As the clock ticked down to the final entrant in this year’s Royal Rumble, fans were hoping that Finn Balor might be making his return. Instead, Roman Reigns walked out, and The Demon King was nowhere to be found. So why wasn’t Balor at Royal Rumble as so many expected?
Pro Wrestling Insider reported last week that Balor would be undergoing medical testing and that WWE doctors would be determining whether to clear him for in-ring competition. He’s still recovering from the shoulder injury he sustained at SummerSlam, and based on Balor’s absence tonight, it’s safe to assume that he was not cleared. After all, there were plenty of spots Balor could have taken in the Royal Rumble match, and there would be no better time for his return than on tonight’s pay-per-view.
Moments after the pay-per-view ended, Balor took to Twitter to subtly respond to the millions of fans expressing disappointment that he was not in the Royal Rumble match; he simply reminded them of the extent of his injuries.
It was never a sure thing that Balor would return at Royal Rumble, but when he suffered an injury back in August, WWE doctors said that this kind of thing would typically put a person out of action for between four and six months. If Balor returned at Royal Rumble, it would have been five months since the injury, and so he wouldn’t be coming back that much earlier than expected.
Plus, there’s precedent for superstars returning from injury somewhat sooner than originally thought, as John Cena famously entered the Royal Rumble match in 2008 months before he was expected to be cleared for in-ring competition. Sadly, history did not repeat itself at Royal Rumble 2017.
Balor’s return will likely come sometime in the next few weeks, though, as the company begins its road to WrestleMania. With so many other feuds beginning to ramp up, some fans are speculating that we might see a match between Kevin Owens and Finn Balor at WrestleMania 33, with Balor returning to reclaim the championship that he never lost. Then again, WrestleMania might also be the perfect time for a match between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, so perhaps Owens will have lost the title by then and Balor will fight with the new Universal Champion.
WrestleMania 33 will be held on April 2nd, 2017.