Finn Balor has achieved a level of importance that many other WWE Superstars have only dreamed of. He’s not only a main event caliber talent; he’s over to the point that he’s endured one bit of bad booking after another but he always rebounds. No matter what happens with Balor, the fans still love him.
So what is happening with Balor?
Balor himself may or may not believe there’s a problem. Why should he? He’s a regularly featured star in WWE; he’s used heavily on TV and pay-per-view. He’s had no lack of promotion from the company and it’s obvious that he’s at the forefront of the New Era.
He’s living his dream and he’s doing it in the largest pro wrestling company in the world. He has a highly coveted spot and he’s surely not going to give it up despite how many fans believe he deserves more. That’s where the disconnect comes in.
To fans, Balor’s career is just not moving where it should be. He’s in a great position and he’s accomplished a lot already but that just doesn’t seem to be good enough for his supporters. But while WWE may view that as an overreaction, that’s not how the fans see it.
But that may not be their fault.
WWE wanted the fans to accept Balor. The desire to book him as a top babyface was evident from the moment he came to the main roster. It was realized on the night he became the first ever Universal champion.
Balor was the next big thing. That’s how he was presented and that’s how he was received.
Fans bought in because they connected with him. First it was Balor’s Demon King Persona, which was unlike anything WWE had ever witnessed before. They had seen dark and enigmatic characters like The Undertaker, Sting and Bray Wyatt. But they had never seen anyone capable of turning that on and off like a switch.
Balor was able to conjure his demon whenever the time was right. He did it so often that the WWE faithful began to expect it. When that happened, a serious flaw in Balor’s character began to show. Was he a one-trick pony?
He was still the same intense worker between the ropes but he did seem to change when he wore the paint. He was more than what he was; he embraced the character and truly transformed himself. But while many saw what he was doing and positively reacted to it, some saw it as nothing more than just a gimmick.
However when he washed the paint off and returned from injury as Finn Balor the man, he had to once again prove himself. He was just a tough Irishman in black trunks, fighting to be the best every night in the ring. He not only accomplished that goal, he did it with style.
But even as he seemed to rise, he also began to stand still.
The Universal Championship match between him and Brock Lesnar never happened. Balor continued to win big matches but he started to lose big matches as well. The curse of 50/50 booking began to rear its head and suddenly Balor seemed like a man without a mission.
Even his reunion with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows has not been the hit that WWE surely believed it would be. Perhaps the problem was The Club never really turned babyface before joining with Balor. Or maybe the issue is Balor’s character seems more comfortable just being happy working with his running buddies than working to climb the ladder.
Of course his loss in the Elimination Chamber qualifying match to John Cena has only complicated the matter. Did Cena really need to win that one? Didn’t Balor have all the momentum going into that match? What exactly is WWE going to do with Balor now that he’s once again on the outside looking in?
The fact is that Cena is likely not to blame for Balor’s loss. But someone in WWE is. Someone believes that Balor is better off out of the Universal title picture. At least for now. But as Balor continues to smile alongside his good brothers, his fans continue to wonder what’s going to happen with him.
Is the Intercontinental Championship on the horizon for Balor? Is that a consolation prize or is that the level Balor should be at this point? Or could it be there's just no room for him at the top right now?
Monday Night Raw belongs to Roman Reigns. The Universal Championship belongs to Lesnar. Braun Strowman is building his resume as the industry’s next great big man. Cena is still hanging around and Matt Hardy is on the verge of becoming more Broken than ever before.
Raw is a big pond and Balor is a big fish. But how does WWE see it?
If he remains where he is and does nothing but have great matches against top stars, then that may be enough for the company. It may even be enough for Balor. But it will probably not be enough for the fans that believe in him. Maybe Balor will eventually live up to the fans’ expectations.
More importantly, maybe WWE will eventually allow Balor to live up to the fan’s expectations.