Finn Balor was introduced to the mainstream world of WWE in 2014, and in 2 years, he finally entered the main roster and expanded his fan base to a larger audience. Although it is mentioned many a time, not many WWE fans know just how incredible the journey of The Demon King is to WWE.
Balor, then known as Fergal Devitt(which also happens to be his real name), trained at NWA UK Hammerlock. He debuted for them in 2000 at just the age of 18. In his early years, he had toured Ireland, Great Britain, and the United States Of America. He opened up NWA Ireland in 2002 and started to train people to wrestle. Perhaps his most notable student is Becky Lynch, the first ever Smackdown Women's Champion.
Around 2005-06, Balor was already a well-traveled wrestler with much experience, and he was invited to train in New Japan Pro Wrestling's dojo in Japan. This was the beginning of his incredible New Japan Pro Wrestling journey. He made his debut in New Japan in April 2006 originally going under the name Prince Devitt. For a time, he wrestled under a mask and called himself "Pegasus Kid", something that was done by Chris Benoit in the past. However, it was only a matter of time before he removed it and started going under the Prince Devitt name again.
In New Japan, he was under the factions Control Terrorism Unit, RISE, he was in a tag team with Ryusuke Taguchi known as Apollo 55, and most famously, he is the co-founder of the Bullet Club along with "Machine Gun" Karl Anderson. The Bullet Club has changed the wrestling business today and is the hottest faction going on, present in some form or the other in multiple promotions across the world.
Balor as Prince Devit is also a six-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion and three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion,with all 3 reigns being of substantial length.
In 2014, he signed with WWE and began training at the Performance Center. His NXT journey was over 2 years long, and Balor became such an integral part of it, even being the longest reigning NXT Champion of all time. He then transitioned and made a long-awaited main roster debut, winning the new WWE Universal Champion within a month of his debut, and also becoming the first ever Universal Champion in the process.
Balor is a standout among the entire roster, both on the main one and NXT.
Finn Balor has one of the most interesting gimmicks in professional wrestling today. Every live special/Pay-Per-View special, Balor comes out in body paint, unleashing his “Demon” character. After he came to the main roster, he began to be known as “The Demon King”. The question always comes to mind – What is the reason behind Balor painting himself every special? What do his paintings mean?
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The answer is quite simple. The fact is, he used to paint himself far back in his days in New Japan Pro Wrestling when he was Prince Devitt before he became Finn Balor. In New Japan, he got several opportunities to put on the paint, and he put on paint in various forms, paying tribute to the Spiderman character Venom, to Star Wars character Darth Maul, to Joker, and so much more. However, none is more famous and marketable than his “Demon” persona.
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Balor himself said that when he came to WWE, he was very surprised that they let him continue using his paint. They clearly realised how marketable the Demon character is. His paint on his body depends on various circumstances, one of the main ones being the location he is in. The most prime example would be in NXT Takeover: London, where he had his paint referencing Jack The Ripper, the most mysterious and notorious serial killer of all time, native to London itself
In an interview, he mentioned his surprise. He said:
“It goes back to when I was in Japan, and I was looking for something new to do outside the box. I toyed with the idea of wearing a full bodysuit or a mask. It was originally meant to be a once-off for the Tokyo Dome. It got a great reaction, and one show led to another, and it became a whole big thing.
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When I left the independents and New Japan, I thought I was leaving that part of my personality behind me. When I arrived here in WWE, I had a meeting and I laid it all on the table and they said ‘we want you to try it here sometime.'”
Kate Lomax is the name of the person who would paint him, mainly in Europe. During ICW(Insane Championship Wrestling) shows, he would come in painted more often than not. You can see a time sequence of his body paint done by Kate Lomax below
Kate has been doing Balor's paint since 2014. According to Balor and Kate, entire body paint from head to stomach normally takes an estimated 3 hours.
He has a clear obsession with Spiderman given the number of spiderman body paints he has had done on him. He has also done the Spiderman villain Venom done on him. He has done a wide variety of comic book characters, primarily because he believes that wrestling fans can relate to it. At least that was how it was done during his indie days. In WWE, more emphasis was given to his demon persona, and on the main roster, "The Demon King".
In NXT, Balor had lesser chances to paint himself as the Demon, as Takeover specials happened barely 4-5 times a year. However, the Demon character was extremely protected. He lost the NXT Championship at a house show when he was not painted. However, his one and only loss in the Demon paint in NXT was his final Takeover match against Samoa Joe at NXT Takeover: The End back in June.
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It must be noted that in the specials up from his debut at Revolution up till The End, Balor’s paint progressively reduced bit by bit. At Dallas, he took a different approach when he painted part red-part blue. He also used a chainsaw in tribute to the cult classic film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
As mentioned, his paint progressively reduced as he was nearing the end of his NXT run. That is a nice anecdote to note about his winding down time in NXT. He had used lesser paint in his final appearance at New Japan Pro Wrestling as well.
On Raw, Balor explained The Demon King story and his name as being in accordance with the Irish mythology. It will undoubtedly be extremely interesting to see how his Demon King persona shapes up in the coming years, given that he still has quite some years left in him. Balor admitted some years back that he puts pressure on himself to come up with new ideas on a constant basis.
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