Before WrestleMania in Arlington, World Wrestling Entertainment invades downtown Dallas for a week full of events at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and American Airlines Center.
Headlining one of those events, NXT champion Finn Bálor, who defends his title in the main event of NXT TakeOver: Dallas this Friday. He shares his thoughts on that match, and the WrestleMania experience...
What are your expectations heading into your NXT title defense vs. Samoa Joe at TakeOver?
Bálor: Joe's very well-traveled, experienced, someone who professionally I have a lot of respect for. It would be foolish of me to think that it's going to be a walk in the park. I think I've proven time and time again that when the chips are down, it's TakeOver, the lights are on, the smoke machines are working, Finn Bálor always delivers and I don't see why there's going to be any difference this time.
On his pre-match preparations both as Finn Bálor and 'The Demon'...
Bálor: Every match is different. I'm always restricted by location, the geography of the building. Normally, I go through the same routine. The paint, is a different thing altogether - believe it or not, I just try to find a quiet place, put my earphones in, and just kind of go into my own little zone. Once I walk out there it's kind of zero to a hundred miles an hour. That's the way I like it. I don't like to expend too much energy beforehand, I like to save it for as soon as I walk out of the curtain.
On previous career moments in the state of Texas...
Bálor: We had done an NXT Texas loop a couple months ago. I was also on hand at Raw, witness that live in Dallas, as well. I'm very familiar with Texas. Believe it or not, a long time ago, I want to say around 2003, I was at an NWA convention show in Corpus Christi, Texas. I've got quite a lot of history in Texas itself so I'm looking forward to return.
On WrestleMania Axxess...
Bálor: It's a really cool experience as a fan. It's something that when I was a fan, I always had the aspirations of going to - obviously, in Ireland it would have been a little bit of a trek. I was there last year, and was absolutely blown away by the scale of it, how things have grown, and how people are able to interact with the Superstars and some of the props that we have like the rings, and the cages, being able to see those up close and personal is a real treat for the fans.
As someone who has wrestled around the world, how does your experience with the WWE over the past few years compare?
Bálor: It's night and day. Obviously, I had great times in the U.K. coming up and learning my craft, and was really educated in Japan in a wonderful company and made some great fans, but I really feel like WWE and NXT is the place to be. It has that big match, big show aura every night. I strive to be the best, and to be the best you have to prove it on the biggest platform, and that's what WWE provides me, and that's why I'm here.
Have to ask...any updates on #BálorClub or a potential call up to the main roster?
Bálor: You know, there's a lot of rumors out there. I know the internet likes to speculate and create these incredibly elaborate, entertaining stories, and I can say with my hand on my heart that I wish they were all true because it would make for a very exciting time for me - especially with some of my buddies coming in. Right now, I'm the NXT champion. As NXT we're kind of the third global brand at WWE, and I have the responsibility to fly the flag for NXT. So, right now that is my main priority going forward. I can't say whether Karl Anderson or Doc Gallows will turn up on Raw or Smackdown. For me, I'm very much focused on sailing the ship for NXT.