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 Extreme Rules Preview – Edge ...  Monday Night RAW Results – ...  Monday Night Raw Results – ...  Monday Night Raw Results – ...

  2015/04/16 
  The Independent: Bad News Barrett and Finn Balor soak up the hom...

WWE’s annual April European tour is one of the most eagerly awaited stages of the professional wrestling calendar, and the 2015 edition has been a major success with many sellouts across the United Kingdom and Ireland. In Dublin last week, Ireland’s own Finn Balor competed in his home country for the very first time as a WWE Superstar, while Preston’s Bad News Barrett has enjoyed a heroes reception across every English arena.

 

Balor made his in-ring debut in 2000, and spent many years as one of the top stars in New Japan Pro Wrestling, the second biggest wrestling organisation in the world. Frequently touted as one of the best talents in the world, he signed with WWE in May 2014 and made his NXT debut four months later.

 

Wade Barrett has been a member of WWE’s main roster since 2010 after winning the inaugural season of NXT, later becoming a five-time Intercontinental Champion and one of the most successful British competitors in the history of the company.

 

The Independent caught up with both Superstars at London’s O2 Arena, and caused a little mischief when asking Barrett if he and Balor had ever competed against each other before. With smiles on their faces, the two men reminisced over their first meeting.

Wade Barrett: “It’s funny you should say that actually, as Finn doesn’t remember this but I do.”

 

Finn Balor: “I vaguely remember this..”

 

WB: “You don’t remember this at all! I spoke to you about this and you had no idea! When you first start out in wrestling you get put into multi-man matches because you need to hide your weaknesses. So in a tiny community center in Cardiff I was put into a 30-man Royal Rumble type match in my first ever match, and the last two people in the ring were myself, and the man next to me Finn Balor.

 

“I think that was in June 2004, and in my full debut in the world of professional wrestling and this man Finn was right there with me. He doesn’t remember, whatever story he’s telling you he doesn’t remember!”

 

FB: “No, I have vague memories! It was myself and Paul Tracey in a kind of two-on-one and you managed the overcome the two Irish invaders.”

 

WB: “I was like the John Cena of Cardiff that day…”

 

FB: “You chucked the two of us over the ropes and the hometown hero celebrated in the ring! I think I still need to get my revenge on that one..”

 

As a member of NXT, Balor trains daily at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. The venue is the official training school for the company, and all signings pass through it no matter their level of experience. The Irish star described a usual day at the Center.

 

“Normally we have ringwork at 9am, so we stretch out and do three hours of ring training where we work on technique, conditioning, and everything that concerns what we do in the ring,” said Balor. “Then we’ll take an hours lunch, come back and do ninety minutes in the weights room working with one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in America. We come back in the evening and do two hours promo work with Dusty Rhodes and by the time you’re home it’s time to go to bed.

 

“I believe that progress is a slow process, and the style of wrestling that I’m accustomed to in Europe and Japan is drastically different from what we do here at WWE. I’ve been very fortunate to have the help and input of all the coaches at the Performance Center, from Matt Bloom, Terry Taylor, Robbie Brookside, they’ve all been fantastic in helping me adjust and adapt to the style here.”

 

Barrett was in WWE Developmental between 2006 and 2010, three years before the Performance Center was built and the NXT we know of today blossomed. “I was in OVW, then FCW which was a massive step up from OVW, but NXT blows OVW out of the water,” he reveals.

 

“Recently I came back from an injury and took my first trip down to the Performance Center and rolled around there. It’s absolutely incredible.”

 

The conversation then turned to music. Balor’s ring entrance is perhaps the most captivating in wrestling today, as he performs en route to the squared circle with pure pageantry, a whirlwind of body paint and movement that culminates with theatrical poses beautifully timed to match the beats of his entrance music. That song is entitled Catch Your Breath, and fits the character perfectly.

 

“The first time I heard my entrance music was at Full Sail University before one of the NXT TV tapings,” recalls Balor. “I wasn’t actually working on the show, but Triple H and Road Dogg were at ringside and they called me over and said they wanted me to listen to something, and they played it over the sound-system. We all got goosebumps, and we looked at each other, nodded and said yeah, that’s going to be cool.”

 

Music is an integral part of Barrett’s life as well, and the Superstar has lyrics from the classic Manic Street Preachers song Little Baby Nothing tattooed onto his arm. For years, there have been rumours that the Manics are going to record a new theme song for Wade, but so far nothing has materialised.

 

“I was ready to get it done, they came out and offered it to me and our WWE guys got in touch with them but unfortunately the timing didn’t work as they had two albums they were working on bringing out at the time so it just wasn’t possible,” he reveals. “I’m still down for it, but it’s really a case of if they’re available to do it.”

 

And has Balor ever enjoyed the songs of the Manic Street Preachers?

 

“Maybe a long time ago in passing. I was big into hip-hop as a kid, and when I was eighteen I got into dance and rave music which was popular in Ireland at the time.”

 

Nothing is more celebrated in Ireland than sport however, and Balor joins a long list of athletes who are currently impressing at the top level. The rugby team are the current Six Nations champions, Andy Lee holds the WBO middleweight title, Katie Taylor is a reigning Olympic gold medalist, while Conor McGregor is one of UFC’s most dangerous fighters.

 

“Ireland has always been a nation of great athletes from the past, in the nineties we had Sonia O’Sullivan and Steve Collins. I think it’s just we’ve been let down a little bit by the football team in recent years,” laughs Balor.

 

The Superstar competed in Dublin last week to wild applause and much acclaim, and the moment was a special one.

 

“It was a very surreal experience because only last July I had a farewell to all my friends and family in the UK and Ireland. I’d been heavily involved in the independent scene over here for some time, so to leave it was very emotional. I’m so grateful to have that homecoming experience within less than a year and with WWE.”

 

After Balor revealed that John Cena is his dream WWE opponent, Barrett described what it was like to be in the ring with him.

 

“Cena is the best of the best and you always want to test yourself against a guy like that, so to go toe-to-toe with him in front of my home crowd was incredible. Finn will get that experience against him very soon I’m sure, he’s talented enough to be at that level for sure.”

 

For Balor, he has been one of the lynchpins in NXT becoming a hugely popular brand for WWE, and is happy to remain there for the time being.

 

“With regards to NXT and the transition to the main roster, everyone at NXT believes right now that we’re really creating something that’s special, and that we’re on the verge of making something that be an alternative for wrestling fans, and a brand that can be sustainable in its own right in the future,” shares Balor.

 

“Our home base is Florida, but we’ve already started travelling out of state, and there has been whispers of an international overseas tour so fingers crossed it won’t be too long that not only WWE is touring again in the UK but also NXT will be doing separate tours. Nothing is confirmed of course, but that’s the long-term objective, to get the brand up and running and functioning by itself.

 

“I want to be one of the people that’s part of it. For everyone at NXT we believe that what we are doing is just as important as anyone else and our product has proven that. We feel that we’re creating art, and in this period of time right now it feels like a renaissance in wrestling, it’s becoming cool again and I think NXT is one of the main reasons to attribute to that.”

 

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