In his first NXT Championship defense since winning the title at Beast in the East, Finn Balor successfully retained the strap Saturday night at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn in a ladder match against Kevin Owens.
After a physical back-and-forth contest, Balor had the NXT title in his grasp before deciding to finish Owens off for good. From the top of the ladder, he delivered the Coup de Grace, which bought him more than enough time to scale the ladder once again and grab the belt.
Straight Shoot's Aubrey Sitterson felt more than satisfied with the caliber of match delivered by the two NXT stars:
The victory only cements Balor's status as the NXT top dog, and it's only a matter of time before he makes the jump to Raw and SmackDown. Wade Keller of the Pro Wrestling Torch is already making bold proclamations regarding Balor's run on the big stage:
Balor was expected to develop into a WWE top star the second he was signed, and it took him less than a year to become the face of NXT. Despite being a full-time Superstar on the main roster, KO set out to take back the title he won from Sami Zayn in just his third official match under the WWE umbrella.
Owens quickly made a name for himself by beating John Cena at Elimination Chamber, and although he was never able to take the United States Championship away from him, he was still confident entering TakeOver:
After dropping the title to Balor in Tokyo, the Canadian Superstar wanted to tip the scales in his favor. As justification for that, he claimed that he felt as though NXT general manager William Regal was plotting against him.
That led to Owens suggesting that the TakeOver main event should be contested under a ladder-match stipulation, per WWE Universe on Twitter:
Balor and Regal ultimately agreed to Owens' demand, and despite the fact that KO has had more experience in ladder matches over the years, The Demon was able to reign supreme at the Barclays Center.
With Owens and Neville on the main roster and the likes of Zayn and Hideo Itami currently out injured, Balor has become the go-to guy in NXT. Beating Owens for a second time cements that, and it speaks to how much confidence Triple H has in his ability to carry the load.
Some might argue that KO losing again isn't ideal since his profile has dropped so much as of late, but if he is starting to get phased out of NXT, then it was only right for him to put the Irish Superstar over.
One can only assume that Owens will be seen less often at Full Sale Arena, which creates some questions with regard to who will be Balor's next challenger. Based on the stars who are currently on the NXT roster, Tyler Breeze, Samoa Joe and perhaps even Baron Corbin stand out as possibilities.
Apollo Crews also figures to be in the title hunt sooner rather than later, but since he just debuted Saturday night, he'll have to wait in line.
Regardless of who is next for Balor, all signs point toward the 34-year-old star enjoying a long and fruitful run with the title until he takes his rightful place on the main roster.
Both Balor and Owens put on an awesome show Saturday, and they proved once again why NXT is the hottest brand in professional wrestling.
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