The back half of 2016 was designed to be built around Finn Balor on WWE’s main roster after it seemed as if his promotion might never be in the cards at all. After establishing the Bullet Club as a household name in Japan and bringing the NXT brand to new heights, the next step, naturally, was to shine on the main stage. That call finally came this past July during the brand extension draft.
Mick Foley acknowledged the significance of the selection by saying, “With an eye towards the future, RAW selects Finn Balor” as the fifth overall pick in the draft. Balor would go ahead of more established superstars like John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, and Roman Reigns, and it became increasingly evident during his first night on WWE’s flagship show that the future was now.
Finn Balor’s debut will go down as one of the most impressive in the history of the company. In one night, he defeated Rusev, Cesaro, and Kevin Owens in a Fatal Four-Way match, and he followed that up with a clean singles victory over Reigns in the main event to qualify for a WWE Universal Championship match against Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. It didn’t hurt that Reigns was in the doghouse for his Wellness Policy violation, but Finn appeared destined for the top of the card regardless of any other circumstances.
Then it all came crashing down.
Finn Balor suffered a shoulder injury rather early in that SummerSlam bout thanks to a modified buckle bomb from Rollins on the outside. An MRI later revealed that Finn had a torn labrum that required surgery and an initial prognosis of four to six months on the shelf.
Finn’s rehab with Dr. Jeffrey Dugas in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as in Orlando at the WWE Performance Center, progressed nicely as we pointed out back in December. At the time, the company made a conscientious effort to update WWE fans on Balor’s status as a way to keep him fresh in their minds. Balor was a cult hero among hardcore fans, but their casual mainstream peers were just starting to get to know the character when he suffered the injury.
On a podcast towards the end of 2016, Balor said that he was targeting a WrestleMania return, although he was careful not to pinpoint a specific date. That left the door open for speculation, and many ran with it when it came time for the Royal Rumble.
The Rumble has since come and gone, and there were no signs of Finn Balor. That’s because, according to a new report, he was not cleared for a return to the ring after an evaluation in the week leading up to the big pay-per-view. It seemed like the prognosis was right on the money the whole time, and there was even the chance that WWE officials never even considered Balor to make a surprise appearance in San Antonio.
Delving even further, a torn labrum wasn’t the only setback that Finn Balor suffered that August night. As you can see from the tweet below, Balor also endured a torn biceps, a fractured glenoid neck socket, shoulder cartilage damage and a torn pectoral muscle. All that and he was still able to continue wrestling the match to become the first-ever WWE Universal Champion.
— Finn Bálor (@FinnBalor) January 30, 2017
If you recall, Seth Rollins was brought back from injury as a heel because the WWE had plans to bring Finn Balor to RAW as the brand’s top babyface. Rollins was flipped due to Balor’s injury and was set on a path to face Triple H at WrestleMania this April. Now Rollins is hurt, and his WrestleMania is very much in doubt. Finn had not been factored into a significant program for the card as of yet because of his uncertain status, but he is expected to be involved in some fashion.
The company was burned by injuries last year, so it will be interesting to see how they handle a Finn Balor return in light of the disappointing news on Seth Rollins.
[Featured Image by WWE]