I’m not going to pretend that every minor pay-per-view is important, but Payback is at least unique. A.J. Styles rose to the main event faster than anyone expected. Does he belong there? Of course. But the Shane McMahon regime definitely sped up the process. Had the post-WrestleMania season been like the WWE of the past few years, this never would have happened.
Considering Styles was made famous outside of WWE, it’s surprising to see them put this much faith in him. He’s obviously highly experienced, but normally WWE would want to make him more familiar to their audience before a big push. Alas, here we are. A.J. Styles fights Roman Reigns for the WWE Championship at Payback.
Not only is this highly unusual behavior for the typical WWE mindset, but Styles’ Bullet Club companions from New Japan Pro Wrestling received similar treatment. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson only debuted on Raw last week and already will likely interfere in the main event. A lot is happening very quickly and it’s exciting to be a part of it.
Not since the reformation of the NWO in WWE before WrestleMania 18, or when ECW invaded RAW for the first time, have we seen another company’s faction so undeniably popular. The only difference is that Bullet Club was formed in another country. They forced American fans to take notice and WWE is now capitalizing on this. Since other Bullet Club members, Finn Balor and Shinsuke Nakamura, are under contract in NXT, it’s only a matter of time before the whole gang gets back together.
Which brings me to NXT Live in Lowell, Massachusetts …
I was planning on going to this event, since it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from me; but I forgot that I had a comedy show booked for that night. How unfortunate for me. But oh well. There will always be more opportunities to see NXT in the future. And besides, it’s only a house show.
Only a house show…
That is, until Samoa Joe defeated Finn Balor for the NXT Title! At a house show!
Of course! Why wouldn’t something amazing happen at a show I was unable to attend? If I did go to it, it probably wouldn’t have. So, you’re welcome, everybody.
But why would they ever feel the need for the title to change hands at a house show? Well, I have my speculations. And as much as I don’t like to speculate (as it either becomes a spoiler or you’re just flat out wrong), I think that Finn dropping the title could be a catalyst for something bigger.
Typically, when a popular NXT wrestler drops the belt, it means they’re getting called up to the main roster. As a member of Bullet Club in New Japan, Balor is likely to join up with his former stablemates when he gets to WWE. So, the timing here is important.
This faction is very important to the major championship storyline right now. Since they’re booking Roman Reigns as some kind of unstoppable tweener, it makes sense that only a faction would have the capacity to distract and gang up on Reigns to take the strap. The question isn’t whether or not Finn Balor will soon debut on the main roster. The question is if Balor debuts as an individual or joins up with Bullet Club.
Now is as good a time as any for Finn to interfere. The WWE Universe is very familiar with his work in NXT, and he even got his own short documentary on the WWE Network. The company seems to be very big on Finn, which makes a potential run-in at tonight’s main event all the more possible.
Obviously, Gallows and Anderson will be involved in the match. That’s more or less written into the current storyline. Balor’s involvement in the match could be that final straw that breaks Roman Reigns’ back. Yeah, that’s right. I just called Roman Reigns a camel.
Now, all of that would be an excellent surprise. An even more exciting and additional surprise would be if The King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura, were to join his Bullet Club brothers in the ring. This is a long shot since Nakamura has only had three matches so far in NXT. Then again, Gallows and Anderson were practically written into the main event picture before their in-ring debut (granted, Gallows was a former WWE Superstar, most notably teaming with CM Punk in his Straight Edge Society). They could take this in a lot of directions, which makes this such a fun scenario.
Payback might not be the best stage to unite the next great faction in WWE. They may wait until Raw the next night. Finn dropping the belt so suddenly is just very suspicious, so I think he’ll be showing his demon face sooner rather than later. And what will Roman do in the face of this supergroup? Perhaps he’s been wearing that bullet proof vest all these years in preparation of the Bullet Club.
Did I just blow your mind? How’s that for unintentional symbolism?
All in all, I’m very excited for Payback. It’s the first time in a long time that they want to take a risk on someone so new to the company based simply on his resume. And the potential for a new stable is always exciting. Wrestling is at its best when they take a chance on something new and different. All of the parts of a very dangerous weapon are there. Now they just have to be put together. Changes are coming faster than a speeding bullet, so you best keep up.
Nathan Burke is a stand-up comedian based in Boston. Follow him on Twitter @IamNathanBurke and listen to his comedy podcast, "So Now I'm the Asshole" on Fans.FM