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WWE NXT TakeOver: Toronto full match preview - Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

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NXT Championship

Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Samoa Joe

The time for pranks and mind games is over. Now it’s just two guys kicking the crap out of each other.

The Road to TakeOver

Heading into their first title match in Brooklyn this past August, there was obvious tension between then-champion Samoa Joe and #1 contender Shinsuke Nakamura. But it wasn’t much more than you’d expect for two men competing for the top prize in a company. Nakamura was messing with Joe, and playing kids games during their pull apart brawls. Joe was pre-occupied with what he thought was unfair treatment by General Manager William Regal.

Okay, that last bit is still going on... but otherwise, things feel a lot more personal this time. And that’s probably because Joe spent a couple weeks after the last TakeOver playing nice and respectfully asking for a chance to reclaim the belt... only to do his level best to end Shinsuke’s career as soon as the match was made.

After the champ was stretchered out of Full Sail, Joe revealed his next move. He set out to blackmail Regal into feeding a wounded Nakamura to him, or forcing the King of Strong Style to vacate the title... and, of course, handed the belt to him. A string of Performance Center types fell to Joey Headrocker this way until, on a mid-October night when he laid out former tag champs Blake & Murphy, Shinsuke appeared on the stage in a neck brace.

That it turned out he didn’t really need any more. What he did need was to take out Joe, and he was willing to destroy anyone who might even think about stopping him from doing so.

Which is pretty much how things continued from then on (just ask Patrick Clark). Joe looks for a soft spot from which he can attack, or just torments Regal for kicks. Swagsuke keeps taking out anyone he can to let Joe know that, as Dana Brooke would say, playtime is over.

What's at Stake?

There’s never been a two-time NXT champion, and Nakamura hasn’t been defeated in singles competiton since joining WWE this past Spring. The odds do not appear to be in Joey Headrocker’s favor.

Which is probably just as well, as conventional wisdom, and the pattern of past champions after dropping the title (and losing their rematch) points to his time in NXT being short.

None of which should takeaway from the fact it should be a really good match. Though they got overshadowed a bit by a stellar tag title match in New York last time around, their initial TakeOver match was a strong effort. The build to this one has arguably been even better, with tensions rising as the booking created real animosity between two of the best performers in the world today.

So, we should be able to count on a good show... could there be suspense regarding the outcome? NXT has announced plans to film during their December tour of Australia - including a steel cage match - so even if Joe is headed to Raw or SmackDown soon, there’s a way they could have him reclaim the title and drop it again before leaving.

But would they hang a loss, any loss, on their top draw right now?

There’s only way to find out.

And if you’re not in Toronto this weekend, that’s tomorrow night at 8PM Eastern on WWE Network, and right here at Cageside Seats!