Finn Bálor continues to pile up the wins on the black-and-gold brand’s brightest stage, and NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day was no different as he overcame Pete Dunne to retain the NXT Championship in an instant Match of the Year candidate.
The intensity was palpable from the get-go in this highly anticipated dream matchup following a smoldering staredown. Dunne immediately turned to his patented joint manipulation, first honing in on Bálor’s left hand and fingers to put Bálor on his heels, an unfamiliar position for The Prince at TakeOver.
The champion turned things around by digging into his bag of holds, targeting Dunne’s left leg until The BruiserWeight transitioned into a guillotine and dropped Bálor with an X-Plex out of nowhere.
Bálor answered by continuing to zero in on Dunne’s left knee, and he tested The BruiserWeight’s resolve with an STF, but the maneuver also left his left fingers exposed. Once again, Bálor felt Dunne’s wrath as his fingers were snapped.
Bálor bounced back to hit a string of signature maneuvers, including the slingblade and corner dropkick. But Dunne caught Bálor’s Coup de Grace attempt, countering with a triangle choke to seemingly put the champion unconscious.
The Prince insisted he could continue and ate a massive stomp to the head from Dunne for it. Bálor fought off Dunne’s Bitter End attempt and progressed into an abdominal stretch. Once again, though, it ended with Bálor’s fingers being splayed, this time on his right hand.
Dunne finally found paydirt with the Bitter End, but Bálor kicked out at two and found a lifeline, countering The BruiserWeight’s powerbomb attempt into a DDT.
The Superstars exchanged a series of big-time strikes, with Dunne stomping Bálor’s already severely injured fingers. Bálor battled through the agony to answer with a stomp to the back, then extracted Dunne’s mouthguard before drilling him in the jaw with a dropkick.
With the challenger on dream street, Bálor finally connected with the Coup de Grace. But instinctively knowing it wouldn’t be enough to keep Dunne down, The Prince followed with the 1916 to ensure a grueling victory, his 15th at TakeOver.