Finn Bálor Says the 'Shackles Are Completely off' for His Return to WWE 'NXT'
When Finn Bálor returned to WWE television, most believed it would be to Raw or SmackDown. Instead, the first Universal champ changed course and emerged from his almost two-month absence on NXT on USA Network.
It didn’t take long for the Irish superstar to create a buzz turning on the popular Johnny Gargano. Decked in all black, Bálor shed his fan favorite exterior to the shock of shock of those at Full Sail Live and those watching at home.
“I’m not part of this brand. I am the brand,” Bálor said. “When Finn’s gone, nobody is watching. When Finn’s there, everybody is watching. We talk about Johnny Gargano, the heart of NXT. He is this NXT darling. He was champion for 57 days. Finn Bálor was champion for 292 days, so if the heart of NXT was a 57-day champ, there are some big issues.”
In Bálor’s eyes this attitude change was a long time coming. Channeling real frustration with how WWE has utilized him, he feels reborn.
“The shackles have been on for way too long,” he said. “I kind of been put in a little box, locked in this cage and being this one-trick pony. The shackles are completely off. I’m going to go back to what I like to do, which is just being myself and going out there no holds barred and have a little fun.”
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The time off allowed Bálor the chance to heal up from the grind of the road and get married. He also got to step out of the proverbial WWE bubble.
“I feel like I was losing sight of who I was as a person in the environment I was in,” he said. “I got to step away, and it really helped me refocus, reevaluate who I was as a person. Kind of go back to the real me.
“...I will wrestle anywhere in the world, in any ring, any parking lot, any supermarket, in any country on earth. It doesn’t matter where I’m wrestling or who I’m wrestling. Once I’m wrestling, people are going to be watching. It was a mutual thing for me to come to NXT where we wanted to create controversy. And that’s what I think we’re going to do.”
Social media lit up following Bálor’s attack on Gargano. Among those particularly complimentary were former running mates including AJ Styles, Adam Cole and Karl Anderson.
“Of course, they were going to give me positive feedback. But it was positive feedback from everyone,” Bálor said. “They are all talking about FInn and the turn and what is happening in NXT. It feels like everyone wants a part of Finn right now, whether it’s The O.C. or whether it’s the Undisputed Era. We’re just going to have to wait and see what happens on Wednesday night.”
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The first heel or villainous run for Bálor in WWE sees him return to hs more aggressive roots in New Japan Pro Wrestling. It’s where he sat on the proverbial throne as Prince Devitt, a member of Bullet Club with titles often around his chiseled frame.
“For the people that know, no explanation is necessary,” he said, on the comparison to his past. “For the people who don’t, no explanation will do it justice. You’ll just have to watch and enjoy and see how it evolves.”
The 38-year-old can fee the landscape of NXT has changed since he was last there. The verdict is out what Bálor’s presence means long-term for the growing extension within WWE. Another question on the minds of fans that also looms: Will we see The Demon again?
“You’re about to see a whole new side of Finn. I’m not going to give you any spoilers, but it’s going to be a wild ride,” he teases.
“...It’s easier for the mice to dance when the cats are away. It feels like things are a bit out of control. It feels more the wild, wild west. There is a new sheriff in town. The prince is back, so we’ll see how things develop in the next couple of weeks.”
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WWE’s NXT, Wednesdays, 8/7c, USA Network