Finn Bálor officially replaced Braun Strowman this week on Monday Night RAW and became the #1 Contender to face Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal Championship at Royal Rumble.
On PWInsider Elite audio, Mike Johnson revealed the time WWE decided to look into Bálor and considered him as a possible replacement in case Strowman wasn’t cleared to compete at Royal Rumble.
“I got a little bit more background on this. The Bálor plan was actually in place quietly within a small circle in WWE from the moment that they knew Braun Strowman was gonna need elbow surgery.”
Brock vs. Braun for the Universal Title was slated prior to December’s TLC. However, The Monster had to undergo elbow surgery and hasn’t yet been cleared for action.
“This was always the plan to build up to Braun and then remove Braun out if he was not cleared, but more so to build to Bálor vs Lesnar because they felt the story would be stronger. It would be a better match for a big show which if you saw Braun vs Brock at No Mercy I would tend to agree with that vision.”
“This was about building up babyfaces and using Braun to get some more heat on the heels and they felt like at that point that they needed some more heat on the heels.”
Another reason why Strowman was pulled from Royal Rumble is due to the fact that Vince McMahon wasn’t quite ready to throw The Monster under the bus for The Beast on January 27.
“This was not a last-second decision, but you know previously in my reporting I had said it was a couple of weeks. It was actually prior to that. It was back to where Braun first injured his elbow that that determination was made that they were gonna slide Finn Bálor in the backdoor.”