After months of trying, Samoa Joe finally defeated Finn Balor for the NXT Championship at a house show in Lowell, Massachusetts, ending Balor's record-setting reign at 292 days as champion.
After coming up short just a few weeks ago at NXT's biggest show ever in Dallas, Texas, Joe hit the Muscle Buster on Balor to pick up the three count, shocking everyone in the venue.
Joe winning is strange for a number of reasons. Firstly, it happened at an un-televised event, the first time the NXT Championship has changed hands in such a way. Secondly, it was the same match that headlined both NXT Takeover:London and Takeover:Dallas, both times with Finn winning.
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WWE decided to give away the most ground-breaking result this match could have produced to a few fans at a house show, whilst the rest of the world had to wait until it was reported on WWE.com.
Surely it would be better for WWE, who don't usually use house shows to further storylines, to have had this match on TV, where it's wider audience would have seen it. Changing the title off TV is a great way to get people talking, this article proves that, but it does beg the question - was it planned?
Apparently, just before the finish, Finn Balor rolled his ankle, which may have aggravated an injury he picked up in February. Many fans were worried Finn wouldn't be able to compete in Dallas with his injury, but he soldiered on.
However, could that injury have caught up to him, forcing he and Joe to change the finish of their match on the spot. The injury seemed legit, the referee threw up the "X" symbol, which is used when a wrestler is actually hurt and he went to check on Finn as soon as the pin was counted, so is it possible that NXT's biggest title changed hands accidentally?
Whilst the signs do seem to point that way, there are too many factors that make it completely nonsensical for NXT to change the result mid-match.
Firstly, the event was being filmed (albeit on a smart phone) and the footage was uploaded on WWE's official YouTube account. You could argue that maybe all house shows are filmed secretly or that WWE borrowed some fan footage, but that seems highly unlikely. WWE wouldn't just upload some random fans footage onto their official YouTube page and to film every house show would defeat the point of it being a house show, so it looks like this event was filmed on purpose.
Secondly, NXT is pre-taped, so, an unplanned development as huge as this would have massive consequences on the chronology of the future episodes. Yes, the commentary team obviously dub over their parts to include more recent events, but can you imagine if Samoa Joe was wrestling a match on NXT without the belt and then that episode was aired after he'd already won the title?
It seems like way to much of a gamble; if Finn was injured it would make more sense to have him win by a roll-up or something similar, just to keep the belt on him, then have him vacate the title further down the line.
Having NXT pre-taped means that it is a huge risk for NXT to change the results of their main title match on the night, so it looks like Joe winning was 100% planned.
What isn't clear is if the injury to Finn Balor is real. Despite the referee calling for the "X" sign, Balor bowed to the crowd before leaving the building. Is this him bowing out of NXT? Was this whole thing a set-up? Is this the beginning of Finn's run on the main roster? At the moment, it's impossible to say.
One thing's for sure, whatever your opinion on this strategy, it's got the whole world talking. House shows beforehand were usually very predictable, but now, it seems as if anything can happen, even when the camera aren't rolling.
Was Samoa Joe's title win planned all along? Have YOUR say on the matter in the comment section below!
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