Nick Bond: So, David, given how much you’ve written about him recently, I get the feeling you are super excited to talk about Mr. Prince Finn Balor Devitt
David Gibb: Who wouldn’t be? He’s one of the most talented wrestlers in the world and a powder keg filled with money just waiting for WWE to strike a match.
He is simultaneously one of the best things going and the next big thing. How can you beat that?
Nick Bond: How can he be the next big thing if he is only a few years younger than the biggest stars currently in the company?
While he make look young, he’s 34.
David Gibb: He’s the same age Batista was at the launch of Evolution. He’s a year younger than Dolph Ziggler.
And part of the magic of performance is that you don’t need to be “young” to emote youthful excitement.
More important than numerical age, though, is the fact that he is a fresh face to the vast majority of the WWE Universe.
Nick Bond: While I can appreciate that his (relatively) advanced age is mitigated by the fact that he hasn’t been wrestling in America for all that long, it still feels like they will have to push him with more urgency than they would, say, Sami Zayn.
David Gibb: Sure, but I think having to push someone with Balor’s charisma and skill “with more urgency” is kind of a good problem to have. And furthermore, I disagree with the assumption that every top guy needs to be someone you can groom for a ten-year John Cena run.
A wrestler can be at the tippy-top for just a few years and still have a huge impact as a box office attraction.
Nick Bond: But, and not to be that guy, aren’t they usually bigger?
David Gibb: I dunno, look at Daniel Bryan. He’s about Balor’s size (in fact, I would argue he has a much more generic look), and they built a phenomenally successful Wrestlemania around him.
Going forward, I have far more confidence in Finn Balor giving WWE three consecutive, profitable years on top than Bryan, even though Bryan is the same age and better-established with the WWE crowd.
So, no. I don’t think he’s too old or too small. He’s still far and away the best card up WWE’s sleeve.
Nick Bond: Speaking of cards up sleeves, how do you think they translate the entrance to the bigger stages?
David Gibb: Very well.
That’s their thing.
It’s what they do!
If his big match entrances are produced correctly and “The Demon” is protected effectively, Balor could become an Undertaker-style attraction. I see him as a potential Wrestlemania centerpiece with that entrance scaled up.
Nick Bond: Does it make me a bad fan that I mostly find his matches kind of, I don’t know, just there? They are NOT bad. At All. But they are kind of, I don’t know, just there. For me, anyways.
David Gibb: I think you’d say differently if you saw him wrestle Randy Orton or another main roster top heel. I think Balor’s matches are always good, but he’s at his best when he’s against a heel who can really put him in jeopardy like Kevin Owens could.
But when he’s wrestling, say, Tyler Breeze, he doesn’t work as well because he plays that pure babyface who really needs the heel, you know? I think he’s kind of like Ricky Steamboat in that he’s going to have a really good match anytime he’s out there against a heel who can get a ton of heat on him and feed a comeback.
Nick Bond: Ah, Randy Orton, the cure for so many ills.
But, and I say this as someone who loves me some Kevin Owens: I didn’t love that match. I liked it just fine, but I wasn’t blown away.
It could have been because the outcome was never really in doubt, but it just didn’t move me in any discernible way. Is that ENTIRELY on me? Am I too hossy, David?
David Gibb: I thought the match was incredible. Mechanically, in the ring, it was strong, but what made it so good was the fact that it felt like the culmination of a well-written and executed angle.
And while the match wasn’t the highest-flying or the hardest-hitting, the action in the ring perfectly matched the story that had been told.
Nick Bond: Ah, see, and there in lies the rub: I don’t watch NXT except for Takeovers.
David Gibb: Well, there you go.
Nick Bond: But, and here’s why I admit that/bring it up: a lot of people who watch WrestleMania also do that.
Which is to say, is Finn — and this going to sound insane, so bear with me — too storyline/character dependent to translate the way you seem to need to to main event or semi-main a WrestleMania?
David Gibb: No, because the characters who main event and semi-main event Wrestlemania are always the ones with the most grandiose storylines:
Undertaker and “The Streak” have been centerpieces of Manias for, what, close to a decade?
Triple H was a Terminator… and then he was a guy who killed Terminators.
That’s part of the strange magic of Wrestlemania: even the boots and trunks wrestlers like Hunter need to become gigantic comic book characters. So, really, Balor’s the perfect guy for ‘Mania, in my opinion.
Nick Bond: Does he hold the WWE title at any point? And, I guess this is an equally important question: if you are NXT champion, is that like being the IC champion in the 80s?
David Gibb: I’ll answer the second question first: not at all. The IC Champ in the ’80s was a carthorse who was a very necessary part of drawing and making money. The NXT Champ in 2015 is a rising star who can draw a good house in a good, “hardcore” wrestling market. Any money the NXT Champ draws is just bonus money, whereas the IC Champ carried a huge burden.
If we’re talking strictly binary, I do think Balor gets the WWE Title at some point. They’re grooming him for big things.
Nick Bond: Does he have the highest ceiling out of anyone we talked about this month — Rollins, Owens, Ambrose and now Finn — or is that sitll Rollins?
David Gibb: I rank him higher than Rollins because I think Balor is capable of being a big money babyface in a way that Rollins isn’t.
With that said, Rollins obviously has a floor that’s miles higher because he’s already accomplished a lot on the main roster. I think Balor-Rollins could be a tremendous pay per view main event in the next year!
Nick Bond: How long do you think Balor stays on NXT, and within that, who takes the title from him?
David Gibb: I could see him holding the title until the end of the year, maybe into 2016. Maybe he makes the main roster transition around the Rumble. Just guesswork.
As for the NXT Title beyond him, things are a little up in the air because he’s one of the last of the “indy/Japanese blue chippers” on their roster. It would be nice if a homegrown heel was ready to take the title from him, but I don’t see Baron Corbin getting there.
Or they could do a respectful babyface-babyface feud with Balor and Itami.
Nick Bond: I guess I just have one last question to ask: On a scale from Bastion Booger to Beautiful Bobby Eaton, how handsome is he?
David Gibb: He combines the raw physicality of a top flight soccer player with the sexual poise of a Russian ballerino.
Nick Bond: So, Ravishing Rick Rude minus the bacne?
David Gibb: Now I’m just imagining Finn Balor with a mullet… and it’s great.