In an industry dominated by big muscular men, there are only a few wrestlers with smaller statures who achieved tremendous success with technical in-ring skills and natural charisma. The name Finn Balor is one among them, as the Irish wrestler has developed quite the resume throughout his decorated in-ring career.
His matches received widespread praises from fans and critics alike, and he also never failed to adapt himself to the changing times to keep his character fresh. He’s competed against some of the best talents in the industry throughout his illustrious 2-decade long career, and let’s take a look at ten of his best matches as ranked by Dave Meltzer.
10 Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens (Beast In The East, 2015) – 4.25
Since making his NXT debut in September 2014, Finn Balor entered the NXT Championship picture for the first time when he won a no.1 contenders tournament in February 2015. However, he lost his first title match against champion Kevin Owens on the March 25, 2013, episode of NXT.
He received another shot at the title after defeating Tyler Breeze at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable in May 2015. The match took place at the Beast in the East event in Tokyo, Japan, and he put on a classic performance with Owens, which lasted 19:25 minutes.
In the end, Finn Balor emerged victorious after hitting a second Coup de grâce on Owens to win his first NXT Championship.
9 Finn Balor Vs. Kazuchika Okada (NJPW Kizuna Road Tag 9, 2013) – 4.25
During his time as the leader of the Bullet Club in NJPW, Finn Balor earned his first shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship by defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi at the Dominion 6.22 event. After accepting champion Kazuchika Okada’s condition that he should first defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Okada’s Chaos stablemate Gedo, Balor successfully defended the title against Gedo at the Kizuna Road Tag 1 event.
It led to an IWGP Heavyweight title match between Balor and Okada at Kizuna Road Tag 9 event on July 20, 2013. At the event, the two wrestlers battled out in a critically acclaimed match that lasted 19:14 minutes. Despite having The Bullet Club in his favor, Balor was unsuccessful in capturing the title from Okada at the event after a hard-fought contest.
8 Gedo vs. Finn Balor (NJPW Kizuna Road Tag 1, 2013) – 4.25
As mentioned earlier, after Finn Balor became the no.1 contender for Kazuchika Okada’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the latter agreed to put the title on the line only if Balor defended the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Gedo.
Balor accepted the condition and defended the title against Gedo at the NJPW Kizuna Road Tag 1 event on July 5, 2013. Balor and Gedo battled it out for an impressive 18:11 minutes, but the Bullet Club proved to be the difference maker as the group’s interference helped leader Balor to defeat Gedo at the event to retain the title.
7 Universal Championship No.1 Contenders Fatal Five Way (Extreme Rules 2017) – 4.50
After Finn Balor’s untimely injury at SummerSlam 2016, which led to him relinquishing the Universal Championship, he made his television return on the Raw after WrestleMania 33. While planting the seeds for a potential feud with Bray Wyatt, Balor received the opportunity to get back into the Universal Championship picture by competing in a no.1 contenders fatal-5-way match at the 2017 Extreme Rules PPV.
Balor went against Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, Bray Wyatt, and Seth Rollins at the event and looked to book a showdown with Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. After a hard-fought 29:15 minutes, Balor hit a coup de grâce on Reigns, but before he could go for the pin, Samoa Joe caught him with a coquina clutch and made him pass out to win the match.
6 Money In The Bank Ladder Match (MITB 2019) – 4.50
After his victory against Bobby Lashley at WrestleMania 35, Finn Balor looked to get back into the main event picture and became one of SmackDown’s four contestants in the 2019 men’s Money in the Bank ladder match.
The match took place at the titular PPV in 2019, and Balor tried his best to overcome the six other wrestlers and climb the ladder to retrieve the contract. But after a back-and-forth 19:00 minutes, Brock Lesnar came in as the last-minute replacement for Sami Zayn and climbed the ladder to become the new Mr. MITB.
5 Kota Ibushi vs. Low Ki vs. Finn Balor (NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 7) – 4.50
After defeating Low Ki at the NJPW Power Struggle event in November 2012 to win his third IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, Finn Balor’s first title defense was in a three-way match.
He put his title on the line against former champion Low Ki and Kota Ibushi at the Wrestle Kingdom 7 PPV in January 2013. They put on an exceptional performance that lasted 14:45 minutes, but in the end, Balor delivered a Bloody Sunday on Ibushi from the top rope to get the pin and successfully retained the title at the event.
4 Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins (Raw, October 25, 2021) – 4.50
After getting defeated by Xavier Woods in the final of the 2021 King of the Ring tournament, Finn Balor got the opportunity to get back the lost momentum by competing in a WWE Championship No.1 contender’s match.
It was a fatal-four-way ladder match, also involving Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Rey Mysterio, and it took place on the October 25, 2021, episode of Raw. Balor looked to overcome the other superstars to book a showdown with WWE Champion Big E at the 2022 Day 1 PPV, but after some back-and-forth action that lasted 22:15 minutes, Seth Rollins pulled Balor off the ladder and delivered a Curb Stomp on him and retrieved the contract to win the match.
3 Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano (NXT TakeOver: Portland, 2020) – 4.50
Following his loss against The Fiend at SummerSlam 2019, Finn Balor took two months off before making a surprise return to NXT on the October 2, 2019, episode. After a series of events, Balor turned heel for the first time by injuring Johnny Gargano and attacking Tommaso Ciampa. After two month absense Gargano returned and cost Balor his NXT Championship match against Adam Cole.
It led to a match between the two superstars at NXT TakeOver: Portland in February 2020. Gargano and Balor put on the second-longest match of the event by competing for an impressive 27:22 minutes. In the end, Balor performed a coup de grace and 1916 on Gargano to pickup the victory.
2 Finn Balor vs. Pete Dunne (NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day) – 4.50
During Finn Balor’s second reign as the NXT Champion, former NXT UK Champion Pete Dunne stepped up to Balor and challenged him to a title match. Balor accepted Dunne’s challenge and agreed to face him at NXT TakeOver: Vengenace Day. It was the first Balor and Dunne worked together in their careers, and they and put on a classic performance for the fans in the main event of the show.
The match had multiple near falls, including Balor kicking out of Dunne’s Bitter End and Dunne kicking out of the 1916. After a hard-fought 25:11 minutes, Balor performed the combination of the coup de grace and 1916 on Dunne to get the pin and retain the title.
1 Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly (NXT TakeOver: 31) – 4.50
Finn Balor defeated Adam Cole at NXT: Super Tuesday II to win the NXT Championship. His first defense came against Adam Cole’s fellow Undisputed Era member Kyle O’Reilly after the latter won a Gauntlet Match on the September 23, 2020, episode of NXT.
It was one of the best matches of both superstars’ careers, and they wowed the fans with their performance at the event. Both wrestlers shared several stiff shots and took each other to their limits, but in the end, Balor performed the coup de grace on O’Reilly to retain the title. The two superstars shook hands after the match as a sign of respect. But the damage was severe for both wrestlers as Balor sustained a broken jaw while O’Reilly endured broken teeth.