Hear from WWE NXT Superstar Finn Balor about The Demon's Marvel inspirations, his upcoming match with Kevin Owens and more!
Photos courtesy of WWE
We recently caught up with WWE Superstar and current NXT champion Finn Bálor in between preparation for his highly anticipated ladder match with former friend Kevin Owens airing live on the WWE Network this Saturday, August 22 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. He talks preparing for his first ever ladder match, how The Demon found his Marvel inspiration and much more!
Marvel.com: To begin, Demon has been painted as Punisher, Carnage, Spider-Man, Venom… I believe there was Scarlet Spider and then Spider-Man 2099 as well. Am I missing any?
Finn Bálor: I don’t think so. You know your stuff. All those paint jobs feel like a long, long time ago. So much has happened in the last year since I came to the WWE. It’s been a trip. Just even mentioning some of those paint jobs bring back a lot of great memories for me.
Marvel.com: Some of those are fairly deep cuts. Were you a fan of comics growing up?
Finn Bálor: What I was more drawn into about comics was really the animation. I was always a huge art fan. I kind of excelled in art as a class in school. It was something I toyed with the idea of pursuing art after school. I was always drawn in by how you guys animate and create body language and show the heroes and villains and that’s what drew me in more so than the stories. The way the angles that the sketches would be drawn from, I was really drawn in by that. I wasn’t like a maniac… like a superfan. I know a few things but it was more kind of the body language and the costumes that I was drawn to.
Marvel.com: If you had to pick a favorite character from the ones that you’ve been painted as, who would you pick and why?
Finn Bálor: Venom would definitely be kind of my favorite more so for the fact that it was the first one that I had done on the independents in the United Kingdom. And the reaction it got, kind of the doors had opened for me to do it more often. So that would definitely be maybe my favorite. Of course, it was very situational the venue that I did it in. I was wrestling against one of my close friends; but that was definitely one of the moments where I knew I was definitely onto something with regards to being able to do this and kind of combine the two things that I like: art and pro wrestling. Kind of combine them together and create more, basically, living art.
Marvel.com: How did you hear about Scarlet Spider and the Spider-Man 2099?
Finn Bálor: I would always run through Marvel on Instagram. I would follow all the comic book accounts on Instagram. I’d be scouring through things I could possibly use in the ring. So that’s where I found 2099 and when I saw it I said, “That’s the one.” There are a lot of ones of Scarlet Spider that I really liked but I wasn’t happy how it turned out. There are some photos out of it and it looks great. And in the animation it looks a lot better than the way it turned out when I painted it and I think that was mainly to do with the eyes being red as opposed to the eyes being black. That was the main reason a lot of people wanted me to do Deadpool and I’d get a lot of tweets and stuff about being Deadpool. But that was the one reason why I didn’t want to do Deadpool. It was more that the color schemes influenced what I would do as opposed to the character itself. But when I saw 2099, I kind of split it down the middle. That was one of my favorite ones and it didn’t get as much love from a lot of people. That was one of my favorite actual paint jobs.
Marvel.com: So obviously congratulations on having a Brooklyn NXT show sell out. You’ve got to be feeling pretty good.
Finn Bálor: It’s unbelievable. I’ve been involved with a lot of big shows in my life but this one just feels different. This is something that we’ve built from the ground up and it’s not just a one-man show; it’s really a team effort. NXT is a team. 13,000 tickets sold at Barclays Center I think just speaks for itself. To be headlining against Kevin Owens, someone who I came into NXT together with. We went through a lot of the same issues with adapting to life in the performance center and NXT in the United States of America. We went through a lot of struggles together and to face off in the main event of this show in New York City is just unbelievable.
Marvel.com: Speaking of Kevin, facing him after defeating him for the title, what do you think he’ll bring to the table this time around?
Finn Bálor: Kevin is an interesting cat. You never know what he’s thinking. People don’t give him credit for how clever he is; he’s a really deep thinker. You never quite know what he’s going to come with. He’s always working an angle; he’s always got a plan. You can never take Kevin for granted. I know Kevin very, very well and I know he’ll have a couple of tricks up his sleeve. But the Demon will have a couple tricks up his sleeve too so I’m not too worried about that.
Marvel.com: Correct me if I’m wrong but this is your first ladder match, right?
Finn Bálor: Yes. I’ve been wrestling for 15 years and the only time I’ve climbed a ladder is to change a lightbulb. This is my first ladder match. We’ve got a ladder at the performance center and I’ve been climbing it once or twice. I gotta say I’m not too comfortable on it. I like my feet firmly on the ground or at least on the top rope but the ladder is a different animal altogether so it’s obviously going to be a learning curve for me. Kevin has obviously a lot of experience in ladder matches in his past. So he maybe has an advantage there but you know, on the night, 13,000 people, there will be nothing else. There will be nothing but excitement and I’ll be looking forward, I’ll be living off the adrenaline and I’ll be climbing that thing and capturing the NXT championship.
Marvel.com: I’m curious, how are you preparing for this since it is the first ladder match for you?
Finn Bálor: That’s a great question. I haven’t changed energy. I’m just approaching this as a match. Everything else except the fact that there’s a ladder in the ring; it’s a match. I still gotta go through the same stretch routines. Still gotta get to Brooklyn, first of all. Still gotta get a night’s sleep beforehand. Still gotta go stretches, get prepared, get warmed up. Do my entrance which, I’m telling you, is going to be a sight in the Barclays Center. Then the bell will ring. There will be ladders in the ring but you know, it’s still one-on-one. I’ll do my best. It’s a match.
Marvel.com: Do you think William Regal will have any new surprises up his sleeve before the match?
Finn Bálor: If he makes it into a normal match, I’d be quite happy. Mr. Regal, he’s very influential in NXT. I know we had a TV tangle last night and he was very influential there. He restarted a match. So who knows what he’ll do but I’m sure Mr. Regal will be there on hand and if there are any issues that need to be corrected or anything that he doesn’t see fit that needs to be changed, he’ll be there to handle that. But I’m not worried about Mr. Regal right now. All I’m worried about is Kevin Owens and climbing that ladder. I think I need to hit some box jumps down at the gym this week and work on my speed skills and start getting up them ladders.