Do people still ask you whether what you do is real or fake?
Fake is like the worst word you could possibly use to describe anything, you know? What are you talking about? What is fake? It's a television show, and a live performance. Nothing's fake about it. We're not telling you we're out their fighting each other. We're going out there to entertain you. I consider myself an athlete. I train like an athlete, I eat like an athlete, I recover and get sore just like any other athlete. We're not lying to anybody. People just don't understand the art form of what we do. It's a mental and physical grind. You can't be a dolt in this industry. On the opposite end of that, you can be the smartest guy in the world and not understand what it is to have a presence on stage. Being a character, executing a live performance, understanding what it is to connect with a crowd and elicit a specific response at a specific time using moves and body language and emotions. What we do is very complex. It's underappreciated.
How much goes work goes into a single show, like Tuesday's Smackdown?
I couldn't even describe it to you. You think we're just putting on a show, but it's a full-on team effort. What we do in the ringówe're not even the hardest workers there. There are guys working third shift just to set up the stage and clean it out and put it back on the buses and clean out the arena. Then you've got the production team, the stage managers. There are so many elements that go into what we do on a nightly basis. If you've never been to a live WWE event, it's pretty awesome. A few hours of action-packed family fun. Bring everybody, from your babies to your grandparents.
Was the independent circuit very different from what you're doing now?
I mean I started training in a shipping warehouse, and I'm in Wrestlemania XXX this year, in front of millions of people worldwide, you know? I spent a few years cutting my teeth in the Midwest, I worked for Ring of Honor, then I went down to Florida and relearned everything there. It wasn't different, but the crowds are bigger now. The paychecks are nicer, but that's not really why I do it, so it doesn't make much of a difference for me.
Getting to share the ring with guys I idolized is never going to stop being surreal for me. Getting to share the ring with guys like The Rock or The Undertaker or CM Punk or John Cena, guys I grew up watching. To have them appreciate what I do is just humbling.
The fans are awesome too. With social media now, everybody's faceless, but I assume these kids sending me pictures of myself of Instagram are twelve, thirteen years old. But I don't know. We've all got twitter handles and aliases, and so I don't really even know what my fan base is like. But everyone's very kind. I don't have any crazy people or stalkers or anything like that.
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