Finn Balor Makes WWE Raw Debut, Will Face Seth Rollins at SummerSlam

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2016

Photo credit: WWE.com

One of professional wrestling's most talented stars made his debut on WWE's main roster on Monday when former NXT champion Finn Balor appeared on Raw.

After a wild debut, Balor will face Seth Rollins for the brand-new WWE championship belt at SummerSlam next month.

Raw commissioner Stephanie McMahon and general manager Mick Foley originally placed Balor in a Fatal 4-Way match along with Rusev, Cesaro and Kevin Owens, with the winner to go on to a No. 1 contender's match for the newly created WWE Universal Championship:

Balor prevailed after hitting Rusev with the Coup de Grace.

WWE Universe shared a photo of the winning pinfall:

Next up was a match against Roman Reigns, with the winner getting their shot against Rollins at SummerSlam. Balor proceeded to showcase why he was so highly regarded at NXT. It was a hard-hitting affair that had fans in a frenzy, and WWE Universe provided one of Balor's highlights:

After both stars delivered plenty of punishment, Balor finally was able to pin Reigns, via WWE:

In the span of a three-hour show, Balor went from making his debut on the main stage to being vaulted to the very top of the card of one of the most important pay-per-views of the year in SummerSlam.

Raw selected The Demon with the fifth overall pick in the WWE draft, instantly making him one of the cornerstones of WWE's flagship show.

Balor's move to the main roster had long been anticipated, and it seemed inevitable when he shockingly dropped the NXT Championship to Samoa Joe at an NXT live event in Lowell, Massachusetts, on April 21.

The 35-year-old Irishman gained worldwide popularity for his work as Prince Devitt in Europe and Japan before WWE came calling and signed him to the NXT brand in July 2014.

Balor made an instant impact in NXT and quickly became one of the most popular performers under the WWE umbrella thanks to the demonic persona he breaks out for matches, complete with intricate body paint.

Just nine months after his debut match at NXT, Balor became the new NXT champion by defeating Kevin Owens at the Beast in the East special in Tokyo, which was fitting considering his success in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Despite the fact that Balor was likely ready for WWE's main roster from the day he signed, he admitted in a December interview on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast (h/t William Windsor of Wrestling Inc) that he was in no rush to get called up:

I really believe that what we're doing here in the [WWE] Performance Center [and] what we're doing with NXT is something that's going to be remembered for years. I feel like to get quote, unquote called up to the main roster would be, maybe, like a step back for my career right [now]. Obviously, instant gratification, you get called up to the main roster, that's great, but I think what we're doing here in NXT will stand longer in history as kind of like a revolutionary period and to kind of pull myself out of that would be detrimental to my career in the long term.

Even though Balor was content to continue building NXT into one of the elite brands in wrestling, he still had loftier goals entering 2016:

With the brand split necessitating an influx of talent to fill both brands, now was the ideal time to call Balor up.

He has all the makings of an immediate main event mainstay, and the fact that he was selected in the draft shortly after Rollins has fans salivating for what's to come. 

                         

For more wrestling talk, listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot topics or catch the latest episode in the player below (some language NSFW).

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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