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31 Days of Wrestling (12/17/15): Finn Bálor vs. Kevin Owens at Beast in the East

As we get through the halfway point of our 31 Days of Wrestling series, let's throw it back to the halfway point of the calendar year. We're taking you to the Tokyo Dome for the WWE's first ever televised house show, which delivered a treat as we saw the rise of the Demon in NXT.



#17: Finn Bálor vs. Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship at Beast in the East

Kevin Owens was already feuding with John Cena on the main roster by July, but he was also holding the NXT Championship at the same time. It was already a foregone conclusion that he was about to be a permanent member of the main roster, so it was only a matter of time until he dropped the NXT Championship to his eventual successor.

Enter Finn Bálor.


Finn Bálor beat Tyler Breeze at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable to become the #1 Contender, setting the stage for an epic showdown against the Prizefighter at Beast in the East.

This wasn't just going to be any ordinary championship match, though. This was going to be one for the books, even though most fans would correctly predict that Owens would drop the title to Bálor.

With the match set to take place at the legendary Tokyo Dome, the site of Wrestle Kingdom, where legendary moments are made in Japan, the homecoming moment couldn't be any bigger for the man formerly known as Prince Devitt. 

Despite being a house show, WWE pulled out all the stops in paying homage to Japanese culture and Finn Bálor's history in that country and with those fans. To his part, Owens played the heel straight up, outrightly disrespecting both his opponent and everyone in attendance.

The match was fitting for a graduation match, as two of the IWC-labeled "NXT Five" showed the world who the Demon was, and what he was capable of.

This match was one of many signature moments in 2015 that proved to everybody why NXT works and why it's built such a loyal and ravenous fanbase. It's been said multiple times, but NXT really is like an independent promotion within another promotion. In a way, you know you're watching a WWE product, but it feels so different just because of the way it's handled. Emphasis is put on quality storytelling and in-ring psychology, and that opens the door for the talent to rise to the top and reign supreme. That's exactly what we got on the 4th of July this year, and we couldn't be any happier for it. 

After the match, Owens would try to get his revenge on Bálor, but would ultimately lose a Ladder Match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, closing the door on the NXT chapter of his career. Meanwhile, Finn Bálor would go on to carry the banner as the standard-bearer and face of NXT.

*****

#10: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Wrestle Kingdom 9
#11 Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE World Title at Royal Rumble

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