Finn Balor has revealed why “The Demon King” character didn’t work in the WWE the same way as it did in the WWE.
The former Universal Champion has occasionally donned body paint in order to transform into a demonic version of himself known as “The Demon King”. It was a hit in NXT, showing something unique and presenting a different side of the Irish star. It was used sparingly and only for big matches in heated feuds, adding to the mythos of the legendary demon.
However, it hasn’t gone so well for him on the main roster and Finn Balor sat down with Stephanie Chase of Digital Spy, to discuss why. He claimed that it was originally supposed to be a one-off at Wrestle Kingdom for New Japan Pro Wrestling, but it got so popular that he had to keep bringing it back. He also noted that he kept trying to please everyone with the character and not do what made him happy, which is where he flourishes creatively.
“I feel like The Demon was supposed to be a one-off in Tokyo Dome, Japan and it grew into this completely separate entity that for some time I had control over and then eventually it just kind of spun out of control. I was trying to please too many people and not pleasing myself. I feel like I lost a grip on what the character was and what I was utilising it for.
“I feel like the main element that The Demon had was the element of surprise and I feel like we lost that in a sense and it became more like a crutch for Finn.”
The Demon King
Once Finn Balor was called up the main roster in 2016, a number of changes were made to his character. His evil persona was now referred to as “The Demon King” and was featured much more regularly on TV. Instead of being used sparingly and just for big matches, it was brought out for some less-than-important bouts and even some non-wrestling segments.
This killed the mythos of the demon being something that lives inside him and that he can’t control. In NXT it came out in big matches but only in ones where the story called for it. Blood feuds and fierce rivalries where he let his emotions get the better of him were the peak Demon appearances – not segments on Raw where he spooks The Miz.
As he mentioned previously, it became a crutch for Finn Balor to use. Whenever he had a big match, rather than evolve his character or think of an interesting storyline he’d just bring out the demon. It was used as a way to make a match feel more special without adding any actual substance to it.
It was also misused horribly. The one time that springs to mind most vividly was for a match that didn’t even happen. Finn Balor had already defeated Bray Wyatt in 2017, bringing out the Demon King to win the bout at Summerslam. That should have been a feud ender. Once the big guns were brought out there was nowhere to go but put Bray Wyatt in drag.
Yes, you read that correctly. While they wrestled in a singles match in their normal clothes at No Mercy, TLC 2017 was supposed to be their most spooktastic encounter of all. Finn Balor had a pumpkin-themed demon attire ready to go, showcased in some god awful promotional images. His orange, pumpkin like body paint was horrible and made his demon look like an actual joke.
Likewise, Bray Wyatt also looked extremely ridiculous. The former WWE Champion channelled the spirit of his dead nun adopted mother (I think, the lore was confusing and his promos were incredibly rambley) where a veil and pretending to the dead relative. It didn’t really make any sense whatsoever, especially since Randy Orton had killed her spirit earlier that year by burning down the Wyatt Compound.
Luckily, the match never took place. Unluckily, this was because a number of the roster which included Bray Wyatt came down with a case of mumps. This also affected the long awaited Shield reunion, with Roman Reigns replaced by Kurt Angle for an incredibly convoluted 5 vs 3 match up. It was also Kurt’s first match back in the company for a decade, adding to the insanity.
Balor instead faced off with AJ Styles at the event, pitting the two former Bullet Club leaders against one another for the first time in the WWE. Balor won, thanks to his demon plot armour and thankfully abandoned the spooky Pumpkin paint for the bout. It was one of the matches of the year but also highlighted how pointless the whole idea of the Demon actually was on the main roster, especially if the pumpkin spirit that decided to get involved felt he didn’t need it’s help beating AJ Styles.
Then there’s the Roman Reigns match. He wrestled Reigns at the 2021 Extreme Rules pay per view. Despite lacking in size, Balor made up for it by having the power of the devil himself taking over him as he once again resurrected the Demon King persona. It had been the first time in years he’d brought back the body paint and it was an exciting time.
The match was brilliant and was one of the matches of the year, until the finish. Balor was dominating the champion, and jumped atop the top rope and was ready to hit his patented Coup De Grace finishing move to put away Roman Reigns once and for all. However, the top rope then snapped out of nowhere, sending Balor crashing to ground before he was pinned by Roman Reigns for the win.
In an interview with SHAK Wrestling, Balor discussed the controversial ending and revealed that the plan was to revisit this feud down the line, hinting at a future Roman Reigns vs Finn Balor match in the WWE.
“It was definitely a water cooler moment,” Finn Balor said, “In regards to what people were talking about. We’re still talking about it a year later. The finish kind of left the story open ended a little bit. I feel like we need to readdress that, revisit what happened that night.”
“Going back to how fast things change in WWE, there was a plan to continue that storyline, but obviously things change. With Brock [Lesnar’s] return, that was the focus and as a performing you have to understand that, you’re cogs in the wheel.”
“I believe that there’s definitely a lot of mileage left in the Finn Balor vs Roman Reigns storyline that needs to be addressed.”
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.