How do you botch a RAW main event featuring Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Finn Bálor reunited with his former Bullet Club brethren?
Leave it to Beaver.
2017 was a dire year for the Demon; having missed out on WrestleMania 33 as a result of the shoulder injury suffered at SummerSlam ’16, he returned on the post-‘Mania RAW to a warm, fervent welcome in a tag match with Seth Rollins opposite Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe. The tentative treaty he shared with Rollins, the man who put him on the shelf, indicated a sort of welcome continuity. Bálor, an honourable babyface, accepted the injury as a byproduct of battle. He wasn’t interested in petty revenge: he was interested only in reclaiming his Universal Championship.
Only, he wasn’t; he barely mentioned new champion Brock Lesnar – instead opting to defeat a few jobbers here and there – depicting him as amnesiac at best, coward at worst. One such jobber, Jinder Mahal, concussed him very early into his return run, which can’t have done him any favours with Vince McMahon, notoriously cagey about pushing slighter (read: “weaker”) performers.
It didn’t; Jinder was rewarded with the dumbest mega-push ever. Bálor, meanwhile, caught a dose of cholera from living corpse Bray Wyatt in what would have occupied the upper reaches of ‘Worst Of 2017’ lists, were it not for virtually everything else Wyatt did. Then came the Kane business, depressingly and comprehensively documented elsewhere.
When WWE finally put Bálor in a position worth watching, they rendered it absolutely unwatchable…