Finn Balor is the former Universal Champion that never lost the belt. He talks to us about his rehab, his paint and his time in NXT.
Have you been keeping up with the UK indie scene?
I don’t get back very often but I try to follow as best as I can on Twitter and Instagram. I’m good friends with a lot of the boys out here so they keep me up to date on a lot of what’s happened. Obviously, I’ve been a huge fan of the scene for a long time. It’s a scene that has not been given the platform that it deserves and this is something that is going to catapult the entire UK and Ireland scene to the next level.
It’s been speculated that you might return around WrestleMania. What is your dream scenario for your return?
First of all, rehab is going well. Obviously, the target was always going to be getting ready for WrestleMania. That’s still the target, hopefully we can make it. But the dream scenario, for me, would be to come back and face The Undertaker. The Deadman vs The Demon. Especially for me, growing up watching The Undertaker for so many years, the idea of that match happening was pretty farfetched as a young boy, and the fact that it is now somehow in the realm of reality and it could actually happen … I’m very aware of the limited amount of time we have to execute the match. That would be the dream scenario for me. The Undertaker.
What is your inspiration behind the unique costumes you bring out to the NXT Takeover shows?
I’ve always tried to keep the paint somehow geographically relevant to the building I’m in. In Brooklyn, we did the gargoyles on my back which was an historical reference to Brooklyn. I just wanted to do something a little bit different in London. The Ripper was the first idea that came to my head and the office went with it. I didn’t realise how well the production team were going to shoot it. They put screens behind me making it look like the street. There’s even one shot where the camera pans down and … I can’t even explain it. It’s one of the coolest shots. It’s a silhouette of me, but then, because of the way the camera moves and the lighting changes, you can actually then see the paint. It was mind blowing. So as much as I’d like to take all the credit for how cool that looked it was none of my doing at all. It was the camera men and the production crew and the lightning crew. But that night in London was definitely a special moment, not only for the fact that I defended the title but that my parents were there and some of my old friends were in the crowd, and just being back in London after not knowing when I’d be back. It was like a re-coming together of lot of aspects of my life that I thought would never align again.
How did NXT and, in particular, William Regal and Robby Brookside help you as a performer?
Up until that point I’d been wrestling around the world for fourteen years. So you kind of walk into the performance centre with a certain amount of confidence thinking that, “I got this.” What I started realising when I had conversations with Mr Regal and Robby Brookside and Terry Taylor and Matt Bloom, was not that I didn’t have it, but I had a slightly different view of it. I can honestly say that the year and a half I had at the performance centre, whatever idea I had, it increased tenfold. I became ten times the better performer. My confidence skyrocketed. It just really polished all the loose ends and scruffy bits. Except the beard [laughs]. It really put the finishing touches on who I am as a performer.
You recently had a bit of a return to ICW. Can you tell us a bit about how that came about?
I’m not entirely sure how it came about. I do know that Mick Foley was advertised and contracted to be on the show. However, he was also contracted to be at Survivor Series as Raw GM. I guess they needed a substitute, so the linesman’s flag went up, we did the switch and that made sense for us and it was a win-win for everyone. I get to go back to a place I love to perform at, WWE keep face by not destroying the ICW show but by helping it. Obviously, we needed Mick Foley but it was a gesture of goodwill and I think it worked out really well for everyone. I was delighted to go back and see some of my old friends.
After being away from WWE television for so long is there anything you would change on your return?
I’m going to be 100% honest. I am telling you that I am going to change a hell of a lot. But what that is, I’m not going to tell you right now. Obviously, with the time away from the ring, the creative gears have been going. A lot of the time you get sucked into the bubble and you keep going and keep going and you think about what you’re doing. As bad timing and as unfortunate as it was to get hurt when I did, I’m trying to make the best of a bad situation. I’ve been thinking about what I can do and what I can change when I get back. I’ve a few tricks up my sleeve which, hopefully I can execute when I’m back.