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LOS ANGELES — Finn Bálor is the man. Or make that the “Man,” as the former Universal Champion powered his way past Bray Wyatt for a second straight win over The Reaper of Souls — and, crucially, this one came without Bálor using the trappings of The Demon to boost his path to victory.
Bálor and Wyatt's WWE No Mercy grudge match essentially hinged on the idea that the two Superstars, tied at a win apiece, would shed their more ghoulish tendencies and duke it out “Man-to-Man.” For Wyatt, that meant delivering a cheap shot to his opponent before the bell even rang and a beating on the outside of the ring that brought out a small cadre of WWE officials to escort the injured Bálor to the back.
However, Bálor the man turned out to be as gritty as Bálor The Demon is magnificent. After Wyatt called him a “coward,” the Irishman willed himself back into the ring and threw hands as fast and furiously as he possibly could, forcing the bell to ring as the match began in earnest. But, being a man, and a banged-up man at that, he remained firmly in The Reaper of Souls’ control; the former WWE Champion took a few kicks from Bálor, though never quite appeared to be in any real danger.
It took a bit of old-school chicanery from Bálor to finally turn the tide, trapping Wyatt in the ring apron a la Fit Finlay before delivering a swinging, Charlie Brown-style football kick to Wyatt’s dome. Slowly but surely, Bálor battled his way back into the fight, and Wyatt began to get desperate when The Reaper of Souls’ usual array of physical attacks (a clothesline that turned his foe end over end) and mind games (his signature spider-walk) failed to slow Bálor down.
A pair of suplex-esque throws did seem like they might be enough, but it was Wyatt’s own confidence that spelled his doom. With Finn seemingly down for the count, Wyatt waited just a few moments too long perched on the top rope, and Bálor used that hesitation to unleash his final burst. The former Universal Champion kicked Wyatt off the top and blasted him into the turnbuckles with two double-barreled running dropkicks. The second was enough to set up the final Coup de Grâce and hand Bálor the hard-earned win.
So, in a way, Bray Wyatt was right: Finn Bálor may be a man, but he is an extraordinary man. More to the point, tonight, he was the better one.