Finn Balor: The Prince Rises Again

Finn Balor’s career with World Wrestling Entertainment has seen its share of ups and downs, but he currently finds himself in the center of one of the promotion’s most popular storylines. Balor entered A.J. Styles’s feud with Edge and the Judgment Day as an ally to Styles and, later, Liv Morgan. Pro wrestling fans were thrilled at the alliance between two former Bullet Club leaders, complete with Styles, Balor, and Morgan sealing the deal with the signature Bullet Club “too sweet” salute. However, following their loss to the Judgment Day at Hell in a Cell on June 5, Balor turned sides and joined the Judgment Day on June 6’s Monday Night Raw. It is yet another twist in the Judgment Day’s enthralling storyline, and a career revitalization for Balor that is consistent with some of his career highlights.

An Undeserved Slump

In 2021, Balor returned to WWE’s  main roster after a run in NXT. While on NXT, Balor ditched his supernatural alter ego “The Demon” and instead donned the persona “The Prince,” a crafty heel who played human chess with his enemies the Undisputed Era. Balor achieved the NXT championship for the second time before dropping it to Karrion Kross at NXT Takeover: Stand and Deliver. There was excitement around Balor’s return to Friday Night SmackDown, and speculation about whether he would challenge Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship. Balor’s reign as the first Universal Champion was infamously cut short when he suffered a shoulder injury. The poetic momentum around the match between the two built, and eventually took place at 2021’s Extreme Rules. Balor took a loss while in his “Demon” persona, which had long been heavily  protected, due to a poorly  received rope botch gimmick. 

After Extreme Rules, Balor dwelled on the midcard. In 2022, he won the United States Championship from Damien Priest, but lost it to Theory. 

Balor is an acrobatically agile performer whose crowd connection is always dynamic. His popularity with WWE fans aside, Balor also has a special place in pro wrestling history thanks to his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Bullet Club Connection

In NJPW, Balor enjoyed a long and popular tag team partnership with Ryusuke Taguchi as the team Apollo 55. Despite being top tag team babyfaces, late into their run Balor (then known as Prince Devitt), began displaying a heelish attitude. Taguchi did not go along, and Balor eventually turned on him. He recruited Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, and Karl Anderson into his new stable, the Bullet Club. The Bullet Club has become a mainstay of NJPW, known for anarchy and machinations. Balor made pro wrestling history with the Bullet Club and set the rebellious tone for the club leaders that followed in his wake. 

After the surprise reveal that Balor had joined Judgment Day, another shocker followed. Balor led Rhea Ripley and Damien Priest to attack Edge, and assumed control of the stable. Although he has been a babyface since returning to the main roster, Balor turned heel in grand style, through a shocking reveal. Balor turned on partners Styles and Morgan just as he turned on Taguchi. He is once again the leader of a top heel stable, just like when he kicked off the Bullet Club revolution in NJPW. Balor’s latest heel turn draws comparisons to his days as Prince Devitt.

Return of the Prince

Comparisons could also be made to Balor’s latest villainous turn and his time as “The Prince” in NXT. Balor returned to NXT in 2019. Balor’s adversaries for much of that time were popular babyface stable the Undisputed Era. The Undisputed Era was fueled by brotherhood and camaraderie. By contrast, Balor’s “Prince” gimmick was a loner who at times seemed to reconcile with the Undisputed Era only to play them against one another to weaken their bond. In the Judgment Day angle, Balor at first seemed to be Styles’ and Morgan’s ally. As the story unfolds, it will be revealed if he had a change of heart or if he was always acting with hidden motives. Once again, as on NXT, Balor is portraying  a slippery heel like “the Prince.”

Conclusion

Although his turn against Styles and Morgan and attack on Edge was a surprise, longtime followers of Finn Balor’s career know that the twist was perfectly suited to his history. In NJPW and NXT, Balor established himself as capable of playing a villain who knows how to use the art of surprise. Making him the faction leader of Judgment Day is a long awaited boon for Balor, who has not always been treated kindly by WWE

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