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Exclusive: Finn Bálor Refuses To Say 'I Quit' And Ponders The Future Of 'The Demon'
Finn Bálor, the first-ever WWE Universal Champion, opens up ahead of his high-stakes match against Edge this weekend at "Extreme Rules."
At the beginning of the week, Finn Bálor wasn’t scheduled to compete at Extreme Rules in Philadelphia.
But by the end of the latest episode of Monday Night Raw, that all changed. On Saturday, Bálor will have to pay for the sins of his Judgment Day brethren by competing in an “I Quit” Match against none other than Edge – the latest chapter in the white-hot rivalry between Edge and WWE’s most diabolical faction since they unceremoniously kicked him out of the group in June.
Historically, “I Quit” matches are knock-down, drag-out affairs that have the potential to permanently change courses of careers. When you add two Superstars like Finn Bálor and Edge to the equation, it usually means an all-time classic match will be taking place.
Despite being only a few days away from Extreme Rules (which will air on Peacock Saturday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m.), Finn Bálor sat down with USA Insider for an exclusive interview to cover everything that the WWE Universe is dying to know, from his clash with Edge to his future plans in the industry – and everything in between. Addressing the most immediate elephant in the room, his upcoming match with Edge, Bálor made clear he has no intention of tapping out.
“My headspace is very clear, very focused. Obviously with Edge, there’s a lot of mutual respect I feel has been built up over years with our individual careers – but I feel like this match has become a little personal with the events of what happened with Judgment Day and the things that have unfolded over the last couple of months,” he said. “But I can assure you – I will NOT say ‘I quit’ at Extreme Rules.”
It’s a shocking turnaround time for such a high-profile match, with both Bálor and Edge having less than a week to prepare for a high-stakes bout that is known for its often brutal end result. In a response fitting for an athlete in the prime of his career, Bálor dismissed the notion that getting ready on such short notice would be borderline impossible.
“I’m always prepared,” he said confidently. “I don’t need to ‘get ready’ so to speak. I’m always ready, and I’ve been doing this for a very long time. I stay prepared – always. And you know, that focus and that mindset of being prepared at all times has helped me throughout my career and I know it will help me again on Saturday.”
While it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Bálor is fully prepared – mentally and physically – for Extreme Rules, one has to think … can Edge honestly make that same claim? After all, Edge is quite a few years older than Bálor, he’s been battling chronic injuries throughout his entire career, and often finds himself needing to work to get back into “ring shape.” Does the simple fact that Bálor is always “ready” mean that he has the advantage going into Saturday? We’ll find out soon enough.
“I feel like she has the 'it' factor that we haven’t seen in a long time in WWE,” he stated. “I don’t think she even realizes how instrumental she is to the group and how much potential she has for growth in the future. She’s still so young – Dominik is so young as well – and I feel like the experience that myself and Priest have and then the youth of Dominik and Rhea I think that the group is in a very, very strong position.”
The destruction of the father-son relationship between Rey and Dominik Mysterio has been one of the more captivating storylines on Raw over the past few weeks, and The Judgment Day has played a big part in fracturing that relationship. Balor was quick to absolve himself of any guilt.
“You know, I can’t feel guilt for other people’s decisions. Dominik made his own decision, Dominik is a man now, you know? He’s not a boy. I don’t know how much Rhea influenced Dominik’s decision because there’s something going on between the two of them that myself and Priest aren’t fully aware of – and I don’t think anyone is fully aware except the two of them. But regards to guilt – in regards to what happened between Dominik and Rey? I have absolutely no guilt on my end. For me, it’s all business,” he said.
The conversation then turned to Priest, who many fans see as Bálor’s equal in The Judgment Day. They crossed paths in NXT a few years ago, and Bálor talked about how their relationship has evolved over time.
“The first time we locked up was the first time I really became aware of his ability and I think that was at NXT Takeover: In Your House and we had a great competitive match and it was at that moment when I realized that this guy is a force to be reckoned with,” Bálor said.
Like many alliances in WWE, theirs was originally forged in combat, which only helped strengthen the bond down the road.
“I wouldn’t say we were very friendly before that but we built a mutual respect during that match and we bonded over the battle that we endured and from that moment forward, I feel like our friendship and our respect started to grow – and it’s flourished over the last couple of years into what you see today,” he said.
Of course, Bálor has had his own personal evolution as well, wrestling over the years under his "Demon" persona, though not nearly as regularly as a few years ago. So is a return in order?
“There’s a time and a place for everything in this world, and I feel like that’s the same with the Demon. But right now, I’m very much focused on The Judgment Day version of Finn – and I feel like I’ve tapped into a different side of my character that I’m excited to explore. Going forward, I’m sure we will see the Demon again in the future – but it’s not going to be anytime soon,” he said.
With The Judgment Day Bálor's clear focus, one can only wonder how far the WWE Universe can expect to see them pushed. Considering Survivor Series 2022 is just around the corner and WWE has announced that the WarGames match will be headlining the show for the first time in history, it's reasonable to think that a faction like The Judgment Day would be tailor-made to excel in the chaotic double-steel-cage environment. Bálor's up for anything.
“Like I said early, I just stay ready,” Bálor said, smiling. “I’m ready for anything and that’s the general consensus with the group – we’re ready for anything that goes down. And in WWE, you need to be able to pivot and adapt very quickly to the changing environment, so if it’s a WarGames match, we’ll be ready. If it’s a Survivor Series match, we’ll be ready. Any type of stipulation, we will always be ready."
So what about individual success? One of the most memorable moments in WWE history was when Bálor defeated Seth Rollins at SummerSlam 2016 to become the first-ever Universal Champion. He famously was forced to relinquish the title due to injury shortly after he won it, and hasn't reclaimed the hardware since. But a clearly un-anguished Bálor said he doesn't "look back, I look forward."
“Obviously, the goal is to compete in the ring at the highest level and that’s what I’ve done for a very long time. And I feel like if you do that consistently then the championships will come. So I’m sure down the line, the idea of being Universal Champion – or Undisputed WWE Universal Champion – regardless of the name of the title, the titles will come with the performances. So all I can worry about is focusing on my own performance, and the titles will come.”
Although Bálor made it clear that he doesn’t look back, USA Insider had to know one thing: who gave him his all-time favorite match?
“Brock Lesnar. Simple,” he said without hesitation. “We’ve had one match – it was very enjoyable, and had that big-match feel to it and Brock just brings that different type of intensity than a lot of other people bring to the ring. That is something I would definitely like to run back again.”
The match that Bálor is referring to, of course, is the classic bout between the two men at Royal Rumble 2019.
How about a dream opponent now? After all, the current WWE roster is overflowing with talent these days.
“I think I’ve been in there with almost everyone,” he said after taking a few moments to think. “However, if Triple H hadn’t retired from the ring, that would be somebody I would’ve loved to step into the ring with. Shawn Michaels would’ve been a dream opponent for me too, I’ve been such an admirer of his career. But as far as active roster goes, maybe somebody who I’d like to do it again with – Seth [Rollins] and Matt Riddle. Matt Riddle, I feel like we had a match at NXT Takeover a couple years ago and that was the only interaction we had up until very recently, and I feel like we’ve only scratched the service on what me and Matt can do in the ring. I feel like he’s grown tremendously over the last couple of years and he’s someone I’m very excited to get in the ring with again.”
We couldn’t help but agree with Bálor – magic happens any time a combination of himself, Seth Rollins, and Matt Riddle get into the ring. Here’s to hoping Bálor gets to wrestle one – or both – of them in the near future.