Finn Balor Should Become the Ace of WWE’s Cruiserweight Division

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Finn Balor has a much greater chance of success in a division in which being small isn’t so stigmatized.

As a main roster wrestler, Finn Balor hasn’t enjoyed much success. The former NXT and Universal Champion and ace of NXT has floundered somewhat over the past few months. Despite being one of the first RAW drafts in 2016, he hasn’t been used properly on the red brand.

In what few matches he’s had, the commentators have returned to doing the one thing they shouldn’t: mocking Balor’s small stature. Not too long ago, one could hear the RAW commentators doing this, which damaged his credibility as a world title contender.

Even when he was competing in the Extreme Rules 5-Way match, he stood out like a sore thumb. He was much smaller than everyone else around him, which made it much harder for him to be a believable winner.

Since then, Balor hasn’t done very much on RAW. Most recently, he was seen in Japan doing promotional work, instead of appearing on TV to prove that his loss at Extreme Rules wasn’t a fluke.

But when Balor does return, he shouldn’t challenge for the Universal Championship (at least, not yet). Instead, he should enter the Cruiserweight Division, win the championship, and become the ace of the cruiserweights. There are good reasons why Balor should do this.

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The Cruiserweight Division Lacks Big Stars

WWE’s cruiserweight division is suffering from several simultaneous problems. The RAW cruiserweight segments are, more often than not, short and boring, with the best stuff happening on 205 Live.

But that show also suffers from waning interest due to scheduling and there being too much WWE in such a short time span. For proof of this, look to any RAW cruiserweight segment; the audience doesn’t care enough about anything on RAW, whereas 205 Live has reportedly been suffering from fans walking out.

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These issues go hand-in-hand with one another. Most people watch RAW, and the cruiserweights on RAW are in segments devoted to plugging 205 live. Because these particular segments aren’t the most important, their creative elements are weaker.

The fans can tell, and so they have less interest in the cruiserweight division. This is despite the fact that the cruiserweight division is filled with such talented wrestlers as: Austin Aries, Neville, TJP, among others.

The problem here is that the cruiserweight division is very ‘isolated’, in that its stars don’t have any appeal outside of the division in which they wrestle. None of them is a ‘big star’ capable of transcending the boundaries of the cruiserweight division and becoming a top-drawing star.

This is where Balor comes in.

Balor has shown that he can draw in huge crowds and get a big reaction from large sections of the audience. Through these traits, Balor can bring in more interest to the cruiserweight division and keep it there.

Because Balor’s best matches in NJPW were junior heavyweight matches, Balor, in which he wasn’t shoehorned into a typical ‘big-guy-small-guy’ David vs. Goliath match-up. By having Balor wrestle people that are more or less the same size as him, Balor would be able to have better matches in general. This, in turn, would help elevate the cruiserweight division, as Balor’s fans would follow him into a different division.

The World Title Picture Has Brock Lesnar in It

Now is a terrible time for Balor to fight for the WWE Universal Championship, because of with whom he’s rubbing shoulders. Seth Rollins is a top prospect that has carried the main roster before, and he’s more likely to reach the top before Balor.

Samoa Joe’s much larger than Balor, and his upcoming title match against Lesnar is likely to end with Lesnar winning. Furthermore, the rumored plan is for Lesnar to hold the WWE Universal Championship until WrestleMania 34, at which point he’s to drop the belt to Roman Reigns.

If that’s the plan, why should Balor even bother trying to recapture the belt? From a logical perspective, Balor should wait until a more opportune moment. Yes, he never actually lost the Universal Championship; this fact has been mentioned several times. But if you’re a small wrestler, wouldn’t you wait until you have a better chance at winning in order to get your match?

Balor vs. Brock Lesnar is a horrible mismatch that no one would take seriously. Lesnar’s a special attraction that wouldn’t lose to Balor under any circumstances if Vince McMahon dictates match results. The same holds true for Balor facing Braun Strowman or Roman Reigns in a world title match.

The smart thing for Balor to do would be to wait until there’s a more opportune moment to challenge for the Universal Championship, especially since he lost in the Extreme Rules elimination match that was meant to be his chance to claim his shot.

But in order to find that opportune moment, Balor must first convince many doubters over his chances in the world title picture.

A lot of people out there simply don’t consider Balor to be a believable or realistic world title contender. Despite being wildly popular with a vocal part of the audience, many casual and less-diehard fans don’t understand the appeal.

Yes, Balor has a great entrance and look, but his size and move-set don’t really excite those fans. This problem can be attributed to the enormous disconnect between NXT booking and main roster booking, as Balor doesn’t have that many chances to prove himself. In NXT, Balor wrestled against bigger opponents and won on many occasions.

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On the main roster, those that decide matches still believe in the antiquated idea that a bigger guy should always win. Because of this latter mentality being popular among WWE’s main roster bookers, it’s drilled into the mentalities of the casual fans that watch the main shows but not NXT.

While Balor might have a hard time proving to those fans that he can match Brock Lesnar, he wouldn’t have this problem if he were in the cruiserweight division. Down there, Balor would be among equals, among people with whom he can have believable and more dramatic matches.

It would be much more realistic (and therefore more exciting) to see Balor hit his 1916 secondary finisher on someone like Austin Aries than it would be on Samoa Joe. By having better matches, Balor would gain more support from a larger percentage of the audience.

Right now, Balor’s popularity isn’t as widespread as one might think based on live reactions. For Balor to prove to everyone that he’s a credible threat, he needs to show what he can do for a different championship.

It Would Elevate the Prestige of the Cruiserweight Championship

Remember Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger? The legendary cruiserweight wrestler that revolutionized wrestling so much that now, decades after his peak, cruiserweight wrestling is more popular than it has ever been? That same Liger that’s treated with absolute reverence by wrestlers, their fans, and their critics alike?

He never won a World Championship; instead, he won over 25 cruiserweight/junior heavyweight titles over the course of his career. He’s like the Ric Flair of cruiserweight wrestling. He didn’t need a world title to validate his career or prove that he was a big draw; his cruiserweight accomplishments more than made up for his lack of a heavyweight title win.

In all of this work, Liger elevated cruiserweight wrestling to the point that, in many cases, cruiserweight matches are treated as superior athletic contests, and the prestige of their championships are on par with heavyweight titles.

Thus, if WWE wants to elevate its cruiserweight division (and championship) to be more than just another forgotten belt on a show already filled with belts, why not add someone with a big name to that division to elevate the division as a whole?

As another example, consider the following scenario. Picture SmackDown’s tag team division. It has been treated poorly compared to its RAW counterpart, and the only big-name team in it is the New Day.

Now, imagine if John Cena and Randy Orton, two former world champions and ridiculously popular WWE superstars, decided to team together and wanted those titles. By competing for those championships, it would send a clear message to the fans watching: “these guys are top stars in the company, and they want those tag team belts. They must be important and prestigious.”

This is the ultimate purpose of adding Balor to the cruiserweight division. If he’s thrust into the heavyweight division and world title picture, he’ll struggle alongside such major threats as Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. But in the cruiserweight division, he has a much bigger chance of succeeding and standing out as a wrestler.

If booked properly, Balor could become the ace of the cruiserweight division. If given the freedom to wrestle in a pure cruiserweight style, Balor could have dream matches with the likes of Neville, Austin Aries, and many others.

By having these great matches, not only would Balor prove his own skill to a larger WWE audience. He’d also elevate the prestige of the cruiserweight division and the championship for which everyone in that division fights.

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In other words, Balor becoming the ace of WWE’s cruiserweight division is a win-win situation.