WWE.com exclusive: Finlay on fatherhood
"His name is Finlay, and he loves to fight." Watching Finlay over the years, you can tell this wasn't just a clever marketing slogan; this was a way of life. From an early age, Finlay had prided himself on never backing down from a challenge. Ironically, it's the one fight Finlay did walk away from that resulted in more pain and heartbreak than he's ever endured.
"I lived a pretty carefree life. Fight, drink, go home. That was pretty much my routine," the veteran Superstar told WWE.com. "Then one day out of the blue, I found out I had a son."
This news turned out to be shocking. After a series of paternity tests, a woman from Finlay's past revealed to him he had a son … Hornswoggle. And Finlay couldn't handle it.
"I couldn't believe it at first. I didn't want a son. I didn't want the responsibility. Unfortunately, his mother didn't, either," he said. "Hornswoggle had too much of me in him, I guess. He was a hellraiser, always biting teachers and classmates."
Hornswoggle had more of Finlay than perhaps even the bruiser from Belfast realized. The lure of the ring was in his blood.
"The one thing he [Hornswoggle] wanted, more than anything, was to be a part of WWE," Finlay said. "So I made an arrangement with his mother. I'd legally take care of Hornswoggle, but Hornswoggle couldn't know I was his father. I didn't want the burden. So one day his mother tells him she's going to let him live his dream and try to be a WWE Superstar. I was introduced to Hornswoggle as the man who was going to make that dream happen. And then, just like that, Hornswoggle was in my care."
Ever resourceful, Finlay made this arrangement work in his favor.
"I was selfish. I figured if I was going to have to take care of Hornswoggle, why not use him to my advantage?" he said. "I told him to get under the ring and help me out whenever I needed him. Hornswoggle never asked any questions. He did what he was told, and no matter how rough I treated him, he relished the opportunity to get involved."
For a year, this arrangement suited Finlay well. Hornswoggle would hide under the ring, and Finlay would (some say recklessly) pull him out at opportune moments and sic him on his opponents. Then a turning point occurred at last year's WrestleMania.
"It was during the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Hornswoggle actually ran up the ladder and tried to retrieve the briefcase for me," Finlay recalled. "Kennedy grabbed him and threw him off the ladder. I heard a sickening thud. As Hornswoggle lay on the mat unconscious, I found I didn't care about the briefcase. I just wanted Hornswoggle to be OK. For the first time, I looked at Hornswoggle and saw him as my son. I actually cared.
"So now I was at a crossroads," Finlay continued. "I wanted to provide for my son, but I also knew I didn't have any experience as a father. It was at this point I got greedy and selfish. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. I wanted to provide for this kid, give him everything that I didn't have growing up. But I was too scared to just come forward and tell him I was his father."
"Scared" and "Finlay" are two words that seldom go together. After all, this is a man who has challenged (and defeated) the 7-foot-3 Great Khali more times than any other Superstar. But fighting comes naturally to Finlay. Being a father does not. So Finlay hatched a plan that would change everything.
"After Vince McMahon faked his death this past summer, I noticed how he lashed out at his family," Finlay said. "I knew they had to be embarrassed by it, so I had a secret meeting with them and made a proposition. I offered them a chance to finally be the ones to turn the tables and embarrass Vince. Based on my own experiences in finding out I was a father, we hatched a plan to make it seem like a woman in Vince's past had given him an illegitimate son. The family would get to see Vince sweat for once and be humiliated on national television. Meanwhile, Hornswoggle would get the benefits of being a billionaire's son."
Finlay perceived that though the Chairman has many faults, deep down he takes enormous pride in the McMahon name and family.
"Vince, for all his faults, prides himself on being a family man," he said. "I knew that no matter how badly having a leprechaun for a son embarrassed him, in the end Vince would take care of Hornswoggle. The family was very responsive to this. They didn't want to see Vince continue to embarrass them, especially now that he has grandchildren. They wanted Vince to become preoccupied with Hornswoggle that he'd leave the rest of family alone. It seemed like the perfect solution."
And for a while it was. Despite the different scenarios Mr. McMahon put Hornswoggle in, Finlay was always one step ahead of him.
"I made a decision from the start, that I would never let anything happen to Hornswoggle. And if you look back, nothing ever did," Finlay said. "Mr. McMahon would give an edict of 'tough love,' and in the end, whether it was Mick Foley or Hulk Hogan or myself, Hornswoggle always managed to remain unscathed. Sometimes I would play a part in securing Hornswoggle's protection, but sometimes it was Hornswoggle himself who would get the help. He's very resourceful. Whether he had to fight Khali or compete in the Royal Rumble, I made it my business to make sure Hornswoggle was never hurt."
Check back with WWE.com on Tuesday for the second installment of Finlay's exclusive interview.