Finn Balor recently appeared on “The Notsam” podcast. During the interview, FInn discussed the challenges that he faces in portraying “The Demon”, his match at last year’s TLC against A.J. Styles, whether he’d be interested in a move to Smackdown Live and more. Here are the highlights:
On The 2015 NXT Wrestlemania Show:
That was the precursor of what NXT would become. That was the first large venue, out of state, what we call out of state loops. That was wild, man. I remember a lot of the newer guys in NXT that hadn’t been around the business too much or hadn’t been out on the indies too much and when that show was announced, ‘Man are we gonna be able to fill this? What’s this show gonna be like?’ I’m getting goosebumps now thinking about it because I remember telling them, ‘Man, this is WrestleMania weekend. Every wrestling fan in the world is gonna be there. They’re gonna want to be involved in this show and this is gonna be one of the wildest crowds we ever wrestled in front of.’ That prediction was right. That night was a very very special night for me. I got to work against PAC (Neville), who is one of the people who I think is one of the best in the world and we just tore the house down that night. My parents were in the front row, my brother, my uncle. It was a wild night, man. It was kinda the night NXT really arrived, you know? I’ve had pretty much goosebumps since we started talking about this…..it was real low budget. It wasn’t like the giant set. It was just the little curtain. It just felt so cool. That was really the time felt like NXT was represented with the underground vibe. That’s a night that I’ll never forget.
On The Evolution Of NXT:
Obviously, I’m hugely proud to have been able to be a part of that. It was a real team effort. There wasn’t one person who was responsible for what happened with NXT. I think the fact that we were all training together, we were all trying to scrape by and get to the main roster, but at the same time we all felt like we had a point to prove: to prove that we did belong. It was a bunch of misfits travelling around together. Those road shows were some of the best times of my career. Personally, I was having so much fun in the ring. The crowds were awesome. Those kind of smaller, more intimate settings, where we do house shows in say Cleveland or Columbus where there were 2,000 people in a rock music venue. That was a real cool period of NXT. It was awesome to be involved in it. It felt like it had a really good underground buzz. Now it’s changed into something completely different where it’s super polished. The guys in there are absolutely incredible. They can transition seamlessly from NXT to the main roster, I believe. Like Adam Cole and Ricochet, they’re changing the game. It was obviously cool to be a part of it. I think it was a different NXT. I think the guys there have evolved it into something different. Long may it continue to evolve because the more things stay the same, I feel like people get bored. If the next crop of NXT guys come in and continue to evolve it and change it, I feel like it’s gonna be great for NXT.
On Not Taking Shortcuts With His Career:
I believe there’s a lot to be said about doing things the hard way. I feel like – my career – I’ve done things the hard way the whole time, but at the same time, had a great time in doing it. It never felt like the hard way. It just felt like the long road. There were never any shortcuts taken and that’s helped me be the performer that I am today. It helped me remain composed and calm in high pressure situations like at RAW and pay-per-views. Definitely, the whole process benefited me and if people didn’t believe, at one point, and maybe some still don’t believe right now, all I can say is that I started at the bottom in the indies in the United Kingdom. I started at the bottom in New Japan [Pro-Wrestling]. I started at the bottom in NXT and I started at the bottom in WWE and I’ve performed on SummerSlams. I’ve performed at WrestleManias and we’re getting ready for WrestleMania again in New York, so it’s been a wild ride.
On His Upcoming Bout With Drew McIntyre & What He Thinks About Him:
The idea is to never steal the show. It’s just to go out there and have a good time. I’m still trying to process the fact that I have a match with Drew McIntyre at TLC because I found out like you guys found out, on social media [laughter]. It’s crazy because we kind of come from the same general area of planet Earth and we have similar career paths, but we’ve never had a singles match, like on TV, so we’ve never really crossed paths on the indies. We’ve been at the same place at the same time, but never worked out there. This is kind of the first time that we’re getting to step into the ring together. I’m sure he has a lot of stuff he wants to prove to me. I have a lot of stuff I want to prove to him. Really, I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to prove to everyone that’s watching. I’m looking forward to it. It’s good to be in the mix. It’s good to be in that spot and I definitely don’t take it for granted. At TLC I’m gonna pull out all the stops.
On Rejecting The WWE’s Initial Offers:
The offer was actually there when I was 26, 27, 28. Every year they’d come knocking. I’d done two years in the New Japan dojo. I was starting to establish myself in New Japan and there was a couple phone calls made with offers on the table. For me it never felt like the right time. Honestly, when I finally came I wasn’t sure it was the right time either, but I figured I had to roll the dice at some point. I’m kind of the type of person where I’m never ready until I’m actually doing it. Sometimes you gotta be brave and make that decision or take that risk and definitely it would have been a lot different with that first phone call that came when I was 26. If I had come to WWE then, I don’t think I’d be still here now. I’m very happy with the way things have evolved with my career and the slow progression I’ve made year by year. I wouldn’t change anything. I felt like I had done everything I could do in New Japan, personally. There was storylines that were kind of being pitched around and thrown out there that that was what I was going to go into and I didn’t really feel like it was gonna be any sorta different stuff. Then I was 32 years old, I was thinking, well, if I do another year in New Japan, another two years in New Japan, will the door still be open in WWE because that’s like almost five years ago and the landscape was a lot different then. There were the younger guys and every time when the opportunity came up, it never felt like the right moment, but I think when it came up that time, I was about a year and a half into the Bullet Club stuff, I felt now is the time to go. I felt peaked out and maxed out, not only professionally, but mentally I needed a change. I’d been in Japan for eight years. I’d been doing kind of everything I could to get to the top of New Japan. I thought that maybe it was time to reset and start back at the bottom and give myself a new goal, a new drive, a new target to set my eyes on. At the time, it felt right and it seems to have worked out so far.
On Whether He’s Satisfied With His Match Against A.J. Styles At TLC 2017:
I’m happy in hindsight in the sense of what could have been for that show with The Demon vs Bray Wyatt and that wacky storyline we were doing at the time and then what it transformed into, which was the match with me and AJ. Obviously, it was unfortunate that three of the boys went down real sick, but I think that I was the one that kind of came out with the silver lining on that one. Obviously, me and AJ had never wrestled and a lot of people maybe would have preferred having a big build up, but essentially we had the match. From what I could remember, it was a lot of fun. I don’t watch my matches back, so I can’t say if I’m happy or not, but the fact that you’re still talking about it a year later and they put it on the YouTube channel, some people liked it for sure. I’m looking forward to doing it again. I feel like that happened out of nowhere. I was still finding my feet in WWE, kind of getting back off the injury. I feel like in the year that I’d been back from that match, I feel like I’ve really found my feet in the ring and I’m working on a different frequency right now. I think that match with me and AJ, sometime in the future, will blow that match out of the water.
On His Growing Pains On The Main Roster:
I hadn’t got a clue what I was doing those first three weeks. I was still trying to figure out how to work live TV, how to get acclimated with the bigger venues we were doing, the different talent I was working against, all the different office staff that I have to deal with at RAW and obviously I got injured. Because the injury was so high profile in how it happened and I never really went away (with social media and the 24 documentary and stuff) people kinda got used to me being around. When I finally came back, I hadn’t really been gone and they’ve been kinda looking at me for a year, but when I came back it was like my fourth match for WWE RAW. I really believe from when I came back that was a reset and that was really my first match in WWE. That was obviously trying to deal with the injury and my style to suit how my body felt and adjust my style to working with WWE, which I hadn’t done yet. I was still kinda working the NXT style. It really took a year from when I came back right after WrestleMania, right up until the WrestleMania with The Miz & Seth [Rollins], that was like a one year period. It’s a pretty short run on the main roster, when you think about it. I feel like after that ‘Mania is when I got my feet going and now I feel like I’m in better ring shape than I’ve ever been. I think a lot of people took for granted how long I’ve been around because eight of those months I was just kinda tweeting stuff, but I wasn’t actually wrestling.
On Becky Lynch’s Success:
Can I believe that this is happening? Absolutely yes. Second question, what do I attribute it to? I’ve always believed that Becky had that in her. I just don’t know that she believed it. Maybe in the last couple of months, she’s started to get that self confidence. I think everyone believed in her except herself. Finally, she got that self confidence and she’s been rocking and I think it’s unbelievable to watch and it’s only gonna get bigger because she is on fire right now. It’s incredible to see. She’s been around almost as long as me. She’s been doing this 15 or 16 years or something. She knows exactly what she’s doing in the ring. She’s comfortable. Her promos are on fire and she’s killing it. Long may it continue.
On Struggling To Transform Into “The Demon”:
I do it so infrequently now that I forget how I move as The Demon. I forget subtle differences in the entrance. I forget the mannerisms that I used six months ago that represent how The Demon works. Every time I go back to The Demon, I’ve got to re-educate myself before hand and step into that zone and to that moment. Now when I go out there, I’m Finn Balor. That’s just normal. Underneath all the layers of leather jacket, entrance music, extraordinary man that can do extraordinary things, it’s just me, the human that goes out there, but when The Demon goes out there I need to transform into a different person. That mindset because I’m not tapping into it so often, that’s a huge challenge to me now. I’ve got to figure out how to do that every time again. Right now, I’m very comfortable going out there and being Finn, but when it comes to The Demon, I’ve got to re-educate myself again when I’m going out there. That’s an added challenge, how infrequently we’re doing it, but at the same time it also adds a lot of mystique to it and makes it more special. I’m just happy how things are going and here comes TLC.
On Whether He’d Be Happy On Smackdown:
I’d take it as good news that I’m getting to step into a ring on Tuesday, as opposed to not stepping into the ring at all. Honestly, you could put me in the ring in the parking lot at WalMart and I’ll be happy. Once I’m in a wrestling ring, that’s all I care about, whether it’s a red one, a blue one, a yellow one, or anything, I’ll be happy.
You can listen to the full episode of “The Notsam” Podcast by clicking HERE
Credit: NotSam Podcast. H/T Wrestlezone