“Are we crazy?” That’s the question PWP Nation’s Zack Heydorn asks when talking the emotional and epic feud between Finn Balor and Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship.
Ladies and gentleman, are we crazy?
In any given week, there is at a minimum, seven hours of must watch pro wrestling to view. Raw, Smackdown, Lucha Underground, and NXT. Since September of 2015 though, a certain 20 minutes of programming every week have shined brightest like a beacon through the fog of sports entertainment madness. Any guesses?
Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe. It’s the feud of the year that nobody seems to care all that much about. So, I ask again. Are we crazy?
The Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe program goes back nearly a year. It is a story that has been told perfectly with matches, segments, and promos that have flawlessly progressed the saga into natural and entertaining places. It’s the type of feud that makes pro wrestling great.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at this epic saga in broad strokes. Finn Balor and Samoa Joe were tag team partners back in September of 2015 in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team classic. Throughout their run as a tag team and as they dismantled opponent after opponent in the tournament, cracks in the armor had begun to show. After all, both Joe and Balor are regularly billed as alpha males who won’t stop unless they are the top dog in NXT.
Samoa Joe even went so far as to say he would be coming for Balor’s NXT championship after the tournament concluded. Sure enough, Balor and Joe won the Dusty Rhodes Classic at NXT TakeOver: Respect. Joe wanted one thing, a shot at the NXT Championship. Finn respectfully accepted, but due to GM William Regal’s interference, Joe was not named the automatic number one contender and did not win that honor in his match either.
From there, we know what happened. Joe turns on Balor with a massive beat-down saying that he had to do it in order to accomplish his goals. This of course turns Samoa Joe heel and the first match is set with Joe getting his title shot and Balor getting a chance for revenge.
It was at NXT TakeOver: London where Joe and Balor had their first match for the title. Folks, this is an underrated match. First and foremost, it marks Samoa Joe’s final waking from a 5-year stupor and returning to his real form. Second, it is a straight up hard-hitting match with an excellent in-ring story and psychology. Joe’s in their looking for the title and Balor’s in their for revenge. A great dichotomy. Finn Balor gets the victory.
In the next few weeks, Joe’s obsession to become NXT Champion intensified as he feuded with Sami Zayn to become number on contender once again. While this feud didn’t exactly feature Finn Balor, he was always in the background since the two guys were fighting for a chance to face him. This period of time is truly paramount to the development of the Balor/Joe story. Why? Because it was during this time where the audience really felt Joe’s obsession for the title.
Samoa Joe ends up becoming number one contender again and faces Finn Balor at NXT TakeOver: Dallas. Everyone expected Joe to go over in this match due to Balor’s inevitable main roster call-up. In a shocking turn of events, Balor wins sending Samoa Joe into and even bigger downward spiral of obsession to win the NXT Championship. From there the feud gets heated to even higher levels and in an even bigger shock, Samoa Joe becomes the NXT Champion by pinning Finn Balor on an non-televised house show.
That title change was as brilliant of a move that the WWE has done in years. The premise behind this feud is that either match could have gone either way. That either side could have won each war. The WWE realized that they were contradicting themselves in that story if Finn Balor regularly beats Joe week in and week out. Joe going over solidified that story.
Now, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe are set to end their war and story at NXT TakeOver: Revenge (The End) inside a steel cage. Once again a perfect call with the perfect gimmick for their final match. The war just can’t be contained inside a plain ring. It writes itself.
The writing of this story has been stellar. No doubt. The execution of the writing by Balor and Joe has been pristine. In any performance, you can have the greatest writing in the world, but without people to execute it, what good is it? Finn Balor and Samoa Joe feel this feud. They feel their hatred. When watching it, you get the feeling that if you turned off the TV, walked outside, and saw them, they’d be brawling across the neighborhood. They have executed this story in a way that we can feel what they are feeling.
From Joe’s obsession, desperation, arrogance, and destruction to Balor’s confidence, competitiveness, revenge obsession, and loyalty. We as viewers are experiencing these emotions as we watch. That automatically kicks everything into a higher gear and makes it more entertaining. When is the last time we’ve seen a story that truly makes an audience feel that way? It’s not there. We need to put this one on a pedestal above the rest where it belongs.
Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor is a big time pro wrestling feud ladies and gentleman. Can we please lose the crazy and recognize it? Their saga is why pro wrestling works. It has everything we could want in a feud. Solid matches, great promo work, and a consistent story with characters we buy in with and believe. We’ve been asking for this for years right?
Appreciate it more.
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