The Royal Rumble is called one of the “Big Four” for a reason. This is where much of Wrestlemania’s plans fall into place.
Finn Balor had planned on entering the Rumble proper to hopefully punch his ticket to Wrestlemania and finally reclaim the Universal Title. He’d had more than a fair fight from Roman, but he owed it to his Samoan friend to take that belt away from a Beast who had no respect for it.
With Braun Strowman’s elbow issues, Finn received a golden opportunity. He fought twice in one night and stood up to his boss about the matter, and now he would fight for the Universal title two months early.
The narrative was “David v. Goliath” and Finn had openly admitted that he had relied too much on the Demon’s assistance when it came to big matches like this. He had a point to prove, not just to the fans, not just to himself.
Balor sulked in the locker room as he dressed for the match.
“‘Rely’,” Balor carefully pronounced. His spoken human words were still hard. “‘Rely’..... ‘Trust’?”
Finn glanced up. “Not the same thing. I trust you, even if very few others don’t.”
“‘Rely’,” Balor said with a little more confidence. “‘Ally’?” he tried to find a similar word.
“I don’t want to ‘rely’ on you. I don’t want to ‘depend’ on you,” Finn clarified. “The humans think that I have to invoke you every time I HAVE to win a match.”
Balor blinked at the statement, confused. “I know there are a lot of humans out there who want to see you against the Beast,” Finn further explained. “But there are some things I have to do myself.”
“I’m asking you this favor. I don’t want to rely on you because one day you might not be able to save me.”
“‘Save’?” Another word. “‘Rescue’?”
Finn nodded. “You may have raised me, but a lot of others believe a different story.”
“I was talking to Seth Rollins a few nights ago when I was trying to decide which one of us should face Lesnar. Seth may not completely understand how we work together, but he and a lot of others were told I defeated you to wield your power.”
“Fight?” Balor brightened. He liked sparring with Finn.
“Seth made an interesting point. You’ve heard him called ‘Kingslayer’.”
“Not me!” Balor puffed his chest out, teeth glimmering in the lights of the locker room. He still prided in working with Finn to beat Seth at Summerslam a couple of years ago.
“No, not you,” Finn chuckled. “But if I’m just a man who conquered the Demon King, that means I’m stronger than just an ordinary Kingslayer, right?”
Finn watched as Balor added all this up. “Demon, King, slayer?” Balor pointed at Finn.
“That’s what Seth called me. So if I’m a Demon King Slayer, a Beast shouldn’t be a problem, right?”
“I’m not that scared little boy anymore. Let me at least try.”
“..okay…” Balor tried not to look like he was sulking as Finn picked up the black jacket.
“Either way, do not leave this room. No matter what happens. Do not leave this room.”
Finn gave his demon ally a very pointed look. “I’ll make YOU explain it, and I know your Human language isn’t good enough for that.” He pointed to a monitor installed in the room. “You can watch from here. No excuses.”
Balor made faces at Finn as his human strode out for the match.
Balor hated watching on the little window that Finn brought to the locker room. He knew he’d be in trouble if Finn found out he left the locker room, but as long as he stuck to the shadows and no one saw him, he could find a better view of the ring.
It could be tricky with all the different lights. He didn’t get to scout the arena like he usually did for big events like this. This wasn’t the show that Finn would let him “play”... that was in the summer, even if it felt like summer here.
He settled in a shadow and listened to the fat man who accompanied the Beast to the ring.
“The Balor-beating Beast, continuing his Conquering….” the fat man announced. Balor bristled. Were he in the ring, the fat man would have not gotten that many words out.
Paul Heyman continued, “...and that’s not a prediction, it’s a spoiler… ”
Balor would have to ask his human friend about that word. Why did the humans like the fat man? He didn’t fight, he wasn’t around much, only slightly more than the Beast. Balor would puzzle as he watched the match unfold.
The battle started in Finn’s favor, much to Balor’s delight. He knew his human had the speed and agility to avoid most of the lumbering Beast’s punches. Finn kicked and stomped, sticking and moving to keep clear of the Beast’s massive arms. His first mistake might have been going for a Sling Blade too early, and the Beast threw him out of the ring.
“Finn..?” Balor worried. He cringed as the Beast threw his human around like a toy. He calmed when Finn shoved Brock into the announce table, hoping that the corner hit the Beast somewhere…. Tender. Twice.
“Good Finn,” Balor grinned as the Beast staggered from the blows. He savored the Beast’s struggle to re-enter the ring as Finn continued to pour on the offense. He salivated every time Lesnar dropped to a knee in pain. “Yes. Good Finn,” he repeated he Finn focused on that area, then floored Brock with the Sling Blade.
He winced again when he saw - no, heard - Lesnar clothesline Finn nearly out of his boots. His human was breathing strangely and his eyes were glassy. Is my human still conscious? Balor fretted for a second or two before he saw Finn reverse the F-5 into a DDT. The Beast refused to stay down.
“Stomp. More. Coudegrah,” Balor pleaded. Lesnar rolled clear of the stomps and Finn threw himself at the Beast a few times. He looked to the fat man, and grinned even wider as he saw the dawning panic on his face. “More, Finn. Coudegrah.”
As if Finn heard his demon friend, he finally launched and landed a picture perfect coup de gras, immediately covering Lesnar. “Win!!” Balor cheered.
Lesnar’s body shifted. The ref didn’t hit the mat a third time. Balor didn’t hear the bell. The bell ALWAYS rang after Coudegrah. “Win?”
His eyes grew wide as his human suddenly wrapped up, one arm bent awkwardly. Finn flailed and screamed, trying to get an arm or leg free to reach a rope. Balor stopped himself from teleporting down there. “Finn!!” he whimpered.
He promised not to interfere. Then again, he promised not to leave the room.
Finn started slapping the mat like the referee should have. The bell rang. The wrong music played. Finn remained on the mat holding his arm.
“...hurt?” he growled. Again he resisted teleporting down there.
The music stopped. Lesnar grabbed Finn and started throwing him around again.
“No!” Balor snarled. “STOP!!” He almost teleported again. He shook with anger as the Beast left the ring, taking the fat man with him. Balor paced in that shadow as his poor human clambered to his feet, mindful to not use the almost-broken arm. The crowd cheered Finn for his effort.
That wasn’t enough for Balor. He teleported back to the locker room and slammed the monitor into the wall. “BEAST WILL PAY!” He fumed, the rest of his tirade an acid storm of infernal curses. His imagination drew bloodstained abstracts of the remains of the Beast once Balor got his claws and teeth sunk deep enough into him. He’d let the fat man live just to watch him soil himself as his pet monster meets a REAL monster! Balor smashed a bench, imagining it to be a femur bone shattering under his power. He swung at a locker and caved the door deep inward. He ripped another door clean from its hinges and flung it at the wall, sinking it an inch deep into the concrete.
The door to the locker room opened, and Balor turned to roar at it. “FINN!!”
Finn held up his good arm to try to calm him friend. “I’m all right-”
“NO!!” The demon protested, marching right up to his human. “Rely! Trust! Let me kill Beast! Let ME kill Beast! Let me KILL beast! LET ME KILL BEAST! You hurt! I KILL-”
“No.” Finn calmly replied.
“KILL! MAIM! BITE! CLAW!”
“No,” Finn repeated. “I lost fair and square.”
“HE HURT YOU!”
“And I hurt him back. A lot. He’s in the trainer’s room.”
“I go there and KILL-”
“No!” Finn ordered. He raised the bad arm. “Here. See? It’s not broken.”
Balor growled and fumed, but indeed the arm was not damaged. “Hurt? Maim? Bite?”
“No, no and no,” Finn chided. “I told you to trust me and let me try.”
“You…. lost,” Balor whined. “I don’t lose.”
Finn shook his head. “Next time.”
“Now,” Balor grumbled. He would have tried more words if someone hadn’t knocked on the locker room door.
“Hey, everything okay in there?”
Finn peeked out the door to see Seth Rollins with a hand up ready to knock again. “Sorry man,” Seth apologized. “You looked good out there. More offense than most of the other guys get.”
“Thought I had him. Didn’t beat him down enough.”
“You sure you’re ok? I heard some crashing around in here….”
“Oh, that,” Finn rolled his eyes and opened the door a little more. “I think you already know that answer.”
Seth peered in, spotting Balor sulking next to the remains of the monitor. “You probably should have let him go out there.”
“Rely,” Balor spat. Seth turned back to Finn.
“He’s angry that I don’t want to rely on him,” Finn confessed. “And angrier that I lost.”
Seth took a few cautious steps toward Balor, who eyed him warningly. “Hey, don’t be mad at Finn.”
“Mad at Beast,” Balor grumbled.
“A lot of people are mad at him. Want me to try and take him out?”
“Beast not King!” Balor protested.
Seth smirked. “If he’s only a Beast, then a Kingslayer shouldn’t have a problem with him, right?”
Balor glanced over to Finn, recalling their conversation before the match. Finn sighed. “I told him that since I was a ‘demon king slayer’ I could win.”
Rollins deflated at hearing this. “Are you sure he’s not mad at you, Finn?”
Balor shook his head no. Finn sighed again. “If I face Lesnar again… well, it won’t be me.”
“Hey,” Seth crouched down next to Balor. “Do you trust me?”
“Do you think I can win the Rumble?”
“Win?” Balor repeated. He knew that word. “Win.” He looked over to his human.
“I’m not in the Rumble, but Seth would be my pick to win it.”
“Win. Kill Beast.”
“I can’t go that far,” Seth smirked again. “But if I win, it’s my turn to fight him. If I don’t, there’s still a lot of time for you two to get that shot.”
Balor stood, Seth standing up at the same time. “Rely. Ally. Win,” Balor ordered, placing a hand on Seth’s shoulder.
Only now did Finn smile. “Good Luck, Seth.”
“Thanks guys.” Rollins hurried out of the room as he heard music starting up for the Rumble. He didn’t want to let on how spooked he was at the slight jolt he felt from the demon’s touch…