Finn Bálor shocked the world with his heel turn on the October 23 edition of NXT. The former Universal champion came down to the ring and stood shoulder to shoulder with Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano in a showdown with The Undisputed Era, when suddenly, the unexpected happened.
Finn destroyed Gargano, making a statement in the process. The man that was once one of the company’s most popular Superstars has now fully embraced his dark side. Finally, Finn Bálor is being given a storyline that matters. Finally, it’s his time to shine.
From the very beginning, Finn was a man heading for big things. Longtime fans who followed him in New Japan Pro Wrestling marveled at his ability and his showmanship, both of which made him must-see TV. Every time he was on the mic, he made an impact. Every time he was in the ring, he made his name. NJPW fans knew Finn was the real deal and American fans knew it as well.
This was a man that fully understood how the game was played and better yet, he knew just how good he was. Bálor was not a flashy high-flyer who wanted to make the highlight reel. He was a storyteller who cared about his craft and that was obvious whenever he was on camera. The only thing he needed was the right platform to tell his new stories and WWE seemed to be the perfect place.
Watch Finn Bálor destroy Johnny Gargano!
But no matter how many times he got close, Finn Bálor never seemed to fully get where he needed to be. Vince McMahon’s company was intent on keeping him at a certain level and he never really went any further. He was the first Universal champion and he pinned Seth Rollins to win it. He also pinned Roman Reigns along the way as well. So yes, WWE definitely appeared to have big plans for the former IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion.
However after an injury that took him out of the title picture, Finn floundered. He became just another babyface, a guy who smiled a lot and always seemed to love what he was doing. But the problem is, he never seemed to be doing all that much. Bálor was in a rut and there was just no way out of it.
WWE fans wanted more for him, that much is certain. At any given time, those fans carry around a mental list of Superstars that deserve more in the company and Finn’s name was always near the top. He was so loved and respected because of his heart and dedication to the industry. No one was in a better spot to do more than Finn, but he was always just one step behind.
Relive Bálor’s return to NXT!
But now the game has changed. Finn Bálor’s return to NXT was met with strong enthusiasm from his supporters, who believed he was finally getting a new lease on life. It was a great way for him to restart and recycle his run, which desperately needed a refresh. However, no one could have expected what would come next.
Finn Bálor went from hopeful second chance to sudden prime time. With one vicious attack, Bálor has shot straight to the top of WWE’s most hyped brand. NXT is making waves among mainstream and casual fans, who may not have been following the program on the WWE Network.
NXT is directly competing with AEW and WWE’s third brand needs red-hot stars to gain momentum. Bálor was a good option before. But he’s now a great option and his fans are definitely onboard. They know, just as they knew before, that Finn could make the best of something like this and now he has it. So what happens now?
Watch Finn’s road back to NXT!
NXT is Johnny Gargano’s show. The brand has belonged to him for quite some time and the same was true even after he turned heel. His eventual switch back to babyface was met with some apprehension in the beginning, but it’s clear that his character has evolved over time. Johnny Wrestling was not a one-trick pony and was capable of much more than just being a lovable hero. Gargano proved that and much more.
But the time for him to once again step into the role of NXT’s top protagonist is now. A babyface Bálor would have made that impossible, but now the two men can wage war against each other for dominance of the brand. Bálor will be cold. He will be heartless and he will continue to deal out ruthless aggression as only he can.
Finn Bálor will remind everyone of just how despicable he can be and anyone that didn’t know him in New Japan will marvel at just how notorious he will become. Finn is on his way back from the dead in WWE and fans love the new look. But once he gets going, he will become Public Enemy No.1.
It was believed that Finn was perhaps coming to NXT so Adam Cole could depart for the main roster and that still may happen. But it’s entirely possible that when all of this is over, it will be Johnny Gargano who’s moved on. The two men are perfect opponents for each other, but Finn’s character has come to take over NXT. It’s his time to shine and with any luck, WWE will allow him to do just that.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live