It’s been almost five years since Finn Bálor introduced The Demon to WWE audiences.
The man formerly known as Prince Devitt has only called upon his darker persona a handful of times. Many fans speculate about Bálor’s more dominant side, eager to see the return of this unique persona.
Not all of the Demon’s matches are created equal however; here are the 14 contests where Finn sported his body art, ranked from worst to best.
14. Bobby Lashley – WrestleMania 35
The penultimate bout from this year’s WrestleMania featured Finn successfully challenging for Bobby’s Intercontinental Championship. After The Demon made his first entrance on WWE’s biggest stage, he defeated the former ECW Champion within minutes.
Other than a sickening tackle to the ringside area, Lashley posed no threat to The Demon King. Finn quickly made a comeback, delivering a powerbomb and his patented foot-stomp for the victory.
The lead-up to this bout heavily focused on whether Bálor could take on the man 70 pounds heavier. The match felt anticlimactic when he pinned Lashley with ease, with no real challenge.
13. Baron Corbin – SummerSlam 2018
Leading up to this contest, Baron Corbin used his position of power to bully the Irish born performer. Corbin constantly made fun of his smaller stature. Forcing his SummerSlam opponent into a child’s fun-house on Raw backfired on the former Golden Gloves Champion. Ultimately, Finn emerged as The Demon, serving Baron an embarrassing defeat in under two minutes.
Bálor’s intensity was unmatched by anyone else on the show, not slowing from bell to bell. The shortness of the match helped to establish Baron’s humiliating comeuppance.
The Demon persona typically becomes more engaging when he has an obstacle to overcome. With Corbin pinned so quickly, there wasn’t an opportunity to explore Finn’s alter-ego.
12. Bray Wyatt – SummerSlam 2017
Bray’s only in-ring encounter with Demon Bálor was the highlight their 2017 rivalry. After Bray defeated him on Raw, Finn called upon the dark part of himself that could compete with The Eater of Worlds.
This ethereal contest had Finn trying to combat Wyatt’s methodical holds with fast paced strikes. Momentum was swinging back and forth between the two supernatural athletes.
The ending came too soon, however. Finn and Bray both rose to their feet at a stalemate. Moments later, The Demon’s arm was raised. The match never really had a chance to change gear, resulting in the contest feeling slow and unfinished.
11. And Hideo Itami Vs. The Ascension – NXT TakeOver: R – Evolution
It’s easy to forget that first WWE match which featured the now-iconic warpaint was an NXT tag-team contest.
Not long after joining the yellow brand, Finn found himself teaming with another new recruit, Hideo Itami. Together, they faced the dominating team of The Ascension. After feeling Viktor and Konnor’s wrath firsthand, Bálor debuted his Demon persona; his new secret weapon.
This match was all about establishing Finn and Hideo as future stars. The first half of the match featured The Ascension wearing the duo down. Itami and Bálor made an explosive comeback in the latter half, giving The Demon his first victory.
Whilst the Demon King held his own, having to share the spotlight limited how many memorable moments Bálor had. The Demon would learn to thrive when the focus was solely on him.
10. Samoa Joe – NXT TakeOver: The End (Steel Cage Match)
The third and final time that Samoa Joe faced The Demon was a match full of firsts. The first Steel Cage match in NXT was also Samoa Joe’s first televised defence of the NXT Championship. Consequently, it would end up being the first and only time that the Demon King was defeated.
Towards the end of the bout, when Finn attempted to escape the cage. Samoa Joe captured him, and delivered a monster Muscle Buster from the top rope, ending Bálor’s tenure in NXT.
Other than that incredible ending, the match didn’t feature anything that hadn’t already been explored in their previous two encounters.
This contest was also hindered by Finn losing the NXT Championship to Samoa Joe at a live event prior. Due to only the fans live in attendance in Lowell witnessing the title change, Joe had to use this Steel Cage bout as his surrogate title coronation. He gained credibility as a champion at the expense of Bálor.
9. Andrade – Super ShowDown 2019
The latest Demon Bálor outing did not disappoint! After Andrade gained multiple victories over the Intercontinental Champion, the Mexican performer earned a title match at Super ShowDown. Desperate to retain his championship, Finn channelled the persona that assisted him in capturing the gold back at WrestleMania 35.
Unlike the two Demon King matches that preceded this one, Bálor vs. Andrade featured lots of back and forth offence between the superhuman champion and athletically gifted challenger. This NXT-esque encounter saw the champion kick out of all of El Idolo’s signature maneuvers. The perfectly illustrated the story of how a cocky challenger underestimated his opponent.
Seeing two former NXT Champions throw everything they had at each other for 12 minutes was refreshing.
8. Tyler Breeze – NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable
This match to determine a number 1 contender to the NXT Championship is often overlooked by NXT aficionados. This is odd, as it features two of the wrestlers responsible for taking the brand to the next level.
Hideo was sidelined with an injury, resulting in this becoming a one on one bout. Finn vs. Breeze started off hot, with Tyler trying to put The Demon away swiftly. Breeze’s opportunistic offence differed significantly from Bálor’s precise strikes, so the bout was intriguing from the beginning.
When tensions began to boil over, both competitors began brawling on the ramp. This lead to one of the most iconic stage dives in NXT history. Finn falling through the sky, with ‘please don’t die’ echoing through the Full Sail arena was a classic NXT moment.
After this one, The Demon had been established as one of the yellow brand’s most valuable players.
7. Kevin Owens – NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn (Ladder Match)
The first NXT TakeOver to leave Full Sail University needed a huge main event, and this ladder match delivered.
Heading into their third contest for NXT’s top title, both competitors had a pinfall victory over the other. A more decisive stipulation was needed, so the championship was suspended above the ring. Finn had never competed in a ladder match prior; he needed his secret weapon to trump Kevin’s experience.
Both men let their aggressiveness take over, using the ladders in unique ways. Both Owens and Finn both wanted to out-wrestle their opponent too. There are some brief moments in the match where foreign objects are forgotten. At these times, the duo wrestled as if it were a regularly sanctioned match.
This ladder bout was the best stipulation that The Demon competed under. Finn’s offence meshed with the match type perfectly. If winning didn’t cement Bálor as a future star, the Coup de Grâce from the ladder certainly did.
6. Samoa Joe – NXT TakeOver: Dallas
Finn may have painted himself for intimidation, but that night, it was Samoa Joe’s ‘crimson mask’ that got fans talking. The opening exchanges between the riled up performers busted the submission specialist open, causing him to bleed heavily.
As WWE’s medical staff attempted to clean the open wound and assess the damage, the wounded Samoan dismissed the doctors. He’d show approval towards the crowd members pleading that they ‘let Joe bleed’. This played a key role in what turned into a very barbaric match. The blood made Joe look even more formidable, in the duo’s second NXT TakeOver encounter.
The Demon’s intimidation tactic wasn’t effective, so the match explored the resiliency of Bálor instead.
A downside to the match was that every time it would begin to speed up, WWE staff would have to tend to Joe. This slowed the momentum a number of times, in a match that could’ve been flawless.
5. Seth Rollins – SummerSlam 2016
The Irish born wrestler was the focal point of this Universal Championship match. Raw’s top title either going to a former WWE Champion, or somebody who hadn’t competed for any main roster WWE titles. Fans unfamiliar with Bálor’s previous work looked to this match to get a feel for the new main-eventer.
Knowing the stakes couldn’t be higher, The Demon King came out in full force. Every move in his extensive repertoire was utilised in an attempt to keep the Architect down.
Rollins didn’t go down without a fight. The former Shield member delivered sequences he hadn’t attempted in years. Eventually, The Demon walked away as the first ever Universal Champion.
Finn had to relinquish the title the next day, after discovering that early in this contest, he had injured his shoulder. The fact he managed to put on a great match whilst hurt shows just how tough Bálor really is. The Demon is more than just fancy body paint.
4. AJ Styles – TLC 2017
Up until two days before the TLC special, Finn was to face Bray in a feud that fans had grown tired with. To everyone’s shock, WWE confirmed that AJ Styles would be replacing Wyatt. This gave the fans the dream match they’d always wanted, when they least expected it.
The two former Bullet Club leaders had come so far since they were affiliated with the New Japan stable. Everyone was captivated from the opening bell, expecting a competitive bout.
The match style changed so often, it was hard to predict what was coming next! One moment, the duo were putting on a wrestling clinic, the next, they were brawling at ringside.
This bout was unique for a Demon match, as Finn felt no animosity towards his opponent. Bálor once again tapped into his supernatural resiliency, to eventually deliver the most sickening foot-stomp.
3. Samoa Joe – NXT TakeOver: London
During the build to the first TakeOver in the UK, the 280 pound Samoan attacked his friend and tag partner. Joe instantly went from a trusted ally. to the biggest threat to Bálor’s NXT title. This made their rivalry more personal, with The Demon actively trying to hurt Joe.
As the match progressed, Finn’s game plan switched from offensive to defensive. His motivation regressed from serving the Samoan submission specialist his comeuppance, to just surviving Joe’s intensity.
Finn’s supernatural persona being dominated wasn’t something that happened often. Samoa Joe was different to anybody he had ever faced before, a scary concept for the champion.
The seeds were sown for the future rematches, which all had their highlights.This match however, was described by Bálor himself as his toughest challenge. “Today was a war”.
2. Adrian Neville – NXT TakeOver: Rival
Unlike the Bálor vs. Joe series, this contest had very few personal stakes. Heading into this Number One Contenders Tournament Final, former champion Neville wanted to defeat the newcomer’s eerie persona. He vowed to prove that behind the ‘Demon’ facade was an ordinary man.
The two competitors brought their A-games, ensuring only the best man would challenge for the NXT title. The man now known as PAC’s high ring IQ met its match against The Demon’s unrelenting offence.
Everyone was reminded to remember Bálor’s name. In his first singles match at an NXT TakeOver, Finn pushed the last man to hold NXT’s top prize (at the time) to his limits. This was a true ‘passing of the torch’ moment.
1. Kevin Owens – Beast In The East 2015
Whatever you look for in a match, this one had it. Finn Bálor earned an NXT Championship match in Japan, in the building where he used to pay his dues. He’d work from dawn until dusk in hopes of making a name for himself. Consequently, this match was presented as a homecoming for the challenger.
All 8000 people in attendance wanting to see Bálor’s arm raised. Only one person stood in his way; the most disrespectful champion that had ever competed on the yellow brand, Kevin Owens.
Painted from head to toe, covered in Kanji symbols, this Demon knew the stakes were high. He had to take that title during his Japanese homecoming, by any means necessary.
The combination of Bálor’s determination and Owens’ arrogance conveyed the underdog story perfectly. Both men powered out of their opponent’s signature moves, too stubborn to be kept down.
After 20 exciting minutes of nail biting action, Finn finally put Owens away to become a champion once again in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. Finn may have called it “the return of a prince”, where in reality, it was the coronation of a new king.