Finn Balor seemed to be on the fast track to WWE superstardom last year when he became the first-ever Universal Champion, but an injury he suffered that same night derailed his rise to the top of the company. As a guest on the In This Corner podcast, Balor discussed what he learned from his time off.
After a wildly successful run in NXT in which he set the record for longest reign as NXT Champion, Balor made the jump to the main roster last summer and made an immediate splash by winning the Universal Title at SummerSlam. The WWE seemed to be grooming him as its top babyface of the New Era, but Balor tore his labrum and was sidelined for several months. He said his time off allowed him to slow down after a speedy rise to the top.
"I feel like, in this society we really never get an opportunity to sit back and take stock into what we have achieved," he said. "For 16 years, I was running at 100 miles per hour by being all over Europe, Japan, coming to NXT, and not even taking a breath by going to the main roster, beating Roman Reigns on my first night and won the title two weeks later against Seth Rollins at SummerSlam on my first pay per view. It was such a whirlwind, I never had the opportunity to sit back and say to myself that I am really doing it."
Balor said it was the first time in his career he had such an extended period away from wrestling. It allowed him to reflect on his journey and gain more confidence that he can overcome the injury.
"I think that time off was the first standard break that I had in pro wrestling in a very long time, and not only did it help me take stock to where I was at and what I was doing, but also to reflect on the journey that I had," he said. "I always felt like I didn't belong; for the longest time I felt like somebody is going to catch me as I snuck in through the back door; whether it'd be New Japan or NXT, but having that time off and reflecting on the journey that I was on, and then I realized that I do belong in WWE and do belong to be on the top. It gave me that confidence and self-belief that I can perform in any situation."
Balor said the entire experience helped him to stop setting limitations on himself and fueled his self-belief that he can be a top superstar in the WWE.
"We all struggle with our own limitations," he said. "We can say we believe in ourselves and we can say that we think we can do it, and I do believe in myself and believed that I can always do it, but there is always that thing that is lingering there. For the longest time I kind of struggled with keeping that in check; having gone through what I went through at SummerSlam and taking me to the next level, it gave me the confidence in myself and that has been the key factor in what has changed since I debuted on Raw. Now, I really believe in myself. I mean, I always believed in myself; I wouldn't have gone through my first match if I didn't believe it, but there's always those lingering doubts in everyone's mind where you question yourself a lot more than other people would."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit In This Corner with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: In This Corner
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.