At the 2019 Royal Rumble, I’m fully aware that Brock Lesnar will more than likely retain the Universal Championship. I’m under no grand delusion of my own fantasy booking and saying Finn Balor must or will defeat Brock Lesnar because this incarnation of Lesnar is inarguably cooked as a character, even though he is. But if WWE is serious about another “new era” and actual change for the programs in WWE, this is the best opportunity they have to let fans know they weren’t kidding when they said they were going to change things for the better.
Finn Balor defeated Jinder Mahal then won a fatal 4 way against John Cena, Baron Corbin, and Drew McIntyre by beating John Cena clean in the middle with his finisher to become the #1 contender for The Universal Championship. Balor has quietly been gaining momentum during the dark month of December, as he got a victory over Drew McIntyre at TLC and a triple threat victory over McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler.
Jumping forward, he made a shock appearance at the NXT UK Takeover where he defeated his former student Jordan Devlin, and on the more subtle side of things, he’s been making the big babyface saves of late, with his entrance music in tow.
Check out his spotlighted TV performances over the last month.
The treatment of Finn Balor has long been a lightning rod issue amongst fans. From his well-chronicled immediate rise to the top following his call up from NXT to his shocking injury at Summerslam 2016, to his return in 2017 and yo-yo booking since then which saw him do a clean job to Kane immediately after beating AJ Styles on PPV. There were months of inconsistency and a whole lot of smiling.
He made jokes on Twitter nearly all of last year about “not being over enough”, which stems from the 10 week period before Royal Rumble 2018 when it was reported Vince McMahon pulled a Balor/Lesnar match from that show citing Balor’s overness. It felt like Balor was made a victim of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If he was booked to not get over, then he wouldn’t get over.
I can count on one hand how many times Brock Lesnar was exciting in 2018. His well-documented character assassination in an attempt to get fans to cheer Roman Reigns murdered the novelty of his absentee champion role. Instead of swinging fans to Roman’s side, people just dumped on all of their horribly booked and laid out matches, one of them resulting in the greatest highjacking I’ve ever seen, the Wrestlemania 34 main event.
It was never Brock’s fault that Vince McMahon wanted to dump absurd amounts of money on the table and book him to stay home. It’s just that we’ve seen it, it’s been done ad nauseam and tons of fans actually believed it. It’s time for Lesnar to assume another role. Why can’t we cheer for Brock by this point? His absentee champion gimmick was clearly crafted for Roman Reigns to dismantle. Anyone who got close to Brock in the process was essentially walking into the sun. Who is Lesnar being absent for anymore?
Universal Championship history since the last time Finn Balor touched it has been at best, shaky. There have been comedy champions that weren’t actually the top star, it’s been a part-timer old guy title, and Roman Reigns won it under less than ideal circumstances for someone pushed as the top star, had to give the belt back and the title ended up right back on Brock Lesnar eventually. It’s become a non-entity. A version of an inactive boxing super championship, while the active wrestlers compete for the WWE title on Smackdown.
Bringing it back to Finn, this is the perfect time for him to paint up and tap into that superstar charisma that can light up Chase Field in Phoenix. I’m not here for anyone touting size as a reason that this match isn’t believable, or that Balor couldn’t win. You’ve literally been watching 5’10 guys wrestle monsters for 25 years at this point, ignoring what your eyes have seen and telling all who will listen that the sky is red if you parrot that logic.
Not only has the push been going on, but it’s also working. No one is booing him challenging for the title, and it has set up a first-time match that has some juice within the culture.
Despite what may seem to be the case at times, Brock actually wants to work good matches and knows who he has to wrestle against for that to happen…SMALL GUYS. Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles made Brock look like he was of actual value and I imagine Balor will do the same when he is given the chance. However, unlike Styles and Bryan who were in non-title scenarios, WWE can push back on popular perception of them by shocking the world and crowning Balor, creating an Eddie Guerrero like moment in the process.
Hell, let Strowman cause it, and since there are “no rematches for championships” (look the other way from the rest of the Royal Rumble card) Balor can just escape with the championship and meet whoever the Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber lines him up with at Wrestlemania.
Finn Balor hasn’t been in this good a place since the first Raw of the brand split. His career rehabilitation would show that WWE has the ability to fix someone they’ve ruined before, and create goodwill within the fanbase. For me, this is a no-brainer if they want to back up what they tell us. Have some balls Vince, belt Finn up.
Check out a review of the Andrade vs Rey Mysterio Match From One Nation Radio.
Rich Latta is a writer for LordsofPain.net & SocialSuplex.com. He hosts the One Nation Radio Podcast on www.SocialSuplex.com & LOP Radio where he recaps Raw & Smackdown Live Weekly with James Boyd. GFX by @SirMikeFergus Give him a follow on Twitter, @RichLatta32 or drop him a comment below. If you like hip-hop, check out his music here. www.Soundcloud.com/RichLatta Look Him Up On Youtube As Well. He doesn’t argue with bots.