This week Kurt Angle sensationally revealed that Paul "Triple H" Levesque didn't even speak to him when his TNA contract expired last year. Angle stated that Vince McMahon had told him that Levesque was now in charge of such matters and that "Hunter" then cancelled their meeting last September due to the fact there was enough talent on the roster already.
I was a massive fan of Angle during his time in WWE, he is one of the greatest of all time and Triple H himself said he has never seen anyone pick up "the WWE way" like Angle did. Although he has had his share of injury and personal problems, he is the current TNA World Champion (a record sixth reign) and there is no doubt he still has the charisma and athletic ability to perform at the highest level, even if it was just to have one final run at the top and bow out in style and with grace like Shawn Michaels.
Exciting as it would be to see him back on WWE programming, I do believe on this occasion Triple H has made the right call. As tempting as it can be to relive past glories doing so can be at a cost, that cost being the progress and development of the new stars who will be relied upon to carry the company long term. Wrestling is full of "what if's?" but one thing that is for sure is that a spot at the top of the card taken by a veteran at the tail end of his career is a spot for a potential star to be making his name. And there is one person in particular who deserves that spot Angle would be occupying and excitingly he may even be making his Raw début this evening after appearing on the UK tour this week, that man is Finn Balor.
I saw Balor first hand last night in Manchester losing in the opening match against fellow NXT graduate Neville, a match that for me stole the show. And that is not to say the other matches were not entertaining, they were just that good. Neville has deservedly been earning rave reviews and now it is time for Balor, real name Fergal Devitt to get his chance in the spotlight.
The Irishman will be a familiar face for NXT viewers and he is already becoming well known for his comic book influenced face and body paint and dramatic ring entrance, which excites and terrifies in equal measures. But behind the in-your-face gimmick he has been perfecting his in-ring skills since the year 2000 where he started out in the UK as an 18 year old, the same year Angle was making rapid progress in WWE winning European, Intercontinental and World titles.
Like many of the greatest wrestlers before him he moved to Japan to further develop himself and such was his impact on arrival in NJPW he was given the Pegasus Kid II moniker that was originally given to Chris Benoit. He didn't keep that name for long and as Prince Devitt he went on to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title three times which he held for a total of 1,010 days. Just to put that into perspective in the belts history only the legendary Jushin Liger has held it for longer, and Benoit himself only held it once for 78 days.
Balor achieved plenty during his time in Japan but his stock rose higher than ever when, after wrestling as a babyface for 6 years, he turned heel on his long term partner Ryusuke Taguchi and formed his own faction "Bullet Club". The original plan had been for Balor to work as a "chicken" heel working heavyweights but with a huge bodyguard for protection. Shawn Michaels and Diesel was said to be the inspiration for the angle. However by the time the heel turn came (in Japan the story-lines are very slow building and it didn't happen for about 6 months after it was decided) a last minute decision was made to form the group. The stable would gather worldwide popularity leading Kevin Nash to praise them as being a more athletic NWO. Rather than become copycat "cool" heels, Bullet Club were just downright nasty heels in the traditional sense and people went crazy for them as a result.
As NXT fans will know already, after working at the top in Japan for so many years his in-ring ability is without question that of someone who can be a convincing WWE champion. But he also has the dedication and determination which is just as important to succeed long-term. Finn Balor's amazing body and face paint takes him about two and a half hours to apply before a show, his sweating means it will run into his eyes, ears, mouth and nose during the match and despite having to shower for two hours afterwards to remove it, there is always still some left on his skin for another day or two. This is just on example of how seriously he takes his responsibility to entertain (and a good explanation as to why he only does it on special occasions!)
Paul Heyman tweeted back in February that he is a big fan and has been for years, if Balor is to be a heel then could that be a match made in heaven? I would say yes, but only if Heyman ends his partnership with Brock Lesnar, the reason being I want to see Balor in the very same main events Lesnar occupies and therefore don't see how he could combine the two. Whatever is decided for his character I hope he does indeed get his chance tonight on Raw and then the opportunity he definitely deserves to reach the top. After the success he had with Bullet Club I'd say a WWE title match next WrestleMania is not unrealistic for a man with his abilities.