It seemed like fans had been waiting forever for Finn Balor to escape the developmental system of NXT and debut on the main roster, but now that he’s there and fighting for the WWE Universal Title at SummerSlam, it looks like things have worked out for the best. And according to another Superstar who spent some time in NXT, WWE’s “minor league” promotion wouldn’t have been anywhere near as successful or popular had Balor made the jump before now.
In an interview with ESPN, former NXT Champion Kevin Owens (the man who Balor defeated for the title roughly a year ago at a live event in Japan that aired on the WWE Network, in fact) talked about Finn Balor and the effect his presence had on the third brand of WWE.
When Finn, myself and Hideo Itami started there, NXT was definitely on the rise. Not just because of us, let me make that clear, but because everybody involved was working so hard, from the performers, to the coaches, to management: Triple H, Canyon Ceman, Dusty Rhodes…all those people working on NXT. NXT really built some momentum and became something pretty special. Then Hideo got hurt and I got called to the main roster. Neville got called up as well and he was a big part of NXT, and Sami Zayn got hurt. That could’ve taken the wind out of NXT’s sails a little, because at that point we were the focal point. Then within a month four of us were gone and Finn was the only one still there. Without Finn, I don’t know if NXT would’ve reached the level it has today.”
It’s hard to argue against the idea that Balor has anchored the main event of NXT for the last year (from the male side, anyway), as his feuds with a departing Owens, as well as Samoa Joe, have carried the brand as it rebuilt its talent base after those promotions. The good news is, even though Balor is no longer the face of NXT, the brand has a new stock of wrestlers ready to take his place, all of whom will be looking to put on a show this Saturday, the day before SummerSlam, at NXT TakeOver: Back II Brooklyn.