Finn Balor is undoubtedly one of the best wrestlers of this generation.
Even at the age of 38 years, he is pulling off show stealers with the likes of Fabian Aichner and Damian Priest, both of whom are yet to solidify their positions on the roster.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the experience he has gained from all across the globe. The Irish born superstar debuted at the age of 18, wrestling under his original name. He quickly rose within the ranks of the British indie scene at one stage, being arguably the most over indie wrestler in Europe, catching the eye of New Japan Pro Wrestling who signed him in 2007 where his career sky-rocketed under his new persona “Prince Devitt”.
Devitt achieved the most with NJPW, having been a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, a six-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion and most importantly he was one of the founding members and the original leader of one of the greatest factions in professional wrestling, The Bullet Club.
Devitt signed with WWE under the name Finn Balor in May of 2014 after leaving NJPW in April of the same year, being promoted as the biggest signing of WWE’s developmental brand back then and truth be told, he actually was the biggest signing for NXT, possibly even all of WWE since it had transitioned into the “PG era”. However, his time with the WWE has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride with some steep ups and downs and currently, after six long years, you can still see him on Wednesdays on the black and gold brand. He is back where he started, on the company’s C show and only one question comes to mind:
What went wrong?
First off, Balor’s first run in NXT was perfect. It was everything the fans had expected and more with him being one of the pioneers for the new NXT, the NXT we see today, which many consider as the best show WWE produces despite it being labelled as the developmental brand for quite some time with amazing storylines and even better matches.
Balor was a highly loved babyface being a safe fixture for the main event of any show and if you want to see how over he was, just go on to YouTube and type in “Finn Balor NXT Takeover: London”. After being on the black and gold brand for two years, Balor was drafted to RAW on 19th July 2016 and it won’t be an exaggeration to say that he was pushed to the moon with him becoming the inaugural WWE Universal Champion within a month of his main roster debut in a match against Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. Unfortunately, due to a botched powerbomb onto the barricade he sustained a shoulder injury and had to relinquish his title immediately, and from that point on it was all downhill for Balor.
Upon his return, he was relegated to the mid-card and was only really fighting for the Intercontinental Championship with one or two exceptions. It can be argued that it was merely a case of wrong place, wrong time. Had Balor not been injured at the height of his push, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that he would still be in, if not lurking around, the main event picture on Raw or SmackDown. No one would be to blame in this scenario because it wasn’t possible to put Finn right back up into the title picture. After all, while Finn was injured many other wrestlers had worked their way up the card, such as Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens, and they had gone into overdrive while Balor was nursing his shoulder injury at home.
However, no matter how much hard luck Balor’s injury had brought him, it wasn’t the sole reason for his fall. Balor did, after all, work hard even after returning by putting on amazing matches against the likes of AJ Styles and Drew McIntyre, but he fell victim to the hands of bad booking. Vince didn’t realize what he had in Finn Balor and in his own eyes had reduced him to just an upper mid-card talent who could be used for a feud with someone who is on their way to stardom and that is what eventually happened.
Balor was reduced to just an obstacle on the mid-card which future main eventers faced to build them like Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley and even “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, and because of that, the whole focus had been taken off of Balor, only being used for transitional feuds. The Balor Club did see some hope at the start of 2019 when people thought that finally, he had found his way back into the main event picture only to later tap out to and get brutally beaten by Lesnar after their match.
Another issue was that Balor was never in a red hot feud and he slowly had become irrelevant in the eyes of the creative team because of their own booking. They had set high expectations from him to be a major draw by only putting him in feuds with wrestlers like Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin who, with all due respect, no one cared about at the time especially after Lashley’s sister’s segment (I still have no clue what the creative team was thinking) and by the end of it all, I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that going back to NXT was the best option for Balor.
What should have been done?: Fantasy Booking Finn Balors Return
Onto the more exciting part now, I am going to show one of the many paths that WWE could’ve taken with Finn Balor on the main roster. To put things simply this is how I would have booked Finn Balor’s main roster run given that he didn’t have any unexpected injuries during the duration.
I will start booking from the point when Finn Balor was cleared to compete in 2017 because that’s where things started going downhill for him. First off, for reasons I will reveal later, in April during the Superstar Shake-Up, AJ Styles is drafted to Raw while Braun Strowman is drafted to SmackDown. So on the July 10th episode of Raw Finn Balor returns, and takes to the mic claiming that he wants a shot at the Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar as soon as he can get, however, he is interrupted by Roman Reigns who claims that he had worked hard for a long time for this opportunity and he wouldn’t let someone who hadn’t even wrestled for a year take it from him. Things get heated up between the two before the Raw general manager Mick Foley resolves the problem by setting the two in a number one contenders match for the Universal Championship on the following week in which Roman Reigns beats Balor after delivering a spear in a 10-minute match.
Devastated because of the loss, Balor picks up the mic after the match and says “I’m done” before dropping the mic and leaving the ring and not showing up the next few weeks leaving an air of suspense amongst the fans. Side Note: Since Braun is on SmackDown, the Money in the Bank is also there which he cashes in on Jinder Mahal to dethrone him as the WWE Champion.
On the 20th of August, Roman Reigns faces Brock Lesnar in the main event of the second biggest PPV of the year, SummerSlam. The match is very back and forth with no clear end in sight. After a superplex off the top rope, both men lay flat on their backs, with their bodies tired, and that’s when a man wearing a hoodie jumps the barricade from the crowd and enters the ring with a steel chair. Who was it? Yeah, you guessed it, it was none other than Finn Balor. Balor then proceeds to batter both of the competitors with chair shots. Wasting no time, Balor grabs the mic and says “I didn’t come alone” as Gallows and Anderson walk down the ramp and join Balor in crushing Reigns and Lesnar. The match is ruled a no-contest and the last image of SummerSlam on everyone’s screens is Balor holding Roman’s head up with his hair firmly gripped in one hand and his thumb and index finger in the shape of (yep you guessed it again) a gun pressed against the Big Dog’s temple with the other.
The next night on Raw, Balor explains his actions stating that he was sick of everyone around him – the fans, other wrestlers in the locker room and even the management. He demands a fair one-on-one chance against Lesnar for his title but is once again interrupted by Roman Reigns who is then attacked from behind, not by Gallows, no not even Anderson, but by the Phenomenal One AJ Styles. Balor then formally introduces The Club to WWE with The Prince taking charge of the group.
A match is set between Roman and Balor for No Mercy in which Balor beats Roman clean after telling The Club to not interfere, making him the main event strong heel. In the following weeks, The Club continues to interfere in other’s matches claiming that Balor wants a title shot that he so rightfully deserves and he will not stop disrupting the show until he gets what he wants.
Mick Foley then confronts Balor and says that he will get a shot at Brock’s Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble only if The Club leads Team Raw to a victory at Survivor Series. Balor agrees and Foley offers to find a fifth man for Team Raw but Balor declines saying that he has a surprise. At Survivor Series The Club faces off against Team SmackDown consisting of Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakamura and John Cena in what seems to be a 4 on 5 in the beginning. The match is tough and well contested at the end leaving Finn Balor against John Cena and Shane McMahon and that is when Balor points to the entrance and outcomes the debuting Adam Cole who helps Team Raw take the victory. Side note: Cole was signed in mid-August so in the timeline instead of going to NXT he debuts on the main roster November.
Finn Balor gets the title shot at the Rumble which he was promised where with help from The Club he defeats the Beast Incarnate and reclaims the Universal Championship. On the same pay-per-view Gallows and Anderson win the tag belts and Seth Rollins wins the Royal Rumble with Styles being a close second, with Adam Cole winning the Intercontinental Title against The Miz.
Rollins does not hesitate in announcing his decision of facing Balor at WrestleMania 34 the next night on Raw and the same night The Club turns on Finn, appointing AJ as their new leader claiming that Balor only ever had his own goals in mind and never really cared about The Club. However, The Club has the Beast Incarnate to worry about as Lesnar comes after AJ. By this point in time WWE would have achieved several things:
1) Two dream matches have been set on their WrestleMania 34 card (Lesnar vs. Styles and Rollins vs. Balor).
2) They, after a long time, have a strong faction in the form of The Club in their main event picture which can be used for several interesting angles especially as a dominant final obstacle to overcome in underdog storylines and most importantly.
3) They have made the most out of Finn Balor with high chances of Balor taking the reigns as the face of WWE in the future. This was one of the many ways WWE could have booked Finn Balor to become the solid main event star he always deserved to be.
What do you think went wrong with Balor? How do you think Balor should have been booked? Let us know in the comment section below.