Finn Balor’s “Demon King” persona is returning at WrestleMania. Here’s what it’s all about.
Bobby Lashley won’t be facing just any version of Finn Balor in their Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania on Sunday—he’ll be facing The Demon.
For several weeks leading up to WrestleMania, WWE dropped subtle hints that Finn Balor could be embodying his “Demon King” persona in the match, and a video segment Monday night on Raw confirmed that would be the case.
But because the Demon only appears on rare occasions, some wrestling fans might be wondering what the alter ego is all about.
What is “The Demon”?
On a basic level, the Demon persona entails Balor spending hours getting his face and chest painted in various demonic patterns that incorporate fearsome teeth, dark colors and—on one occasion—a cape with a spiny back. When portraying the Demon, Balor uses a slightly different entrance theme and alters the mannerisms of his entrance to transform from the cool, leather jacket-wearing Finn Balor to the intimidating Demon. Balor tweeted a photo just hours before WrestleMania of himself carrying his Demon headgear through the bowels of MetLife Stadium.
To learn where the Demon comes from, though, you first have to understand Balor’s ring name. Before coming to WWE, he wrestled for New Japan under the name Prince Devitt (derived from his real name, Fergal Devitt). Upon arriving in NXT, the Irishman adopted a new ring name inspired by two mythological figures from his home country: Fionn mac Cumhaill (anglicized as Finn MacCool) and Bálor. MacCool is a mythical warrior, sometimes depicted as a giant, who, according to legend, picked up a piece of the Irish coast and flung it into the sea, thus creating the Isle of Man. Bálor is the mythical king of a race of demons called the Fomhóraigh, often depicted as a giant with one eye capable of killing anything it looks at. (Balor’s body paint at SummerSlam 2016 included a single yellow eye that covered most of his back.)
Balor’s Demon wrestling character is supernatural in its own regard. Not only is Balor undefeated as The Demon, he also wrestles with extra aggression and ferocity when the paint comes on. But that change presents a challenge.
“I do it so infrequently now that I forget how I move as the Demon,” Balor said on the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast in December. “I forget the subtle differences in the entrance and the mannerisms of how the Demon works. Now, when I go out there, I’m Finn Balor, but that’s just Fergal. It’s just me, the human. But when the Demon goes out there, I need to transform into a different person. That mindset, because I'm not tapping into it so often, that's a huge challenge for me. I gotta figure out how to do that every time, again. I’m very comfortable being Finn, but when it comes to the Demon, I have to re-educate myself. That’s an added challenge because of how infrequent we are doing it.”
Many fans anticipated Balor would assume the Demon persona at WrestleMania 34, but instead he used his entrance to make a statement about LGBTQ inclusivity in wrestling.
“A lot of people maybe thought going into WrestleMania, ‘Well, if Finn’s not gonna be the Demon, it’s gonna suck,’” Balor told Sports Illustrated in 2018. “I think what we did at WrestleMania is a lot more important than any Demon could have been.”
Balor debuted the Demon in 2014 at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution, the third TakeOver event, for a tag team match with Hideo Itami against The Ascension. He employed the gimmick seven more times in NXT before moving to the main roster in 2016. Now it’ll be making its WrestleMania debut.