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Can you tell us about the night after WrestleMania when you chased in the Money in the Bank contract? That was some crowd! Wow! It was honestly amazing; I have never experienced anything like that myself. These fans were so juiced. It was an absolute special crowd. They were the rowdiest, loudest crowd that has been through so much over the past few days with WrestleMania. And for some reason, all those hardcore fans, they got behind this guy, who loses every single week. It was such a relief that myself and all the fans finally felt, Wow this is finally it. He’s finally going to be champion and he won’t be screwed. The fans felt “yes! We did this!” We got behind the guy and he has been rewarded for it.
Absolutely felt that way. It was an electric night. Can you tell us about your start in the business? Who did you train with and the beginning of your career? I was lucky enough that I didn’t have to wrestle in the independent leagues. I was out of Kent St. and because of the Briscos and my HS wrestling coach and because of the history of amateur wrestlers, I got a try out. I was trained by Lance Storm full time, who was one of my heroes. It was surreal that I was being trained by him. I used to watch this guy in ECW on a black and white TV in my bedroom. I was an absolute teacher’s pet. I was there early and left late. I wanted to absorb so much. I had to catch up to these guys that worked the independents. I had to pack in 5 years of knowledge in 6 months. Dr. Tom, Dusty Rhodes and Danny Davis were also instrumental in teaching me the basics in several different aspects that helped put me ahead of others.
Do you feel like you’ve reached your goals in WWE so far? Hell no! Are you kidding? 2 time champion with zero defenses. It’s killing me. I was handed one title, it meant nothing to me. And now I have another, and I get a concussion. Taken out, lost right away. At some point you got to stop going “oh wow the fans love, me, they know they are going to get a great show, they know I’m going to give it my all, and going to get hurt just a little bit.” That’s what drives me to keep going. I want a legacy because I have this giant chip on my shoulder to be better than everyone else. And all these WWE Superstars work so hard. Some are just naturally awesome. Some really work to get there. I’d like to think I am a combination of both. And one of these days, somehow, I will be able to prove it on a bigger stage. Not just for the hardcore fans. I want everyone to say “he does this better than anyone else. We need to get behind him and he is going to be the best one day. And I will not rest until that happens.
Who is your favorite Superstar to work with? Who gives you the best matches? Me and Kofi Kingston have fought each other so many times, that it has become laughable. But every time we get out there, it works. It’s something fun. They like Kofi, they hate me, they hate both of us and it works. We have these totally conflicting styles. He’s a good guy that bounces around. I’m the bad guy that likes to stick it to everybody. We have a chemistry that is amazing. There is a reason we are always in matches against each other. And every time we try to make it better and try to bring the best out of each other. We try to outperform and exceed each other athletically. And hopefully in 20 years, when people talk about Steamboat and Flair, people will talk about Kofi and Ziggler. That we go out and gave it our all and tried to make it different and fun. And made it work. Hopefully it will be on a bigger stage one day. And lately, me and Del Rio. When we get out there it just clicks. You can tell when guys like Randy (Orton) and Del Rio are out there. They don’t even have to try. They are that good. They just have it. And then there is someone like me who is trying to prove he is has it and is as good, we just have a great chemistry out there.
Who is your toughest opponent? Sheamus! Never seen him lose! (laughs) I’ve gotten brogue kicked a bunch of times. No matter what, at the end of the day he’s a tough opponent. He hits hard, and no matter what he’s my toughest. I’ve never beaten him. And never fails, every time we fight, the crowd thinks “this is the time”, but it still hasn’t happened. Who knows they may send him to his house now that he’s hurt. Maybe I’ll get him.
What about your dream opponent? Shawn Michaels, and not me in Spirit Squad like I was a few times (laughs). I mean me now. I’ve never been more comfortable in the ring. I am having the time of my life every time I go out there. I feel like I am better than everyone else on so many levels. And I know, in my head, he’s the greatest of all time and I’d love to go toe to toe with him, In an ironman match. Where we go out and try to outdo each other and out sell each other. That’s what makes a great match.
I’d pay to see that! How about dream tag partner? Tag partner? I’ve never really thought about it. Flair would be awesome. I’m hoping to be in a similar situation where I can go out with anyone for 60 minutes and have everyone boo me out the building, but everyone know I carried that match. Maybe even Lance Storm. He trained me. He was my idol. Would be cool to tag in and out with him. There are so many legends out there that it would be awesome to do this with, but off the top of my head, I go Flair and Storm.
Let’s get into SummerSlam. On SmackDown it was announced that you and Kaitlyn would be taking on Big E and AJ. How do you feel going into the match? I feel great. Hilariously, Kaitlyn will be the strong one of the two (laughs). I’m looking forward to the match. Honestly, no joke, I was looking to be in a Heavyweight Title match. No BS. And I thought I was going to win it at SummerSlam. That didn’t happen. Things change in the business every single day, sometimes multiple times in one day. That being said, no matter what match I have been in, I go out to make it THE BEST. Steal the show, find the spot, make it work and make everyone looked that much better because I was a part of it. Now I have a chance to be out there w 4 people. One is Big E who was under my wing for a long time and has a lot of my knowledge from being in my corner. And AJ, who knows me more than a lot of people do here. And Kaitlyn, who is this up and coming kid. Strong as hell, and is fun to watch. People say, “Oh this is a cute mixed tag”, not me. I am out to kick the crap out of Big E and watch Kaitlyn spear the hell out of AJ, because I can’t. I can’t wait to make this the match of the night as much as we can. I promise.
What makes SummerSlam so special? It is a special thing for me, first and foremost, LA is in my heart. I’m out there once a month doing improv, stand-up, checking out shows. I love that town. I love that we did five straight days there, so I can have some fun and see some pal. I can get some comedy sessions in, but also we made Los Angeles a staple for SummerSlam. Celebrities want to be a part of it. Not only is it a great PPV, and I look forward to it, besides WrestleMania, this is the summertime version of it. It is a huge stage. This is where you catch people’s eyes. My very first match, I was about two months in, I opened up SummerSlam with Rey Mysterio. We had an Intercontinental title match to start the show. Two minutes in no one knows me, and at the 10-12 minute mark, the crowd was not only booing me, but some were getting behind me. In California, Mysterio’s home turf. It showed that this kid can hold himself against Rey. Let’s see what this kid can do. Honestly, most of that was Rey, but, I was out there holding my own. I felt this is my town, this is my show.
Any favorite SummerSlam moments? I’m bad at remembering things, but I’ll always remember this one. Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart. There is such a special look in their eyes. That something as basic as a headlock take over, which is a basic move in our business, you can see them just connect and flow and everything was so crisp. When you can make a basic maneuver look like that, it is just special, you are so damn good at what you do, and people just can’t look away when you start getting into the bigger moves. Which they did every single match, but I specifically remember this one at SummerSlam. And Perfect’s singlet gets ripped halfway through the match (laughs) I remember that for some reason. I can watch it over and over. Such a special match between two awesome Hall of Fame guys. That’s what you strive for, to catch people’s attention in the first minute, whether you are a star, or trying to be one.
What is your favorite thing to do over the summer and what do you do to pass the time on the road? On the road we are usually pretty busy. But like right now, I have doing this morning interview with you guys, and I am walking around with no shirt on catching some sun for Raw tonight. It’s great. we get to live a little. But like I said being in LA for a few days we can enjoy ourselves. We can sight see, and it’s cool and refreshing to be able to do things like that.
Do you follow any other sports? Everything! I used to be such a hardcore browns fan, but since I don’t live there anymore but they have a Thursday Night game this year and me and The Miz will get out there to watch. But I watch football, baseball, hockey, college. Pretty much everything. But my favorite thing to do is when I’m back in Cleveland is to see the Lake Eerie Monsters, the minor league hockey team for the Colorado Avalanche. They treat me great, and put on a great show and have such great games. It’s fun to watch.
Give us your SummerSlam predictions. Well I hate Bryan and I hate Cena. But in the ring, Bryan can go with anybody. And I like to pride myself on that. But I don’t see Cena lose but once in a great while, and on the big stage he is the one that perceivers and comes out on top. For the past 10 years now. Just in the line in wanting change, and complaining every day that we need something new, I want to see Daniel Bryan win. Roll him around, pin him, make him tap whatever. At the end of the day, Cena is such a strong character. He has such a strong connection to the fans whether they cheer or boo him. He is our guy, and he will be but it would be really cool to see an up and coming guy, no matter how ugly and weird and beard looking he is, it would be awesome seeing something different. And that’s what the WWE is about. This could be the dawning of his time, and in six months it could be me vs. him at WrestleMania. Makes me feel excited to see new things. So best of luck to Daniel Bryan.
What about Punk vs. Lesnar? A lot of times I got to go with the smaller guys, but Lesnar is a legit killer. Beats people up all the time. But somehow Punk has been holding his own which is cool. But, being an ornery jerk like I am with a chip on my shoulder I got to go with the guy who also has a chip on his shoulder, CM Punk. Hopefully he finds a way to not just hang with Lesnar, but to prove that guys that go out and bust their ass all year and carry the company on their backs can somehow persevere because of the audience and the crowd. It comes out that sometimes, the guys who love this, come out on top.
Lastly, can you give a message to the WWE Universe and to Big E and AJ? WWE Universe, SummerSlam is the biggest party of the summer period. I can’t wait to get out to LA to feel the buzz. We are going to be all over town, showing up on TV, radio . I can’t wait to get out there and get going. And I promise you, no matter what, this match is going to be special. I am going to make it special, and the other superstars in this match will make it special. It’s going to be great. I hate Big E so much, but he’s going out there to win and I got to appreciate that. AJ, I hate that I can’t get my hands on her. Luckily I got Kaityln on my side and she is going to take her out one way or the other. I am so good at this, I will find a way to win and make this special. I promise.