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.
Finn derives from “Fionn Mac Cumhail,” an Irish mythical warrior whose legend is told through various Scottish and British folklore. The literal translation of “Fionn” equals “light,” which is depicted when Devitt sheds his demon make up. “Balor” stems from yet another mythological Irish legend, referencing a demon king who left havoc in his wake through the power of his sole eyeball that would cause devastation every time it opened. The combination of the two personas hold true to who Fergal really is: impenetrable professional outside the ring and a ferocious, relentless demon once inside.
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.
Nonetheless, Balor may be new to the limelight of the WWE, though he is far from a rookie with almost 18 years of experience wrestling professionally. He appears to be a supremely conditioned athlete with no signs of slowing down and we hope for a long and illustrious career.
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.
At bigger events such as Takeover Pay-Per-Views, he would parade to the ring in a full demon attire, offering fans a unique experience. Serving as a top Superstar, Balor could be expected to be paid as one, and, rightfully so, he was. During an interview for a local website in Japan prior to the WWE`s Beast From The East weekend of live events last July, Finn claimed that the average pay for performers of his caliber in NXT were making around $8,000 per week. Safe to say he is in line for a significant raise following his main roster debut.
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.
Bayley has been admittedly involved in a relationship with Indy wrestler Aaron Solow for a while, though that hasn’t always been enough to stop Superstars in the past. In fact, a curious photo tweeted by Finn showed Bayley meeting Finn’s parents. Needless to say it caused an uproar on social media, as many believe the two would make the greatest wrestling love story ever. The two have been spotted together on numerous occasions as well, causing many to wonder if there is not more than meets the eye with these two. I guess that's what happens when you spend too much time together.
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.
This specific pedigree translates seamlessly in the squared circle as Finn figures as one of the smoothest Superstars the WWE has maybe ever seen. He can thank his soccer background also for the sharp kicks also found in his arsenal.
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.
However, Finn would soon realize that Gaelic football was almost exclusively an Irish thing and there was little to no real future beyond his leisurely endeavors. Finn then moved to England to chase his dreams of becoming a professional wrestler. Needless to say, the decision was indeed a well educated and fortuitous one. His other athletic practices helped condition and prepare Finn for the elite athleticism required to work for the WWE.
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.
After only a few years with the promotion, Balor recognized a need for something of this magnitude back in his homeland of Ireland. The scene was lacking and Finn decided to take matters into his own hands. He, along with Paul Tracey, strategically decided to inaugurate a new division of the famed NWA brand in Ireland and launched a school, which he helped run, in order to promote professional wrestling there. This type of commitment and initiative at such a young age clearly depicts the type of outwardly passion Finn has for the sport. And thus, NWA Ireland was born.
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.
Balor formed the villainous group of western bandits who tore through a hit list of Asian stars, serving as the primary bad guys in NJPW. The success of the faction elevated the promotion’s reach well beyond Asian markets, as the group made headlines all the way out West, where many took notice.
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.
In fact, Balor made use of his time as Benoit’s reincarnation to further develop his many different styles and skills. Finn performed admirably, however, a year after undertaking and embracing his new role, the plan was halted and dropped following the news of the Benoit controversy and Finn rationally resorted back to his original moniker.
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.
After an arduous and testing road trip, Finn enjoys nothing more than shutting off his phone and mounting minuscule plastic bricks on top of another until the masterpiece takes form. The process serves as a way for The Demon to drown out the noises, clutter and toll that life on the road takes on both body and mind.
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.
Finn Balor’s demon character looks like it could be one of the coolest villains in any comic book or video game series. In an era based on reality-driven content, only a unique talent like Finn could emphatically pull of this persona and make it believable. The truth is, the persona and character stem from Finn’s love of comic books, using many of his favorite personalities as inspiration for his body paint with this gimmick. Balor comes up with the ideas and applies them himself, demonstrating his artistic efficiency. Prior to becoming a pro wrestler, Finn juggled with the idea of becoming a comic book artist. I guess he found a happy medium.
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.
In Lynch’s case, she shares many commonalities with Balor. They have both paid their dues well before arriving to NXT for years. In Becky’s case, she boasts a career already spanning over a decade. They both figured prominently as vital parts of the NXT roster during their time as well. Though, before any of this, Lynch studied under the tutelage of Balor back in Ireland at Finn’s wrestling school. This is where she tested the ropes for the first time, learned to take bumps and falls, as the experience ultimately led her to the ranks of NXT, where she was then surrounded by the greatest instructors around. Had it not been for Finn’s contributions towards mounting the foundations of proper wrestling training in his homeland and taking Becky under his wing, who knows if the fiery red head would have even ever gotten noticed out west.
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.
Prince Devitt would eventually develop into one of the most beloved non-Japanese stars wrestling in the rapidly growing promotion. The fans grew to love the Prince for all he brought to the table, with his well sharpened arsenal of various wrestling styles that mesmerized crowds night in and night out during his time in The Land Of The Rising Sun.
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.
Today, the WWE is currently running a thrilling Cruiserweight Classic Tournament, showcasing some of the pound for pound best wrestlers out there. These smaller athletes have always struggled to rival the bigger ones, and thus were capped under a natural ceiling as long as it has existed. Finn Balor, despite his godly ring skills, also suffered the repercussions of an unjust prejudice claiming that the smaller athletes could never be the face of the company or figure in championship contention. Finn kept hustling until he could no longer be ignored, as NJPW labeled him a “Super Junior” heavyweight, an ambiguous classification under which Finn went on to win the crowning tournaments twice as well as several other championships along the way.
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.