Edge and Christian Show for the first time this way, but when a show is already 7 hours long, there’s no need to distract from AJ Styles in order to shill Total Divas. It would be one thing if they included segues between the two, or at least waited until someone related to the other show was on screen, in order to make the wrestling seem secondary to the network.
1 Swagsuke Nakamura
We danced around it the whole article, so we might as well just come out and say it: if there is one individual in particular who is the reason TakeOver: Dallas was a better show than WrestleMania 32, and why NXT will likely continue to be better than WWE for the indefinite future, that one individual is Shinsuke Nakamura. During the main event of Mania, Roman Reigns speared Triple H through a guardrail in a fairly big spot. Things kind of dragged to a halt while they pieced themselves together, and the lull continued as Triple H busted out a submission move made popular by his old tag team partner. The biggest WWE crowd in history decided this was the perfect time to chant for their favorite wrestler. The name they chanted was Nakamura.
The chant actually broke out twice during WrestleMania’s headline bout, and okay, we’re not going to pretend all 100,000 in attendance were chanting, but the only people who cared enough to raise their voices were. More importantly, the night before in Dallas, it would be a pretty safe bet to claim all 10,000 in that crowd were screaming at the top of their lungs for The King of Strong Style, who made his NXT debut by winning what many are already calling a potential match of the year against Sami Zayn.
WrestleMania 32 and TakeOver: Dallas were just two shows, and you can’t judge an entire company based on one show each. It’s slightly safer to judge them each based on their biggest star. Considering the WWE crowd told us “Roman Sucks” while chanting for Nakamura, maybe 100,000 Texans already said everything that needed to be said before we even started writing this article.
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