The second half of 2016 was supposed to be all about Finn Balor. The superstar, formerly known as Prince Devitt who helped make the Bullet Club a household name, took the NXT brand to new heights during his nearly two-year run there, but his promotion to the WWE’s main roster was long overdue when he finally got the call during the brand extension draft this past July.
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 went ahead of the likes of Roman Reigns, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Randy Orton, and it became increasingly evident during his first night on the flagship show that the future was now.
Finn’s debut will go down as one of the most impressive in the history of the WWE. 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 Roman Reigns in the main event to qualify for the WWE Universal Championship match against Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. The stars may have aligned for Balor thanks to the Reigns suspension knocking him down a few pegs, but it was clear that Finn was getting the push of a lifetime right out of the gates.
Unfortunately, of course, in what was supposed to signify his tangible ascension to the top of the ladder, Finn Balor was injured in that SummerSlam bout, forcing him to relinquish the title he’d still win one night later. Balor suffered a shoulder injury rather early in the match thanks to a modified buckle bomb from Rollins on the outside. An MRI later revealed that Balor had a torn labrum that required surgery and a prognosis of four to six months on the shelf.
According to the Daily Wrestling News, Finn is apparently doing very well in his rehab and has not suffered any setbacks during his recovery time. Balor has continued to tell people close to him that he hopes to get back in the ring as soon as possible, and WWE officials are equally as optimistic that he’ll be able to wrestle a lot sooner than originally thought. Both Balor and the WWE remain hopeful that a spot on the WrestleMania 33 card is within reach.
Balor has been rehabbing with Dr. Jeffrey Dugas in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as in Orlando at the WWE Performance Center. Finn’s permanent residence in the states remains Orlando. The company has made a conscientious effort to update WWE fans on Balor’s progress as a way to keep him fresh in their minds. Balor may have been a cult hero among hardcore fans, but the casual mainstream group was just starting to get to know him when he suffered the injury.
As noted, both Finn and the WWE hope that he is cleared in time for a match at WrestleMania, but many have speculated that the Royal Rumble would be the perfect time for him to return. Originally, Balor wasn’t in consideration to win the Rumble because he was still supposed to be the Universal Champion at that time. If you recall, his first two pay-per-view title defenses were already laid out even before his SummerSlam victory.
The first RAW exclusive show, Clash of Champions, would have had him defend against Kevin Owens. Hell in a Cell would have followed with a main event featuring Balor, Owens, and Chris Jericho in a triple threat. Anything beyond that had yet to be confirmed, but it all became moot because of the injury anyway.
Even making it back in time for the Royal Rumble would be an accomplishment in and of itself. However, winning it would put him right back on the fast track to the top of the card and wrestling in one of the marquee matches on the grandest stage of the year. It’s unclear if the WWE officials’ hopes of a return for WrestleMania are a way to throw off any scent for a return at the Royal Rumble or the true timeline for Finn Balor to step back into the ring. Either way, things appear to be progressing positively for the Demon King.
[Featured Image by WWE]