Getting to Know the Indies: Finn Balor Vs Shinsuke Nakamura


Today’s Getting to Know the Indies is sponsored by CarterPlays YouTube Channel.  It’s my nephew.  Do not troll his page with inappropriate comments.

So I’m making a departure this week.  I know, I’m supposed to be highlighting the best that the independent circuit has to offer, but in a way I sort of am because I tell myself that NXT still constitutes a standalone indy promotion that just has a touch more money to spend than some of the others.  Tonight on the NXT broadcast (which you can see on the WWE Network at 8 PM ET or you can see it tomorrow on Hulu), two of the biggest names to make their way across the pond from NJPW to NXT are going head to head, two great friends will battle for a shot at the NXT Championship, and two incredible performers will put on a match that I have such high expectations for that I don’t see any way it doesn’t break the top 5 when we vote in January for match of the year.


Shinsuke Nakamura V Finn Balor

These two have faced off in the past.  At the 2014 New Japan Cup, they met off in the second round of the tournament.

This features Balor (then Prince Devitt, previously Fergal Devitt), in all his wildly entertaining Bullet Club glory, you know, back before the PG Era got ahold of this ridiculous incarnation now known simply as The Club (he didn’t seem too concerned with beating up John Cena).

But let’s go a bit further into both of their pasts and really highlight what these guys bring to the table beyond their crazy entrances (which I’m still going to highlight because I can).

Shinsuke Nakamura – The King of Strong Style


Just to clear this up, “New Japan Pro Wrestling, headed by Antonio Inoki, used Inoki’s “strong style” approach of wrestling as a combat sport. Wrestlers incorporated kicks and strikes from martial arts disciplines, and a strong emphasis was placed on submission wrestling” (

At 22 years old, Shinsuke Nakamura of Mineyama, Kyoto, Japan signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling in March of 2002 and quickly took off from there.  At the time known as “Super Rookie”, he was also simultaneously performing in MMA fights where he was quite successful, winning his first three bouts handily by submission, and in December of 2003, he took the IWGP Heavyweight Championship after a little under two years with New Japan.

Over the course of the next several years, Nakamura would hold nearly every title in NJPW, and would also face a man you now know as The Beast, Brock Lesnar, in 2006 for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

The two seem to be friends.  Nakamura frequently traveled throughout the years to train with Lesnar at Lesnar’s personal gym in order to have the Beast help him in a quest to gain muscle mass.  They also worked as a tag team on a few occasions.

In 2006, Nakamura almost joined WWE as part of a “learning extension” where he would be loaned to the company by NJPW because they saw the value in such an excursion.  His aim was to travel the world and learn all different styles by working with a number of promotions, including a stint with WWE.  Unfortunately, Brock Lesnar decided to make a zillion dollars beating the hell out of people and NJPW desperately needed their major star to stay under the banner at the lost of The Beast.

Strong Style continued to dazzle the audiences in NJPW for almost another decade before he met with Triple H, signing with NXT in January of 2016 and automatically slated for a match at the company’s second largest event to date, NXT TakeOver: Dallas on Wrestlemania weekend.

If you haven’t watched TakeOver: Dallas, you missed a real gem, as Nakamura battled the always entertaining Sami Zayn in his debut.

Finn Balor – The Demon
(For those of you who don’t know, Balor is Gaelic for Demon King)


Now we’ll get to the man with the coolest entrance in wrestling since Gangrel.  I bet you thought I was going to say The Undertaker didn’t you?  No, a man pretending to be a vampire drinking blood and misting it at the audience is just some cool stuff that wouldn’t even remotely fly on the PG promotion you see today.

Fergal Devitt of Bray, Wicklow County, Ireland debuted at age 18 with the British promotion National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), and just shortly after his debut, he was already the NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion.

In October of 2005, the now 23 year old returned to Ireland to launch the sister promotion to NWA, NWA Ireland.  While running NWA Ireland, Fergal trained numerous wrestlers, including everyone’s favorite Punmaster:


From there, he toured the globe wrestling for a while before landing in NJPW in 2006.  There he took on the name Prince Devitt (as Fergal is probably a little weird to the Japanese audience).  As if starting at 18 and having a title belt by 19 wasn’t already an indication of his talent, he skyrocketed through the ranks at New Japan.

While in NJPW, Devitt (Balor) had a number of phenomenal matches with a series of some of the best opponents you could ask for, guys that I would love to see transition into NXT/WWE in the coming years with the success we’ve seen from the likes of Balor, Owens, Daniel Bryan and Nakamura.

Here he takes on Kenny Omega, who some of you may recognize from a recent Twitter feud with The New Day, and Big E in particular.

And here’s one where Finn takes on Indie darling Zack Sabre Jr., who will undoubtedly come out of the CWC and end up with NXT very, very soon:

If you only watch one or two videos in this post, I recommend that one.  Not only is the wrestling great, but you also get another sweet entrance, this time dressed as the Clown Prince of Crime himself.

In 2013, New Japan got its newest Faction, a heavily NWO inspired group known as Bullet Club.  History-Of-The-Bullet-Club-1050x654

Now you should recognize at least a couple of the faces here, as you’ve got Anderson and Gallows on the right in the back.  Looks a little different than the weirdly dressed duo that accompany AJ Styles (also from the Bullet Club) to the ring and drop some frat boy lingo about how they love to #BeatUpJohnCena.  Stay hopeful, Dark Match faithful.  There’s still a chance.

Then one fateful May day in 2014, Fergal had the same meeting as Nakamura, and Triple H convinced him to leave the fanfare he’d garnered in NJPW and move to Orlando where he would join NXT, debuting in November of that year in a tag match with Hideo Itami against The Ascension:

Balor quickly moved through the ranks of the developmental promotion, earning a title shot against Kevin Owens after only four months.  Though he lost in his title opportunity in March of 2015, he was given a second title opportunity when the promotion teamed up with the Brock Lesnar Beast in the East event, and Balor won the NXT Championship from Owens in front of what was essentially a hometown crowd in Tokyo.  The two had several more matches for the belt over the months that followed, including one of my favorite matches of last year, the ladder match at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn:

He held the title for 292 days, beating the previous record held by the high flying Neville at 287 days, before dropping the belt to Samoa Joe in a wildly surprising finish to a house show match in Lowell, Massachusetts in April 2016.

What’s next for the Demon?  While speculation runs rampant (practically on a weekly basis) that his call up to the main roster could happen at any moment with the arrival of Gallows and Anderson and the formation of The Club.  It’s anticipated that he will be drafted in next week’s Raw-Smackdown WWE Draft event on Tuesday, July 19th, when Smackdown goes live and moves to Tuesdays.  But that’s all speculative.  What’s for sure is that tonight, Wednesday, July 13, 2016, there will be one hell of a match as Finn Balor goes toe to toe with Shinsuke Nakamura on NXT.

We’ll see you next week when Getting to Know the Indies tackles a tag team as we introduce some of you to The Young Bucks.