While we pushed eventual champions Leicester City at the top of the Premier League table right up until the closing weeks of the 2015-16 season, the all-action Irish grappler, who became a Spurs fan when his brother introduced him to the club as a child, had a sustained spell at the top of the mountain in WWE’s NXT developmental territory before exploding onto the main WWE stage over the summer.
Drafted to the world-renowned Monday Night Raw show in July, the 35-year-old, who previously shone over a number of years wrestling in Japan, won two matches on his main roster debut to earn a shot at established main event star Seth Rollins at SummerSlam in Brooklyn, New York, with the winner crowned as the first ever WWE Universal Champion – the new top title on Raw.
And he didn’t disappoint! After an impressive showing, Finn triumphed at the showpiece event to claim the belt and immediately establish himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Sadly, a shoulder injury sustained during that bout forced him to relinquish the title 24 hours later but, as he continues on the comeback trail, he was full of positivity about the year both he and Spurs have had when he paid a visit to White Hart Lane to watch our 3-0 win over Hull City just before Christmas.
Above: Finn Balor during his days as WWE NXT Champion in 2015.
“The team’s progress over the last year has been great,” smiled Finn as he surveyed the scene at the Lane after the game against the Tigers, clutching his own personalised Spurs home shirt. “There was a first run in the Champions League for a few years – it could have been better in the end but the team has been playing well. I thought the Premier League title challenge came out of nowhere a little bit, but hopefully we can keep ticking on and maybe challenge for the title again this year.
“For me, obviously I had a call-up to Raw. It all happened so fast and it was a bit of a whirlwind couple of weeks, but I was obviously delighted with the debut on Raw and then to land in a title match at SummerSlam.
“It all went kind of to plan but the injury happened in the match. The results came back the next day and it was a bit gutting, but I’ll live to fight another day – that’s the most important thing.”
Due to the hectic travel schedule associated with being a WWE performer, Finn doesn’t get the chance to come to the Lane very often but makes a point of keeping track of how we’re doing on television in the United States.
Needless to say, he was thrilled to be back this month for the first time since 2010 as a brace from Christian Eriksen, plus a goal from Victor Wanyama, sealed maximum points against Mike Phelan’s side.
“I was really glad to make it to the Lane this year,” he continued. “I was a little bit worried I wouldn’t make it again until the new stadium was built so it’s an honour to be here today.
“Even being outside White Hart Lane and seeing the new stadium being built surrounding our old one – it’s incredible.
“The last time I was here (for a match against Sunderland in 2010) it was a 1-1 draw so to see us win by three goals is brilliant. It was obviously a great game by Christian Eriksen as well, so I was pretty happy with that.”
Finally, Finn had some words of praise for Kyle Walker, whom he first met when he visited us at the Training Centre in December, 2015, during his days as NXT Champion: “I was most impressed by Kyle Walker – I think he’s been hitting the weights, he’s looking pretty sharp out there!”