WWE NXT Champion Finn Balor: 'I Feel Better At 39 Than I Did At 29'
Sometimes you have to go backwards to move forwards and that is exactly what Finn Balor has done.
Unhappy with how things were going on the so-called "main roster", the Irish grappler went back to basics and returned to NXT, where he's been given a new lease of life.
Working under the tutelage of Triple H on Wednesdays, Balor is in the middle of his second run as NXT champion and has produced some of the best work of his lengthy, decorated career in the business.
"The driving factor was I think I'd been guilty of trying to please too many people and not pleasing myself," he told SPORTbible.
"There was a lot of outside influence on what I was doing on Raw and Smackdown with regards to trying to keep the promotion team happy, the TV guys happy and keep the merchandise people happy.
"And not really keep myself happy which is what I wanted to do; I wanted to go back to the root source of my happiness and that was in NXT doing stuff in the ring that I believed in and satisfied me.
"I never fell out of love but I felt like I wasn't in love with the part of the business I was in.
"We all go through different periods of our lives and there's a lot of factors that influence our feelings but I wasn't in love with what I was doing on Raw and I wasn't in love with what I was doing on Smackdown.
"That's the reason I returned to NXT; I was in love with wrestling and I wanted to wrestle.
"Hopefully that can continue because I feel like it's not only adding layers to Finn as a character but as a performer in the ring. I'm feeling really comfortable with what I'm doing right now."
Balor, who signed with WWE way back in 2014 after making big waves in Japan, has put on a plethora of show-stealing matches in his second NXT stint and feels he is at his peak at the moment.
You wouldn't know going off his appearance but he turns 40 later this year. However, he expects to be doing his thing in the ring for many years to come.
"It feels like just yesterday when I started in the business. For me it's all happened so fast and I've had such a great time.
"Yeah, 40 in the summer - 20+ years in the business and [I've] enjoyed every day. I feel better at 39 than I did at 29 so I'm excited to see how the future's going to pan out.
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"I've still got the passion, still got the desire, still thankfully got my health. At 29 I was banged up; I was sore and I was tired. I didn't think I'd make it to 39 in regards to wrestling in the ring.
"Right now I feel better than I've felt in 15 years, physically and mentally and I'm more focused than ever.
"There's absolutely no time in the future you will see Finn Balor retiring."
He's achieved a whole lot in this weird and wonderful game but is there a feeling that there's some unfinished business for him to take care of at some point?
"I was intercontinental champion twice, I was universal champion - I beat Roman Reigns, I beat Seth Rollins, I beat John Cena and I lasted an hour in the Royal Rumble - I've done a lot!
"There's not much unfinished business I can do but obviously if I wanted to challenge myself, there will be a time where I want to perform in front of those 20,000 people every week.
"I'm super invested in what I'm doing in the ring right now but if Raw and Smackdown can adapt and allow for the style of the wrestler that seems to blossom than I'm willing to do that but I feel like I'm blossoming in NXT and it's a better fit for me.
"I'm sure the opportunity in the future will come to challenge Drew McIntyre or challenge Roman Reigns but right now the biggest challenge for me is guys like Pete Dunne and guys like Johnny Gargano."
Balor wants to complete a trilogy with Kyle O'Reilly some point down the line, while he's also keen on mixing it up with Royal Rumble winner Edge in a dream match if he gets past Dunne this weekend.
But above all, he's excited about squaring off against 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt, who he was destroyed by at Summerslam in Toronto in 2019.
"I think myself and Bray Wyatt have a lot of unfinished business. Bray from a personal standpoint is someone who I love being in the ring with and I think he's taken his character to the next level in recent times.
"If we can get Finn vs Bray, the Prince vs the Fiend or even if we can get the Demon back that will definitely be an interesting dynamic."
NXT Takeover: Vengeance Day is live on the WWE Network at midnight on Sunday.
Featured Image Credit: Jimmy Valhalla & WWE
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