Karrion Kross and Samoa Joe will go to war for the NXT Championship at TakeOver 36 on Sunday, August 22. The two men have been on a path of destruction over the past few weeks and that path will lead them to a chaotic confrontation in NXT.
Many fans are excited for this match and with good reason. Kross and Joe are hard-hitting smash-mouth competitors and they are sure to bring the pain at TakeOver. But is this bout truly receiving the attention it deserves?
Joe versus Everyone
In any other era, this match would be the talk of the pro wrestling world. While it’s not a WWE main roster match or a pay-per-view spectacle, it’s a big deal nonetheless. Much of that is thanks to Samoa Joe, the rugged veteran who’s still grinding in the ring.
For over 21 years, Samoa Joe has been building his powerhouse pro wrestling resume. He’s faced some of the industry’s biggest names and he’s always held his own in the ring. Kurt Angle, AJ Styles and CM Punk are just three of the top stars who battled Joe over the years. Each man would undoubtedly validate Joe as a true top guy and fans would surely agree with that sentiment.
Karrion Kross is one of the most physically dominant stars that NXT has ever seen. He’s intense, he’s powerful and he has a tremendous amount of charisma. He is explosive in the ring and when he steps through the ropes, it’s almost impossible for fans to turn away. He commands respect and he always delivers.
Kross the Killer?
The fact is that Karrion Kross fits in perfectly with the black and gold brand. He’s exactly the type of Superstar who flourishes in NXT and it was only a matter of time until he signed with the company. He’s been presented as a god among men and nothing short of a phenom in the ring. Karrion Kross has star power and he’s just what NXT needed.
But for many fans, this match has a shadow hanging over it that cannot be ignored. Yes, Karrion Kross is a killer and when he steps into the ring against Joe, he will do his work and impress as he always does. However, it’s what happens after the match that has perhaps lessened the potential impact of Joe versus Kross.
What happens next is the main roster. Karrion Kross’s arrival on Monday Night Raw wasn’t met with quite the same fervor as his NXT debut. Kross came to NXT as a warrior. But he came to Raw as a wimp. It wasn’t his fault of course. Kross, like ever ytalent in Vince McMahon’s company, is at the mercy of WWE’s booking.
Kross’s first match on Raw was a loss to Jeff Hardy. Many fans immediately sounded the alarm on this move, which is to be expected. Not only did Kross lose, he did so in two minutes. Then there’s the fact that Scarlett was nowhere to be found and neither was Kross’s signature entrance.
While it did look bad, one match didn’t necessarily mean that Kross was DOA. Storytelling takes time and quite often, the destination is not visible from page one. Perhaps WWE had something big planned for Kross and if so, fans would need to be patient and just go along for the ride.
Main Roster Melancholy
But things didn’t exactly improve for Kross after that. He’s now 2-2 in televised matches since debuting on Monday Night Raw. His record looks more than a little uneven but again, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Kross is finished before he can even begin. Perhaps it’s much too early to know what the goal is with Karrion’s main roster run.
But many NXT fans have no patience for what they’e seeing here. They know the monster that Kross is and that’s the monster they want to see on Raw. That Karrion Kross is unstoppable. He’s indestructible and he’s also undefeated. This is not the same man who currently competes on Monday nights. In fact, he doesn’t look anything like the same guy.
Now fans are looking at “Karrion Kross Lite” possibly heading to a full time stint on Monday Night Raw. If so, then he’s likely dropping the NXT Championship to Samoa Joe on August 22. The latter may be perfectly fine with the NXT faithful but the former? Not so much.
Is there a chance that WWE will suddenly right the ship with Karrion Kross? Could it be that what fans are seeing right now will not have longterm effects on his main roster career? Perhaps Kross will indeed become the unmovable mauler that made his mark on NXT. Maybe his time is coming.
But it’s the uncertainty that could be negatively impacting his match with Joe. Can fans forget what they think they know about Kross’s future long enough to enjoy the NXT Championship match at TakeOver? The fact is that Karrion Kross and Samoa Joe will indeed deliver on August 6. What happens after that is anyone’s guess.
Tom Clark is a Senior Pro Wrestling Analyst and Featured Columnist for Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Audible, Spotify, YouTube and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live