Among the multiple title changes that took place on Sunday night at WWE's Extreme Rules pay-per-view, Finn Balor's Intercontinental Championship loss to Shinsuke Nakamura came with arguably less fanfare, given that it took place during the pre-show and with little build in the weeks leading up to the show. However, a new report suggests that there might be a good reason explaining WWE's decision to have Balor lose the championship.
In a report published on Monday night, Pro Wrestling Sheet's Ryan Satin wrote that per backstage sources, Balor "recently" spoke to WWE officials and asked for two months off. This request, which was reportedly granted, will allow the SmackDown Live mainstay to begin his leave of absence from the company at some point in August, most likely after WWE's next big pay-per-view, SummerSlam, takes place on August 11.
As of this writing, the reason behind Balor's supposed request remains unclear, and it also remains to be seen how WWE will book the Irishman in the weeks leading up to his hiatus. However, Satin cited one of his sources, who claimed that the former Universal and Intercontinental Champion was looking for some time off to "recharge."
Interestingly, the reports of Finn Balor getting time off from WWE came on the same night that he was attacked in the ring during a segment that heralded Bray Wyatt's in-ring return after almost a year's absence. Per Newsweek, Wyatt appeared on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw after weeks of taped vignettes, wearing his "Fiend" costume and ambushing Balor -- who was guesting on Raw this week as part of WWE's Wild Card Rule -- after his loss to Samoa Joe.It's also unclear whether Wyatt's attack on Balor is connected to the latter's purported request for two months off. However, Pro Wrestling Sheet's report came on the same day that Pro Sports Extra's Brad Shepard took to Twitter to report on another possible reason why Balor lost his Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules.
According to Shepard, Monday Night Raw executive director Paul Heyman was the one who made the decision to have Balor lose his title to Nakamura, as he reportedly has plans to reunite the 37-year-old wrestler with AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows as part of The Club -- WWE's stripped-down take on New Japan Pro Wrestling's iconic Bullet Club stable. As noted by Daily DDT, Balor -- then using the ring name Prince Devitt -- was a prominent Bullet Club member alongside Styles, Anderson, and Gallows during his time in NJPW.