As I'm sure you're probably aware by now, Finn balor is no longer the NXT Champion. Last night at a Live Event in Lowell Finn Balor faced Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship. Samoa Joe went on to defeat Balor via Muscle Buster to win the title for the first time. The result itself was a huge surprise. While title matches at live events are common, the actual title changing hands is a very rare occurence. It's very rare that a title changes hands off TV and the last notable time it happened was in 1994 when Diesel defeated Bob Backlund for the WWF Championship but even then that was at Madison Square Garden. So what does this win for Samoa Joe mean?
Well first lets look at the match itself. Many people noted that about a minute before the finish, Balor seemed to roll his Ankle. Balor had a minor Ankle injury in February so this could be a re-occurence of that injury. The referee threw up the dreaded "X" sign to alert the people in the back of an injury and a minute later Joe was the champion. This could be why Balor lost the title. The problem with that is that coming into the match Balor seemed to be fine. It would be very strange that Balor would drop the title if the injury occured while the match was taking place. If coming into this match Balor had suffered the injury it would be a believable theory but during his entrance and the rest of the match he seemed fine. On the other hand it could've been a seriously bad injury. A few weeks before Wrestlemania Neville suffered a serious Ankle injury against Chris Jericho and the match was abrubtly ended. It was revealed after that Neville had fractured his Ankle. If this happened to Balor and he knew it was serious then this could be why he lost.
While Balor potentially could've suffered a serious injury. It's unlikely. As the folks at New Age Insiders noted, Balor was thanking the crowd afterwards. He also bowed to the crowd and noted "See you Monday" on the way out of the Arena. However, they also noted that Balor was limped pretty heavily.
In all honesty we can't really say anything is for certain. Balor could be selling the injury as a smokescreen to cloud his imminent main roster debut or he could be legitimetly injured. We just don't know. Nothing will be certain until we get concrete evidence. This could be Balor making his debut or WWE releasing a statement confirming an injury. Until then, everything is simply speculation as to why Samoa Joe is now NXT Champion. For what it's worth, Samoa Joe taped many matches at Wreslemania Axxess weekend while Balor was noticably absent. Take from that what you will.
But what about Samoa Joe? Well many people have expressed dissapointment that this took place at a house show instead of on TV. I on the other hand think this was the right decision. Joe has faced Balor twice on Television and lost clean twice. Both of these times Joe faced Demon Balor. Have plain old Finn Balor lose the title was a better option as it keeps up the invicible aura surrounding the Demon, which has yet to lose in WWE. The biggest question is why didn't this happen at Takeover: Dallas? WWE could've sold the story, saying that Joe doesn't believe that Balor could beat him without using the Demon. Maybe WWE have taken a page out of Conor McGregor's playbook. McGregor released a tweet recently claiming to have "retired". That tweet went on to be retweeted about 150,000 times. It gained the UFC200 event more hype than any press conference ever would have. maybe WWE are trying a similair thing here with NXT? There is no doubt that Samoa Joe's win in Lowell caused a flurry of Social Media chatter.
Despite what's happened, Samoa Joe is the right man to be the next NXT Champion. His work since turning Heel in NXT has been tremendous and he's been one of the most conistently good workers in WWE since then. With Asuka as Women's Champion and American Alpha as Tag Champions, having a Heel NXT Champion is probably the way to go. Include the fact that Joe has a variety of good opponents to work against and we have a recipe for some intriguing programming over the coming months.
So who does Samoa Joe face? Well the biggest thing would be Balor's rematch clause. WWE should get that out of the way so there is no lingering doubt about Balor if he is moving up to the main roster. If they intend to protect the Demon, having Balor face Joe on NXT TV would be the best bet, but what about after? Well the most obvious candidate is Shinsuke Nakamura. While Nakamura is very much new blood in NXT, he is a genuine star in Wrestling. He has the "it" factor that very few people has and he is already one of the most popular people in WWE. Combine both his and Samoa Joe's stiff styles and we have a potentially mouth watering clash.
Even if WWE don't decide to go with Nakamura there are plenty of other candidates. Aries is undoubtebly good in the ring, Bobby Roode and Kota Ibushi are rumoured to be incoming and maybe even guys like Alex Riley will be given a chance. It is all very exciting to think about.
In conclusion, Samoa Joe winning the NXT Championship at a live event was a legitimate swerve that no one really saw coming and lets be honest, when we're surprised we tend to enjoy the product. With Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows now in WWE it seems obvious that Balor will be on the main roster within a number of weeks but Finn Balor has a noted love for NXT and the work they do so who knows, maybe he'll stay there until he gets his title rematch but one thing's for sure, the next few months of NXT programming will be the Samoa Joe show.