What a month for WWE, with the company first getting dedicated mainstream coverage with the launch of their own page on ESPN, crescendoing with a full-fledged commitment to the “new era” by having Finn Balor win the new WWE Universal championship and AJ Styles earn a win over the “face that runs the place” John Cena, only to have Balor have to relinquish the title 24 hours later. A roller coaster would be putting it lightly, but lets try to pick through the Summerslam event and the ramifications afterward.
Finn Balor wrestled for over a decade as Prince Devitt before coming over to WWE as one of their newly signed “Indy darlings”. Balor had honed his craft in Europe and Japan and had earned a reputation as one of the best workers in the business. He has an integral part of the famed “Bullet Club” in Japan, eventually passing the torch to AJ Styles so that he could begin his arduous journey into the hierarchy of the WWE. He spent years in the “developmental” brand NXT, but not because he needed the time to master his technique, but because WWE was waiting for the perfect time to call him up while also letting NXT have a signature star that would bring fans to their ever growing live event schedule. Fans clamored to see Balor on the main roster, even as similarly big stars, including AJ Styles, spent little or no time in developmental prior to their WWE debut.
The audience fell in love with his “demon” character and his entrance was always a sight to see, yet he remained in NXT until just a few weeks ago, when he finally debuted as the number one contender for the newly released Universal championship. After defeating two of the company’s biggest stars in Rusev and Roman Reigns, Balor would be allowed the opportunity to face Seth Rollins for the new championship at Summerslam. The quick rise was punctuated by the surprising win at Summerslam, proving that WWE is committed to pushing the new influx of stars who made their names on the indy circuit.
All of Balor’s dreams would come crashing down, though, as he was forced to give up the championship less than 24 hours into his reign. WWE’s first Universal champion will likely be its shortest tenured for a long time to come. During the match with Rollins, Balor took a toss powerbomb into the guardrail and the impact forced his shoulder out of socket. He was able to immediately pop it back into the socket and finish the match but when he was shown in a sling the next morning it was obvious that something was very wrong. Balor had torn his labrum and would be out for 4-6 months.
So a new tournament is being held to determine who will be the next WWE Universal champion, but unless it is a big surprise there will be no replicating the reaction from the Brooklyn crowd at Summerslam. Balor had earned that title from his endless work before WWE and in developmental, but he was forced to go to the back of the line and will likely have to wait his turn while he proves to WWE that he can stay healthy. The worst case scenario might be a comparable to the other championship match at Summerslam, where Dean Ambrose was facing Dolph Ziggler. Zigger had gotten a push as the Heavyweight champion years ago, but the week after his victory he received a stiff kick to the head and suffered a concussion. He promptly lost the championship and after receiving a few more concussions, he was forced down the card and had to occupy a filler role for years as he proved that he could stay healthy. Finally, Ziggler got a push again this year, though his attempt to recoup the title proved futile and he followed up the pay-per-view loss with another loss to the new number one contender AJ Styles on Smackdown.
Hopefully Balor can come back from this injury and WWE management will see his injury as a one time thing. Balor has not been injury prone prior to coming to WWE, so hopefully his deserved push continues where it left off once his shoulder is healed.