Balrog, known as M. Bison (Ｍ.バイソン, Mike Bison) in Japan, is a character from the Street Fighter series. He first appeared as a boss character in Street Fighter II.
Rising from a childhood of poverty, Balrog was once a great boxing champion and prize fighter. He was banned from boxing for permanently injuring his opponents and accidentally killing one (as well as his illegal maneuvers, particularly his headbutt), so he joined the Shadaloo criminal organization, and worked his way up from the bottom, eventually becoming M. Bison's enforcer.
While running errands for Bison, he killed Dhalsim's elephant with a single Gigaton Punch. In one mission, Balrog was sent to terminate Birdie. Although he did not know why, Balrog went anyway. Birdie told him about the Psycho Drive, and Balrog agreed to help him find it, thinking he could make money from it. When the Psycho Drive exploded, Balrog realized that he had not been paid recently.
When Bison was killed at the hands of Akuma, ownership of Shadaloo was transferred to the former prize fighter. Unfortunately, he ended up running the entire organization into the ground in no time. After the fall of Shadaloo, Balrog was back on the streets, working menial jobs (such as casino security, as seen in his Street Fighter IV intro cutscene).
However, when Bison makes his return with the construction of his new body, Balrog is immediately brought back into the organization, hired by Bison to guard Bison's replacement bodies, which Balrog refers to as "dolls". Balrog is not satisfied with this, however, and forms a new get-rich-quick scheme. He manages to make his way into the S.I.N. building (along with fellow agent Vega). While looking for "treasure" (possibly anything he could sell), he stumbles across a young, bandaged girl begging for help. Balrog is resistant, until a mark in the shape of the Shadaloo symbol begins to glow on the child's hand. Realizing the child could hold some valuable secrets, Balrog takes the girl away (saying along the way, " This must be my lucky day!"). However, when he questions the child on what powers she has, the child reveals that by herself, she is powerless; Balrog, disappointed, says the girl is worthless. Nevertheless, Balrog remains optimistic that the girl will be valuable later; he picks the girl up and walks off with her, while the girl's hand glows again.
When Street Fighter II was localized in the United States, Capcom was afraid of a lawsuit from Mike Tyson over a character with his likeness and a similar sounding name (Mike Bison). Additionally, when the designers presented the game to Capcom USA's marketing department, they believed that the name Vega was a weakling's name. They decided to rotate the names of three of the four boss characters in the following manner:
- The boxer is known as M. Bison in Japan and Balrog in the U.S.
- The Spanish assassin/bullfighter is known as Balrog in Japan and Vega in the U.S.
- The evil dictator and head of Shadaloo is known as Vega in Japan and M. Bison in the U.S.
Balrog is heavily built very muscular, wears blue boxing trunks with white trim and a torn white shirt under a blue tank top. He wears red boxing gloves and boxing shoes. His hairstyle consists of short hair in what appears to be wide cornrows. The hair is similar to Mike Tyson's haircuts from the time Street Fighter II was made. In certain illustrations, his Japanese name, "Bison", can be seen on the waistband of his trunks, although it's usually removed when these illustrations are published outside Japan. In Street Fighter IV, the word "Champion" appears in its place.
Balrog is a self-centered, hot-tempered, arrogant, flippant, self-seeking and sadistic pugilist who possesses an insatiable urge for money. His main reasons and motivation for joining Shadaloo and M. Bison throughout the Street Fighter series has always been to attain massive wealth, fame and glory so he can be on easy street for life. For that motivation alone, Balrog would even kill, steal, or cheat to accomplish this.
Honor is something Balrog doesn't acknowledge. Despite being a once great prized boxer, Balrog has intentionally cheated in his fights whenever he felt like it (which is why his movesets includes a headbutt and during his 2nd Ultra Combo, he stomps on his opponent's foot, which is considered illegal in boxing), and even accidentally killed one of his opponents once. Balrog is shown to not be very smart, which is why when M. Bison was believed to be dead after the events of Street Fighter Alpha 3, the role of leader of the organization fell to him and it collapsed immediately, which forced him to work security at casinos and other places just to get by.
In Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, he is portrayed close to his original role in the games, which is largely as dumb-muscle for Bison. Interestingly enough, he does not don his boxing gloves when he fights E. Honda. He is voiced by Joe Romersa in the English dub and George Nakata in the Japanese version.
In the 1994 live action film, he was portrayed by Grand L. Bush and was one of the good guys, more specifically the camera-man in Chun-Li's news-crew. Like the other members (Chun-Li and E. Honda), Balrog held a grudge against Shadaloo for ruining his boxing career. Near the end of the film, he dons his regular outfit from the games. In the 1995, animated series, Street Fighter, he is a scientist for Bison, with his storyline intact. He is voiced by Paul Dobson.
In the film Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, he is portrayed by Michael Clarke Duncan. His role in Shadaloo remains unchanged, being one of Bison's loyal enforcers alongside Vega.
In Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game, it is revealed that Mr. Ray has been his manager from his pro-boxing days to his time with the Street Fighter Circuit. Also, Balrog is training Samson Jr., the son of an old friend from the streets.
He makes a cameo appearence in Street Fighter IV: The Ties That Bind, sitting inside of the Shadaloo Aircraft that Seth escapes into at the end of the movie. He doesn't have any lines.
He makes an appearance on the short documentary film, Balrog: Behind the Glory, debuted on Evolution 2011 Championships. The short film was produced by Chubby Boy Films. The film depicts the brief history of Balrog, his childhood story of being bullied and fighting against the bullies, his training from his father who also once boxed, his winning success in his boxing career and popularity in the media, his marriage and divorce with a supermodel, how he was being taken advantage of managers and business due to his greed, his controversial headbutt that killed a boxer named thus resulting into a disqualification-ban in boxing and arrest, his path into Mad Gear and Shadowloo, and what has happened to him afterwards. Documentary interviewed Balrog's father Greg Bison, a book author Micah Shultz who wrote about the rise and fall of Shadowloo, and former Trainer Tim Tashun. The documentary is not considered to be officially canon.