On the October 2nd episode of NXT, after NXT Champion Adam Cole successfully defended the Championship against Matt Riddle, Finn Bálor made his shock return to the black and yellow brand. Bálor grabbed a mic and simply said; “As of now, Finn Bálor is NXT”.
Many in the wonderful and always level headed internet wrestling community wondered why Bálor returned to NXT. Many saw this as a “demotion” of some sorts. I personally saw this as a chance at a career resurgence, if you will. After Bálor became the very first Universal Champion, and having to relinquish it the day after, I believe WWE has done nothing but hurt Bálor.
But on the October 23rd episode of NXT, Finn Bálor did something we haven’t seen him do on WWE programming, Finn Bálor turned heel. After coming to the ring to seemingly help Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano, Bálor hit Gargano with a Pele kick and proceeded to beat down Johnny Wrestling.
When I saw this happen, my jaw dropped. I mean Bálor has been nothing but the lovable underdog baby face that the crowd loves to connect with and now he’s turned heel for the first time since….well that’s what I want to talk about.
So for the sake of time, I’m going to start this in 2009. You see, in 2009 Bálor was in New Japan Pro Wrestling, wrestling under the name Prince Devitt. Devitt was apart of a tag team with Japanese wrestler Minoru. After Minoru left NJPW, Devitt was teamed up with Ryusuke Taguchi to form the popular team of Apollo 55.
Apollo 55 went on to become 4 time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, which would tie a NJPW record. Apollo 55 also successfully defended the Championships 7 times, which set a new NJPW record. Before their third title reign, Devitt became the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion.
After Apollo 55 loss the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles, Devitt went to Wrestle Kingdom 7, to defend his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in a three-way match against Low Ki and Kota Ibushi. After retaining his title, Devitt’s Apollo 55 partner Taguchi came to the ring and formally challenged Devitt to a title match, which Devitt accepted.
The match between Devitt and Taguchi took place at The New Beginning, with Devitt defeating Taguchi. Shortly after said match, Devitt would lose a match to the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, which seemed to flip a switch for Devitt. Devitt appeared to be more cocky, and displayed a more villainous persona, disrespecting everybody except Taguchi.
Apollo 55 challenged the Time Splitters for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag titles, but would lose the match. Afterwards, Devitt attacked Taguchi with the help of Bad Luck Fale. That heel turn and betrayal ended one of the best junior heavyweight tag teams in NJPW history.
Following the turn, Devitt formed the well-known and incredibly awesome Bullet Club with Bad Luck Fale, Karl Anderson and Tama Tonga. While in Bullet Club, Devitt’s new goal in NJPW was to become the first wrestler to hold both the IWGP Junior Heavyweight and IWGP Heavyweight Championship titles at the same time.
At Dominion 6.22, Devitt defeated Tanahashi to earn his first IWGP Heavyweight title opportunity. However, IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada informed Devitt he would defend his title, only if Devitt defended the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Chaos teammate Gedo. Devitt defeated Gedo, but would eventually lose to Okada, despite a Bullet Club interference.
At Wrestle Kingdom 8, Devitt’s 14 month reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion would come to an end when Devitt was defeated by Kota Ibushi. The day after dropping the title, a returning Ryusuke Taguchi returned and attacked Devitt, and the two would have a match at Invasion Attack 2014.
During said match, Devitt told the newest members of Bullet Club, Nick and Matt Jackson (The Young Bucks) not to interfere in the match over and over again. This eventually led to the Young Bucks turning on Devitt. Taguchi defeated Devitt, however the two stood in the ring and shook each others hands. NJPW later announced Devitt had resigned from the promotion.
When Devitt turned on Taguchi, it upset fans. Apollo 55 was one of the best tag teams New Japan has seen and Devitt ending that was painful. But then the guy starts this faction that just takes over wrestling. Bullet Club eventually became the biggest thing in wrestling. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing that awesome shirt and other merchandise.
That was because of Prince Devitt. The chemistry that he had with the other members is something I personally believe no other leader had. A.J Styles was great, but Devitt just felt so real. Styles seemed to play a part, while Devitt seemed to just be himself.
I think this heel turn in NXT for Finn Bálor is going to be a catalyst for something big for Bálor in the WWE. He doesn’t need the Undisputed Era. He doesn’t need The O.C (no matter how bad I want to see that). Bálor will now be showing another side of his character that WWE fans have yet to see, and I for one cannot wait.
Apparently neither can The O.C. After NXT aired, Karl Anderson tweeted “What took you so long, Prince…?” A.J Styles, seeing this simply added “Well well well….”
Featured Photo: WWE Network
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