You had to be paying extra special attention, but the winner of the WWE Universal Championship may have been revealed well before SummerSlam. WWE cameras followed Finn Balor around for a week leading up to Sunday’s marquee event, similar to what they did for Daniel Bryan in the days prior to WrestleMania XXX. Of course, Bryan climbed to the top of the mountain in New Orleans, and Finn Balor became the first-ever Universal Champion this past Sunday in Brooklyn.
The WWE’s fantastic video production team turned Bryan’s journey into a 24/7 Network special chronicling his rise to what was eventually dubbed the “Miracle on Bourbon Street.” The company is, or was, likely planning a similar special for Finn Balor, but the ending took an unexpected twist.
The similarities for Bryan and Balor continued somewhat once the championship celebrations died down. Bryan was forced to relinquish his title less than two months later, and it took less than 24 hours for Balor to hand over his. As we reported on Monday, Balor suffered a shoulder injury early in his SummerSlam match with Seth Rollins, one that would require surgery and force Balor to give up the newly-created title.
The injury occurred when Rollins power-bombed Balor onto the barrier surrounding the ring, but to Balor’s credit, he was still able to wrestle a 20-plus minute match in what was likely the biggest moment of his professional career. Daily Wrestling News is now reporting that the injury is much worse than originally anticipated, but the surgery on Tuesday was a success.
WWE physician Dr. Jeffrey Dugas commented on the procedure and Balor’s outlook.
“Finn’s injury was pretty severe, more severe than normal. A really high energy injury, it did more damage than a standard shoulder dislocation where you simply tear the labrum. The prognosis is excellent, however. We were able to fix it all and put it back where it came from. I’m anticipating him getting back at full speed.”
While the anticipation is certainly encouraging, the WWE’s initial timetable for Finn Balor to return to the ring is somewhere between four to six months, but there are those that believe it could be even longer than that. The short end of that estimation would see Balor back in the WWE by Christmas. Six months out of action means he would miss the opportunity to compete in his first-ever Royal Rumble. Anything longer than that and he’d be in danger of missing out on WrestleMania 33, which takes place on April 2 in Orlando.
Despite recent arguments over superstars and finishes, Vince McMahon and Triple H were able to come to an agreement on Finn Balor and where he stood in the WWE. By holding him down in NXT for so long, they were able to push him straight to the top when he was finally promoted. The injury occurred so soon into his championship reign that it was difficult to predict his next move. However, it was expected that a program with Seth Rollins would have continued, at least through September 25’s RAW-exclusive pay-per-view, Clash of Champions.
Beyond that gets a little fuzzy, though it’s not hard to imagine challengers would have come in the form of Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, and, eventually, Brock Lesnar. Any way you slice it, Vince and Triple H were committed to making Finn Balor the top babyface on Monday nights, a place previously reserved for Reigns. The fans continue to reject Roman reclaiming his throne, so the spot appears to be open again due to Balor’s injury.
Dating back to last fall, the WWE has lost main event level superstars like John Cena, Randy Orton, Sting, Seth Rollins, and Bray Wyatt. Unfortunately, we now have to add Finn Balor to that list and play the waiting game for the Demon King yet again. At least there should be a quality WWE Network special highlighting his SummerSlam ascension to look forward to.
[Image via WWE]