Shortly after the first Universal champion returned from injury and the recently deposed WWE titleholder was moved to Raw in the Superstar Shake-Up, it became clear that Finn Bálor vs. Bray Wyatt was a program WWE would be doing sometime in 2017.
The focus, for much of the WWE Universe, was on that as a showdown of The Demon vs. The Eater of Worlds. But not Finn.
As he recently told IGN:
“You know the Demon only comes out in certain special situations and I don't think my match at SummerSlam against Bray Wyatt calls for it necessarily. I think I'm perfectly capable of handling that on on my own, as Finn Bálor.”
We haven’t seen the Irishman don his body paint and headpiece since 2016’s SummerSlam, and the presumption was Finn would pull out all the stops for his first “Big Four” pay-per-view (PPV) since that one again this year - for marketing purposes, if nothing else. But his reason for hinting that he wouldn’t do so actually makes a lot of sense, especially to folks who’ve been hoping The Demon would become more a part of his character and less just an entrance gimmick:
“The Demon is something I have to personally tap into and believe in and draw from and the opportunity hasn't arose and the situation hasn't presented itself yet. The story hasn't required it.
Sometimes it's really personal... and there's heat and you gotta... go in demon-style. That's just the right way to use the character, you know. You have to make a statement. But right now I'm very happy making a statement as Finn Bálor, with my sweet ass leather jacket [laughs].”
WWE’s been emphasizing “The Bálor Club” as a way to bond Finn with his fans, and the Raw Creative team has more or less built to his match with Wyatt by having him play an audience surrogate who attacks Bray to shut him up. So he’s right that this doesn’t feel like a blood feud which requires him to pull out all the demonic stops.
Plus, this leaves that option open for later on down the line.
It’s a bit surprising the company wouldn’t want to promote The Demon for SummerSlam, but if they’re focused on moving Bálor Club merchandise - and production is crunched for time on a packed card that’s rumored to have a big theatrical entrance for another Superstar - leaving the red and black paint behind makes sense for a number of reasons.