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Reason No. 1: They’re world-traveled

NXT might be considered a developmental system for WWE, but that doesn’t mean Neville and Bálor lack seasoning. Before arriving to NXT, the Englishman Neville and Irishman Bálor competed for eight and 14 years, respectively, and during that time, they fought not only in their native countries, but also throughout Europe, Japan, the United States and Mexico.

According to Regal, this type of globetrotting — though a circuitous path to WWE — accelerates Superstars’ maturation as performers.

“Just traveling the world, and getting to live the highs and lows of what we do, makes you a better talent and a better performer,” Regal said. “And knowing what it takes to make it in Japan, the physicality of the Japanese wrestlers, it’s just a different world.”

Regal compared Neville and Bálor’s trajectories to those of WWE main roster Superstars Daniel Bryan and Cesaro.

“Those type of talents are used to being in difficult, strenuous situations; they’re used to the pressure of performing on a big stage,” Regal added. “Anybody who chooses that life and goes out there, it’s better for WWE because they’re more ready for the big show whenever they’re called up.”

Reason No. 2: They represent the death of the generic wrestler

The value of Bálor and Neville’s international exploits extends past their incredible poise.

“The days of just being a generic, punch-and-kick wrestler are pretty much over,” Regal said. “You don’t see those guys on our show anymore. Everybody’s very rounded, skill-wise.”

Leading the pack are Neville and Bálor. They’re frighteningly well-rounded — almost futuristic — and that goes hand-in-hand with their well-stamped passports. Neville and Bálor carry on a proud tradition of incorporating elements of different wrestling styles from around the world. In that sense, they share a lineage with names like Rollerball Rocco, Marty Jones and Tiger Mask. The unifying spirit is the same force Dynamite Kid rode into Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling in the 1980s, and that enlivened WCW’s cruiserweight division during the Monday Night War, Regal said.

“It should never have been classified as a weight class — they’re just exceptional talent, no matter what size they are,” Regal said. “It all seemed to spread from there, mixing the best of the best of the styles from different parts of the world. Neville and Bálor are definitely two fellows that continue that great tradition.”

Reason No. 3: They’re respectful risk-takers

So often, Superstars are brought into conflict because of a personal grudge. Over the years, the WWE Universe has seen everything from sordid love triangles to vengeful plots give cause to big-time matchups.

Not Neville vs. Bálor. Instead, these two respected peers are battling for a coveted opportunity at the NXT Championship. After Bálor secured his place in the No. 1 Contender’s Tournament Final, he celebrated not by talking trash about The Man That Gravity Forgot but, rather, by shaking Neville’s hand.

Don’t mistake mutual respect for timidity. Former NXT Champion Neville is in dire need of reclaiming the title, while Bálor looks to establish himself as a main-event player in NXT for the first time. One Superstar (Neville) seemingly creates new aerial maneuvers every time he steps in the ring, and the other (Bálor) so thoroughly shocked the NXT Universe with his metamorphosis at December’s TakeOver: R Evolution that fans are still buzzing about it.

Both men left high-paying jobs abroad to try to make it in WWE, and neither is taking his experience in NXT for granted. During a roundtable discussion last September, Neville admitted he “never really expected to be [in WWE].” Bálor, then fresh to NXT, called WWE “the great unknown.”

Don’t expect Neville and Bálor to shy away from taking big risks.


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At NXT TakeOver: Rival, the next Superstar to challenge for the NXT Title will be determined when Adrian Neville and Finn Bálor go toe-to-toe in the NXT Championship No. 1 Contender’s Tournament Final.

For weeks, the NXT Universe has watched excitedly as a field of eight Superstars has been winnowed down to just Neville and Bálor. The Man Who Gravity Forgot, who held the NXT Title for nearly 10 months before falling to current champion Sami Zayn, advanced to the final round by defeating Tyson Kidd and then Baron Corbin. Irish-born sensation Bálor, meanwhile, stomped his way into the finals with wins over Curtis Axel and respected ally Hideo Itami.

At TakeOver: Rival, the two dynamic and highly popular Superstars will meet for the first time in an NXT ring. What can the world expect to see when Neville’s blink-and-you-missed strike combinations and aerial artistry are pitted against Bálor’s world-renowned arsenal?

Will Neville leap back into the NXT Title scene just months after losing the championship? Or will Bálor, who has taken away the collective breath of the NXT Universe since debuting in September, force his way into title contention for the first time?

Watch the highly anticipated tournament final when NXT TakeOver: Rival airs live on Wednesday, Feb. 11, on WWE Network, which is available for free to new subscribers for February!

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#1 Contender NXT Championship Tournament Semi-Finals Match
Hideo Itami vs. Finn Bálor

Balor and Itami lock eyes and then they get right to it. First they lock hands, break and then come together again. When they really get grappling, it almost looks like an even match. After some twisting and grappling, they break, stand back and assess one another as the fans voice their approval. Itami tries to get on top of Finn on the mat but Balor won’t make it easy. Itami hits the ropes and Finn gets him with a solid dropkick as we go to break.

Back after the commercial, Itami is back up and he has control of Balor for the moment. Finn breaks loose and heads to the ropes but Hideo takes him down and tries for a cover. Finn gets back into it and works Hideo into an unusual stretch hold followed by a cover. Itami kicks out and Finn covers again, but no dice. Balor stays on top of things, locking in a choke on Hideo. He continues with the mat work but Itami wriggles out and ascends the ropes. Balor connects with a kick, putting Hideo on the canvas. Another break ensues.

As the match resumes, Balor is chopping the holy bejeezus out of Hideo. Itami comes back with a dropkick and then hits a clothesline. Itami goes into full offensive mode now, putting Balor’s neck into the rope and then cracking him with a kick. Itami teases the GTS and they trade counters until both guys are down on the mat. When both men reach a vertical base again, they trade huge shots. Itami finally gets the advantage with strikes and kicks, following with a corner dropkick but Balor takes him out with a sling blade and then a big dropkick. He hits a double-stomp off the top and after a three-count, it’s over.

Winner: Finn Bálor

Related Links, Photos & More:
» FINNishing TOUCH: World Wrestling Entertainment > Live Event Digitals > NXT > 2015 > February 4th
» FINNishing TOUCH: Screen Captures > World Wrestling Entertainment > NXT > 2015 > February 4th

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First Round Tournament Match – Finn Bálor vs Curtis Axel

Axel goes right after Balor choking him in the ropes until the referee makes them break it up. He throws a hard elbow and continues his assault until Finn connects with a standing dropkick. Axel tries to bail to the outside, but is caught with a senton splash over the ropes. Step-up enzuigiri connects over the ropes, but the referee holds him back as Axel hides in the ropes.

Curtis keeps control, slowing things down with a rest hold for a minute. Balor breaks free but runs into a knee strike. Axel comes up empty (by a mile) with a top rope elbow drop and is caught by a Pele Kick. Finn connects with the Slingblade, followed up by a running dropkick in the corner. He goes to the top rope and finishes off the match with a double foot stomp.

Winner: Finn Bálor

Related Links, Photos & More:
» FINNishing TOUCH: World Wrestling Entertainment > Live Event Digitals > NXT > 2015 > January 21st
» FINNishing TOUCH: Screen Captures > World Wrestling Entertainment > NXT > 2015 > January 21st

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NXT rising star Finn Bálor comes to life in full body paint in artist Rob Schamberger’s latest art piece.

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Want to know what Finn is up to on NXT before it airs? Click “show” to reveal the spoilers.

Show »

William Regal announces the next Takeover special for February 11th. A tournament will be held to determine Sami Zayn’s opponent for the NXT Title.

Finn Bálor defeated Curtis Axel in a tournament match.

Finn Bálor defeated Hideo Itami in a tournament match for the right to face Adrian Neville in the finals. This was an amazing match and the end of Thursday’s tapings.

*Finn Bálor vs. Adrian Neville to determine the #1 contender to the NXT Championshiop has been confirmed for the February 11th NXT Takeover special.

File under: Spoilers WWE NXT