After winning the NXT Championship for a second time just last year when he made his return back to the black and gold brand, Finn Balor can say with certainty that his first reign from five years ago compared to his current reign can be compared to a man who had to prove his worth, to a man who surpassed every great expectation WWE could throw at him.
"Very different. I feel like the first one was very much us against the world with NXT trying to prove themselves," Finn Balor stated in his interview on WWE's The Bump this week. "It was myself, Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens we all had a chip on our shoulders.
"I feel like NXT now, thanks to the great work from Adam Cole and the people who've been running the show for the last few years have really created their own identity and made NXT it's own brand, and it's own unique style of wrestling. I feel like we were really trying to build NXT as a third brand years ago. But with the likes of [Johnny] Gargano and [Tommaso] Ciampa, they established it into its own unique brand. You need a new skillset and mindset to succeed in it right now."
It's important to note that Balor's legacy in pro wrestling has had the Midas touch in how fans watch and analyze the sport. Whether it was when he created the biggest stable in history, The Bullet Club, or reintroducing fans to a successful alter-ego with "The Demon," the current champion would rather bask in the glory of what he's accomplished than dwell on what could have been.
"I don't really think about wrestling in those terms," he mentioned. "I'm sure someday I'll sit back and look and assess over what I've done and maybe what I've influenced. But right now, I'm very much focused on what I'm doing now. And there's really no time to sit around and dwell on what you've done in the last ten years when you're the NXT Champion. There's a lot to focus on to remain champion. I'm sure there will be a time I'm long gone in pro wrestling, and I'll think about these things. But now, I'm very focused on the now and the future. I can't dilute on what was. I have to think about what is and what will be."
"For me, someone who has really come up through the ranks and who continually impresses me is Pete Dunne. That is someone I would really love to be in the ring with," he replied. "There's [Karrion] Kross, and then there's [Damian] Priest. But the match I would love to sink my teeth into is one with Pete Dunne."
You can watch Finn Balor's full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE's The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.