First of all, let’s flash back to the good old days. Balor was one of the best things to ever happen to NXT, winning the NXT Title at a house show in Tokyo, Japan on July 4, 2015. This kicked off the longest NXT Title reign in history at 292 days, a record which still stands today. Balor went on to have an outstanding, several months long feud with Samoa Joe, who eventually took the title from him in April 2016. He would then move up to the main roster a few months later, basically as an NXT legend.
Here’s one of Balor’s final NXT matches, inf ull.
Now on paper, that doesn’t sound like much. However, Balor was a lot more than that. He was smooth in the ring, had a great look, was a very talented in-ring performer and could cut a good promo. On his podcast, Steve Austin said he didn’t understand why Balor wasn’t being pushed as the top star of the main roster, let alone just being down in NXT. There was talent there and people were starting to notice it. Then, there’s the big reason that people remember Balor, which got him over so huge in NXT but then became an anchor around his neck in WWE.
Yes of course it’s the Demon, Balor’s alter ego which he would assume for the biggest matches. With just one loss (to Samoa Joe in a cage at “Takeover: The End”) as the character on his record, it was clear that the Demon had something to him. Now what was so good about the character that made it special? Was it really just putting on some awesome paint and doing a creepy crawl?
Well….kind of. The main thing to remember about Balor was how awesome he looked on his own. He’s in great shape, has the sweet entrance, the leather jacket, the cool finisher and the laid back attitude. Balor was practically Fonzie (not Bill Alfonso) with an Irish accent. Now let’s jump forward to the Demon persona, which changes everything about Balor in a single moment.
When he became the Demon, Balor turned into a disturbing looking creature and you couldn’t take your eyes off of him. It made for such an awesome visual, especially when Balor would add in a theme. Whether it was as Jack the Ripper at “Takeover: London” or as an homage to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre at “Takeover: Dallas”, Balor became something completely different and it made you wonder where the line was drawn inside his head. Keep that in mind because we’re coming back to it in a bit.
And then, the Demon.
So after putting of Shinsuke Nakamura, it was time for Balor to move up to the main roster. He was taken as the #3 pick for “Monday Night Raw” and immediately put in the mix for the first ever Universal Title. Balor wasted no time by defeating Roman Reigns to qualify for a Universal Title match against Seth Rollins at “Summerslam 2016”. In quite the upset, Balor would defeat Rollins to become the first champion, but it came at a heck of a price.
During the match, Balor took a running powerbomb into the barricade, basically suffering every possible shoulder injury you could have in a single match. He would be out for the better part of eight months, meaning it was time to start all over again. Balor would return as the former Universal Champion but, as is so often the case in WWE, they would completely forget what worked for Balor in the first place, making the whole thing a mess on the second go around.
Yes Balor was back but something was different. First and foremost, he was pinned by Roman Reigns above five weeks after he returned. Then a few months later he lost to Elias Samson, who would go on to lose his last name soon after. Balor would move on to a feud with Bray Wyatt, who beat him in their first match together on “Monday Night Raw”, August 14, 2017. No worries though, because we could have a rematch less than a week later. That’s where the problems started.
So that night, Michael Cole announces that not only will there be a rematch at “Summerslam 2017” but Balor will be wrestling as THE DEMON. This is where it all started falling apart for me, as Cole and WWE had turned the Demon into one of their “things”. You know what I mean. It stops being something organic and turns into the Official WWE Concept, meaning they’ll be saying the name over and over again, likely in an effort to get it over on their precious social media.
Watch instead of listen.
From then on, it was “THE DEMON WILL BE AT SUMMERSLAM” or “THE DEMON IS FINN BALOR’S ALTER EGO” or “COME SEE THE DEPTHS OF BALOR’S MIND”. It felt like the time when your mom and dad discover Facebook and start talking about it every day. Now it wasn’t something you could look forward to as much as you had to hear about it all the time, thereby making it something you knew was coming and you wanted done so the talk would die down.
It’s one of the major differences between WWE and NXT: WWE likes to tell you things while NXT likes to show you. Down in NXT, you didn’t need the commentators explaining to you that the Demon would be appearing for a big match. You just knew he would be there because that’s what Balor did when it mattered most. In other words you didn’t have the announcers walking you through everything because they treated you as someone intelligent enough to figure it out on your own.
So the Demon persona wasn’t working but at least Balor there’s still some hope….and then he lost to Kane. Yes Kane, the fifty year old who hasn’t been seen as a monster in the better part of forever, is now pinning Balor clean in 7:06. You know, because there was NO ONE ELSE AVAILABLE to take such a loss. That’s about as much of a death sentence as you can get in WWE: you might as well lose because you mean as much as any other warm body on the show.
Somehow Balor has gone from someone who could have had a hot match against Brock Lesnar to that guy that Kane beats to get Kane ready to be squashed by Braun Strowman. I mean….why? He debuted less than two years ago (with about seven months of that being spent on the shelf) and now this is the best he can do? If that’s how much they think of the guy, why did they bother bringing him up for NXT?
And then he loses matches like this.
Now that being said, it’s not like all hope is lost. If there’s one thing Jinder Mahal has proven, it’s that anyone can be turned from a loser to a top level star. Throw in the fact that Balor should be a top level star and it’s a much easier process. So what’s the big secret to making Balor a big deal?
Stop having him lose so much. Seriously that’s about it. If Balor (or anyone for that matter) is treated like a big deal, they’ll become a bigger deal. I know WWE has this new mindset of wins and losses not mattering but that’s not exactly how the fans see things. If WWE wants someone to be treated like a star, they need to stop being jobbed out in an effort to build someone up. Why couldn’t Kane torment some lower level guy or just some jobbers? You know it’s going to be Strowman interfering anyway, so why damage Balor in the process?
Fixing Balor isn’t hard. If they let him win some matches, stop having him lose matches he doesn’t need to lose and stop spouting off badly scripted lines about him (That ordinary man who does extraordinary things line isn’t doing him any good. “Come see this ordinary guy!” I’d rather see some special people when I watch wrestling actually.) and he’ll be fine. There’s too much talent there to just waste him the way they have been and it would do everyone a lot of good to just let Balor get over the way he got over in NXT: by looking cool, winning matches, and showing us what the Demon can do. Why is that so hard?
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