Former WWE Universal Champion Finn Balor is currently rehabbing a pretty nasty shoulder injury, which he suffered back in August against Seth Rollins. It has been reported that he will return a lot sooner than expected, and many are predicting that he’ll make his return as a surprise entrant in the 2017 Royal Rumble match.
Of course, you would think that if Balor returned during the Rumble, the smart move would be for WWE to book him to win it. But, as of right now, Chris Jericho and John Cena are the odds-on favorites to win the 2017 Royal Rumble. So, if the odds end up being correct, the “Demon King” won’t challenge for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 33.
WrestleMania 33 is a little over five months away, so it’s probably too early to predict what the event’s card will look like. But if you look at how things are going right now, and if you consider the current odds for the 2017 Royal Rumble, the card for WWE’s biggest event of the year could look a lot like this:
- John Cena vs. Undertaker (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
- Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (WWE Universal Championship)
- Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
- Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg
- Dean Ambrose vs. Shane McMahon
- Roman Reigns vs. Braun Strowman
Of course, the last match (Reigns vs. Strowman) could be changed. But according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WWE could be building towards that match.
Again, the card above isn’t official, and it’s just a prediction. But if you look at the card, two notable names left off of it are AJ Styles and Finn Balor.
There’s a small chance that WWE will hold off on bringing Balor back until the night after WrestleMania 33. But, given the fact that their biggest show of the year is traditionally six hours long, they’ll need all the talent that they can get for the show. So, it’s probably pretty safe to assume that Balor will return before WrestleMania 33, and that he will compete on the card.
As for Styles, WWE could have him go one on one with Randy Orton, which is one of the few dream matches that hasn’t happened yet. They could even insert him into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match with John Cena and The Undertaker, and make it a three-way, where Cena can pin AJ instead of Undertaker, and win his 16th world title. But WWE likely wants to make Cena vs. Undertaker a one-on-one affair.
If you examine the rest of the Raw and SmackDown rosters, there’s really no one for Balor or Styles to compete with on WWE’s grandest stage. So, why not put them against each other?
There’s one major problem with booking Styles vs. Balor, which is that the two men are on different brands. But as we saw at WWE’s Survivor Series show, the company doesn’t have a problem with booking brand vs. brand matches on their big shows, and WrestleMania is the biggest show of them all.
Even though both Balor and Styles spent the majority of their respective careers outside of WWE, they never had a match with each other. In fact, they’ve always just barely missed each other. A good example of that is when AJ Styles debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling on the very same night that Finn Balor left for WWE.
We saw a brief on-screen moment with both Styles and Balor at this past August’s SummerSlam, and the live crowd went crazy for it. So, that’s obviously a match that fans want to see.
There’s also a chance that, due to the lack of depth on the blue brand, WWE will send Balor to SmackDown upon his return. If that happens, then WWE wouldn’t have to bill it as a brand vs. brand match, and Balor’s presence would help WWE’s Tuesday night show tremendously.
There are a ton of possible WrestleMania scenarios for both AJ Styles and Finn Balor, but the one that’s best is a match between the two. Will WWE do it? Let’s hope so!
[Featured Image by WWE]