In a shocking turn of events, Samoa Joe beat Finn Balor for the WWE NXT title at a house show in Lowell, Massachusetts on Thursday night. This is especially shocking news since Finn Balor was the longest reigning NXT champion of all time and the two men had wrestled at the last two NXT events that aired on the WWE Network. This win came at a live event that was only shown as a YouTube exclusive video upload by the WWE and then followed up with the breaking news of the title change on their website.
Finn Balor had held the NXT title for 292 days after winning it from Kevin Owens on Feb. 11, 2015. Owens, who has won the Intercontinental title twice since moving up to the WWE main roster after dropping the belt, sent out a tweet to Balor saying he will see him soon. This makes it seem like Balor will be arriving on “WWE Monday Night Raw” very soon. With Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson already there, it seems like the Balor Club might be making their debut.
Samoa Joe has been wrestling for 17 years now and made his name in Ring of Honor and TNA Impact Wrestling. He was Ring of Honor’s fifth ever Pure Champion, beating Jay Lethal for the title before losing it three months later. He was also the longest reigning Ring of Honor world champion in the company’s history, holding the title for an impressive 645 days. He lost the title to Austin Aries, who is also now wrestling for the WWE in NXT Wrestling.
Joe moved on to TNA Impact Wrestling, where he had an impressive undefeated streak that lasted for 18 months. That streak was ended at the hands of Kurt Angle. Joe held the TNA world title once, winning it from Angle and losing it WWE Hall of Fame star Sting. That reign lasted for 182 days, and ironically, he won that belt in Lowell, Massachusetts as well. Joe also held the X-Division title five times and the TNA tag team titles twice.
Samoa Joe made his WWE debut at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable on May 20, 2015, and was one of the first wrestlers to get to keep his own name in the WWE. He was a face and actually won a tag tournament with Finn Balor before he turned on him and started challenging for the world title. Joe lost to Balor at NXT Takeover: London in December 2015. He then beat Sami Zayn to become the number one contender but lost to Balor again at NXT Takeover: Dallas on WrestleMania 32 weekend.
As for Finn Balor, there have been WWE rumors that the Balor Club was going to form, an offshoot of the New Japan-based Bullet Club. Balor was the original leader, with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows both in the group. After Balor went to the WWE, AJ Styles became the leader, and he has had on-screen promos with Anderson and Gallows since they returned. AJ Styles battles Roman Reigns for the WWE world championship at “Payback” on May 1.