Finn Balor was a guest on the latest After The Bell podcast hosted by Corey Graves, and the Irishman opened up about taking time off WWE and moving back to NXT.
How and when the move to the yellow brand came about:
“It came to be a couple of months ago. Things weren’t going as smoothly, well I don’t want to say as smoothly, but I just wasn’t happy with where I was at with Raw and SmackDown. I had a conversation with Hunter, we pinged some ideas back and forth, I took a little time off and came back in NXT, and it’s all been awesome since.”
What it was like asking for and taking time off from WWE:
“It’s weird, right? It’s almost like you’re asking for something that’s taboo, you know? People wear this idea of wrestling like 170 shows a year as a medal of honour. And it is cool, but last year I wrestled 172 matches, more than anyone else in the company. It takes it’s toll. Not physically, I think more mentally, and I’ve been doing this for like 19 years, I’ve kind of had my feel of wrestling. I just felt like ‘you know what, I haven’t done anything for me probably since I left high school’, so I figured it was time to take a little time off, reevaluate, reassess where I was, not only professionally but personally. I went away, got married to a beautiful woman, and kind of took stock of what I was doing with everything in wrestling, and kinda gave myself a new perspective on everything.”
Whether he thought he was successful on Raw and SmackDown:
“People gauge success differently. Not everyone can be champ, but for me I was having a great time on Raw. I was going out there, I was learning, I was adapting, and sometimes you just gotta make the best of what you’re given in those situations. I feel like I always made the best of anything that I was given. I don’t think there was anything that was a failure so to speak, I just feel like maybe I’m guilty of not being a squeaky wheel sometimes with regards to ‘hey, I don’t want to do that, I don’t think that’s a good idea’, I think definitely the time away helped me reevaluate how I view myself and how I appreciate my own input, because dude I was doing this for 16 years before I came to WWE, and every idea, every match, every entrance, every costume is your own thought, it comes from your own imagination. And then, all of a sudden, you’re in this machine that is telling you what to wear, telling you what to say, telling you what to do. I’ll hold my hands up and say I’m guilty of just going ‘okay, no problem, whatever you guys want, I’m a team player, I’m gonna do whatever it is, toe the company line’, and I think that probably affected a lot of, not only my performances, but maybe my creativity, not believing in what I was doing out there, but doing what people wanted me to do. With the time off and kinda resetting and reevaluating everything , I feel like I’m not playing ball anymore. I’m gonna do whatever I want to do. I think I value myself a little more as a performer, and as I said I’m not gonna play ball anymore, I’m gonna do what I wanna do. If people like it, cool. If they don’t, cool. But I’m tired of pretending to be someone I’m not. A lot of people said ‘hey Finn’s gone back to NXT’. but really I’ve just gone back to being myself.”
What he would change about his time on Raw and SmackDown:
“I wouldn’t change anything because I learned so much. It’s almost like a growing process, you have to go through those growing pains to kind of get to where I am now. Everyone’s been through s*** times in their career and everybody’s been through s*** times in their life, and I don’t want to say it was a s*** time, but it was a time that looking back now, I learned more than anything in those three years on Raw and SmackDown. So I wouldn’t necessarily change anything, but I’ve learned a lot from it, and I can take that forward, and dude, I’ve still got another, I believe, eight years left in me. Not a lot of people have been fortunate enough to have done what I’ve done so fast. And people always think ‘hey dude, this guy’s been around forever’. I was like a year on the main roster and had like four matches, because I’d gotten hurt. So I come back, and I’m still learning how to hit times, do segs (segments), understand what break spots are on live TV, and it’s my fourth match and people are going ‘this guy’s established, this guys been around for years’, it’s like my fourth match. Even though I was considered the first Universal Champion, all this stuff, beat Roman Reigns on my first night on Raw, I came in so hot that people didn’t realise that I was still green. I was still green as hell. And I was still learning, and I was still trying figure out the lay of the land, figure out what works in the WWE style, because the WWE style is like totally different than anything. It’s different than NXT, it’s different than Japan, it’s different than Mexico, different than Europe. I’m trying to figure that out as I’m going on live TV as the world’s watching and critiquing and talking s***, and obviously it was a difficult process, but it’s put me in a place now that I feel like I have an advantage over everyone because I’ve done the British indies, I’ve done Mexico, I’ve done Japan, I’ve done NXT, I’ve done WWE, I’ve done WrestleManias and Royal Rumbles and all that. Trust me, I know what I’ve done in this business, and I know that I’ve achieved and done more than most people will ever f***ing imagine. But, it’s time now to restart Finn in NXT, reassess everything, take stock of everything that I’ve done for the last 19/20 years, put it all together, put it in something I believe in, something that I’m invested in, and put it out there as creatively as I can.”
What excites him about returning to NXT:
“The schedule’s great [laughs]! Honestly I’m just happy to be back in the ring. Obviously the time away was great mentally, physically. To be back in the ring, to be back around the boys, to be working with a brand that everyone’s kinda working in the same direction, got the same kinda drive and ambition and passion. Just good to be part of something that I believe in.”
Finn Balor is set to face Matt Riddle in a singles match at NXT TakeOver this Saturday. He was originally scheduled to face Johnny Gargano but he was ruled out through injury.
If you use the quotes in this article please credit WrestleTalk.com for the transcriptions.