By Will Pruett
Full disclosure: To retain his sanity, Will Pruett watches the 90 minute edit of Raw on Hulu. He has no regrets.
What has always troubled me about the character of Finn Bálor is what “The Demon” or, now, “The Demon King” actually means.
When Finn has wrestled as “The Demon” in NXT, his style has remained unchanged. The entrance has always been well-choreographed. The lighting looks great. The synthesized strings sound fantastic. Finn’s makeup is always pretty neat. When the lights turn back on, Finn has always just been Finn. Painted Finn is pretty cool, but WWE, thus far, has failed to make him more aggressive or frightening. When “The Demon” starts to wrestle, he is not very demonic.
This has bothered me throughout Bálor’s NXT life. Finn’s paint has seemed to mean that a Takeover special is happening more than it meaning anything about him. WWE loves the merchandise “The Demon King” can sell for them, but are they willing to make it an interesting and dark character? In NXT, they didn’t. Can they fix this error on the main roster?
On Raw, we saw the main roster debut of “The Demon King” Finn Bálor, complete with ribbons on his head and paint on his face and body. It looked good. This version of Finn made his full entrance and the crowd reacted with glee. I don’t blame them. I’ve seen a couple Demon entrances live and they tend to be pretty cool.
After the entrance, we saw Finn trade a few moves with Rollins and it looked, in this moment like the same old Finn Bálor. My fears that the main roster Demon would follow the same path as the NXT Demon seemed to be confirmed. I’m willing to hedge my bets slightly here and say it may have been confirmation bias. I was looking for “The Demon King” to seem like the same Bálor, so I believe he did.
On Sunday night, we will see Bálor’s first full match as “The Demon King” on the main roster and we will get some idea of how and how often WWE plans to use this persona. Can Bálor lose to Seth Rollins in his first appearance as “The Demon King?” Will it make Bálor’s demonic self less of an attraction if he does lose?
WWE has a chance to present “The Demon King” as a special attraction. They can make it a dark place Bálor does not like to go often and only visits when he is pushed too far. They could make it downright painful for Bálor to become “The Demon King” (much like it hurts Bruce Banner to become The Hulk). There is so much potential for interesting storytelling around Finn becoming unhinged when he becomes “The Demon King” and regretting his actions later.
The main question: Will WWE pick the interesting, complex, and more exciting story or will they go with the two dimensional paint job and call it great?
And now for some random thoughts:
– “The Demon King” sounds way too much like “The Demon” Kane.
– Seth Rollins has not been the main focus of Raw in the way I would have expected him to be. Rollins has delivered a few promos, but we haven’t seen shows built around matches or segments with him. After the first week of split Raw, he hasn’t even wrestled. I respect the restraint, but hope Rollins remains a major star.
– The feud between Rusev and Roman Reigns took a step backward for me after seeing them have a long match here. It was a fine match, but we saw their tricks already. I didn’t walk away from their 20 minute encounter on Monday night wanting to see them again in six days.
– Roman Reigns making mail order bride jokes is uncomfortable. Roman Reigns making jokes is uncomfortable.
– Sami Zayn has picked up some decent wins in the last month, but there is no story for him to be found. What’s Sami up to? What’s next for him? Does his character have a goal?
– Is there a storyline reason Michael Cole called a bunch of moves the wrong things? He’s usually pretty good when he decides to call moves and he had a rough outing here.
– Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens are quite funny together. Their match with Enzo and Cass at SummerSlam should be pretty fun.
– Sheamus and Cesaro in a Best of Seven series could be quite fun. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Nine matches within a few months of each other will be tough to pull off and create excitement around, but I trust both Cesaro and Sheamus to do it well. Sheamus is pretty good, y’all.
– Anderson and Gallows’ ball-related humor is just awful. This feud with The New Day was good for about a week and is now annoying me.
– The final hype for Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte was underwhelming. I would have loved a video package about this feud dating back to NXT and telling both women’s stories. WWE didn’t do this and they went with a more traditional build. It’s not bad, it’s just not the most effective storytelling mechanism. I’m hoping to see both women get the spotlight on Sunday much like they did at WrestleMania.
– Heath Slater confronting Brock Lesnar was very good.
– Paul Heyman’s promo was a standard Heyman promo without a ton of new twists. I’ll give it a solid “meh” and move along.
Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? Hit me up with them! Check the Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Best of The Boom features Eric Bischoff joining Jason Powell in this March 20, 2019 discussion on whether there are similarities between Verne Gagne's booking during the AWA's dying days and Vince McMahon's WWE booking today, AEW, a Turner network shakeup, and more...