The Beast in the East special is another beauty of the WWE Network. It will allow us to view a spectacle held in one of the largest pro wrestling markets in the world. This special will feel different from a NJPW event, because we have never seen the WWE go live from Japan. While the show is being marketed around Brock Lesnar, I think the biggest attraction heading into this will be Kevin Owens vs Finn Balor. Yes, we have seen the two wrestle before, but the venue and timing is much more interesting this time around. Japan can be considered a second home for Balor, which makes this special intense. Owens is currently involved in a main roster feud with Cena, so his title defense doesn’t look like it will end in his favor. This being said, I think predicting this match will be much more difficult than most fans think. Whoever comes out victorious, will have a complicated road ahead of them, in terms of booking.
Why this is tough to predict:
For the most part, I highly believe Finn Balor will emerge victorious in his second home. Having him pick up the win makes too much sense, and the timing feels right. While the stars are aligned for the demon, the story isn’t the easiest to book for the creative team in the WWE/NXT. If Balor wins, does Owens just forget he lost the title and move to the main roster? That doesn’t fit the personality of his character, and it would be considered lazy booking. This option can leave a major split focus for Kevin. Not just for Owens but this means Balor’s immediate future will be quite predictable. Especially without Zayn and Itami, this win would mean Finn must carry the NXT brand until the end of the year .If Owens wins, when does he make the complete roster jump? It wouldn’t make much sense for him to carry that title if he continues with other feuds. Also, if Owens is set to beat Cena at Battleground for the US tile, it would make him look weak if he has to drop the NXT title afterwards. What about Samoa Joe? Owens still must conclude his feud with him, meaning he might have two scores to settle in NXT .When assessing the possible outcomes, it can be difficult to figure out the path for Kevin, because there are multiple avenues they can send him down. I believe the implications of this result are stranger than normal. It isn’t regular that stars must worry about being sent up or maintain a two-three separate story lines. While this contest might feel right for Balor, it might not easily add up.
Smartest way to book this:
As mentioned earlier, it’s just smart to have Balor win this contest, the timing is right for him. The booking can go either way, but I believe there is a smart way of going about this. Balor and Owens will have their rematch, and it should take place right after Battleground, for Owens to prove he is the man to beat. This is where Samoa Joe comes in, as he’ll some how cost Kevin his rematch against Finn. From here, the audience is now focused on Joe-Owens, which should be showcased on the main roster, and not NXT. This feud doesn’t mean Joe will make his official jump, but it gives the fans something to look forward to when watching Summerslam. That program can shine spotlight on the NXT product, and get the casual WWE fan familiar to Joe. I have no doubt that the two men could tear down the house.
That plan may leave Balor stranded in terms of credible opponents, but this will force NXT to push some newer stars within the brand. Plus, this will only be an issue for the short terms. After Joe is finished his program with Owens on the main roster, they can always have him transition into a feud with Balor, which can easily go on until Zayn or Itami are cleared to compete. After a program with Joe, he can always reignite a feud with Tyler Breeze before heading into the new year.
The Beast in the East special can easily change the landscape of NXT. The result can affect the top two stars in terms of how their futures are booked for the immediate future. I believe if the WWE addresses the questions I posed and go about it in a clever way, they can set the rest of the year with fresh feuds for both Balor and Owens. Whichever path they choose, I hope they do ask themselves the necessary questions, and not book this angle into a corner.