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Thread: Oliver's Twist: Why WWE MUST look to it's PAST to SAVE Finn Balor

  1. #1
    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    Nov 2014

    Oliver's Twist: Why WWE MUST look to it's PAST to SAVE Finn Balor

    Good day Twisters! Itís been a while. Hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year, with Santa bringing you everything you wished for. I had a cracker, to be completely honest. Mostly drink and food, in that order.

    Anyway, thatís not what Iím here to talk about today. I want to talk about Finn Balor with you, because itís no real secret that the guy is struggling. The guy has the resume to support his own WWE run, of that thereís no doubt, but the guy has struggled since leaving New Japan and debuting in NXT. He made an impactful debut, but all too soon we found there was little, if anything, to back up the face paint in terms of a long-term character, let alone any development to actually give him one.

    Yet, on debuting on the main roster, the guy got an enormous push to become the first WWE Universal champion with a victory over Seth Rollins, a commodity significantly more proven than Balor was at that time. And then, he of course, immediately got injured and vanished from television for months on end. Poor timing, for sure, but thereís nothing in his history to suggest that any time as champion there would have ended up being drastically different to his time as NXT Champion, which was a creative and storytelling bust throughout, turning this writer off the main event scene of NXT and leaving him thankful that the tag and womenís departmentís both stepped up and delivered at the highest quality.

    But what of Balor since then? Weíve seen the guy repeatedly positioned in some of the premiere spots on the card, with countless minutes on Raw offered to him to actually develop something in the way of character. In some hands, dare I say greater hands than Finn Balorís, these opportunities are capitalised on by the talent. When Cody got a chance to be Dashing, he ran with it and it became nearly essential midcard viewing. When Austin was given a chance, he took it with both hands and made himself essential. Throughout the history of WWE, there are multiple examples of midcard guys, with the company behind them, turning their opportunities into vital television, and elevated themselves.

    So why, then, is Balor struggling so much to make an impact on viewers, to the point where he was recently reported to have been taken out of a match with Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble because he wasnít over enough? Rather than the fact that he looks like a greasy perv who hasnít showered for a week, it seems much more likely that Finn Balor isnít taking the opportunities presented to him with both hands and making something of himself. But equally, is WWE really giving him the opportunities to develop that?

    I mean, the Bray Wyatt stuff wasnít great on many levels, but at least you broadly felt like Bray was doing everything in order to make his side of the deal work and give Finn a reason to develop his character, alter himself slightly or greatly, in order to give us fans something to hold onto, something to witness, in terms of his push. He needs to give us a reason to invest in him, as much as he needs to give those behind the scenes who dictate where he should be on the card. If the fans arenít getting behind him, it doesnít matter how many of the people backstage want him to be at the top of the card Ė he will fail.

    Thereís absolutely no reason why Finn Balor shouldnít be a big deal. He has huge natural wrestling talent, his abs are possibly carved from marble, and I have it on good authority that he is a little bit beautiful and a panty dampener from North to South, East to West. All the tools are there for him to be a massive star. And while there is an argument that WWE have given him little to work with Ė from having him paint up repeatedly rather than as the situation calls for, to lumbering him with stories that seemingly never went anywhere Ė Finn should be making the best of what little scraps he gets. He should, for example, be taking responsibility for clearly defining the Demon as a different entity to Finn Balor, in much the way the (say) Goldust was a different entity from Dustin Runnels. Change the moveset, make him use more impactful offense, give us something that shows us this is an otherworldly being inhabiting the body of Finn Balor rather than just a man dressing up with a bunch of ribbons stuck to his head.

    But equally, have WWE really given him a chance to work on a character basis and evolve into someone who is intriguing to watch? My personal opinion is that theyíve not given him enough to work with to create his own opportunities, to craft something of his own. In some cases, like Austin mentioned above, the WWE give those chances and itís up to the talent to really grab them by the balls and stamp themselves on it. Was, for example, the famed King of the Ring promo pre-planned including the 3:16 reference, or was that something Austin himself came up with? Finn has had few opportunities, certainly on as grand a stage as that promo, to stamp his own mark on things. But while opportunity might be scarcer than it was in Austinís times, those moments are still there and we have not, to date, seen Finn grasp a promo chance on Raw to deliver something memorable.

    So perhaps the better option is to take the Cody route, and give the man a character and gimmick to invest himself in fully and grow. Dashing Cody Rhodes might have seemed a cheesy throwaway gimmick initially, but Cody took it and ran with it, making it great. I learnt how to trim my nose hair from a Dashing Cody promo. I started to moisturize regularly after one too. And thatís the kind of connection that running with a gimmick and really selling it can have with fans, making the performer themselves more over than they were prior to it. Could Finn carry off a character like this, perhaps one that has a more fun-loving face while the Demon is his darker side, brought out when he needs to be more vicious? Itís a change that I think could work.

    And I have a solution, ready made and lying there in WWEs own history. There have been countless fun-loving gimmicks in wrestling history, but all of them have had a shelf-life which has, in too many cases, expired quickly and left the performer themselves floundering, most notably in recent times Adam Rose. But thereís one specifically I can think of which lasted for years, saw the wrestler gain multiple championship opportunities, and arguably should never have been abandoned. And heck, Finn Balor even already has the look down and is European.

    Hey Man - It's Alex Wright, the German. If you wanna know what the Germans are about, pick me, and and youíre gonna have a hell of a victory, I promise!

    Give Finn Balor this gimmick, make him the dancing Irishman, and you immediately give him something he can tap into to make the crowd connect with him. He can take it whereever he wants to, from specific techno rave promos (how great would it be to have Balor deliver a promo in the middle of a rave?) to coming out covered in glow stick detritus. Separate that from the Demon persona, which is where he needs to go to get 'serious', and give him a character in his normal guise outside of 'guy who complains on Twitter and wears pants'. If WWE gave him this and let him run with it, it could be the making of Finn Balor as a main event player for years to come. Otherwise, he's destined to remain exactly as he is right now - a very good, but very boring, wrestler.

    What about you, Twisters? How would you plan to rehab Finn Balor and give the fans something to connect with? Drop us a comment below. And until next time, stay safe while crossing the road and drink more hot chocolate! Auf Wiedersehen!

  2. #2
    Balor definitely needs to separate the man from the demon. The Demon also needs to be used as sparingly as possible, not just because it's a PPV.

    I don't like the dancing Irishman idea. Even as Finn the man, I don't think it would work.

    Once The Demon has a defined moveset & character that has been separated from the man, maybe try a better version of the Joseph Parks/Abyss storyline where he doesn't know he has multiple personalities?

  3. #3
    I would have agreed with this column...a week ago. I really enjoyed Balor's mic work on Raw last Monday as he seemed to be cockier than usual (almost tweenerish). Having Gallows & Anderson by his side again seemed to have motivated him and brought out some more personality. As long as he keeps that cocky, cool guy thing going I don't think he needs a character change.

    That being said, this is WWE we're talking about, so I'm sure he'll be back to cutting fewer and shorter promos in the coming weeks. When that inevitably happens, I would certainly suggest a new gimmick. Considering how so many women are in love with him, I think he could rock a Dashing Cody Rhodes V2.0 pretty damn hard.

    Good stuff, Oli.

  4. #4
    The Brain
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    An Alex Wright reference! Where's Cult Icon when you need him?

    To be honest, I question if anyone in WWE has much chance these days to develop into someone the fans can invest in. Maybe Balor is particularly guilty of not picking up the ball, but I think it's a tough era to develop in no matter what. Nice column man, and I appreciate the Tito jokes as always.

  5. #5
    I was definitely not expecting to see Alex Wright ever again. I suppose Fin has a leather jacket... but his legs aren't long enough. He will come off as the wall Mart, homeless looking version. But look at the discussion you forced amongst red blooded American male wrestling fans. American Male....Perhaps he can dress like Scotty Riggs and Marcus Bagwell...

  6. #6
    Senior Junior SirSam's Avatar
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    Aug 2017
    Newcastle, Australia
    Well that suggestion certainly would be a twist on his character.

    I'm interested to see what he does as a tweener/heel with The Club. As has been well documented a lot of wrestlers seem to believe it is better to be a heel when you are trying to establish your character because it gives you more freedom to inject character and personality and a big part of Balor's problem is that he comes out and cuts the same promo every time:
    - I never lost the title and I'm coming back for it.
    - I fight for honor
    - I'm doing it all for the Balor Club
    rinse & repeat
    As a heel at least he may get to do something a bit different.

  7. #7
    Senior Member JacobWrestledGod's Avatar
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    Oct 2013
    He immediately became revitalized with Anderson and Luke. I think the new bullet club will be moving up the ladder for the eventual Shield showdown.
    And Jacob wrestled with God.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JacobWrestledGod View Post
    He immediately became revitalized with Anderson and Luke. I think the new bullet club will be moving up the ladder for the eventual Shield showdown.
    100% agree.

    Great column, love when people focus on a single wrestler. I remember reading all that "Vince doesn't think Finn is over!" bullshit a while ago. Dude still gets a huge pop when he comes out and sells a ton of merch. How is he not over? Who has EVER made a feud with Bray work? The Shield, that's about it.

    I really hope reuniting with Gallows and Anderson is leading to a big push for him. Nobody believes that Finn could single-handedly take down Brock, but with that backup? That sounds like a fun WrestleMania matchup to me!

  9. #9
    Member 205 Clive's Avatar
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    Jun 2017
    Interesting point you bring up regarding his NXT championship reign beibg a creative bust, especially when that was at the zenith of his "overness" in NXT. I wasn't put off it as such, I just thought that the women's division, and then the tag teams', were just at such a creative and performance peak, that the main event men's scene seemed lacklustre in comparison.

    I'm on the fence here. Is Finn's not being at the top of the pile his fault, or his boss'? He had a chance to gain real momentum after his surprise match with AJ was a success (with potential for further classics down the line), a match that he won no less, and the very next night he's being put to pasture by an aging veteran in Kane who should be nowhere near the main product in 2017?

    Is it Finn's fault he's not capitalising on opportunities like the aforementioned Cody Rhodes and Austin? Maybe. Is it his fault he lost all momentum from his victory over AJ with jobbing out to Kane? Absolutely not.

    Another point I disagree with is your mention of his lack of a more aggressive moveset. I really envoy the aggression he brings to a match as it reaches it's peak. My friends and I call that the Human Finn Aggression: something that was a joy to watch at Extreme Rules' #1 Contender match.

    As the above posters comment, things have changed considerably in the last week or so. There seems to be a focus on stables at the monentumon Raw. With Finn being the head of one, it could prove to be the ideal move from management.

    With regards to column quality, this was a really good read. The fact that I disagree with a couple of points doesn't take away from that fact. Good stuff.

  10. #10
    Samuel Plan
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Well it's an...interesting...suggestion, Oli; one I couldn't be more opposed to. I do not need to see Finn BŠlor looking even more like a stripper by dancing about a bit while he gurns like a moron, only to pop up in face paint once in a while. Dancing gimmicks never work for anyone above the lower mid card, let alone the main event. You're not wrong in claiming that his NXT run was a flop though, or that he needs to do more with the opportunities he was given. I might be vigorously opposed to your final suggestion but I was nodding and smiling in agreement like you couldn't believe through most of what you were writing! I mean, if you're comfortable in holding back a man's re-debut until after WrestleMania despite him being healthy in plenty of time for WrestleMania, and then put him on a PPV pre-show segment, and then have him miss another PPV entirely - and for none of the shows he missed to actually miss him - I think you can clearly identify what little he does for the product.

    I think the solution is actually much simpler than any recommended character change when he's out of the make up. After all, it's clear that the subtle variety needed in the ring to mark a difference between the Finn and the BŠlor is beyond the man's capability, so do away with the necessity. Just have him be The Demon all the time. It's the much more compelling part of him anyway. It's like Mav once said on the Pond, and it's stuck with me ever since: The Undertaker was never just The Undertaker on special occasions.

    Good stuff Oli! I wasn't a fan of you capitalising random words in your title though. I don't get it. It's like you were shouting randomly.
    101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die: The Book is now available to buy on Amazon UK, Amazon US and Amazon Europe! Just search for "101 WWE Matches" and it'll pop up!

    ~ Samuel Plan

  11. #11
    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Hmm...I wonder if I needed to lean into this a bit more to make it a really clear punchline at the end. You live and learn, I guess.

    Dyno - Yes, definitely, I think splitting the Demon off and having someone force Finn to bring it out is going to be a much more effective, and efficient, use of the gimmick than just having it be there all the time. I was hugely disappointed with the way they did that in NXT, actually, as he used it in his first match which immediately meant they kind of shot their wad. And like, don't get me wrong, I like that aspect of it, but on NXT they made it different (or so it felt) each time. Remember him swinging a chainsaw in London with a top hat? Just...something needs to be done there so that the Demon sticks out as memorable. I wouldn't even say it needs to be a WrestleMania only thing, just treat it as the situation calls for it. You know, I'm not going to buy Finn beating Strowman on a level playing field because, well, just look at the two of them. Strowman makes Finn look like me. But if Strowman beats Finn down to the point where he brings out something new in him that plumbs the depths of Balor and makes him more fiery and agressive, then yeah, it can work. Cheers dude!

    Chrisss - Cheers dude! Yeah, I would be lying if I didn't say I started this before last Monday night. Working with his pals seems to have helped Balor a little, although if it sticks long term or not who knows. Fingers crossed, I guess.

    mizfan - Ta mate! I'm glad someone picked up the Tito jokes... I'm never sure how much freedom WWE really gives people over promos, you know? The Backstage Fallout work is so different for some performers than what they do in the ring (Ziggler is a case in point, but there are countless others) that it makes me wonder. And things like the Fashion Files - I can't for a minute believe that Breeze and Dango didn't have some say in how that worked, simply because it's so abstract. Who knows?

    Benjamin - How dare you insult the German! Wright was actually, and still is, one of my pleasures from WCW. Plus, you know, he had a massive dong. Just look at his trunks. Guy could take an eye out with that thing, flaccid.

    Sam - The Club stuff is interesting, I must say. I'm intrigued by them building up a three man stable now, or at least seemingly doing so. What's the end game on it? Is it leading up to something at Mania? They've already run with (what's left of) The Shield vs The Club at the earliest possibly opportunity which makes me wonder if they're thinking of something else. Personally I'd run it into Balor vs Reigns for the IC title, especially if Joe has been ruled out of a match at the Rumble with that foot thing. Cheers man!

    JWG - Yeah, but they've kind of done that already now, haven't they? Ambrose is expected to be out most of the year, so even if it was with Jordan as a surrogate they've sort of (partially) burnt that bridge. Guy isn't due back until August/September time assuming there aren't any complications. Tricky to see where they take them, but Finn certainly seemed a bit more characterful last Monday.

    Burn - Interestingly, I've found quite a lot of what Bray has done (until last year) quite compelling. I think they're struggling with him being there all the time, and now he's in laughing competitions with Matt Hardy every week which aren't really going anywhere. But the Sister Abigail stuff was really quite dire. Ho-hum.

    Clive - Cheers dude! It's funny, I get your point about the agression and I do like it when Finn turns it up. It's more the point that as the Demon he needs to demonstrate that the character is different - and I think that, especially, is an opportunity that he could be making for himself which would not only make him more interesting, but make the use of the Demon more interesting too. I suppose that's the biggest thing I think of. One of my big things was that he took over the title in NXT when the whole brand was red hot, with a bunch of different stories. And then for the best part of nine months the only main event story they told was Joe vs Finn. That's not on him, of course, but you look at the work they did with Neville and how he built a feud with Zayn over 12 months or so, yet had all these splinter feuds with Breeze and Kidd, and the way they were building Owens up to feud with not just Zayn but also Riley, Itami, Joe...they just never did that with Balor. Why? Perhaps it's harsh of me to blame him for it, but I can't dissociate between me losing interest in NXT a bit over that period, despite the rise of Asuka, the excellence of Dash and Dawson, the story of DIY, Bayley as champion and all these things going on that I really enjoyed, because the main event scene was so stale. Maybe that's harsh, but it's the way I'm wired. Anyway, I suppose the point of throwing the Alex Wright punchline out was to say that WWE should give him something to work with and let Finn run with it. Maybe that's what they're doing with The Club.

    'Plan - Cheers for reading, dude! The capitalisation was more to parody that age old column title format where this MUST happen to SAVE something. Just some emphasis, wouldn't normally do it - it was mostly to mark out that this wasn't a one hundred percent serious suggestion, despite having at the heart a very real reason for existing which you've picked up on Interesting thought on having him always be the Demon, considering my thought on it were to go in the opposite direction. In fact, I'd kind of 'retire' the Demon for nine months or so and then only bring it out in a situation that demands it. You know, I wouldn't (for example) have had it make an appearance in the AJ match because what's the reason for Finn to be in that 'mode' when going up against AJ in, essentially, a hastily thrown together match? Why does he need to, to refer to his early NXT stuff, 'bring something you've never seen before' to that? It's not like he had a need to reach into his depths and pull the Demon out to beat AJ. So I think maybe a bit more of a 'out of sight, out of mind' approach to it, for a while, would be good. Then bring it out when it is, situationally, called for. Especially as the portrayal of the Demon is that he's relatively invulnerable.

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