It shocked many people when Samoa Joe won the NXT title at a house show back in April. While it may not have been quite as surprising as that, once again Samoa Joe defied the expectations Saturday night by beating Shinsuke Nakamura and becoming the first two-time NXT champion.
Unlike his first title win, Joe's victory was not written as any sort of fluke. There was no injury angle, and very few questions about if it was a decisive win. Joe did go a little bit low towards the end of the match, but unlike earlier in the match when Joe kicked out of the Kinshasa, Nakamura was unable to kick out of a Muscle Buster. While it might go overlooked, the fact that Joe was able to kick out of the first finisher while Nakamura wasn't is a pretty big statement the way that matches are traditionally booked these days.
The big question of course is why this happened. It seemed like Nakamura was getting set for a decent run with the title, as he's NXT's biggest draw at the moment, at a time where NXT is a big light on true draws for the live events. There could be two possible reasons. The first, most obvious one, would be if WWE simply believes that it's time for Nakamura to come up to the main roster. There have been questions about his back for the past few years, and it could be that the powers-that-be want to make sure he gets to the main roster with as much time left as they can. So, if they wanted him for WrestleMania, it would make sense to have him drop the title and then have him ready to go for the Royal Rumble.
The other possibility revolves around NXT touring Japan next month. It's possible that they would want Nakamura to win the title back in front of his home country, setting up one last final battle between these two at Takeover during the Royal Rumble weekend. They love to create big moments during overseas tours if they can, and having Nakamura regain the title in front a crowd that should, hypothetically, be deliriously in the corner of the "King of Strong Style" would qualify. Plus, if they felt that they wanted to hold off on a title shot for say, a Bobby Roode, until later, this would be the only logical way to get another Takeover match between Nakamura and Joe.
Samoa Joe has been surprising us for over a year in NXT, so why not make him the first ever two-time champ? For a guy who is an extremely steady presence during a shaky time for NXT, he deserves it.
The Rest of NXT Takeover: Toronto
-While the biggest news was the NXT title change, there was another title change, and it just so happened to be the best match of the night. DIY, the team of Johnny Gargano and Tommasso Ciampa, finally won the tag titles from The Revival. Like all of the encounters this year between these two teams, it was nothing short of a phenomenal match. I'm not totally sure that it was better than their Brooklyn match, but they used the 2-out-of-3 falls stipulation to perfection, an both teams really were able to shine. It will be interesting to see what happens with The Revival now, as I'm not sure that they have room on the main roster.
-Speaking of the tag scene, the Authors of Pain won the Dusty Rhodes Tag Classic, though it wasn't the squash that some people expected. They really did a good job of giving TM61 the rub in this one, to the point where it seemed like they had a chance of winning. Gotta think that the tag title match at the next Takeover will be DIY against the Authors of Pain.
-Mickie James looked great in her return against Asuka in a loss. While this match was a foregone conclusion, it was fun to see Mickie try to turn the head games on Asuka, much like she did against Trish at the beginning of her WWE career. It would not surprise me at all to see Mickie get more of a run, either in NXT or on the WWE main roster.
-The night opened with Bobby Roode beating Tye Dillinger. Roode came out with a chorus singing Glorious, and his entrance is becoming a must-see event every time there's a Takeover. I had expected Roode to move into the title picture after this show, so it will be interesting to see what happens with him in the next couple of months with Joe as the champion now.