Fergal Devitt[216] (born 25 July 1981)[6] is an Irish professional wrestler signed to WWE, where he performs on the Raw brand under the ring name Finn Bálor.

Devitt is widely known for his tenure with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) as Prince Devitt, where he is a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and six-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, having held the title twice with Minoru and four times with Ryusuke Taguchi.[9] He is also a two-time winner of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, having won in 2010 and 2013, as well as being a founding member of the Bullet Club stable. Through NJPW's working relationship with Mexican promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), Devitt also wrestled there, becoming a one-time NWA World Historic Middleweight Champion. He also wrestled for numerous independent promotions, becoming a one-time ICW Zero-G Champion, one-time RPW British Cruiserweight Champion and a two-time NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion.[6][9]

After signing with WWE's development territory, NXT, and adopting his current ring name, Bálor became a one-time NXT Champion, with his reign being the longest in the title's history at 292 days (although WWE recognizes it at 293).[218] Shortly after arriving on the main roster, Bálor became the first wrestler in WWE history to win a world title in their pay-per-view debut, as well as becoming the quickest wrestler in WWE history to win a world title at 27 days following his main roster debut by becoming the inaugural Universal Champion.[219] However, he relinquished the championship a day later due to suffering a legitimate shoulder injury during the match.

Professional wrestling career

Early career (2000–2007)

After training at NWA UK Hammerlock, Devitt debuted for them in 2000 at the age of 18, soon winning the NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship. After graduating, his wrestling career started quickly, and he began touring Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In mid-2002, Devitt, along with Paul Tracey, opened NWA Ireland, his own wrestling promotion based in Ireland. The promotion soon became the sister group of NWA UK Hammerlock as both promoted under the NWA banner. As part of NWA Ireland, Devitt trained future WWE competitor Becky Lynch.[10]

On 8 October 2005, in Nashville Tennessee, at the NWA 57th Anniversary Show, Devitt defeated Dru Onyx for his second British Commonwealth title. After the match both participants were invited to the New Japan Inoki Dojo in Santa Monica, California to train. During late 2005, Devitt also began competing for the U.S.–based Millennium Wrestling Federation (MWF). He made his debut in a triple threat match at Soul Survivor III on 5 November, challenging for the MWF Television Championship against the champion Eddie Edwards and John Walters.[13] He made his television debut on the November edition of MWF Ultra, in a match against Osirus.[13] After impressing many promoters and trainers, he was invited to train in New Japan's main dojo in Tokyo, where, in early 2006, he began training in the Japanese style of professional wrestling. He lost the British Commonwealth Championship to Karl Anderson in March 2006.

In June 2007, Devitt participated in a tournament for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) called "Reclaiming the Glory", which was to crown a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion. The championship had been controlled by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) for several years, but in 2007 NWA had terminated its agreement with TNA. In the first round, Devitt defeated Australian wrestler Mikey Nicholls, but lost in the second round to Bryan Danielson.[139]

New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Control Terrorism Unit and RISE (2006–2008)

The day after losing the British Commonwealth Championship, Devitt signed a contract with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) in March 2006. In April 2006, he made his NJPW debut against El Samurai, using the ring name Prince Devitt.[14] Devitt later stated in an interview with PowerSlam Mag that New Japan renamed him Prince Devitt because nobody Japanese could pronounce his actual name. He was originally going to be called King David, until people started questioning why the 24-year-old would be a king already. Eventually, Simon Inoki came up with the name Prince Devitt, which Devitt himself also preferred.[221] In May 2006, New Japan started holding brand–exclusive events, and Devitt was assigned to the Wrestle Land brand, debuting under a mask as the second Pegasus Kid, which led to comparisons between Devitt and the original Pegasus Kid, Chris Benoit.[15]

During his tour of New Japan in late August and early September, he started competing again as his Prince Devitt identity, utilizing an Irish superstar gimmick. He eventually turned heel and started teaming with the Control Terrorism Unit (CTU) in an apprentice–type role. While teaming with CTU, he began a losing streak, aggravating his teammates to such a degree that they did not want anything to do with him anymore. This led to him being given one final chance on 6 October, where he rose to the occasion and impressed his CTU teammates enough to continue his association with them. To solidify his status with the stable, Devitt teamed with CTU leader, Jushin Thunder Liger to take on Wataru Inoue and Ryusuke Taguchi. In a huge twist, Devitt was the one to make the final cover on Inoue following a stiff brainbuster. From then on he was officially recognized as a member of the CTU.

His momentum was halted in January 2007, when he suffered a serious knee injury, sidelining him from action in New Japan until early May of that year. Following the injury, he returned to action, showing great improvement and was touted by fellow CTU teammate, Minoru, as the future winner of the 2007 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. However, when the tournament was held in June 2007, Devitt scored no points and was eliminated early from the competition. Following the folding of CTU in August 2007,[5] Devitt and Minoru joined the new RISE stable, forming a tag team named "Prince Prince", a reference to both Devitt's ring name and Minoru's nickname, "Black Prince".[16] In November 2007, TNA made a tour of Japan, during which Devitt and Minoru were defeated by TNA wrestlers Senshi and Christopher Daniels.

On 27 January 2008, Devitt and Minoru won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, this served as Devitt's first major tag title reign.[16][17] They lost the championship to Akira and Jushin Thunder Liger in February, before regaining the title on 21 July.[17] After a near three-month reign they lost the championship to No Limit (Tetsuya Naito and Yujiro) in October.[17]

Apollo 55 (2009–2013)

Devitt teamed with Ryusuke Taguchi as Apollo 55 (アポロ・ゴー・ゴー, Aporo Gō Gō)[4] and on 5 July 2009 at Circuit 2009 New Japan Soul they defeated The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin) to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.[4] On 30 May, Devitt entered the 2009 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. After winning his block in the round-robin stage of the tournament, Devitt advanced to the semifinals, where he defeated Kota Ibushi. In the end, Devitt was defeated in the finals of the tournament by Koji Kanemoto.[4] In December, Devitt entered the 2009 Super J-Cup. After defeating Atsushi Aoki, Danshoku Dino and Yamato, Devitt was once again defeated in the finals of the tournament, this time by Naomichi Marufuji.[4] On 4 January 2010, at Wrestle Kingdom IV in Tokyo Dome, Devitt and Taguchi successfully defended the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against Averno and Último Guerrero.[4] On 21 April, Devitt and Taguchi were stripped of the title, after not defending them for 30 days.[4] On 8 May, the two entered the Super J Tag Tournament in an attempt to regain the championship, but were defeated in the finals by the team of El Samurai and Koji Kanemoto.[4]

On 30 May, Devitt entered the 2010 Best of the Super Juniors tournament and two weeks later finished second in his block with five victories, advancing to the semifinals of the tournament.[4][4] On 13 June, Devitt first defeated Taiji Ishimori in the semifinals and then Kota Ibushi in the finals to win the tournament and earn a shot at Naomichi Marufuji's IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[22] On 19 June at Dominion 6.19, Devitt defeated Marufuji to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the first time.[32] Eleven days later, Devitt, Taguchi and Hirooki Goto won the J Sports Crown Openweight 6 Man Tag Tournament, defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi, TAJIRI and Kushida in the finals.[29][30] Devitt made his first successful Junior Heavyweight Championship title defense on 11 July, defeating Pro Wrestling Noah's Atsushi Aoki.[31] Just over a week later, on 19 July, Devitt and Taguchi defeated Koji Kanemoto and El Samurai to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship for the second time as a team.[32] In August Devitt entered New Japan's biggest tournament of the year, the G1 Climax, as a substitute for the injured Naomichi Marufuji.[33] Devitt managed to win four out of his seven matches in the round-robin stage of the tournament, including a major victory over former four-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, but finished fifth in his block and missed advancing to the finals by a single point.[34][11] On 3 September, Devitt made his second successful defense of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, defeating DDT Pro-Wrestling representative Kenny Omega, that he won on November 11, 2012.[36] Omega and Kota Ibushi, the team known collectively as the Golden☆Lovers, came back on 11 October at Destruction '10 and defeated Devitt and Taguchi to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.[37]

On 11 December, Devitt made his third successful IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship defense, defeating another New Japan outsider, Davey Richards.[17] On 4 January 2011, at Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome, Devitt successfully defended the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Kota Ibushi, avenging the loss from the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match.[13][14] On 23 January at Fantastica Mania 2011, a New Japan and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) co–promoted event in Tokyo, Devitt and Taguchi defeated Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi to regain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, making Devitt a double IWGP champion for the second time.[4][42] Devitt continued his streak of defending the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against New Japan outsiders, when he successfully defended the title against Taka Michinoku on 20 February and Kushida on 19 March.[5][44] In May, Devitt took part in the Invasion Tour 2011, New Japan's first tour of the United States, during which he successfully defended the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Low Ki on 14 May in New York City and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against the Strong Style Thugz (Homicide and Low Ki) on 15 May in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[80][46] On 26 May, Devitt entered the 2011 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. After losing his opening match against Davey Richards, Devitt went on a seven match winning streak to finish first in his block in the round-robin stage of the tournament.[49][47] On 10 June, Devitt was eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by his own tag team partner, Ryusuke Taguchi.[49] On 18 June at Dominion 6.18, Devitt lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Best of the Super Juniors winner, Kota Ibushi, ending his reign at 364 days.[2][51]

On 23 June, Devitt, Taguchi and Hirooki Goto won their second J Sports Crown Openweight 6 Man Tag Tournament in a row by defeating the team of Giant Bernard, Jushin Thunder Liger and Karl Anderson in the finals of the three-day-long tournament.[52] On 24 July, Devitt received his rematch for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at a DDT event, but was unable to regain the title from Ibushi.[53] This led to a match on 14 August, where Apollo 55 successfully defended the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against the Golden☆Lovers.[54] On 11 September, Apollo 55 defeated Taichi and Taka Michinoku to make their seventh successful IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship defense, breaking the record for most defenses during a single reign.[55] When Kota Ibushi was forced to vacate the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship after dislocating his left shoulder, Devitt, as the previous champion, was ushered into a decision match to determine a new champion.[56] On 19 September, Devitt defeated Kushida to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the second time.[57] On 10 October at Destruction '11, Devitt and Taguchi lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship to the No Remorse Corps (Davey Richards and Rocky Romero).[58] Devitt made the first successful title defense of his second IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship reign on 12 November at Power Struggle, defeating Taka Michinoku,[59] and followed that up by defeating the man who had pinned him for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, Davey Richards, in his second defense on 4 December.[60] On 23 December, Devitt defeated the other half of No Remorse Corps, Rocky Romero, to make his third IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship defense.[61] On 4 January 2012 at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, Devitt and Taguchi defeated Richards and Romero to once again regain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, starting Devitt's record-breaking sixth reign as one half of the champions.[15] On 12 February at The New Beginning, Apollo 55 lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship back to the No Remorse Corps in their first defense.[63] This led to a match on 10 March, where Devitt defeated Davey Richards to make his fourth successful defense of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[64]

On 14 March 2012, Devitt traveled to Mexico for his first tour of the country with the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre promotion, as part of a working relationship between New Japan and CMLL.[65][66] After being sidelined from in-ring action due to a calf injury for his first week in Mexico, Devitt made his CMLL debut on 23 March, teaming with Marco Corleone and Rush in a six-man tag team main event, where they faced Mephisto, Último Guerrero and Volador Jr. After pinning Volador Jr. for the win, Devitt challenged him to a match for the NWA World Historic Middleweight Championship.[216][216] On 30 March, Devitt defeated Volador Jr. to become the new NWA World Historic Middleweight Champion.[16][216] On 3 May at Wrestling Dontaku 2012, Devitt lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Low Ki in his fifth defense, ending his second reign at 227 days.[216] On 27 May, Devitt entered the 2012 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, which he started off with losses against Kushida and Taichi.[216][216] Devitt bounced back, winning five out of his six remaining matches, including a win over Jushin Thunder Liger in the final round-robin match of the tournament on 9 June, to finish second in his block and advance to the semifinals of the tournament.[216] The following day, Devitt was eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by Low Ki.[216] On 8 July, Devitt defeated Taichi to make his first successful defense of the NWA World Historic Middleweight Championship.[216] His second successful title defense took place on 29 July, when he defeated previous champion Volador Jr. in a rematch in the main event of a New Japan event in Korakuen Hall.[78] On 12 September, Devitt returned to Mexico for another tour with CMLL.[79] Devitt wrestled his first match back in CMLL two days later at the 79th Anniversary Show, where he, Atlantis and Místico II were defeated in a six-man tag team match by Dragón Rojo Jr., Negro Casas and Último Guerrero, when Rojo pinned Devitt for the win.[16][81] On 21 September, Devitt was again pinned by Rojo in a six-man tag team match, where he teamed with Blue Panther and La Sombra to face Rojo, Mr. Águila and Taichi. Afterwards, Devitt accepted Rojo's challenge for the NWA World Historic Middleweight Championship.[16] On the 28 September CMLL Super Viernes show, Devitt lost the title to Rojo, ending his reign at 182 days.[16][84]

Devitt returned to New Japan on 8 October at King of Pro-Wrestling, challenging IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Low Ki to a title match, after he had regained the title from Kota Ibushi.[11][86] On 21 October, Apollo 55 entered the 2012 Super Jr. Tag Tournament, defeating Chaos World Wrestling Warriors (Brian Kendrick and Low Ki) in their first round match.[13] On 2 November, Devitt and Taguchi defeated the reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, the Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero), to advance to the finals of the tournament, where, later that same day, they were defeated by the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and Kushida).[14] On 11 November at Power Struggle, Devitt defeated Low Ki to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the third time.[20][33] On 4 January 2013 at Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome, Devitt defeated Low Ki and Kota Ibushi in a rare three-way match for his first successful defense of the title.[21][92] Following his win, Devitt accepted a challenge for the title made by his tag team partner, Ryusuke Taguchi.[93] On 3 February, Devitt picked up a big win, when he pinned reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi in a tag team match, where he and Karl Anderson faced Tanahashi and Taguchi.[94] Seven days later, Devitt defeated Taguchi at The New Beginning for his second successful defense of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[23] On 3 March, Devitt main evented New Japan's 41st anniversary event, losing to Hiroshi Tanahashi in a non-title match.[96] Following the loss, Devitt began portraying a more cocky and villainous persona, regularly disrespecting both partners and opponents, with the exception of Ryusuke Taguchi, whom he tried to get to go along with his new attitude.[97][98] On 5 April, Devitt defeated Alex Shelley for his third successful defense of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[99] Two days later at Invasion Attack, Apollo 55 unsuccessfully challenged Time Splitters for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, after which Devitt turned on Taguchi, ending the longtime partnership between the two, and debuted Bad Luck Fale as his new "bouncer", while also dubbing himself the "Real Rock 'n' Rolla".[100][101]

Bullet Club (2013–2014)

The first match between the former members of Apollo 55 took place on 3 May at Wrestling Dontaku 2013, where Devitt and Fale defeated Taguchi and Captain New Japan in a tag team match.[102] Later in the event, Devitt and Fale were joined by Karl Anderson and Tama Tonga for an attack on Hiroshi Tanahashi.[103] The new group was subsequently named "Bullet Club".[104][34] On 24 May, Devitt entered the 2013 Best of the Super Juniors, where he ended up winning his block with a clean record of eight wins,[86] though often using outside help from his Bullet Club stablemates to win his matches.[107][219][219] On 9 June, Devitt first defeated Kenny Omega in the semifinals and then Alex Shelley in the finals to win his second Best of the Super Juniors.[25][219][219] Following his win, Devitt challenged Hiroshi Tanahashi, while also naming his next goal; becoming the first wrestler to hold the IWGP Junior Heavyweight and IWGP Heavyweight Championships simultaneously.[219][219]

On 22 June at Dominion 6.22, Devitt defeated Tanahashi with help from Bullet Club to earn his first shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.[26] Later in the event, reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada accepted Devitt's challenge for his title on the condition that he first defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against his Chaos stablemate Gedo.[26][219] On 5 July, Devitt defeated Gedo in his fourth successful title defense, advancing to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match against Okada.[219][10] The title match between the two took place on 20 July and saw Okada defeat Devitt, despite interference from the rest of Bullet Club, to retain his title.[10][10][10][10] On 1 August, Devitt defeated Okada, with help from Fale, in the main event of the first day of the 2013 G1 Climax.[10] Despite three other big wins over former IWGP Heavyweight Champions Hiroshi Tanahashi,[10] Satoshi Kojima,[10] and Togi Makabe,[29] Devitt failed to advance from his block, finishing with a record of five wins and four losses.[29] The rivalry between Devitt and Tanahashi culminated in a Lumberjack Deathmatch on 29 September at Destruction, where Tanahashi was victorious.[10]

With the Tanahashi rivalry behind him, Devitt moved onto a new rivalry with Togi Makabe, who played a big part in him losing the Lumberjack Deathmatch.[128] Meanwhile, Devitt also found himself a new challenger for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, recent NJPW signee Kota Ibushi, who pinned him a tag team match on 9 November at Power Struggle, where he and Bad Luck Fale were defeated by Ibushi and Makabe.[129] From 23 November to 7 December, Devitt and Fale took part in the 2013 World Tag League, where they finished with a record of three wins and three losses, with a loss against the previously winless Captain New Japan and Hiroshi Tanahashi on the final day costing them a spot in the semifinals.[130][131]

Image
Devitt in June 2013

On 4 January 2014 at Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome, Devitt's fourteen-month reign as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion came to an end, when he lost the title to Kota Ibushi in his fifth defense.[32][37] Devitt wrestled the entire match in a full face and body paint, which he continued using for his bigger matches for the rest of his NJPW run.[37][134] The following day, Devitt was attacked by the returning Ryusuke Taguchi, who had been sidelined with an injury for the past seven months, re-igniting the rivalry between the two former partners.[135] On 6 April at Invasion Attack 2014, one year after the break-up of Apollo 55, Devitt faced Taguchi in a singles grudge match. During the match, Devitt repeatedly told The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), the two newest members of Bullet Club, not to interfere in the match, which eventually led to them turning on him. In the end, Taguchi defeated Devitt, after which the two men shook hands, ending their rivalry with each other.[38] The following day, New Japan announced Devitt's resignation from the promotion.[137][138]

WWE

NXT (2014–2016)

Image
Devitt with Bullet Club in September 2013

On 15 May 2014, Devitt was reported to have signed with WWE and would join NXT, the promotion's developmental territory, once he obtained a visa.[140] On 28 July, WWE officially confirmed Devitt's signing, announcing he would report to NXT that same day.[141] On 24 September, his new ring name was revealed to be Finn Bálor,[143] derived from Irish mythological figures Fionn mac Cumhaill and Balor (the latter is also Gaelic for "Demon King").[8][144][145] Bálor made his NXT debut the next day, aiding Hideo Itami against The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor).[5] In his debut match on October 23, he and Itami defeated Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd.[146] After feuding with The Ascension, Bálor and Itami defeated them at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution on December 11. Bálor also debuted his signature body paint that day.[30] Bálor then entered a NXT Championship number one contender's tournament, defeating Curtis Axel in the first round,[148] Hideo Itami in the semi-finals[139] and Adrian Neville in the finals at NXT TakeOver: Rival.[150] Bálor received his title match against Kevin Owens on March 25, but was unsuccessful.[139]

After defeating Tyler Breeze on May 20 at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable,[139] Bálor received another title shot against Owens and at The Beast in the East in Tokyo, Japan and defeated Owens to win the NXT Title.[153] Bálor defeated Owens in a ladder match to retain the title at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn on 22 August.[139] Bálor later entered the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament in August, pairing with Samoa Joe and defeating The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara and Kalisto) in the first round,[139] Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady in the quarter-finals,[139] Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson in the semi-finals and Baron Corbin and Rhyno in the finals at NXT TakeOver: Respect to win the tournament.[157] After his title match with Apollo Crews, Joe turned on Bálor and attacked him,[139] which ignited a feud between the two.[14][14][14][14][14] At NXT TakeOver: London, Bálor defeated Joe to retain the title.[164] On 1 April at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, Bálor retained the NXT Championship in a rematch with Joe.[14] On 17 April, Bálor became the longest reigning NXT Champion in history by surpassing Neville's previous record of 287 days.[166] On 21 April, Bálor lost the NXT Championship to Joe at a live event in Lowell, Massachusetts, ending his reign at 292 days.[166] At NXT TakeOver: The End, Bálor lost to Joe in the first ever NXT steel cage match in a rematch for the NXT Championship, marking his first TakeOver loss, and subsequently his first loss under his "Demon" persona.[3] Bálor wrestled his final NXT match on 30 July, teaming with Shinsuke Nakamura to defeat Bobby Roode and Samoa Joe.[14]

Raw (2016-present)

On 19 July, Bálor was drafted to Raw as the fifth overall pick in the 2016 WWE draft,[221][4] later declaring that he should have been the first pick. [221] He made his first appearance for the brand on the 25 July episode of Raw (his 35th birthday), where he won the right to compete for the new WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam by first defeating Rusev, Cesaro, and Kevin Owens in a fatal-four way match and then defeating Roman Reigns, who had won a similar fatal-four way match.[221] At SummerSlam, the Demon King Finn Bálor defeated Seth Rollins to become the inaugural Universal Champion and win his first world title.[251] Since then, WWE.com reported that he sustained a shoulder injury during the match and an MRI revealed a labrum tear that would require surgery, which was successful.[221] Because of this, it was expected that Bálor would be out four to six months, thus Raw General Manager Mick Foley later announced on Twitter that Bálor would be relinquishing his newly won WWE Universal Championship due to his injury.[221][254] While recovering from his injury, Bálor would appear on the WWE Network-exclusive United Kingdom Championship Tournament event.[221][221]

On 22 February 2017, Bálor returned to NXT to assist Shinsuke Nakamura, who was outnumbered by Andrade "Cien" Almas and Bobby Roode.[257] On 10 March, Bálor made his in-ring return at a live event in a six-man tag team match, teaming with Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn to defeat Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Triple H.[258] Bálor made his television return after WrestleMania 33 on the 3 April episode of Raw, teaming with former rival Seth Rollins to take on Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe in a winning effort.[259] Over the following weeks, Bálor would score victories over Jinder Mahal and Curt Hawkins[260] while also receiving an ominous warning from Bray Wyatt[261] and confronting Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson.[262] On 4 June at Extreme Rules, Bálor competed in a Fatal Five-Way Extreme Rules match to determine the number one contender for Brock Lesnar's Universal Championship against Samoa Joe, Wyatt, Rollins, and Reigns,[263] in which Bálor was defeated after he passed out from Joe's Coquina Clutch.[264]

In the weeks leading up to SummerSlam, Bálor began a feud with Elias Samson by interrupting Elias' performance on the June 19th episode of Raw. Bálor was attacked by Samson later that night, defeated him two weeks after but was defeated in a no disqualification match after interference by Bray Wyatt on the July 24th episode of Raw.[265] On the 14 August episode of Raw, Bálor suffered a loss to Wyatt in singles competition.[266] On 20 August, Bálor, as the Demon King, defeated Wyatt at SummerSlam.[267] Bálor competed in a battle royal to determine the #1 contender for the Intercontinental Championship on the 28 August edition of Raw, but was distracted and eliminated by Wyatt, who was not in the match.[268] Wyatt challenged Bálor to a match at No Mercy, but against Bálor, rather than the "Demon." Bálor was attacked by Wyatt prior to the match, but would go on to defeat Wyatt.[269]. The following night, Bálor made his intentions to regain the Universal Championship clear but was again confronted by Wyatt, setting up a match between Bálor's Demon and Wyatt's "Sister Abigail" form for TLC. On October 20, however, due to Wyatt's medical issues, AJ Styles replaced Wyatt as The Demon's opponent at TLC. Although The Demon defeated Styles, the two showed mutual respect and gestured the "Too Sweet" hand symbol to each other following the match.

After fighting Samoa Joe to a draw on Raw, Bálor and Joe were both named members as a part of Team Raw for Survivor Series by Kurt Angle before continuing their brawl. Teaming with Angle, Joe, Triple H and Braun Strowman at Survivor Series against Team SmackDown, Bálor was the fifth man eliminated after taking an RKO by Randy Orton although his team was ultimately victorious.

Personal life

Devitt played association football and Gaelic football when he was younger, before deciding to become a professional wrestler. He is a past pupil of St. Cronan's School in Bray. He holds a first degree black belt in IBF submission wrestling.[13] Growing up, Devitt was a fan of World of Sport as well as The British Bulldogs, Shawn Michaels, Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Koko B. Ware, and Savio Vega.[170] Devitt is good friends with fellow professional wrestler Dru Onyx.[170] Devitt is an avid collector of Lego and a comic book reader, and has worn face and body paint to the ring inspired by comic book characters.[134] He is a supporter of English football team Tottenham Hotspur.[270]

In wrestling

Image
Devitt in his final NJPW match, wrestling Ryusuke Taguchi at Invasion Attack 2014
Bálor performing the Coup de Grâce on Samoa Joe at NXT TakeOver: Dallas in April 2016
Image
Bálor with body paint in March 2015
Image
Bálor after he retained the NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: Dallas in April 2016

Wrestlers trained

Championships and accomplishments

Devitt is a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion
Bálor is a former and the longest-reigning NXT Champion