We need to talk about Finn Balor. For someone who is a former NXT Champion, the first ever Universal Champion, not to mention one of the most beloved babyfaces in professional wrestling today, his career trajectory since his return from a shoulder injury after WrestleMania 33 has been stagnant.
You devoted readers know as well as I do that both Balor and the fans deserve more, and his Demon King persona could very well be the key. It's a gimmick that the fans love unconditionally, and Balor could use it since his current feud with "Constable" Baron Corbin is basically a fan favorite vs authority figure angle that we've seen several times before.
Except, this one has the potential to reach a new level and overall ending with the Demon King involved. That said, after some time in the Fantasy Booking Bunker, here's how Balor can get back into the main event picture without changing much of what he's doing already.
Where we stand now
Before we go any further, here are all of Balor's pay-per-view matches since his return last year, with the Demon King appearances in bold:
- Extreme Rules: Fatal-5-Way Extreme Rules match vs Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Bray Wyatt, with Samoa Joe choking out Balor.
- SummerSlam: Defeated Bray Wyatt in a standard singles match
- No Mercy: Defeated Wyatt
- Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (TLC): Defeated AJ Styles, with Styles replacing a sick Wyatt
- Survivor Series: Was the second member of Team Raw to be eliminated.
- Royal Rumble: Was second entrant, lasted over 57 minutes.
- Elimination Chamber: Entered third, eliminated fourth
- WrestleMania 34: Triple threat match for WWE Intercontinental Championship, Seth Rollins won
- Greatest Royal Rumble: Participated in the ladder match for IC title, Rollins retained
- Money In The Bank: Participated in the MITB Ladder Match
- Extreme Rules: Pinned Corbin via roll-up
Balor has certainly been busy since his return, posting an undefeated record in singles competition on pay-per-views. Still, even with another match against Corbin at SummerSlam looming, the man is drowning on the midcard and deserves so much more. He was a top draft pick for Raw in 2016 for a reason. He was trusted with the first-ever Universal Championship because he was seen as a top guy, and it disappointed everyone when he had to relinquish the title a day later because of a shoulder injury.
It's crystal clear Vince McMahon doesn't trust the smaller Balor to stay healthy, thus his being stuck in his current role. However, with a return of the Demon King, Balor can put himself in a position to turn things around for the better.
Balor's feud with Corbin so far has been one similar to a schoolyard bully and the kid he is targeting. This is perfectly in sync with the "Balor Club For Everyone" message WWE has been pushing since around WrestleMania, when Balor's rainbow shirt debuted. Of course, Balor has taken Corbin's abuse in stride much to the Constable's chagrin. Corbin beat Balor in a singles match on Raw this week, so we can expect it's only going to escalate from there.
This is where Corbin's role in the next chapter comes in. Making Balor's life miserable isn't going to be enough. He needs to shift away from being the Constable and back to what got him over with fans early on: the Lone Wolf. Baron Corbin needs to go full heel as an authority figure and just throw everything he has at Balor. This means random attacks, going over GM Kurt Angle's head and putting him in matches where he's at a tremendous disadvantage, and then attacking him mercilessly afterward.
SummerSlam is just about a week and a half away, and there's still just enough time to push Balor over the edge and awaken the Demon that lives inside. Fast forward to the go-home Raw next week, and Balor comes out with taped up ribs courtesy of Corbin's most recent beating, seen in a WWE.com exclusive clip. He comes out and cuts a promo about how he's dealt with worse bullies than Corbin before and that the Constable hides behind his rank. Corbin comes out and rather than give another beatdown, he taunts Balor about how there's nothing he can do since Corbin outranks him.
Balor responds by acknowledging everything Corbin said, but his jovial smile is gone. He's more serious and sounds more intense with each sentence, finally ending with this.
"A Constable, Corbin, is no match for a Demon."
The look on Corbin's face says it all. He knows he's awoken a sleeping monster, and the outlook isn't good. It's confirmed following a commercial break that, at SummerSlam, Constable Baron Corbin will face the Demon King.
This match doesn't really need anything special from a booking standpoint, but storytelling is important. Corbin enters the white-hot Barclays Center first sporting that smug smile that's been practically painted on his face since he became Constable of Raw, but he's holding back just a bit. Like any bully, despite his bravado and swagger, he's actually terrified of what could happen. Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon trusted him with his current role, so losing to Balor despite an obvious size and strength advantage would make him look terrible not only to her but himself. His ego is that fragile.
Corbin enters the ring. The lights go out, and the Demon's music hits. Fans see flashes of Balor crawling into place on the ramp. The music crescendos, the main refrain hits. The Demon King has returned for the first time in 10 months, and the crowd explodes as Balor crawls to the ring and salutes the crowd when appropriate.
As for the match, a good portion of it has to be Corbin just unleashing his fury on Balor. Corbin is best when angry and wanting to just leave his opponent in shambles, so that's what has to happen for about two-thirds of this match. At that point, Balor can begin his comeback after several false finishes, including being on the receiving end of both a Deep Six and an End of Days.
The Demon King wakes up as Corbin remains at a loss of how to put him away. He hits the Sling Blade as Corbin goes for a clothesline. The shotgun dropkick makes an appearance soon after. Balor then hits 1916 as the crowd gets louder, knowing full well what he has to do next. He climbs the top rope, nails the Coup de Grâce to absolute perfection, and scores the pinfall victory over his tormentor.
For the third year in a row, Balor has won at SummerSlam as the Demon King. The difference this time is while it's another midcard victory like his one over Wyatt a year ago, this win is a direct slap in the face to Stephanie McMahon and sets him on an upward trajectory.
Keep in mind, all signs now point to Roman Reigns finally beating Brock Lesnar and taking home the Universal Championship in the main event. Balor defeated Reigns for a shot at that title in 2016, eventually beating Seth Rollins before going down with his injury. Not for nothing, but this would be a prime opportunity for Balor to get himself back at the top of the card and show he's more than just a midcard babyface.
I could go on and on for how to book Balor after SummerSlam, but that's not the point of this article. My main point is that he needs to reestablish some momentum, and the only way to do that is to bring the Demon King back.
If that happens, buckle up.
Should Finn Balor bring back the Demon King for SummerSlam? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!