Samoa Joe Wins the NXT Title And Intrigue Returns to WWE!

Samoa Joe Wins NXT Title - DDT WrestlingStop the presses and back up the truck. Reports are coming out from #NXTLowell that Samoa Joe has won the NXT championship! Our friends, the New Age Insiders were live at the event and were among the first to report the news.

This is a fantastic development for the Samoan Submission Machine and, more broadly, all fans of WWE/NXT. My initial reaction is that the timing and venue for this title change is somewhat suspect, given that Samoa Joe only recently lost his title bid against Balor at #NXTTakeOverDallas on WrestleMania weekend. Although it seems odd that a new champion would be crowned on a house show, this turn of events only underscores the greater plans that WWE has in store for the now-former NXT champion, Balor.

Or so I thought, until I started hearing that Balor may have been legitimately injured during the title defense and putting the title on Samoa Joe was an audible.

OK, well, that seems rather clear cut. Except...

Now I have no idea what to think and, frankly, I love it! The implications of this title change extend far beyond the borders of NXT, and I cannot help but wonder what this means for the main roster. Just as I couldn't predict a clear ending to Shane v. Undertaker, this adds a whole new level of intrigue to the current Roman Reigns v. AJ Styles feud being built for the upcoming Payback event.

This past Monday we finally saw AJ Styles reunite with his Bullet Club brethren, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. The three presented as a seemingly united front against Roman Reigns, but the smark in me couldn't help but wonder if Gallows and Anderson were maybe a little too friendly with Styles. As excited as I was by the reunion, I couldn't help but think that Gallows and Anderson would be turning on Styles to cost him the WWE Championship at Payback. Still, I thought, the possibility existed that the reformed Bullet Club could end up being a formidable stable at the top of the WWE main roster. And, after all, Balor was still stuck in NXT as champion, so it only makes sense to have AJ Styles present as their leader.

After last night, however, the Demon has been unleashed. Balor is now free to show up on the main roster, just as he expertly teased at the end of the NXT Lowell event. Unless, of course, Balor is actually injured - we don't know! And that's fantastic storytelling through misdirection. Honestly, when I look at all of the pieces, I'm fairly confident that Balor is not injured and that he will be debuting at Payback with the Bullet Club to cost Styles the title. It even makes sense that Balor won against Samoa Joe at TakeOver Dallas, as this was a WrestleMania weekend event with more mainstream eyes on the NXT product. What better way to introduce Finn Balor to the mainstream audience than having him retain his championship at the biggest NXT show ever?

The only negative I can lobby against the above scenario? It seems like the obvious choice. No one really expects AJ Styles to beat Roman Reigns during his first title defense, given how management seems to favor the Reigns Express. Still, that's not much of a complaint. The one thing that gives me pause about making this my official prediction is that I don't know that WWE has ever switched someone's gimmick in the midst of transitioning them to the main roster. The one example I can think of is Neville, as he finished his NXT run as a heel and debuted as a face, but Neville did spend a significant portion of time as a face in NXT. Balor hasn't worked as a heel at all in his NXT run, and I can't see how he could be presented as anything else if he does end up costing Styles the title at Payback.

This is the sort of dynamic storytelling that has been missing from WWE in the past few years, but which has returned to the product with renewed vigor ever since the build to WrestleMania 32. There are possibilities abound, the intrigue is back, and I am excited! How about you? Leave a comment below!
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