Finn Balor discusses his time off to refocus.
On Oct. 2, former NXT Champion Finn Balor returned to the NXT brand after what some considered a "failed" main roster run. While Balor was the first-ever WWE Universal Champion, his reign lasted only 24 hours due to an injury suffered in his title match. After returning from injury in early 2017, Balor was mainly a midcard player.
"I wasn't happy where I was at with Raw and SmackDown. I had a conversation with [Triple H], we pinged some ideas, and back and forth, I took some time off, and came back with NXT," Balor told Corey Graves on After The Bell. "People gauge success differently. Not everyone can be champ. I was having a great time on Raw. Sometimes, you have to make the best of what you're given and I feel like I always made the best of anything I was given. I don't think there was anything that was a failure. Maybe, I'm guilty of not being a squeaky wheel sometimes with regards to 'Hey, I don't want to do that.' I'll hold my hand up and say I'm guilty of going, 'Okay, yup, no problem. Whatever you guys want. I'm a team player.' I think that probably affected my performances and maybe my creativity, not believing what I was doing out there. With the time off, I kind of reset, and I feel like I'm not playing ball, and I'm gonna do whatever I want to do. I value myself a little more as a performer."
Balor took time off following SummerSlam 2019 and his loss to "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt. Taking time off used to be frowned upon in WWE, but management has been more relaxed over the past couple of years in granting time off to performers.
"It's almost like you're asking for something taboo. People wear this idea of wrestling 170 shows a year as a medal of honor. It's cool, but last year I wrestled 172 matches -- more than anybody else in the company. It takes its toll. Not physically, but more mentally. I've been doing this for 19 years. I've had my fill of wrestling. I hadn't done anything for me, probably since I left high school. I figured it was time to take time off and re-evaluate," he said.
Balor married Fox Sports host Veronica Rodriguez during his time away.
Upon his return to NXT, Balor turned heel, taking out Johnny Gargano in a vicious assault. Gargano has not been cleared for action following the attack. As a result, Balor will now face Matt Riddle at NXT TakeOver: WarGames III.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit After The Bell with a h/t to Fightful for the transcription.