Finn Bálor made his shocking return to the black and gold brand in the fall of 2019, seemingly destined to pose a challenge to Adam Cole and The Undisputed Era’s dominance over NXT until turning heel for the first time in WWE.
Bálor has since adopted the moniker of ‘The Prince’, embracing the aggressive side that saw him rise through the ranks of Japan. Finn made easy work of some of NXT’s biggest stars, including: Matt Riddle, Johnny Gargano and most recently, Damien Priest, although something hasn’t quite clicked with Bálor since returning to Full Sail — perhaps NXT has simply passed him by.
There’s no denying that Finn Bálor has been one of NXT’s greatest success stories, capturing the NXT Championship from Kevin Owens in his debut year and going on to be one of the brand’s marquee attractions during its greatest era. There’s no surprise that upon his call-up in 2016, Bálor was quickly considered to be one of RAW’s biggest draws and was rocket-strapped to the top of the card, becoming the inaugural Universal Champion at SummerSlam in a dream match against Seth Rollins.
Since returning from his crushing injury, Bálor maintained his popularity and was often featured in pay-per-view matches against the top stars of the main roster. Even though Finn failed to reclaim his Universal title, he was certainly considered within the circle of top-tier talent that would easily be booked into headlining matches and rivalries, occasionally capturing a mid-card championship and slowly ticking off the many dream matches fan have been beckoning for.
But after being royally humbled by the debuting Fiend at SummerSlam last year, Bálor packed his bags and took his services back to NXT. Fans welcomed Finn with open arms but his unique X-factor has somewhat diminished over the past few months, as we’ve seen ‘The Prince’ fall down the card into minor feuds that fail to exploit Bálor for his natural star power.
Prior to the global pandemic, Bálor was set to embark on a journey to NXT UK, developing a simmering feud with the current NXT UK champion, WALTER. This match was set to be an absolute classic, potentially even being WALTER’s finale as UK champ in Finn’s home country of Ireland. Putting the title on Finn would have been huge for the BritWres brand and for the title, making for Bálor’s biggest accomplishment since returning to the third brand of WWE. Those plans have since been put on halt, with the NXT UK TakeOver special now being postponed until October at the very earliest.
With Bálor now filling for time in these meagre feuds with Damien Priest and Cameron Grimes, it almost feels somewhat beneath the former Universal Champion, who is slowly but surely losing his edge on NXT. Call me a pessimist, but this definitely isn’t the same Finn Bálor that once dominated the NXT brand as its leading man.
Of course, there’s still plenty of time for ‘The Prince’ to start taking steps back towards the main event scene of NXT. With Adam Cole now looking for a new challenger after dispatching of the Velveteen Dream at TakeOver: In Your House, this could be a great opportunity for Bálor to once again step up to the NXT Champion off the back of his victory over Priest.
But I personally feel that this new darker version of Finn Bálor would have been enough to give him a fresh reboot on the main roster. After returning from his hiatus after losing to Bray Wyatt, Bálor could have been the first to take a step over to the dark side as a result of his loss and reinvigorated his stock on either RAW or SmackDown Live. Letting Bálor loose on the babyfaces of the main roster would have gone a long way in keeping his act fresh and allowing for him to relish in a style that he seems more comfortable wrestling with.
Fans had been waiting to see a potential Bullet Club reunion under the WWE umbrella and what better time to pull the trigger on that than with a heel Bálor on the main roster. Surely seeing Bálor stand alongside his former brethren AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson would have been a little more of a draw than his generic bad guy feuds on NXT. Not that I haven’t enjoyed his clashes with the aforementioned Riddle and Gargano.
Finn Bálor has been a ready-made star for the main roster since debuting in 2016, so to see WWE let him wander back down to NXT suggests that they’ve started to give up on him as a headlining star. Not that Finn won’t be able to claw back the same momentum that he once had, but if this is it for ‘The Prince’ on the main roster then I think it’s fair to say that it could have been a lot more than it was.
What are your thoughts on Finn Bálor’s second NXT run? Have you been impressed with his recent string of matches as a heel or do you believe he’s better suited for the main roster? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures may contain affiliate links, which may provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.