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WWE making Finn Balor earn his bulletproof moniker

WWE Logo (Phelan Ebenhack/AP Images for WWE)
Phelan Ebenhack/AP Images for WWE

The most recent edition of Raw will be remembered because of the silly SmackDown Live invas… er, #undersiege angle. Before the blue brand washed through the backstage area like an angry mob, though, Kane made another appearance and essentially issued an open challenge to anyone in the locker room.

Finn Balor emerged, fresh off of a victory over A.J. Styles at TLC and seemingly ready to add another feather to his cap via a win over a veteran like Kane. Except that isn’t the way their match unfolded. Balor — who wasn’t wearing his facepaint, thus he wasn’t channeling his inner demon, presumably — got in some offense against the Big Red Machine, but eventually fell short and lost clean in the middle of the ring via pinfall.

The loss came after Kane utilized the chokeslam not once, not twice, but three times, and while Balor didn’t get to kick out of any of them, it still took three to put him away. This outcome left Green Bay in shock. They weren’t even booing Kane, who is supposed to be the heel here. Instead, it seemed like a wave of disbelief had swept over the crowd. Apathy is the word that comes to mind.

That’s the kind of reaction Kane should probably expect throughout whatever run he’s in the midst of right now. It was cool to see him emerge from the ring prior to the TLC event, but having him punk out Braun Storwman, Styles, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Balor in a 24-hour window left a lot of fans scratching their heads.

The finish against Balor seemed to be the last straw, and his many supporters took to social media to express their outrage and, more than anything, outright confusion.

The why part of this finish isn’t easy to pin down. On Monday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio (subscription required), Dave Meltzer said that the booking left many of his sources confused as well (h/t CageSideSeats.com).

While that may be the case, the good news is that fans of Balor shouldn’t be worried about the former Universal Champion. Some wrestlers in the back couldn’t have taken a clean loss to Kane and have it not matter a whole lot, but when Balor’s music hits next week, he’s still going to receive one of the biggest pops of the night.

Meanwhile, Kane can’t get any kind of reaction despite halting Strowman’s momentum outright at TLC before chokeslaming Balor repeatedly into the mat during Raw. If Balor was getting those kinds of apathetic reactions from the crowd, then maybe there might be something to worry about.

That isn’t the case, however. The same folks who are mad about this finish are the same ones who see Balor as one of the brightest young performers in the WWE. Those ideas don’t really mesh all that well, though. If Balor can’t take a loss every now and again and still roll forward, then he might not be the franchise player some people seem to think that he is. Love them or hate them, megastars like John Cena and Roman Reigns are asked to lay down from time to time. And they are able to bounce back the next week without issue.

He is the franchise player that a lot of individuals believe that he is and having him lose cleanly to Kane might be a vote of confidence from WWE, in an odd sort of way. It could be Vince McMahon’s way of saying “we think you and your character can handle this loss and be fine next week.” Losing to Kane — a decorated worker in his own right, though he’s a part-timer these days — isn’t the end of the world for Balor.

It would have been awesome to see him be allowed to build off of the momentum he established against Styles at TLC right away, but it’s important to keep the big picture in mind for Balor right now. The booking wasn’t great, but this isn’t a loss we’re going to be talking about three weeks from now. It wasn’t even one of the biggest takeaways from the show.

Sure, someone else could have done the job to make Kane look strong en route to Strowman inevitably taking him apart at a later date, but it was Balor who got the call on Monday. They call him “Bulletproof” for a reason, and that hasn’t changed since Monday night. He has a fantastic character, is one of the strongest workers in the WWE and he won’t be a single peg lower when he has his next match in the coming weeks.

Franklin Steele is the assistant editor and featured writer of FanRag Sports' NHL side. He also covers the WWE for FRSSLAM.com. Steele, who joined FanRag Sports in October 2013, has been watching and playing hockey since the age of 6. His work has also appeared on TheHockeyWriters.com, FanSided.com and Bleacher Report. All told, he has more than 3,000 bylines to his name and more than six million people have read his work since 2011. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @FranklinSteele (NHL) and @SteeleTheHeel (WWE).

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