Finn Balor has recently spoken about how special winning the NXT Championship from Kevin Owens in Japan was for him.
Balor challenged then-NXT Champion Owens for the title at a special WWE Network event, titled “The Beast in the East“. The show was titled that due to it being a rare appearance at house shows for Brock Lesnar, who defeated Kofi Kingston. The show was televised because Lesnar was appearing, with the title match added later on.
Finn Balor had signed for NXT from New Japan Pro Wrestling the year prior. He instantly became a top star in NXT and quickly earned himself an opportunity at the NXT Championship. Having just come out of feuds with Sami Zayn and Alex Riley, Kevin Owens was looking for new challengers and found one in “The Demon”. Having won a tournament at NXT TakeOver: Rival in February 2015, Balor was next in line and would bring his Demon persona to Japan with him for this bout.
They wrestled in a fantastic match that saw excellent heel work from Kevin Owens. Both men were presented with flowers before the match, which Owens threw into the crowd with an irrepressible rage. He also mocked John Cena, who he was feuding with on the main roster, during the match by mimicking his classic comeback moves. Despite all of this (and kicking out of a Coup De Grace), Balor pinned Owens to become the new NXT Champion.
In a recent interview with Rob Armstrong from BT Sport, Finn Balor talked about when he won the NXT Championship in an iconic match during a WWE event in Japan.
That was one of the most full-circle moments that I’ve had in my career because not only it wasn’t in Japan, but it was in Ryogoku, which was Sumo Arena, where we wrestled for New Japan quite a lot. I actually had my final match for New Japan, in that arena, in the paint also, against Taguchi. When I left that night, I figured, ‘I may never return here ever again.’ I think it was maybe almost a year to the day that I returned. I was in the ring against Kevin Owens, someone I didn’t know very well going into NXT apart from, like, on the indie circuit, and we bonded over the journey we were making, adapting to life in NXT, in WWE, in the USA; to get the share the ring with him that night was very cool.
The pair would have a rematch at the next NXT pay per view, NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. They fought in a brutal ladder match with saw “The Demon” Finn Balor defeat Kevin Owens to retain his NXT Championship. He held the title for nearly 300 days before dropping it to TNA legend Samoa Joe. What made this notable was that the title change happened on an untelevised house show, the first time this had happened in NXT.
Speaking about his shock NXT Championship loss to Samoa Joe at an NXT house show, Finn Balor said;
An even more special moment for me was when I actually lost the title against Samoa Joe, and we’d done that on a house show. That was something that was so rare, and I remember this sheer surprise and shock of the people in the front row that just couldn’t believe what they had witnessed on a house show,” Balor said. “After [292 days], I had been champion, and Joe pins the champion at a house show in Lowel. That was a special night. That, for me, is probably the coolest moment of my career, I think. Just the sheer shock and then joy of the fans; having Joe as champ, you know, someone who’d had such a long career and really paid his dues and had become such an integral part of NXT. The, for me, someone who had learned so much from, not only in NXT but before that. We obviously have a very close relationship as well. So that was one of my favorite nights of my career.