Samoa Joe’s Shocking NXT Title Change in Lowell, MA

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I’m six days removed from the NXT live event that took place in Lowell, MA. Words such as amazing, spectacular, and shocking don’t even begin to describe the experience. The night was capped off by the surprise title change where Samoa Joe pinned Finn Balor to win the NXT Championship, which is a rare occurrence for a non-televised event.

When circling the Lowell Memorial Auditorium to find a parking space, it occurred to me that some memorable moments have taken place within its confines. In 1997, Shawn Michaels surrendered the WWF title in the auditorium after “losing his smile.”

The city itself has been good to Samoa Joe. He not only took the NXT title but pinned Kurt Angle to win the TNA World Heavyweight title, in the Tsongas Center, in one of the best matches of his career.

There was an anti-establishment atmosphere present. “Hell no, I don’t watch WWE,” one patron said with vigor. Another fan emphatically declared, “You know how long it’s been since I’ve watched Raw or Smackdown?”

Some families and children knew just as much about the brand and its wrestlers as any die-hard fan. There was even a cute little kid who got plenty of airtime on the big screen as he proudly waved a “Roman Sucks” sign to the delight of the crowd.

Ring announcer Tom Philips pumped up the crowd as they filed into the auditorium. After a lackluster reaction, Philips replied, “Come on, you can do better than that.”

“This isn’t WWE.”

This is NXT!” 

Next, Phillips turned everyone’s attention to the big screen for a WWE Network commercial.

At that point, it occurred to me that WWE is using NXT to capitalize on the resentment that fans have towards their current product. WWE is the pop music equivalent of professional wrestling. Many people love it, and those who don’t will look to other wrestling promotions, such as New Japan Pro Wrestling or NXT.

It’s quite brilliant, actually.

Shinsuke Nakamura is my favorite wrestler, and it was a treat to see him live and in person. I saw him wrestle live at a New Japan show in New York back in 2011, but that was before Nakamura was NAKAMURA!

I can’t remember the last time I attended a wrestling event where I could sit back, relax, and not worry about wrestling on it, booking it, or promoting it. #NXTLowell is an experience I’ll never forget, and the fact that a title change topped it off makes it even more memorable.


– NXT Live Event Results From Lowell, Massachusetts (4/21/16) Lowell Memorial Auditorium (Sold Out crowd of 2,800)

Mojo Rawley defeated Riddick Moss by pinfall.

Bayley & Carmella defeated Peyton Royce & Dana Brooke when Bayley pinned Royce with the Bayley-to-Belly.

Chris Girard (Biff Busick) defeated Tommaso Ciampia when Girard hit a dragon suplex and followed up with a running European uppercut.

Austin Aries defeated Manny Andrade by submission with The Last Chancery.

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated “The Drifter” Elias Sampson with the Kinshasa.

NXT Tag Team Champions American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable) defeated The Revival (Dash & Dawson) to retain the titles when Gable reversed a powerbomb attempt from Dawson and rolled him up for the pin.

NXT Women’s Champion Asuka defeated Alexa Bliss via submission to retain the title.

Samoa Joe defeated Finn Balor to become the new NXT Champion.

***The finish came after the referee threw up the “X” sign as it appeared that Balor hurt his ankle after delivering a shotgun dropkick on the floor. Joe rolled back in the ring as Balor was being checked out for injuries.

Balor got back in the ring, he and Joe fought for another minute, Balor climbed up top for the Coup de Grace, Joe crotched him and delivered the Muscle Buster for the 1,2,3.

Balor took his boot off after the match and stood in the ring and soaked in all the adulation as the crowd chanted “Thank You Balor.”

– Other notes from the show

Riddick Moss looks like a star and his work is good, but nothing about it stood out.

Manny Andrade won the crowd over very quickly after being heckled for being “unknown.”

Mojo Rawley got a mixed reaction.

Carmella was really over with the crowd and Bayley was super over with the audience.

Chris Girard vs.  Tommaso Ciampia was match of the night and got a lot of love from the crowd as both men are from the area.

The audience went absolutely nuts for the title change because no one saw it coming and of course, it sparked even more Bullet Club rumors for the main roster.

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