Last week, I wrote about the sad state that Monday Night Raw was in.
It needed help. It needed somebody to become the Roman Reigns of the show and give us a reason to tune in every week. A savior, perhaps. Or maybe, a demon.
Could this be the moment for Finn Balor? I sure hope so.
Balor has been a main roster player for more than two years now, but we’ve been waiting for him to show up. We got a glimpse of it at SummerSlam in 2016 when Balor beat Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship. The Demon held the championship high, but unfortunately with his good arm. A separated shoulder took the belt out of Balor’s hands and landed him on the shelf to gather dust.
Even though Balor has been healthy for well over a year now, he’s still looking a bit dusty. That’s what happens with little use and a lack of direction for one of the most talented superstars in the world.
It’s like we were conditioned to forget Balor is arguably the greatest NXT Champion of all time. He carried the strongest era in the history of WWE's developmental product, and was a high draft pick when the brands split in 2016. Clearly, WWE was aware it had the future of the company. So what happened?
Well, this past Monday, I’m here to say — in certainly the most hopeful tone — Balor is our savior from the madness that is Raw right now.
Two Mondays ago, Raw was a mess. Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley made a mess of the roster, embarrassing Balor and Elias. Those three stood tall, leaving their stain all over the show.
This past Monday, Corbin seemed to be up to his tricks again, tormenting lower card talent such as Bobby Roode, Chad Gable, Rhyno and Heath Slater. But Corbin, Lashley and McIntyre couldn’t control the show this time, thanks to a demon lurking in the shadows.
No, Balor wasn’t painted up Monday, but he was cunning, standing up to those three. He aided Elias in making a fool out of Lashley and his little sidekick, Lio Rush. He then delivered a drop kick to McIntyre when the referee wasn’t looking, costing him his match against Dolph Ziggler, whom McIntyre turned against earlier in the night.
What’s next for Balor? Who knows. He and Elias are still out-numbered by Corbin’s gang while their cavalry, Braun Strowman, is injured.
Perhaps this was just a one-week thing, but I’m hopeful this is the start of the rise of Balor on a show that’s desperate for strong faces to fight the good fight.
- Tommaso Ciampa is brilliant in the ring, but even more so on the mic. Like a literal puppet master, Ciampa got Aleister Black out of his sights by using Johnny Gargano’s crazy obsessive nature to set up a match with Black. However, it didn’t prevent taking a Black Mass at the end of NXT’s ending segment.
- Speaking of NXT, it’s nice seeing Wesley Blake doing something while his former tag team partner Buddy Murphy is the Cruiserweight Champion on 205 Live. Blake, Steve Cutler and Jaxson Ryker, making up the group The Forgotten Sons, are a part of the brand’s restocking of talent.
- Punishment Martinez made his TV debut against Matt Riddle. Both are considered future top players on NXT. Man, Riddle is just so talented. I can’t get over Martinez looking like NXT Baron Corbin though. Look aside, he fits the WWE style far better than he would on the indies.
- Becky Lynch doesn’t have a concussion anymore, per reports, but still isn’t cleared because of her nasal fracture. Let’s hope she’s ready for TLC because Charlotte Flair and Asuka are doing an awesome job building that match up by establishing friction between the two.
- Rusev is hungry. His promo Tuesday was great. It’s nice seeing him getting a push again, especially in a United States title picture that has grown stale. That’s not a good sign for the champ, Shinsuke Nakamura, and WWE’s opinion of him ever holding a major title in the future.
- Finally, thank you Lio Rush for putting a darn shirt on!
Coming next on Write Russo Write
There are three Friday's left in 2018. Next week, I will preview the TLC show. During the last two weeks, I will rank the top 50 matches in WWE, and will dole out my year-end awards, which include the top moments of 2018.
Weekly power rankings
A kayfabe look at the top 10 on each main show in WWE.
Monday Night Raw (Dec. 3)
- Brock Lesnar (1)
- Drew McIntyre (2)
- Ronda Rousey (3)
- Seth Rollins (4)
- Dean Ambrose (5)
- Bobby Lashley (6)
- AOP (7)
- Finn Balor (UR)
- Elias (8)
- Nia Jax (9)
Out: Baron Corbin (10)
SmackDown Live (Dec. 4)
- Daniel Bryan (1)
- Becky Lynch (2)
- A.J. Styles (3)
- The Bar (4)
- Shinsuke Nakamura (5)
- The Miz (6)
- Samoa Joe (7)
- Randy Orton (8)
- Jeff Hardy (9)
- Asuka (UR)
Out: Charlotte Flair (10)
On the bubble: Rusev, The Usos, The New Day, Charlotte Flair.
NXT (Dec. 5)
- Tommaso Ciampa (1)
- Ricochet (2)
- Aleister Black (3)
- Shayna Baszler (4)
- Johnny Gargano (7)
- Velveteen Dream (5)
- Adam Cole (6)
- Undisputed Era (8)
- War Raiders (9)
- Kairi Sane (10)
On the bubble: Bianca Belair.