Former WWE Universal Champion Finn Balor was recently interviewed on Edge and Christian’s podcast, “E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness.” During the interview, Balor talked about his first wrestling memories, his early pursuit of professional wrestling, his influences in the business, and more. Here are the highlights:
His first wrestling memories: “My first memory of ever seeing wrestling was in my grand dad’s house. He used to watch the old World Of Sport. This was like ‘Big Daddy’ John Haystacks. This was so old, I was maybe 4 years old because this was like on a black & white TV.
“I always remember that ITV World of Sport was still on TV at the time, but my dad would have to watch the wrestling to get the soccer results that showed up at the bottom. The wrestling at the time was bigger than the football. Obviously that changed.
“That was kind of my first memories of ever seeing wrestling, but I think I really got hooked around Hogan/Warrior. WrestleMania VI is when it really starts to stand out in my memory as something that I was really intrigued by.”
Early pursuit of professional wrestling: “This was the business that I wanted to be involved in, but there’s no avenue in Ireland to get into pro wrestling, so I had kind of got it in my head from reading these magazines like PWI and Powerslam. I was like, ‘Somebody’s ringside and somebody’s taking photos of these guys, so maybe I can be the photographer.’ I kind of started thinking of different avenues of getting into wrestling.
“That was the first seed of an idea of how to get into the business and I set the wheels in motion to start going to art college or photography college, but one week I was reading Powerslam Magazine and on the back of the magazine there was an advert for wrestling school in England called Hammerlock. I had 4 months of high school left at the time. I said, ‘That’s it. Once I get done with high school, I’m going to start training in England.’ I told my parents. They were supportive.
“It wasn’t like a permanent move. It was a two week summer camp. You’d sleep in the gym and they’d do 9-5 training and hopefully at the end of it you might get a little match or a gym show. That was kind of the start of it. I finished high school in June and the first camp was August 1st.”
The only time he ever had doubts about wrestling: “I’d been doing backyard stuff and schoolyard stuff and classroom stuff and superkicking people and jumping off walls in my backyard and stuff, all this stupid stuff kids do, but I remember that first morning of waking up after the first day of training. It was like day two of waking up and I had to roll onto my front, press up off the ground.
“Every muscle in my neck was jammed up. I was like, ‘What the hell is going on? Maybe this wrestling, I’m not cut out for it.’ I think that was the only moment in my career that I doubted whether it was for me, that first morning waking up after that first training session.”
His influences: “There wasn’t one in particular. As a kid, I was hugely inspired by Shawn Michaels. By the time I started wrestling, I was a huge fan of Dynamite Kid and Tiger Mask matches. That was what I was studying and was inspired by. Pretty much my hobby was trying to get any bootleg tape from any promotion in the world. I didn’t care if I got 10 tapes from the same company.
“I wanted one from every different company, so I could kind of get a gauge as to where the whole world was at. I was getting CMLL, AAA, all these obscure, at the time, Japanese promotions. Pretty much anything. I would buy anything that would come online that would be available that had different wrestlers. That was before YouTube. This was ‘98, ‘99, and 2000 when I first started.
“Collecting all those tapes was me putting myself through wrestling college trying to figure out the lay of the land. I wouldn’t say I was inspired by one person. Obviously there’s a lot of influences. I was watching [Eddie] Guerrero and [Dean] Malenko. Then Dynamite and Tiger Mask and obviously Shawn, but that was more for the showmanship than anything else.”
H/T WrestleZone for the transcriptions