RAW Superstar Finn Balor was Sam Roberts’ guest on the Notsam Wrestling podcast. Balor opened up about his time in NXT, last year’s TLC dream match against AJ Styles, & what his reaction would be, if he were to be drafted to SmackDown Live.
On The 2015 NXT WrestleMania Show From San Jose, CA:
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 Never Taking Short Cuts & Traveling The ‘Long Road’ In 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 TLC Bout With Drew McIntyre:
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 Drew McIntyre:
Credit to him to be able to go through what he went through at an early age in WWE and then regroup and reset his goals, refocus and do it the way he’s done it and come back in so composed and a completely different Drew McIntyre. Credit to him for that. I have ultimate respect for how he’s handled his career. I think he’s definitely proved a lot of people wrong, as well, in doing that. Guys like him and Jinder [Mahal], they’re great kind of guides for when this type of thing does happen to guys in WWE. When they do get let go, the doors not always closed. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and for the people that can refocus and dig in and work hard, there’s always a way back and for those guys, I’ve got ultimate respect.
(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone)
There’s more on the next page including Finn Balor’s thoughts on Becky Lynch, his TLC match against AJ Styles, and why he initially rejected WWE’s overtures.