I have a few thoughts on this.
One, it’s about time. Joe has worked hard at pretty much every stop in his career. He’d been in NXT a lot longer than I thought he’d be, before he even got a shot at the strap. But in the end, it has to be worth it.
Two. I don’t want to say I saw this coming, but my spidey senses were going off when, on the 4/20 NXT broadcast, the announce team made a point of mentioning that Finn Balor’s reign was now the longest ever-even though Balor did not appear on the show. Not that they can’t or wouldn’t make mention of their champion, but something seemed telegraphed. Like that old kiss of death or jinx, if you will. That it happened mere days later, and at a house show, not at something like TakeOver? Didn’t expect that at all.
Three. I love these changes. Meaning at these non-TV events. As a fan who doesn’t get to go to as many live events as I did in years prior, it’s bittersweet. I love it when it happens on a televised show-RAW or a major PPV-because I can watch it live. But house shows need love too. I still remember when I was younger, hearing on (I think) WWF Superstars on a Saturday morning, that Bret Hart won a title at a house show, in spite of wrestling with the flu or some other ailment. And while it was something I couldn’t see, it’s nice to know that every so often, a regular show can produce a title change too.
In the grand scheme? The Joe era begins, which is good. I can’t imagine him staying in NXT for a whole additional year, but it was also hard to imagine him moving up without having won the title. Not that he had to, just that I felt he deserved the reign. And, with Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows and AJ Styles working on the main roster, and their past being heavily hinted at, could Balor be far behind? Could he debut at Payback in an effort to help AJ secure the WWE title? Wouldn’t that be something?
In any event, congratulations to Samoa Joe, on his first NXT Championship win!