Pete Dunne’s plan to take the NXT title from Finn Bálor was clear from the start of their main event match at TakeOver: Vengeance Day on Feb. 14 - hit the champ in his recently injured jaw.
The idea was not only target a weakness, but to use it to create other openings. Bálor recently admitted that protecting his face led to an arm injury in his second match with Kyle O’Reilly. It gave the Bruiserweight plenty of opportunities to work his technical game on the Irishman.
Dunne had an Achilles heel of his own, though. Or should we say an Achilles knee? His left one buckled on a suplex attempt, and the Prince immediately set to work on that leg.
What had been a slow-paced match picked up the pace considerably in its second half.
A flurry from the champion was ended when Dunne countered a Coup de Grace right into a triangle that allowed him to apply pressure to the injured jaw. A half-conscious Bálor got a foot on the ropes, and once he recovered locked on a cross face. But the younger Brit focused on another body part he’d been working, the fingers. Snapping them broke the hold, and eventually allowed him to hit his Bitter End finisher - but Finn kicked out!
A second Bitter End was countered into a 1916, but Dunne kicked out! More finger work left the champ barely able to use his hands, but he did manage to get the Bruiserweight’s mouthguard out. Then he blasted him in the mush with a drop kick.
He successfully connected with Coup de Grace and hit another 1916 to end it. Hell of a match, won by a man whose second NXT title reign is surpassing his first.
But the show wasn’t over.
Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan ran in to help Dunne beat down the Prince, and Undisputed ERA ran in to make the save. But after Kyle O’Reilly offered Finn his hand in friendship and all four men struck a pose, Adam Cole superkicked Bálor right in his injured face!
And when Kyle demanded an answer, he got one too!
Cole left, and a visibly conflicted Roderick Strong pondered what to do as the show ended.
For a complete rundown of everything that happened during TakeOver: Vengeance Day on Valentine’s Day, head to our live blog here.