WWE – Finn Bálor – For Everyone (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 358 minutes approx.
You’ve have to love WWE’s sense of timing. They schedule the release of this two-disc set celebrating one of their most popular wrestlers then turn him heel on TV three weeks before it hits the shelves! Not that all fans are that fickle (Daniel Bryan might disagree) but it has been known for a heel turn to have a adverse effect on merchandise sales.
Back in the summer of 2001, WWE published an autobiography of Kurt Angle during his first babyface run, then turned him heel a few weeks later with sales literally plummeting overnight. That might not happen here as fans are bit wiser today, not to mention this heel turn took place on NXT TV which only the cool kids watch.
The subject of this in-ring career retrospective is everyone’s favourite Demon King Finn Bálor, who already has a DVD release to his name though but it as a bargain priced, three match affair it hardly compares to this two-disc collection with almost 6 hours of Finn’s top matches from his NXT arrival in 2014 to the beginning of 2019 as part of the main roster.
As a comprehensive look at Bálor’s in ring achievements fans will be satisfied with this title, the consistency of his performances against a variety of opponents makes this one of the more action packed releases of recent times. Part of this is down to Bálor having two personalities – the smiley but plucky Finn Bálor and the painted, darker, more aggressive Demon.
However, if you want to know more about the man behind Finn Bálor, 38-year old Fergal Devitt, sadly this isn’t going to fulfil your curiosities. Just like similar releases of this nature, there is no documentary to tell Devitt’s story, he appears in between matches to add some insight to what we are about to see and how he was feeling at this time in his career. But in speaking so softly with his thick Irish brogue, it is hard to understand what he is saying a lot of the time (no HOH subtitles as usual).
Given his storied history on the international indie circuit and in New Japan, this is a missed chance but by the same token, WWE wouldn’t have access to any footage to support the narrative. Aside from a few photos and personal backstage home video clips of Devitt’s time in Japan, this entire phase of his career is glossed over in the opening two minutes, thus the story begins, like most do when told by WWE, with the arrival of Finn Bálor in NXT in 2014.
Kicking off this set is Bálor vs. Hideo Itami in a No 1 contender’s match for the NXT title, a hitting encounter between former tag partners (Bálor’s debut was in helping Itami fend off an attack by The Ascension, who they then defeated at TakeOver: R Evolution). Next is the first of two matches from the Iconic Matches collection, Bálor vs. Neville, and Bálor dethroning Kevin Owens for the NXT title in Japan.
We jump forward again to the feud with Samoa Joe when Joe turned on Bálor after the pair won the first Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament, represented here by their tournament match against The Revival. Whilst there were major show matches again Joe for the NXT Title (including the first ever NXT steel cage match), the one featured here is Joe winning the title at a house show in Lowell, Massachusetts, ending his title run of 292 days.
From here it is main roster Bálor, beginning with his draft pick to RAW in 2016 and eh second of two matches he had on his debut on the show, which was also the same day as his 35th birthday, in which Bálor faced Roman Reigns to earn his spot in the match to crown the first ever Universal Champion against Seth Rollins at Summerslam 2016. That fateful match is included here to close disc one, fateful because Finn suffered a labrum tear (shoulder injury to you and me) meaning he had to relinquish the title the next night on RAW.
Bálor is quite philosophical about this, explaining he believes everything happens for a reason and saw this as another setback for him to conquer to make it to the top in WWE, like he did in NXT. Unfortunately, Finn wouldn’t get another Universal title shot until August 2018 when new champ Roman Reigns chose Bálor to be his first title defence. That match is featured here on disc two, as is the next time Bálor would challenge for the Universal Title against Brock Lesnar at this year’s Royal Rumble.
In between these title shots, the Bray Wyatt feud is briefly discussed but not represented by any matches, instead serving as segueway to the bout against AJ Styles at TLC 2017 which replaced the advertised Demon Bálor vs. Sister Abigail match, called off due to Wyatt’s illness. Also covered is the brief mini-reunion of the original Bullet Club, Bálor’s time in the IC title picture during 2018, and his return to UK soil when he faced his former protégé Jordan Devlin at NXT UK: Take Over – Blackpool.
Though the poor audio and his aforementioned quiet, mumbling delivery makes it hard to hear everything Bálor has to say, he comes across as likeable and very humble. With little revealed about his private life or his formative years, there is an air of mystery about Finn that only makes him more enigmatic. Because of this and the absence of contributions from anyone else, there aren’t any extravagant stories to be told, keeping the discussions strictly about wrestling.
Since Finn Bálor has always been about what he can do in the ring and not extraneous antics that often define other wrestlers’ careers, this collection can therefore be seen as an accurate reflection of Finn Bálor the wrestler, at least under the WWE umbrella. Maybe not “for everyone” but a great release for Bálor fans.
Rating – ****
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