Friday 29 April 2016

Finn Bálor And The Difficulty With Moving A Weird Talent Up To A PG Roster By @JoeyLDG

Finn Bálor's trajectory in NXT is further, irrefutable proof that developmental is kicking the main roster's ass in every conceivable way. Built from mysterious newcomer into unstoppable champion, Bálor's title reign was the definition of hard-fought, his final victory over Samoa Joe at Takeover: Dallas an insanely tough, lengthy, nail-biting battle that left both men physically exhausted.
WWE would do well to learn from his extraordinary title reign. In Bálor's hands, the NXT belt had gravitas, it actually meant something. Now, with the Irish legend set to take on the main roster, he can probably kiss all of that goodbye. In comparison, we're currently dealing with a world heavyweight champ who can barely land a punch, let alone sell that he's bothered about, well, anything. 

That Joe stole the belt from Bálor at a house show, of all places, did nothing to dull his shine either. The Irishman emerged from the fray as a hugely impressive, strong, near-impossible to beat fighter who put it all on the line and still seemed unstoppable even though he was, technically, defeated.

Now, all eyes will be watching to see whether Bálor makes his long-awaited debut at this Sunday's Payback event, and what this will mean for the main roster. The stage has been set, with ex-Bullet Club leader AJ Styles taking centre-stage with current champion Roman Reigns, while his buddies Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows wait in the wings, hoping to cause some friction. 
 While Bálor's ascension to the main roster is, naturally, something to be celebrated it brings with it a certain amount of anxiety. In NXT, he was free to be as weird and as rough as necessary. What of his lengthy, theatrical entrance? His face-paint? Never mind the fact that, not too long ago, Bálor revealed in an interview that he wasn't too pushed with moving up, out of fear that doing so would dull his edginess somewhat. 
Given we're in the midst of the so-called PG era (groan), he's probably right to be worried. NXT has proven itself time and time again to be a brave, eccentric and utterly unpredictable showcase for up-and-coming, often weirdo talent that doesn't quite fit in elsewhere.

Consider The Ascension, who were almost immediately lost in the fray upon moving up to the main roster. Or even Tyler Breeze, whose fantastic gimmick has been reduced to nothing. New recruits Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady have fared better, but how long until their entrance is shortened to a walk and a quick pose?
In spite of being, by all accounts, a bit of an oddity, logically speaking Bálor shouldn't be too hard of a sell on the WWE main roster. He's a good-looking man, in fantastic shape, and he can talk (which is more than can be said for the likes of Ryback, or even current golden boy Reigns). But where exactly will he fit in amongst the current crop? He's not wild-eyed enough to be a Dean Ambrose, nor is his ring work fluid or clean enough to be a Kevin Owens. 
The easiest transition for Bálor will see him reform The Bullet Club alongside Anderson and Gallows, eventually breaking out on his own once he's over with the fans. But even this is a potentially troublesome route for the Irish powerhouse.

The tag team division has been struggling for a while, and The Bullet Club aren't the best showcase for a potential main event wrestler's talents. They're also a stable, not a tag team, so slotting them into matches on the likes of RAW and Smackdown won't be an easy feat. Especially not alongside The New Day, Amore and Cassady, etc.

Bálor has already proven his considerable worth throughout his tenure on NXT (and, of course, NJPW), and by right he should advance straight to the world heavyweight championship picture. The fact he doesn't have anyone in particular to spar with, 
à la Owens and Zayn, could also impair him.

There's only really one entry point and it ties him into a stable (which will be instantly reduced to yet another tag team) that can only go so far. And, as exciting as The Bullet Club in WWE will be, it's difficult to see them fitting in, or causing quite as much trouble, as they did in Japan. Ownership rights are still up in the air too - can WWE even call them The Bullet Club?
The best option for Bálor will see him feuding with Styles, as the two come head to head for the first time ever - a major selling point for the company as a whole, and them as athletes. This will give WWE the edge it desperately needs, as well as tying in fans of both wrestlers. And, hopefully, it will finally edge Reigns out of the title picture in the long run, too. 
It's difficult to gauge how likely Bálor's ascension to the main roster even is at this stage, especially since sources claim that he and Joe are set to headline the next Takeover event on June 8th, in another rematch for the NXT title. This announcement could be a swerve to throw us off the scent, to make his debut on Sunday more of a surprise, but only time will tell. 

As it stands, Bálor moving up could be the best and worst thing to happen to the WWE main roster right now.


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