WWE.com exclusive: Finlay on fatherhood, part II
In this, the second installment of WWE.com's exclusive interview with Finlay, the brawler from Belfast continues his candid discussion about being the father of Hornswoggle. (To read Part 1, click here.)
Finlay had anticipated Mr. McMahon putting Hornswoggle in matches. What he never counted on was someone finding out about the plan. Finlay never imagined one of the men Hornswoggle had once hired to protect him would actually be the one to finally betray him -- John Bradshaw Layfield.
On Feb. 18 in Anaheim, Hornswoggle had a steel cage match with his "father," Mr. McMahon. Finlay knew the stakes had been raised. He realized that Mr. McMahon was determined to administer "tough love" to Hornswoggle once and for all. What Finlay didn't know was that John "Bradshaw" Layfield had information that would change everything.
It's not known exactly how JBL got wind of the plan between Finlay and Mr. McMahon's family. What is known is that JBL is well connected. JBL visits the same hair stylist in New York City that the McMahons frequent. All it would take was for one person to overhear one private phone conversation, and it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume JBL's deep pockets could land him some very valuable information.
How JBL found out about this arrangement is not known. But he knew. And he made Hornswoggle and Finlay pay. Brandishing a set of handcuffs, JBL bound Finlay to the steel cage and immediately targeted Hornswoggle. What happened next was one of the most disturbing moments in Raw history. With Finlay unable to intervene, JBL proceeded to administer a beating the likes of which would hospitalize a man his own size let alone the size of Hornswoggle. An elbow to the throat, a kick to the skull and then being thrown straight into the steel cage...Finlay could do nothing but scream.
"I would've given anything to trade places with Hornswoggle at that point," he recalled, clearly still pained by the memory. "He may not be a child, but he's my child. And to see JBL brutalize him and be unable to stop it…. For the first time in my life, I actually felt helpless. It's a horrible feeling.
"Hornswoggle never did anything to JBL," he continued. "This was about JBL trying to make a name for himself on Raw and ingratiate himself toward Vince McMahon. You want to expose the big secret and get a pat on the head, fine. But be a man about it. Confront me. Beat the hell out of me if you have to. Taking it out on an innocent who's half your size isn't impressive; it's pathetic."
The next night, Mr. McMahon demanded an explanation. Mr. McMahon still believed he was Hornswoggle's father and claimed he had JBL out in his match merely to neutralize Finlay. After what was a sincere (for him) apology, Mr. McMahon called out JBL who somehow, some way, knew of Finlay's arrangement and exposed everything.
"In some ways, it was a sense of relief when JBL told the truth," Finlay said. "I didn't have to live the lie anymore. The problem was Hornswoggle. I wouldn't have blamed him if he never wanted to speak to me again.
"Visiting him in the hospital was nerve-wracking," he added. "I had failed him as a father, as a protector and as a friend. But Hornswoggle's eyes lit up when he saw me. He asked, ‘Is it true?' I nodded, and he just smiled and said, ‘I love you, Dad.' I just lost it right then and there. I hugged my son and started sobbing. I wished I had told him I was his father from the start. I wished it had never come to this."
With the truth exposed, Finlay went to Raw last week determined to get some revenge. Mr. McMahon promised a confrontation with JBL. After going to the ring and confirming everything JBL said, Finlay called out JBL, ready to do the only thing he ever excelled at in life -- fight. But JBL had other ideas. Preying on Finlay's emotional state, JBL didn't go to Raw, he went to a hospital -- Hornswoggle's hospital. And with Finlay once again helpless to stop it, JBL slapped and terrorized a defenseless Hornswoggle. Finlay was left speechless in the ring. It's an unthinkable feeling to witness your son getting beaten down and being helpless to stop it. Finlay had just experienced that feeling twice.
"I don't know how to feel right now. I feel numb, actually. I made a career on inflicting pain on people, but the fun is inflicting pain on people who can defend themselves. If they can't defend themselves, then what are you proving? It's pointless."
Fortunately for Finlay, JBL drew a line in sand. Upon hearing Finlay's challenge, JBL accepted a match, but at WrestleMania XXIV. For JBL, it would be the perfect end to this story: Expose the man who tried to play Mr. McMahon as a fool, and then beat him on the very showcase Mr. McMahon made famous. If JBL can pull it off, he will have ingratiated himself to Mr. McMahon more than any Superstar has done before. For Finlay, however, their match at WrestleMania (now a Belfast Brawl, as of Monday night's Raw) means something else -- redemption.
"I understand WrestleMania is supposed to be a star-studded extravaganza," the brawler told WWE.com. "It's supposed to be a spectacle and family-friendly. But what I'm going to do will probably turn a lot of people off. I'm not looking to pin JBL's shoulders to the mat. I'm not looking to make the man submit. I'm not looking to win a wrestling match. I'm looking to inflict pain -- agonizing pain that will live with JBL for the rest of his life. I want to make him scream like he made my son scream. The same way he made me scream when I was handcuffed in that steel cage.
"I know JBL will come to fight, and that's fine. I'm looking to end his career… permanently. I don't care what happens to me anymore.This is about Hornswoggle. I want to show my son that despite what happened, I'm proud to be his father, and he doesn't need to be afraid anymore. And neither do I."
After months of lies and secrets, Finlay can now step out of the shadows and live his life in the open. But Finlay won't truly be at peace until he faces JBL at WrestleMania XXIV. It's an all-or-nothing proposition. Either Finlay gets his much-needed cathartic revenge, or the hole he has dug for himself will grow even deeper. He's got an opponent looking to make an example out of him. He's got a son who needs him more than ever. In short, Finlay's got a fight. And the man who loves to fight wouldn't have it any other way.