Finn Balor vs. Adam Cole: A battle between two of the greatest superstars in NXT history

Finn Balor and Adam Cole will lock horns next week for the vacant NXT Championship
Finn Balor and Adam Cole will lock horns next week for the vacant NXT Championship
Sanjay Dutta

The main event of this week's special Tuesday edition of NXT was a 60-Minute Fatal Four-Way Iron Man Match between Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Adam Cole, and Finn Balor for the vacant NXT Championship.

The match ended in a tie with both Adam Cole and Finn Balor scoring two pinfalls a piece. This led NXT General Manager, William Regal, to announce a one-on-one match between Finn Balor and Adam Cole for the NXT Championship for next week's episode of NXT. 

Adam Cole and Finn Balor have previously battled over the NXT Championship during Cole's historic 403-day NXT Championship reign. The duo has great in-ring chemistry and their match next week should be a barnburner.

This match is much more than an opportunity to crown the next NXT Championship. It is a battle between two of the greatest Superstars in the history of the black and gold brand. 

Since it's inception in 2012, the black and gold brand has gone through several phases. From being a reality show to one of the hottest wrestling shows in the business, NXT has grown leaps and bounds. 

Over the years, there have been numerous Superstars who have plied their craft on the black and gold brands. Names like Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch have gone on to become megastars in their own right.

However, there have been two superstars who have carried NXT on their shoulders for an extended period. They are none other than, Finn Balor and Adam Cole.

Finn Balor and Adam Cole have been driving forces behind the success of the black and gold brand. They have etched their names in history as two of the greatest Superstars to have ever competed inside an NXT ring. 

As the duo gets set to clash once again for the brand's top prize next week, here's a summary of their respective runs with NXT.

The rise of NXT: The Finn Balor Era 

The brain-child of WWE COO, Triple H, NXT was designed to be a feeder system for WWE's main roster shows, RAW and SmackDown. During its initial phase, the brand wasn't as popular as it is today. In fact, a lot of main roster stars used to perform in Full Sail to ensure a steady crowd for the show during its early days. 

It was only after the brand started doing TakeOver specials that it slowly started gaining popularity. Superstars like Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Neville were at the forefront of NXT's rise as a fresh new brand. 

All of these big-name joined the main roster during the summer of 2014. This created a huge vacuum in NXT's main event scene. 

Enter Finn Balor. The Irish Young Gun, who was formerly known as Prince Devitt, was one of the biggest independent signings for the brand at that time. A veteran in the squared circle, Finn Balor was renowned as the founder and leader of one of the most influential factions in wrestling over the last decade, Bullet Club. 

Finn Balor defeated Kevin Owens at WWE's Beast In The East special on July 5, 2015, to capture the NXT Championship. Finn Balor's first title defense against Owens was at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, the brand's first TakeOver special outside Full Sail.

NXT became a touring brand during Finn Balor's run as the top champion, holding live events all across the US and even in Europe. 

By the time Finn Balor dropped the title to Samoa Joe, NXT had already established itself as one of the most talked-about brands in the industry. "The Extraordinary Man who can do Extraordinary Things" boasted the longest reign as NXT Champion in the brand's history. A record that stood until our next Superstar broke it this year.

NXT - The Global Brand: The Undisputed Era

Following the departure of stars like Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, and Finn Balor, many thought that the golden era of NXT had come to an end. Instead, it was the dawn of a new beginning, an era that would be "Undisputed." The main event of NXT Takeover: Brooklyn IV saw a change of guard when Drew McIntyre defeated Bobby Roode to win the NXT Championship. 

Afterward, a trio of debuting Superstars led by Adam Cole attacked McIntyre. Cole's entrance at the event was one of the most talked-about moments in wrestling in 2017. 

Since its debut in 2017, The Undisputed Era has become an indispensable part of the black and gold brand. The group has been a part of some of the most memorable matches in the brand's history. They have captured every single championship on offer in NXT. Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish have been the backbone of the brand's tag division, capturing the NXT Tag Team Championship three times. 

On the other hand, Adam Cole has established himself as one of the greatest NXT Superstars ever. "The Panama City Playboy" was the inaugural NXT North American Championship. In addition, Cole the longest-reigning NXT Champion. He is also a Triple Crown Champion having held every single male championship in the brand. 

Cole defeated Johnny Gargano at NXT Takeover: XXV to win the NXT Championship. During his historic 403-day reign, he successfully defended his NXT Championship against the likes of Tommaso Ciampa, The Velveteen Dream, Matt Riddle, Pete Dunne, and Johnny Gargano, just to name a few. He dropped the title to Keith Lee on night two of NXT's Great American Bash special on July 1, 2020. 

While NXT started gaining popularity during Balor's reign as champion, it was during Cole's reign that NXT became a global brand. With NXT moving from the WWE Network to the USA Network, Cole and The Undisputed Era led the brand as it's top male champions. 

Who would you like to see become a two-time NXT Champion? Let us know in the comments below.

Paul Heyman hinted to Sportskeeda that someone may join Roman Reigns' stable. Click here for more.

Edited by Philip Lindsey
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