Fans often complain about the WWE’s inability to introduce new characters to programming. Deservedly so, too. But on the day after Finn Balor’s debut on Monday Night Raw, everyone needs to take a collective step back and give the company a standing ovation.
In one three-hour program, the WWE managed to take a talent who would have his credibility rise or fall with how he was introduced, and make him into an already-legitimate main event level player.
It was as if the WWE decided to give Balor the A.J. Styles push… on steroids.
It obviously started with Balor being introduced as a participant in the fatal-four way match that would determine who would fight in the main event of Raw for a spot at SummerSlam to battle for the WWE Universal Championship. That alone, even if he didn’t win, would have been a solid enough debut. After all, simply being included in the hunt is a major rub.
Yet, he won the match.
Then it was off to the main event to fight Roman Reigns. Whether Balor is benefiting from The Guy being in the doghouse or not, he beat a previously indestructible force in the main event CLEAN. No wacky finish. No random eye-pokes, chair shots, or interference. Reigns and Balor put on a great match, and non-face painted Balor won with his finisher.
Save for NXT fans, who already loved him as is, the entire WWE Universe will be swallowed by the idea of what Balor is and can become. Sure, the endgame at SummerSlam is still likely to have Seth Rollins walk out as Raw’s new main champion, but Balor’s being in that match puts him on that next-level pedestal — and the WWE accomplished all of that in ONE STINKING SHOW.
Even some of the smaller details of Balor’s debut were booked perfectly.
There was no-face painted Demon Balor. That might seem unimportant, and to a degree it would have made sense for him to be Demon Balor against Reigns, but that aspect of his gimmick is for monumental matches (SummerSlam). For the next few weeks we will now get to witness that buildup to that part of his character.
Really, it was a brilliant move by the WWE to debut Balor, but not full-scale Balor. Let the layers of his character unfold little by little with each broadcast.
Another nice touch was that he didn’t talk on the microphone. Balor is a fine oral wordsmith, but still unspectacular. What he happens to be, however, is a great in-ring competitor. By focusing on that aspect, by having him fight in two matches, it highlights his positives and hides some of his potential negatives.
Anyway, this is the rare WWE booking moment that should give fans faith in the company. Here it had a guy in Balor who might not translate well due to his size, but the company sure as hell made sure he did via the way in which it booked his debut.
In a way, it appeared as though the WWE wanted Balor to be as over as did fans who have followed his career dating back to Japan (or even longer than that). And it all worked out swimmingly. Not only for the WWE, and for Balor, but for the WWE Universe that often believes the company books too much on the fly and deals with the fallout after making rash decisions.
There was clearly no rash decisions with Balor. Whether it is accurate or not, it was booked in a way that made one believe the company had a plan in place for one of NXT’s most important stars ever. With that being the case, that feeling can now be parlayed to the idea of a better creative future in the WWE.
As much as I’d like to give all the credit to Balor for that, the WWE deserves as much of it — if not more — than the talent who is about to reap the benefits from the company’s decision to treat him like the big deal he truly is.