The first episode of NXT’s new era highlighted up-and-comers in the ring and on the microphone.
Yet, it was one of the brand’s holdovers from the peak of NXT’s meteoric rise that stole the spotlight.
Triple H’s teaser on Twitter has come to fruition. Finn Bálor vs. Shinsuke Nakamura will happen.
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Although both men wrestled as mainstays of New Japan Pro Wresting for roughly a decade, the two have never actually faced off against one another inside a squared circle.
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Finn Bálor, wrestling under the name Prince Devitt in his NJPW days, competed primarily in the Junior Heavyweight division.
During that time, he became a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and a six-time Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, as well as winning the prestigious “Best of the Super Juniors” tournament twice.
On the other hand, Shinsuke Nakamura wrestled in the Heavyweight division, challenging the likes of Brock Lesnar, Karl Anderson, and A.J. Styles en route to becoming a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and a five-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion.
The two men did cross paths, however, in 2007. Just over one year after Bálor made his debut for NJPW, his incredible talent caught the eyes of Shinsuke Nakamura, who was recruiting talent for his stable, RISE.
Led by Nakamura, Bálor won two of the aforementioned six Tag Team Championships, effectively catapulting the latter’s career into the stratosphere after the disbandment of the stable.
A rivalry truly deserving of “dream match” status, Nakamura began the feud by joining Bálor in the ring on Wednesday’s edition of NXT. The King of Strong Style recognized the Irish Demon as the “icon” of the yellow brand, before claiming that he must defeat the “icon” in order to have a chance of becoming NXT Champion.
Fans immediately chanted “Match of the Year” when the challenge materialized, and was ultimately accepted by a fearless Bálor.
After NXT Takeover: The End, fans were almost certain that Bálor would ascend to the main roster, but “The End” did not refer to his time in NXT. Although some may be disappointed, every wrestling fan should now be thrilled at the new turn of events.
Bálor will inevitably receive his call-up to the main roster, which will likely occur during the WWE Draft, but as of right now, NXT will cherish the opportunities to create dream matches with The Demon.
Nakamura’s NXT debut against Sami Zayn was touted as the definite WWE Match of the Year, but it seems Bálor vs. Nakamura will give the former match a run for its money, and this will truly be history in the making.