The NXT brand has been one of the greatest assets under the WWE umbrella over the past couple of years. Not only does it provide an indy-style alternative to the sometimes-unfulfilling main roster programming, but it also gives many stars from other brands opportunities to recreate their personal brands and revive their passion for the sport.
In the past two years, NXT has provided some memorable feuds that have kept fans glued to their screens.
The closure of 2014 into the beginning of 2015 saw former best friends Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn compete against each in one of the most bitter rivalries in recent memory. From the very start, Owens had his hopes set on winning the NXT Championship, as he turned on Zayn the first day of his debut for the brand after congratulating him during a championship celebration.
Two months later, Owens was able to dethrone Zayn and become NXT Champion.
With Owens at the helm, his next major rivalry came by way of Irish-born Japanese wrestling sensation Finn Balor. Being a co-Founder of the major New Japan Pro Wrestling – and recently Ring of Honor – stable the Bullet Club, Balor (who was popularly known as Prince Devitt), established himself as a babyface star in NXT. Nearly a year after making his debut, Balor was able to defeat Owens in Japan to win the NXT Championship.
Balor was able to maintain the championship for over nine months before losing it to Samoa Joe. Joe was able to win the championship after multiple failed attempts, as well as turning his back on Balor. This left a new contender to vie for the championship: enter Shinsuke Nakamura.
After being one of the greatest superstars in the history of Japan, Nakamura decided to make his presence known in the United States. As one of the best people who still shows an embodiment of a “larger-than-life” character, Nakamura drew the awe of the crowd with his elaborate entrance and strong-style wrestling.
Nakamura automatically proved himself after one of the best matches of 2016, defeating Sami Zayn at the TakeOver: Dallas event during WrestleMania 32 weekend. Shortly after, he would commence a heated rivalry with champion Samoa Joe. In his first attempt, Nakamura was able to defeat Joe and win the championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn II.
Joe regained the championship during Survivor Series weekend at TakeOver: Toronto. However, on a recent episode of the weekly NXT show on the WWE Network, it was announced that Nakamura would invoke his rematch clause at the NXT Live event in Osaka, Japan. It was also announced during the show that footage would be shown of the match between the two.
In what has become the second NXT Championship change in Japan, Nakamura was able to defeat Samoa Joe and became a two-time champion.https://www.instagram.com/p/BNjd7kChWWY/?taken-by=wwenxt&hl=en
The title change was one of the biggest topics of the day on the WWE website.
“Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship in Osaka, Japan, earlier today. NXT’s official Instagram broke the story, revealing an image of The King of Strong Style holding the championship, to now become only the second two-time NXT Champion in history (the other, of course, being Samoa Joe).”
“Samoa Joe defeated Nakamura for the championship several weeks ago at NXT TakeOver: Toronto in a brutal and controversial contest, but Nakamura was able to shift momentum back in his favor and take back the title on his home soil.”
Nakamura was interviewed after the match and passionately expressed how important the title victory means to him, going back to his roots and winning in his home country.
Nakamura, being one of the best all-around characters in professional wrestling, is a phenomenal asset to the NXT roster and will continue to make the brand thrive by being its champion.
[Featured Image by WWE]