Fans largely responded with vitriol when Roman Reigns entered last at Royal Rumble 2017’s main event battle royal. As wrestlers previously booked to compete in other matches prior to the Royal Rumble match typically don’t take part in the main event, many saw this as another one of WWE’s attempts to force the polarizing wrestler down their throats. But a new report suggests that the reason behind this move wasn’t another case of WWE trying to make Reigns look strong, but rather because Finn Balor — a man who fans had expected to see at the Rumble — failed to get medical clearance to compete.
The smoke has cleared and another Royal Rumble has ended — both the pay-per-view and the match. Yet, fans are still talking about how Roman Reigns entered the Royal Rumble match at No. 30, dashing their hopes of seeing Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, or even extreme longshots such as Kurt Angle or Kenny Omega become the last man to enter the fray. In fact, the @WrestlingLAD Twitter account has shared several video compilations showing fan reactions to Reigns being last to enter the Rumble match, despite already having fought — and lost to — Kevin Owens earlier in the evening during a match for the WWE Universal Championship.
As we now know, Joe did make his debut on the Monday Night RAW after the Rumble pay-per-view, attacking Seth Rollins and possibly re-injuring his knee in the process, as Pro Wrestling Sheet wrote. Balor remains on the sidelines as he continues to recover from his shoulder injury. And speaking of Finn Balor and his torn labrum, that appears to be the reason why Roman Reigns was the 30th man to enter the Royal Rumble match on Sunday.
Citing its own podcast The Dirty Sheets, SportsKeeda wrote today that the reason fans got to see Reigns in two matches at Royal Rumble 2017 – the Universal Championship match and the Royal Rumble match – was because Roman was a replacement for the man originally intended to enter at No. 30, Finn Balor. The publication also cited sources from the United Kingdom wrestling scene and those “tied to the WWE” in saying that the Irishman was declared “not ready” to compete on Sunday following a medical exam the week prior.
As Balor had, per a recent Inquisitr report, made some quips on Twitter about being a “30-1” favorite to compete at Royal Rumble 2017, this new rumor does line up with those comments. It also aligns with one of Finn’s recent social media posts (shown above), where the Demon King was shown holding a coffee cup that details the injuries he suffered at SummerSlam 2016 in August, and how he braved those injuries to beat Seth Rollins and become WWE’s inaugural Universal Champion. It’s still unclear when Balor will be allowed to return to action, but the hope remains that he makes it back in time for WrestleMania 33 in early-April.
Given the reports that Finn Balor wasn’t cleared to compete on Sunday, and how Samoa Joe made his main roster debut the night after to lay a beatdown on Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns entering last in this year’s Royal Rumble match should make more sense for most irate fans. But will it lead to the “Big Dog” making a heel turn, especially since rumors suggest he’s in line to face the super-popular and legendary Undertaker at WrestleMania 33?
According to SportsKeeda, that may be a good possibility, and it may do WWE good to take advantage of the hugely negative reaction to his pulling double-duty at Royal Rumble 2017, and turn “The Guy” into a bad guy.
“However, Roman Reigns has a bigger WWE pedigree (than Finn Balor) and this is one instance where his negative crowd reaction will be a positive thing. The Undertaker evidently isn’t in the best shape, but with the crowd 95 percent behind him and heavily invested in the match, it will mean Roman and ‘Taker won’t have to do very match to give off the illusion that they are having a classic match, much like (The) Rock vs. (Hulk) Hogan at WrestleMania 18.”
It may take a little longer before fans get over seeing Roman Reigns as the last man to enter this year’s Royal Rumble match. But if it leads to a successful and well-received heel turn, his being an apparent last-minute replacement for Finn Balor just might be the best thing to happen to him in 2017.
[Featured Image by WWE]