The new cast of characters in The Force Awakens has definitely captured the hearts and imaginations of people all around the world, but a fan favorite has definitely been the stormtrooper who takes on Finn with a baton during the battle on Takodana. Dubbed TR-8R by fans on account of his dramatic declaration when he sees Finn, memes and art of this character started storming the internet almost immediately after the movie first premiered. And the higher ups took notice, giving us an official backstory to the character via StarWars.com.
TR-8R is a great, while slightly on-the-nose, designation, but his real designation is FN-2199, nicknamed Nines by other troopers in his training group. In the prequel story Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka, Nines and Finn were on a squad together. Nines is trained in riot-control, which explains his Z6 Baton. It also explains why this stormtrooper seemed more upset than the others about spotting Finn. If you want to see what Nines looks like, he’s the ginger in the background of this illustration from Before the Awakening.
While this is definitely new canon information, many fans had a feeling there was more to this character than met the eye, and actually sussed it out themselves that TR-8R was more than a random stormtrooper on the lookout for a renegade. They not only figured out and decided that Nines (or Zeroes, another from the training group) was the baton-wielding stormtrooper, but have also speculated that the trooper who smeared his own blood on Finn’s helmet was another of his friends, Slip, nicknamed as such on account of how poorly his training went.
So which came first: fan speculation or canon information? Actually, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that Lucasfilms has its finger on the pulse of fandom, and has no problem figuring out and giving them what they want. So let’s hope that trend continues into the other Star Wars movies they and Disney have planned.