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Will Finn Balor Ever Become Universal Champion Again?

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When Finn Balor burst onto the main roster in the summer of 2016, he had the proverbial “rocket strapped to his back” and vaulted all the way to the top of the RAW ladder in short order, becoming the first ever Universal Champion at SummerSlam 2016. However, a shoulder injury sustained at that same event derailed what looked to be a huge planned push. Since returning from the injury in early 2017, it would be safe to say that Balor has yet to fully get back on track to a path that would lead you to believe he might ever become “The Man” again.

While his feud with Seth Rollins has been hot, and now it appears he may even be pivoting away a bit from the Intercontinental Championship picture to focus on his inclusion in the upcoming Money in the Bank match, it has taken over a year for Balor to reach this point and participate in a real role of substance. Will Balor ever reach the same heights he achieved when he first debuted on the main roster? Will he ever be Universal Champion again? In my opinion, no he will not. There are two big reasons why.

HE’S A FACE ON A SHOW WITH TOO MANY FACES

RAW’s current roster is heavy on the baby face side, and AT BEST, I would rank Balor as fourth on the pecking order. Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, and Seth Rollins are all perceived as bigger stars and draws. In Vince McMahon’s eyes, you might have to throw Bobby Lashley into that mix above Finn as well. I find it hard to fathom that the fourth or even fifth-best face on the show would make it into real Universal title contention, barring injuries, even within the next year or more.       We are already in the month of May. You have to believe, despite what the internet might tell you, that the plan would still be for Reigns to eventually dethrone Brock Lesnar for the title, perhaps at SummerSlam. Braun would probably be the next best choice. After the duration of the new champ’s reign is up, you would assume a heel would be in line to take the title from Reigns or Strowman, that heel gets a few months’ run before dropping it back to the former champ or some new face contender, and so on and so on. I don’t see Balor getting one of those potential title reigns over the likes of Reigns, Strowman, or even Rollins.

THE DEMON APPEARS TO BE DEAD

Balor’s “Demon” alter ego was all the rage when he debuted. It was over huge with the NXT crowd and made him seem like a big deal when he made the main roster. It made him someone that mattered and grabbed your attention as soon as he hit the screen. For people that might slight Finn for his size, the “Demon” presentation truly made him feel like a larger than life character. However, since TLC in October, we have neither seen nor really heard about the Demon King in regards to Balor. For whatever reason, creative seems to have drifted away from that persona in favor of gimmicks and storylines that have been much less successful.

They tried him as a generic underdog baby face–didn’t work well.

They tried to form a true Balor Club with Anderson and Gallows- didn’t work (or wasn’t given enough time TO work, but that’s another article.)

And now he has been reduced to a smiling ambassador with the slogan of “Balor Club is for Everyone,” which comes off to some as more of a political statement than a character or gimmick. Nothing has come close to the “Demon King,” and by bafflingly not utilizing the persona,  everything that made Balor special in the first place has been stripped away. Putting the Demon on the shelf might seem like a case of WWE cutting off their nose to spite their face, but it’s where we find ourselves at the moment with Balor.

NOW, the caveat to this would be if the creative team has some long-term plans in place for Balor that could reverse both of these problems. If Balor were to turn heel (which I could have possibly seen happening during this Rollins feud, but after RAW this past Monday I’m not sure if they plan to continue that rivalry) and resurrect the Demon, I think he could find himself in a much better position. I’d actually love to see a heel Demon King myself, and I think it would make for refreshing matchups for Balor with the likes of Reigns or even a returning Ambrose. However, if he continues on his current path, I don’t think the big red leather belt is in his future.

If some reports at the time are to be believed, Vince wasn’t really sold on Finn and the Demon gimmick in the first place, and his first title reign in 2016 was mostly due to Triple H pushing for him backstage. And without a heel persona and the Demon reemerging, I don’t see Balor having a presence and presentation that screams “Champion.”  He doesn’t play the underdog as well as, say, Daniel Bryan, he’s not the stereotypical superhero like Reigns and he’s not a physical marvel like Strowman.

He’s just another really good wrestler.

Future Intercontinental Champion? Sure. Universal Champion? I don’t see it.


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Opinion

Who You Got? The Chairshot Picks: WWE Extreme Rules 2018

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WWE Extreme Rules
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Well now that things are dual branded, it’s kind of nice to not have to worry about a WWE PPV every 3 weeks.

Regardless, this really doesn’t feel like anything more than a speed bump until SummerSlam. Kurt Angle told us that the matches between The Revival and Lashley & Reigns were meaningless. Team Hell No feels like a nostalgia pop. Brock Lesnar wouldn’t even show up to this, but showed up to UFC.  Then there’s Nia Jax against Alexa Bliss that no one wants, and we’re just biding time til Ronda’s suspension is over.

I’m just happy we have a picks game to keep me invested. Speaking of which, here’s the standings:

DPP keeps his lead, but we did see some movement beyond the top 3. Steve Cook was a big mover, poised to crack the top 3 after Extreme Rules.

We also have a crew of new participants, who are likely to join the overall rankings after SummerSlam:

Can Francesca, Sarah, and Tiffany keep their momentum going?

After this rousing summation of some plot points; who else is excited?! Whatever, let’s just get this over with so I can go back to watching New Japan.


Tables Match: The New Day vs SAnitY

Not really a lot to discuss here. SAnitY has been injecting themselves into different situations since finally debuting on the main roster a few weeks ago. And it just happens to line up nicely that both teams have 3 members and a heel/face dynamic. Seriously, I don’t see any other reason beyond “Hey, let’s have the trios fight”. But at least the match should be entertaining, so there’s that.

Weigell: SAnitY
Rey: SAnitY
Mathew: SAnitY
McLeod: SAnitY
Denise: SAnitY
Mitchell: SAnitY
Francesca: SAnitY
Eric: SAnitY
Levin: SAnitY
Tiffany: SAnitY
Korey: SAnitY
Jimi: SAnitY
Cook: SAnitY
Sarah: SAnitY
DPP: SAnitY
Josh: SAnitY
Rob: SAnitY
Patrick: SAnitY
Big Dave: SAnitY
Kristin: SAnitY
PC: New Day
Platt: SAnitY
Big Rick: SAnitY
Harry: SAnitY
Tony: SAnitY
Andrew: SAnitY
Greg: SAnitY

Official Chairshot Pick – SAnitY 26 – 1

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Opinion

Is WWE Ruining Bayley And Sasha Banks’ Careers?

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WWE has done it again.

After one of the more shocking moments on Monday Night Raw in some time, with Bayley seemingly turning heel on her BFF Sasha Banks, the current angle between the two female stars has become as stale as two-day-old bread. The current storyline of anger management for each woman has taken their roles in the women’s division and turned them upside down.

Shame on you, WWE. Bayley and Banks are two of the more marketable stars on the current company roster and have been relegated to a comedic angle that isn’t working. Neither performer is Daniel Bryan or Kane and the nonsense of watching them talk about their feelings has made me and millions of fans feeling a bit bitter, ourselves.

As the old campaign slogan goes, “Know when to say when.”

Corey Graves made a comment on Monday night that these wrestlers should settle their differences in the ring rather than some doctor’s office. Whether it was part of the angle or how the Raw commentator really feels, he is spot on in his assessment. When Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage had a falling out, they battled over the WWF Title. When the Four Horseman dissolved, they settled their differences in the ring. Even Tommy Rich and Buzz Sawyer chased each other all over the south while the feuded in the early 1980s.

Why is this any different?

WWE has gotten too cute with its delivery of sports entertainment. The Kane-Bryan angle worked because of their chemistry. They both were charismatic enough to get over with the fans. I’m not saying either of the women involved in this angle lack charisma. What I am saying is their history dictates a match to settle this once and for all.

Banks got over quickly once she moved to the main roster. Bayley is still not there, yet. If she were, her title run would have been longer and she would have gotten more of a push. Other wrestlers have passed her by. Banks has been to the mountaintop and still should be a top draw. WWE has failed to book her properly. What we have here is a failure to realize the potential in this feud that has finally reached its boiling point.

Unless WWE can create some type of Lita-Trish Stratus match resulting from this angle, then get rid of it now or make sure there is a program to settle this at SummerSlam next month. What started out as one of the better storylines of the year has now become an inside joke in the business. It has done nothing to help either wrestler and may have set them back a few years of progress.

If WWE kept the angle fresh with Bayley’s heel turn, I could see this storyline surviving through the course of the summer. Now, it’s as cold as old man winter and needs help finding its way back to where it once began. Either way, it’s a segment that should be swept away and started over.

 


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Opinion

Has Daniel Bryan Lost His Magic?

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Daniel Bryan on SDLive

When it was announced back in March that WWE was clearing Daniel Bryan for in-ring competition, the IWC rejoiced. FINALLY, their hero had overcome WWE’s unreasonable insistence that a man who, by his OWN admission, was having seizures because of concussions probably shouldn’t be wrestling, where shots to the head are unavoidable. Expectations have been high for the return of the Underdog, but after three months, why does it feel like what made Daniel Bryan so cheerable is missing?

Hear me out. He still gets a great pop and the crowds still do the ‘Yes!’ chants with gusto, but it feels like WWE is trying to reset the clock to where Bryan left off in 2014, just without the WWE Title and it’s just…not working.

Why is that? Well, for one thing, a lot has changed in WWE since the Miracle on Bourbon Street. A lot of the older stars have gone part time or left altogether. The young stars from NXT have pretty much taken over the roster, something that was just starting in 2014.

Another thing has been his role on Total Divas/Bellas. Whether you like the show or loathe it and/or the people on it, TD/TB has elevated the Bellas and the Women’s Division, giving people who want to believe that the Women of WWE don’t work as hard as the guys a real wake up call. It also showed that Bryan is something of a WWE insider. John Cena is his maybe brother-in-law and his stepfather-in-law is John Laurinaitis. It kind of kills the ‘he’s an outsider fighting against the system’ storyline.

To their immense credit, WWE has really tried to recapture what made Bryan such a success in 2014, while not throwing a wrench into their plans for the WWE title. They immediately put him in a tag match at WrestleMania with Shane McMahon against Owens and Zayn, who seemed torn between being legit thrilled at the honor and terrified of killing their careers by accidentally putting Bryan back into retirement. They put him in a feud with Big Cass, who seemed to be Miz’s hired gun, though we’ll never find out due to Cass being fired a few weeks ago. Two weeks ago, they did a Team Hell No reunion and have put Kane and Bryan in a Tag Title Match against the Bludgeon Brothers at Extreme Rules despite having several good tag teams, including The Bar, on the roster.

While this is great for Bryan fans, if you’re not a Bryan fan, or not a rabid one, it feels like WWE and Bryan are trying too hard to reset the clocks to 2014. Part of the reason might be the rumor that Bryan hasn’t re-signed with WWE and officials are trying to wrap up his storylines in case he does leave.

I’m not saying that Bryan’s run has been a total flop, but it does feel like what made him so easy to cheer for isn’t there this time and it feels like he and WWE are trying too hard to recapture it rather than adapting Bryan’s gimmick to what’s going on in 2018 and accepting that what made him such a favorite in 2014 isn’t translating as well in 2018 instead of trying to shoehorn it in.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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