Fergal Devitt (born 25 July 1981)[3][6] is an Irish professional wrestler signed to WWE, where he performs in its developmental territory NXT under the ring name Finn Bálor.

He is best known for working for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as Prince Devitt, where he is a former 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, and was a founding member of the Bullet Club stable.

Through NJPW's working relationship with Mexican promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), Devitt has also made appearances there, where he is a former one-time NWA World Historic Middleweight Champion. He has wrestled for numerous promotions, including NWA UK Hammerlock (NWA UK), NWA Pro, New England Championship Wrestling (NECW), and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), as well as having founded NWA Ireland with Paul Tracey.[9] He is also a former one-time ICW Zero-G Champion, one-time British Cruiserweight Champion and a two-time NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion.[6]

After signing with WWE's development territory, NXT, under his current ring name, Devitt became a one-time NXT Champion, with his reign being the longest in the title's history at 292 days

Professional wrestling career

Early career (2000–2006)

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 started touring Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In mid-2002, Devitt opened NWA Ireland, his own wrestling promotion in Ireland, with Paul Tracey; the company became the sister promotion of its British counterpart under the same banner. As part of NWA Ireland, Devitt has trained numerous wrestlers, including 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.[12] During late 2005, Devitt also began competing for the 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 Japan, 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.[12]

New Japan Pro Wrestling

Pegasus Kid (2006)

The day after losing the British Commonwealth Championship, Devitt signed a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in March 2006.[12] In April 2006, he made his New Japan Pro Wrestling 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. In May 2006, New Japan started doing some brand-exclusive events, and Devitt debuted for their Wrestle Land promotion under a mask as the second Pegasus Kid, which led to comparisons between Devitt and the original Pegasus Kid, Chris Benoit.[15]

Control Terrorism Unit and RISE (2007–2008)

During his tour of New Japan in late August/early September, he started competing under his real identity as an Irish superstar. 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. Afterwards, he returned to action, showing great improvement and was touted by fellow CTU teammate, Minoru, to win the 2007 Best of The Super Jr's Tournament in June 2007. However, this was not meant to be, as Devitt scored no points in the event. Following the folding of CTU in August 2007,[5] Devitt and Minoru joined the new RISE stable, forming a tag team named "Prince Prince" (named after Devitt's ring name and Minoru's nickname, "Black Prince").[16] In November 2007, TNA made a tour of NJPW, where Senshi and Christopher Daniels defeated Devitt and Minoru.

On 27 January 2008, Devitt and Minoru won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship together, Devitt's first major 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)[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[22] 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.[27] On 19 June at Dominion 6.19, Devitt defeated Marufuji to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the first time.[28] 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.[4] 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.[4] 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][35] On 3 September, Devitt made his second successful defense of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, defeating DDT Pro-Wrestling representative Kenny Omega.[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.[38] 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.[39][40] 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.[41][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.[43][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.[45][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.[47][48] 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.[50][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.[62] 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.[67][68] On 30 March, Devitt defeated Volador Jr. to become the new NWA World Historic Middleweight Champion.[70][71] 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.[72] On 27 May, Devitt entered the 2012 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, which he started off with losses against Kushida and Taichi.[73][74] 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.[75] The following day, Devitt was eliminated from the tournament in the semifinals by Low Ki.[76] On 8 July, Devitt defeated Taichi to make his first successful defense of the NWA World Historic Middleweight Championship.[77] 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.[80][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.[82] On the 28 September CMLL Super Viernes show, Devitt lost the title to Rojo, ending his reign at 182 days.[83][10]

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.[10][10] 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.[10] 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).[10] On 11 November at Power Struggle, Devitt defeated Low Ki to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the third time.[10][10] 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.[10][10] Following his win, Devitt accepted a challenge for the title made by his tag team partner, Ryusuke Taguchi.[10] 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.[95] 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][105] 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,[106] though often using outside help from his Bullet Club stablemates to win his matches.[107][108][109] 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.[110][111][112] 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.[113][14] 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.[115] 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.[115][14] On 5 July, Devitt defeated Gedo in his fourth successful title defense, advancing to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match against Okada.[14][14] 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.[14][14][14][14] On 1 August, Devitt defeated Okada, with help from Fale, in the main event of the first day of the 2013 G1 Climax.[14] Despite three other big wins over former IWGP Heavyweight Champions Hiroshi Tanahashi,[124] Satoshi Kojima,[125] and Togi Makabe,[126] Devitt failed to advance from his block, finishing with a record of five wins and four losses.[126] The rivalry between Devitt and Tanahashi culminated in a Lumberjack Deathmatch on 29 September at Destruction, where Tanahashi was victorious.[127]

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] 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.[132][133] 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.[133][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.[136] The following day, New Japan announced Devitt's resignation from the promotion.[137][138]

NWA International (2007)

Devitt entered the tournament for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) called Reclaiming the Glory in June 2007 to crown a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion after the title was stripped from TNA. In the first round he faced Australian wrestler Mikey Nicholls and won, but lost in the second round to Bryan Danielson at an NWA Empire show in North Tonawanda, New York.[139]


NXT (2014–present)

On 15 May 2014, it was reported that Devitt had signed with WWE and would be joining the promotion's developmental territory, NXT, 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][142] 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] He made his NXT debut at the television tapings the following day, coming to Hideo Itami's aid in his feud with The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor).[7] His debut match took place during the 23 October tapings, when he and Itami defeated Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd.[146] After weeks of feuding with The Ascension, Bálor and Itami defeated them at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution on 11 December. Bálor also debuted his signature body paint that day.[147]

Bálor then entered a NXT Championship number one contender's tournament, defeating Curtis Axel in the first round on 21 January,[148] Hideo Itami in the semi–finals on 4 February,[149] and Adrian Neville in the finals on 11 February at NXT TakeOver: Rival.[150] Bálor received his title match, against Kevin Owens, on 25 March, but was unsuccessful in winning the championship, after injuring his knee.[151]

After defeating Tyler Breeze on 20 May at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable,[152] Bálor received another title shot against Owens, which took place on 4 July at The Beast in the East event, in Tokyo, Japan, where Bálor defeated Owens to win the NXT Championship for the first time.[153] In his first title defense, Bálor defeated Owens in a ladder match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn on 22 August.[18] Bálor later entered the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament in August, where he was paired with Samoa Joe. The two defeated The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara and Kalisto) in the first round, on the 25 August tapings of SmackDown in a dark match,[18] Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady in the quarter-finals on 30 September,[18] Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson in the semi-finals and Baron Corbin and Rhyno in the finals, on 7 October, at NXT TakeOver: Respect, to win the tournament.[157] After his title match with Apollo Crews, Joe turned on Bálor and attacked him,[18] which ignited a feud between the two, throughout November and December,[18][18][18][18][18] and a title match, at NXT TakeOver: London, on 16 December, where Bálor defeated Joe to retain.[164]

On 1 April at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, Bálor successfully defended his title in a rematch with Joe.[19] 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 non-televised live event in Lowell, Massachusetts, ending his reign at 292 days.[166] On 8 June, Bálor was defeated by Joe in the first ever NXT steel cage match in a rematch for the NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: The End, in what was his first TakeOver loss.[167]

Personal life

Devitt played football and Gaelic football when he was younger, before deciding to become a professional wrestler.[169] 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.[169][170] Devitt is good friends with fellow professional wrestler Dru Onyx.[170] Devitt is an avid collector of Lego and comic book reader and has worn face and body paint to the ring, inspired by comic book characters.[134] Devitt is a supporter of Premier League football team Tottenham Hotspur.[19]

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments