The past few weeks have significantly altered the course of the WWE for the immediate and long term future. Fresh off the heels of their first live shows resulting from the much anticipated brand split, the company wasted no time in delivering shocker after shocker. Powered by the abundance of talent emanating from the developmental territory of NXT, new stars have emerged almost instantly.
The WWE Universe became unglued when Finn Balor made his main roster debut, as he was the highest ranked pick from NXT at last week's draft. And what an impact he made. The Demon emerged victorious in a Fatal Four Way, defeating arguably some of the pound-for-pound best the company has to offer in Cesaro, Rusev and Kevin Owens. This earned him a spot in the main event later on, where he and Roman Reigns put on one of the best matches in recent memory on Monday Night Raw.
This sealed Balor's opportunity to face Seth Rollins for the newly appointed WWE Universal Championship. Talk about a debut! To the diehards who follow NXT, you are already familiar with Finn's elite talent in the ring. The truth is, he is far from an overnight sensation, as some casual fans may believe if they only tuned into Raw this week. Finn has traveled quite the road to get here and there are many things you are probably unaware of with WWE's newest sensation, both personally and professionally, which make up his persona as a professional wrestler.
15 Etymology of Finn Balor
His birth name is Fergal Devitt. He has wrestled under many different pseudonyms in his extensive career, with some being catchier than others. After signing with NXT and realizing his dream of one day performing for the WWE Universe was within reach, Devitt needed to redefine his persona and come up with something that would define his WWE career. And so he came up with Finn Balor.
14 35 years old
While he certainly doesn’t look it, and he has only recently begun to make a huge name for himself in North America, Finn Balor is already 35 years old. To put this into perspective, other than the simple fact that he does not look that old at all, other noteworthy Superstars are much younger. Seth Rollins is 28, Orton and Cena prove to be battle tested veterans, but both burst on the scene in their early 20s. Some of today’s stars such as Sasha Banks are only 24, while others like Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston who have been around for close to a decade are only 36 and 34.
13 NXT Salary
Balor found himself in the main event conversation from the get go in NXT and quickly went on to become NXT Champion, and the longest tenured one in the development's history. His feuds with Neville, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and countless others left fans chomping at the bit for his inevitable main roster debut. His grace and ability in the ring were in a class of their own.
12 Rumored Relationship With Bayley
Neither party has come out and confirmed this. Though, one would have a right to be suspicious. Relationships among wrestlers proves to be a common occurrence with several real life couples on today's current roster. We have Rusev and Lana, The Miz and Maryse, and Big Cass and Carmella, just to name a few.
11 MMA Background
The style of wrestling in Japan differs vastly from North America's. The Asian influences incorporate a lot of different variations of strikes, kicks and punches, while the North American elements include a healthy dose of grappling and power moves.
During his time in the UK and in Japan, Finn not only honed his skills in the art of wrestling, but he also studied and mastered several different forms of martial arts. In fact, Balor holds a black belt in submission wrestling earned while training with the International Budo Federation in the UK.
10 Pro Soccer and Gaelic Football (Rugby) Aspirations
Like many growing up in Europe, Finn once aspired to play professional soccer and Gaelic football (similar to rugby) before discovering his true calling of professional wrestling. While he excelled at both, he ultimately gave up soccer in pursuit of Gaelic football, where he estimated his biggest potential for future advancement. Balor played organized football from a very young age and continued into his later teen years, representing Dublin and affiliated academic and civil teams along the ways, quietly making a name for himself in this scene.
9 Launched NWA Ireland
Back in 2000, Finn took his first steps towards a pro debut with a promotion known as NWA Hammerlock at the ripe age of 18. He wasted no time running through the UK promotion’s ranks. He successfully won their British Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship. His time spent there enabled him to gain his first touring experiences as well, which would set the tone for the rest of his career.
8 Founder Of The Bullet Club
WWE’s main roster has been graced by the presence of a somewhat abbreviated version of New Japan Pro Wrestling's famous Bullet Club. AJ Styles and his goons, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, have been wreaking havoc together until they were ultimately split up at the draft, with Styles heading to SmackDown Live and his counterparts to Raw. At first glance, it would appear that The Phenomenal One spearheaded the faction out east like he has been manning the reigns in North America. However, the real story is Styles only inherited what Finn left behind once he signed on with the WWE and NXT.
7 Controversy: The New Pegasus Kid
Upon arriving in Japan, Balor stumbled out of the gate in his quest to make a real name for himself. Before no time, Finn was reduced to wrestling masked, which is common out east. He was demoted to NJPW’s sister affiliate Wrestle Land. Interestingly enough, he performed as the new “Pegasus Kid,” a gimmick originally carried out by Chirs Benoit. The Canadian Crippler also spent significant time down in Japan before finally making waves in North America. Like masks, honorary gimmicks are also commonplace in Japanese wrestling and thus Balor wrestled using Benoit’s original character.
6 Passion For Lego
Pro wrestlers are real people too and when they are away from touring and performing, they keep busy with many hobbies, just like us common folk. John Cena is an avid car enthusiast and collects them. Hall of Famer and current Raw General Manager Mick Foley would spend his down time reading and writing, and he became a New York Times' best selling author. When it comes to Finn Balor, the budding star has gone on record testifying to the therapeutic and calming effect taking time to build Lego constructs has on his mind and soul.
5 Comic Book Enthusiast
WWE was once faulted during the early to mid 90s for boasting a roster that was perceived as too “cartoonish” and “occupational,” with a cast full of clowns, garbage men and dentists. Perhaps Finn is wrestling in the wrong era, though we doubt it.
4 Trained Becky Lynch
The beautiful country of Ireland is well represented in today’s WWE landscape. Along with Balor, former World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and rising star Becky Lynch all hail from Ireland.
3 Japanese Royalty: Prince Devitt
Balor spent his early professional wrestling years wetting his feet in the UK before crossing the pond over to Japan, at the still tender and ripe age of 24. Finn had always performed under his government name of Fergal Devitt prior to landing on previously uncharted soil.
To his own admission, Finn flirted with the idea of changing his moniker in order to allow for a fresh start in Japan. He was then immediately persuaded into doing so upon realizing the degree of difficulty the enunciation of his actual name caused the Japanese people. And born was Prince Devitt, a smoother rolling and sounding title which would help him rise to prominence in NJPW.
2 Super Junior Career: Two-time Tournament Winner
The Cruiserweight Division played a key part in shifting the landscape of sports entertainment during The Monday Night Wars, as it served as another unique element WCW programming had to offer that WWE didn’t. Vince McMahon made a couple of shoddy attempts at running his own Lightweight and Cruiserweight Divisions, though those ideas soon fizzled as well.
1 Faction With Shinsuke Nakamura
Finn Balor’s last act of grace before leaving NXT was to help put over the equally incredible Shinsuke Nakamura. Finn’s final match was one for the ages against his old friend and rival. Thus, Finn left NXT behind for Nakamura’s claiming.
However, this was far from the legends' first rodeo together. Back in Japan, Finn found himself thrust into several important factions during his time. Japanese wrestling has always been big on incorporating factions into storylines to help build plots as well as stars. While Balor may be best known as the leader of the infamous Bullet Club, it was his time in another lesser know group that really helped prepare Finn for his role with Bullet Club. Balor was a part of Rise, aligning forces with Shinsuke and his oft tag team partner Minoru Tanaka. Nakamura served as the spearhead to the alignment. The group went on to reach modest levels of popularity with audiences. Ultimately, we love the idea of having these two join forces again in the WWE, as both are among the elite performers in the ring.
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