Back in August, the first-ever WWE Universal Champion, Finn Balor, was badly injured during his match with Seth Rollins. The injury was so bad that, the very next night on Raw, the Demon King was forced to relinquish his newly won championship.
When we first found out about Balor’s injury, we knew it was bad. But, doctors found out that it was much worse than they originally thought when they performed surgery on him at the tail end of August. After surgery, the original prognosis for Balor’s return was six to eight months.
Since his injury, there has been a lot of speculation regarding when he’ll return to the ring, and if he’ll be ready for the 2017 Royal Rumble on January 29.
On Monday, ESPN posted an interview with Finn Balor, who said that his target return date is WrestleMania 33, but he also didn’t rule out the possibility of a return at the Royal Rumble.
Finn Bálor won’t risk his health to come back early at Royal Rumble... unless Vince McMahon asks https://t.co/hDwggTFLCh— Cageside Seats (@cagesideseats) December 19, 2016
“It’s not something I want to risk unless I’m 100 percent confident that this [pointing to his injured shoulder] is 100 percent.
“With the condition my shoulder is in, I’m not willing to risk sustaining any more long-term injury, just for the sake of two or three weeks. Since I got hurt, it was six months. The target was to be back for WrestleMania. Everything’s on plan, everything’s on schedule.
“If the day of the Royal Rumble, Vince McMahon says, ‘You got your gear with you?’ Then I’m sure I’ll be around.”
If Balor does return at the 2017 Royal Rumble, then his return will be a month ahead of schedule. Of course, it’s not out of the ordinary to see an injured WWE star make a surprise return at the Royal Rumble event, as both John Cena and Edge have returned from injury well ahead of schedule at past Rumble events.
Balor also said in the ESPN piece that, if he does return during the 30-man Royal Rumble match, he’ll enter the match as number 30, because if he doesn’t, he’ll probably get passed on the way down to the ring by the people who would be scheduled to enter the match after him.
As previously mentioned, the original prognosis for Balor’s return was six to eight months, so if he doesn’t return on January 29, expect him to return in either late-February or early-March, as WWE begins the road to their biggest show of the year, WrestleMania 33.
Before his injury, Balor was scheduled to receive a major main event push, which started with his Universal Championship win at SummerSlam. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Balor’s push was only going to be temporary, because WWE did have plans to resume their big Roman Reigns push, which was briefly put on hold over the summer due to his wellness policy violation.
After Balor relinquished the Universal Championship on Raw, WWE teased a rematch between him and Seth Rollins. But, they decided to do a Seth Rollins babyface turn at the end of August, and now it looks like he’s heading towards a match with Triple H at WrestleMania 33.
It’s hard to predict exactly where Balor will end up on the WrestleMania 33 card. If he returns at the Royal Rumble, he’ll likely win the Rumble match, which will guarantee him a shot at the Universal Championship in Orlando next year. But, if he doesn’t return at the Rumble, there really isn’t an obvious opponent for him, at least not on the Raw brand.
Since they both debuted on the WWE main roster earlier this year, fans have been dying to see an AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor match. As of right now, the two men are affiliated with different brands. But, if is open to doing a brand vs. brand match at their biggest show of the year, then we could see Balor vs. Styles added to the WrestleMania 33 card.
[Featured Image by WWE]