Finn Bálor (c) vs. Samoa Joe
It's a rematch of London's main event, only both guys are even angrier now!
The Road to TakeOver
After winning the Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team tournament with NXT champ Finn Bálor, Samoa Joe thought he would finally get a one-on-one chance to win the belt. General Manager William Regal had other ideas, and Joe kind of lost his $#!+.
Not all at once, but enough that he got his championship opportunity and choked out the Irishman every step of the way to the main event of the last live show.
At TakeOver: London, Joe came up short against the Demon. Finn spoke highly of their encounter, noting that it was one of his toughest matches ever, and that he'd only survived it. Ever a student of the spoken word, the Samoan Submission Machine jumped on that and used it, along with the fact that of the two other men saying the deserved to be #1 contender, he'd beaten one (Baron Corbin) and saved the life of another (Sami Zayn).
While Bálor finished off his babyface duties by giving Apollo Crews a rematch from before the trip to England and having a showcase bout against Neville, Joe worked his way through the other possible challengers, eventually outlasting Sami Zayn in a two-out-of-three falls match earlier this month. Since then, he's resumed focusing on the champ, taunting him by saying his time is up and sending messages by choking out anyone who gets near him in the ring.
The champ has seen this behavior, and thinks it demonstrates Joe is focused on the wrong things. Finn believes his focus on being the best will help him rise to the top in their rematch Friday night in Dallas.
His more evident mean streak probably won't hurt either.
What's at Stake?
Aside from the obvious, most observers are taking this as NXT's unique speciality - a 'reality' era "loser leaves town" match.
It's someone surprising that one of them hasn't been brought up to the injury-ravaged main roster, and downright shocking they both are still in NXT. Finn's done everything there is to do on the brand. The only thing left is to break Neville's record for longest NXT title reign.
Joe just turned 37, has headlined promotions with North American television contracts (not that WWE will acknowledge them) and has extensive experience working with past WWE champs. He's coming up on a year in developmental, at a time when the debut of AJ Styles has shown Vince McMahon and company that a guy with his background has a following among the WWE Universe.
So the winner likely gets to carry the NXT brand on his back, at least into the Summer months and TakeOver: Brooklyn II (or whatever they end up calling a pre-SummerSlam show this year), while the loser gets to swim in the deep end.
But not before they stiff the crap out of each other one more time.
See how they follow a great match in London tonight at 10PM Eastern on WWE Network, and discuss it along with us before, during and after - right here at Cageside Seats!