What a time to be alive! In one night, wrestling fans were able to witness the WWE kickoff it’s first cruiserweight tournament, and showcase Nakamura vs Balor. I did pull double duty on Wednesday night, but I’m not complaining.
Samoa Joe Promo
For a monster heel, I find Joe’s promos rather strong. I always look forward to segments in which he can talk. Regardless of the situation, he knows how to pace his words and how to work the pitch of his voice.
The content in this promo was great. Joe’s next feud hasn’t even begun, but he found a way to set the tone for it. Rhyno’s interruption felt lackluster, and it ended an awesome segment on a dull note. Had Joe accepted while he was in the ring, things may have come across differently.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Finn Balor
I whole heartedly believe this was Finn Balor’s last match in NXT. He’s been a huge part of the brand, and deserves a massive send off. The hype that this match received is equivalent to that of a Takeover main event. The video packages have been excellent, and those alone have created such a marvellous story for this match. After seeing all of those and then watching the to face off in the ring, I had goosebumps. While the match was roughly 25 minutes, it deserved the majority of this show.
In terms of the in ring action, these two did what they needed early on to properly build it up. This taunt may have been simple, but Balor “too sweeting” Nakamura’s head made me mark out. We haven’t seen Balor use “too sweet” since his days in NJPW, so it’s easy to figure out why that spot was special. Shinsuke’s counter of that was the right reaction. He saw that as disrespect and hated how much he had to deal with it back in Japan. At least that’s what I took from it.
Balor’s supposed to be a smart competitor, it’s why his character was able to overcome Owens, and Joe (at least the first two times). That part of his character translated well in this match as he went straight for Nakamura’s knee. My only gripe with that aspect was how Nakamura didn’t really sell it that well afterwards. I’ll just assume there was too much adrenaline going through his body for him to notice how badly Finn was damaging it, that’s the only way I could justify his decision to not sell.
I loved the final few minutes of this match. We got to see Balor use everything he had left to keep Nakamura down, but it wasn’t enough. It was symbolic to the idea of him having to move on. His character so badly wanted to win, but he couldn’t because the competition has become too strong for him to stay on top of NXT.
This wasn’t a deep show, but that’s what made it special. Their decision to allow Balor and Nakamura take up the entire episode was the right one. It allowed for the match to have that “big fight” feel to it. The low point of the show was addition of Rhyno to Joe’s promo, while the high point was obviously the main event. Overall, I give this episode of NXT a 9/10.