The Masked Man of Grantland.com has a lengthy new article up asking if indie wrestling can survive WWE. It features an interview with Chris Hero, formerly known as WWE NXT star Kassius Ohno. Here are some highlights:
The pressure of going back to the indies: "I'm the prettiest girl at the dance for the moment. I know it's not going to last forever. I have to be on my toes. One very real thing is people asking, "Does he still have it in him? Can he bring to the table what he brought to the table years ago?" It's inspiring for me. I want to show people that I have as much to offer as anyone in the history of wrestling. That sounds a little grandiose, but I feel like I have something different."
Whether WWE prefers homegrown talent to hiring wrestlers with indie buzz: "I don't think they give a s--t about buzz. They only care about their own buzz, which makes sense. You can't solely cater to the niche fan base — it's a tricky demographic to deal with. But you can see somebody get over with those fans and think maybe they can do it in WWE, too. And they see someone who has the passion to chase the dream, traveling around the world. If you have passion, if you're a good performer, those are two of the most important things in wrestling, and they're things you can't manufacture. Some people are naturals. Take Big E Langston; he has such a perfect match of athleticism and charisma, and he looks like an action figure."
Being released by WWE: "I'd been employed for 21 months. They knew what I was. They had a certain perception of what I brought to the table, and I guess they thought I wasn't going to be called up anytime soon. They had a pecking order, and certain guys who were going to be the next ones called up, and I wasn't in that group. It was a little vague, but I was told, "This isn't good-bye forever; this is good-bye for now.""
"Getting fired sucks for anybody, even if it's a job you hate. So the gut instinct is to be mad, but none of that will serve me. None of that will put any money in my bank account. It's not hard to be positive because I do what I love. When I was 8 or 9 years old my mom would take me to Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio, to see Ultimate Warrior versus Andre the Giant or to watch Demolition versus the Rockers or to see the very first Survivor Series in Richfield. It would be completely different if I landed on my head and got injured so I couldn't wrestle anymore — that would be hard to deal with. But what was taken from me? A weekly paycheck?"
His fellow developmental wrestlers: "The guys in NXT now — Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, Tyler Breeze, Scott Dawson — when they get called up, they could set the world on fire just like Daniel Bryan did. But Bryan did more than that — he set the locker room on fire. He was in the ring in the main event every week with so much intensity that everybody else realized they had to step things up. Randy Orton, for instance. He looks like he's wrestling with a new inspiration, and he doesn't need to do that."
Got a news tip or correction? Send it to us by clicking here.