WWE Stock Watch: Finn Balor Wins Either Way

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Following Backlash and another week of WWE programming, the roles of several superstars are starting to become clearer, especially with Extreme Rules and the Money in the Bank pay-per-views in the not-too-distant future.

Although the Universal Championship remains held captive by Brock Lesnar, even Monday Night Raw has managed to make the chase for the opportunity to (presumably) lose to “The Beast Incarnate” seem important with a fatal 5-way match set for Extreme Rules. Meanwhile, SmackDown Live has made the WWE Championship the biggest talking point in the company by putting the belt on a highly motivated Jinder Mahal.

It would be a cop-out to place Mahal among the list of risers in this week’s edition of the “WWE Stock Watch”, but even omitting “The Maharaja”, there are still an ample number of superstars who benefited this past week.

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5. Rising: Finn Balor

Finn Balor is one of the most over babyfaces in the company, and that’s been obvious since he first returned from a torn labrum. Balor lost to Roman Reigns in the previous week, but, well, literally everybody loses to Roman at some point. What’s more important is the fact that his match with Reigns was excellent, and that he was put over in a huge way by Paul Heyman on the latest episode of Raw.

There’s been speculation that Heyman could add another client in the future, and while it seems like he has his time tied up with being Lesnar’s advocate, it would be exciting to see him add Balor. Of course, this means Balor would have to turn heel, and that’s not something I see happening in the near future. Balor is one of the best faces in a company that sorely lacks believable, tough faces near the top of the card, and it’s hard to see people booing him. He also disposed of Karl Anderson with Luke Gallows at ringside, and while a “Balor Club” reunion shouldn’t be completely discounted, I just don’t see it in the cards.

That said, Balor had a big week, because the Heyman promo alone was huge for him. I could see Balor being the favorite to win at Extreme Rules, setting up a match against Lesnar at SummerSlam. Conventional wisdom and rumors state that Lesnar will hold the belt until WrestleMania 34 before dropping it to Reigns, but we can all dream about Balor winning the Universal Championship before then, right? Right?

In any case, Balor’s match with Reigns was great, and he followed that up this week with an unsurprisingly top-tier television match with Anderson. Balor’s fluid in-ring work and ability to tell a story even in the confines of a regular Raw match is exceptional.

Heyman’s praise is most likely disingenuous, because it would be more typical of his status as a conniving heel. He could be buttering up Balor for an offer to become a “Paul Heyman Guy”, but I’d put more money on this being a ploy to get in Balor’s head. Although Heyman will put over Lesnar’s opponents in promos, I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Lesnar are actually unimpressed with Balor’s abilities in kayfabe and are secretly hoping he is their next challenger. Taking Heyman’s words at face value is rarely a good idea, as he’s notorious for becoming excessively flowery with his language when he has an ulterior motive.