The First-Ever WWE Universal Champion Finn Bálor was recently a guest on E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness. Among many other things, Bálor discussed his severe labrum tear. Notably, Bálor talked about the injury being much worse than initially believed and what the injury has meant to his WWE career.
On the subject of Bálor’s injury during his Universal Championship Match versus Seth Rollins at SummerSlam (2016), Bálor claimed that he knew his shoulder was dislocated immediately, but that he did not know the extent of the injury when it happened. As the match progressed, Bálor came to realize that his shoulder was “totally destroyed” and that he would be on the shelf for a long time.
“Straight away, I knew the shoulder was out because I could feel it out. I didn’t realize how bad it went out. I’ve had a shoulder separation before where, like, I could pop in back in and it wasn’t so bad, but when I hit the deck, I said, ‘oh no, your shoulder’s out of place,’ so instinctively, I pulled it forward and it pops back in. I go, ‘okay, phew, breathe, calm down, get your bears, [and] get back in the ring.’ So I get back in the ring, and I start working, and it feels pretty loose. And I think [Rollins] shoots me off and I reverse him, and I’m, like, pushing him in the back, and I give him a little push with my right hand on the back, and it pops out again. I go, ‘oh no, this is going to be a big issue.’ I ended up coming out [of the ring] three or four times in the match where I kept resetting it, resetting it, but it was totally destroyed. There was, like, a bicep tear, a pec tear, the socket was broken, the labrum was torn, so, like, that’s pretty much why I kept slipping in and out. Kind of halfway through the match I realized, ‘you’re not going to be wrestling, not for a long time.’ But they said, ‘stay the course,’ and I finished the match. And the rest is history.”
Apparently, Bálor’s surgeon told him that the surgery would be only 40 minutes in duration and that he would be out of action for just three months. In reality, Bálor ended up being knocked out for 6 hours and on WWE’s injured list for approximately nine months.
“The doctor kind of diagnosed that I had a torn labrum, so we go and get it scanned the next day in Manhattan,” Bálor recalled. “It was in Barclays [Center], where it happened. The next Monday, in the morning, we get it scanned and the doctor says, ‘yeah, there’s a labrum tear there.’ So credit to WWE, they put me in that thing with Mick [Foley] where I hand the title back and Tuesday afternoon, they cut me open. And this is one of the best surgeons in the country. He cuts me open expecting a labrum tear. He shows me the little keyhole deal and says, ‘you’ll be under for 40 minutes. You’ll be out. You’ll be back in the ring in three months.’ So he goes back in with the camera, or the scope, or whatever, and he’s looking for the end of the tear in the labrum and he’s going all the way up, all the way up, and he’s like, ‘uh oh, your pec’s torn.’ Then he goes all the way down, down, down, and he goes, ‘oh no, the bicep is torn too.’ So then, he has to take a lunch and figure out a game plan and how he’s going to figure it out, he might do the surgery while I’m knocked out on the desk or whatever. I ended up being out for like six hours or something. And WWE gave him a call and they were like, ‘why isn’t he out of surgery? It was only supposed to be a 40-minute ordeal.’ And obviously, he had to come up with a strategy as to how he was going to fix it and in what order and stuff. Yeah, he said it was a big mess in there.”
Bálor has chosen to look at the injury as the universe’s way of saying that he was reaching the top of WWE too soon. With that said, Bálor would not change the experience because he learned about himself through the process and was able to take an extended break from professional wrestling.
“Honestly, when I’m sitting on the deck outside the ring and when I pop it back in, I’m literally thinking to myself, ‘well Fergal, very typical of you to put another obstacle in your way to getting where you want to be. Like, good job, buddy!’ Obviously, I really believe that things happen for a reason, and fate, and the universe works for us and not against us. And, like, probably what happened that day was the universe’s way of saying, ‘you’re not ready for what you’re about to encounter.’ I really think it happened too fast. My whole career, I’ve started at the bottom and worked my way up. And then, all-of-a-sudden, I’m cast onto RAW and three weeks later, I’m at the top of the hill. So I think it was the universe’s way of knocking me back to the bottom of the hill and making me have that slow climb again. I think people around me were more upset for me than I actually was.” Bálor added, “I wouldn’t change it. I learned a lot about myself. I got to mature over the nine months out and kind of really learn about myself and life. I hadn’t really taken a break since I was 18 [years old]. And that [injury] was two years ago, so 16 years of wrestling before I had taken a break. I think it was the first time I’ve taken an extended mental leave from wrestling, so it was much needed, I think.”
You can listen to the full interview in the embedded audio player below: