After it seemed like it might never be in the cards at all, the back half of 2016 was going to be all about Finn Balor on the WWE main roster. After establishing the Bullet Club as a household name in Japan and bringing the NXT brand to new heights, the next step, naturally, was a promotion to the big leagues of WWE. 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 went 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 headed to the top of the card no matter what.
Then it all came crashing down. 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.
His rehab with Dr. Jeffrey Dugas in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as in Orlando at the WWE Performance Center, has progressed nicely. 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.Finn was a recent guest on The Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast to further elaborate on his rehabilitation as he continues to try and get his shoulder repaired. Thanks to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
"Six hours of rehab every day. Three in the morning, yeah, three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. And the guys down in Birmingham, Alabama have been incredible. I've been working out with them everyday."
As noted, the original timeline would have seen Finn Balor on the sidelines anywhere from four to six months. The short end of that spectrum would have been at the end of December, but six months would have meant the end of February or beginning of March. Wrestling fans everywhere fantasy booked his return in what would be the biggest time of the year for WWE.All along, Balor has maintained a positive outlook on the whole process. But during his conversation with Roberts, Finn revealed that the original timeline was a bit off. Unless, of course, he's trying to throw everyone for a curve ball.
"Yeah, last week [the sling came off]. Like down here, I feel real good, but I've got to be real careful. The target's WrestleMania. There's talk it could be sooner, but really that's the hard target. And that's what I'm aiming for right now."
Ever since the injury, fans have speculated that Finn Balor would return as a surprise entrant and go on to win the Royal Rumble. Based on that comment to Roberts, it doesn't appear likely. Reading between the lines, Balor is indicating that he could wrestle again at WrestleMania but appear beforehand to help build towards a match.
The Rumble wouldn't require the normal amount of exertion if he entered near the end, but that's more than two months before WrestleMania, so if we're taking him at his word, it again seems unlikely. The company was without so many of its top stars this past April in Dallas, so they'll want to be extra careful with Finn Balor if he's projected to be on the card.
[Featured Image by WWE]