In this week’s edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via Sportskeeda), Dave Meltzer reported that Balor will no longer be included in the SmackDown brand’s upcoming live events in the United Kingdom after originally being listed among the scheduled performers. Although he remains advertised for the shows, Meltzer noted that WWE’s plans have changed and that he’s being removed because of his current affiliation with NXT.
Talking about Balor’s recent move to NXT, Meltzer wrote that the Irishman was initially supposed to “be on the SmackDown crew” after his loss to “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt at SummerSlam in August, with the idea being that he’d go on the hiatus he requested and return as part of the blue brand’s roster. But with NXT‘s ratings dropping soon after it made its USA Network debut in September, WWE reportedly made the decision to move Balor to the black-and-gold brand in hopes that his “star power” would turn things around.
On October 2, Balor returned to NXT for the first time since 2016, getting a huge reaction from the live audience as he confronted the brand’s current champion, Adam Cole, in an in-ring segment.
With Balor now back on the brand where he first made an impression on WWE fans, the former inaugural Universal Champion is expected to face Johnny Gargano at NXT TakeOver: WarGames on November 23, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
As recalled by Bleacher Report, the erstwhile fan-favorite Balor attacked Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa on the October 23 episode of NXT, allowing him to turn heel for the first time since signing with WWE five years ago. He then cut a promo on Gargano on the following week’s episode, where he justified his villainous turn and threatened to send “Johnny Wrestling” to the hospital.
Given how Balor had mostly been used as a mid-card wrestler since injuries forced him to relinquish the Universal Championship in the summer of 2016, Bleacher Report also opined that the move back to NXT came at the right time for the 38-year-old former independent wrestling star.
“Returning to NXT is a chance for Balor to reinvigorate his career and remind everyone why he was such a big signing for the company back in 2014,” wrote the publication’s Chris Mueller.