Even though I wondered if I'd ever get a chance with WWE, I eventually get this chance with NXT. I'm spending time down in Orlando, Florida, and there's this rumor going around that Shawn's going to be there for a class. One day I'm going to this session at the performance center, where guys sit down and watch their matches from the weekend. We'd critique each other, what we like, what we'd change. It's this amazing tool to sit down with these brilliant minds in wrestling, to break down the tape on it.
So I walk into the class, and there's Shawn Michaels, and there's only one chair open, right beside him. I sit down, and we watch WrestleMania 25, him against the Undertaker, which I think is the greatest pro wrestling match ever. For me, there isn't a better match, between the athletics of it, the movement, and most important to me (and something that I think Shawn prided himself on) is the storytelling.
It's this kind of good versus evil, light versus dark. A masterpiece. I'm pretty sure I said it to him that day, and I'll say it any time anyone asks me. It was this weird moment, sitting in this room and sitting beside him, watching it. He's kind of like me, in that I don't really like watching my stuff, and I could tell he was kind of freaked out by it a little bit. Terry Taylor, who was running the thing, kind of sprung it on him, but it was a very cool moment for me.
Then we get to my first match in San Antonio, right in Shawn Michaels' backyard. It's me versus Tye Dillinger, which is a guy I trained, and he's another guy that idolizes Shawn Michaels like I do. That night I got to bounce the ideas for that match off of him. Shawn has a good relationship with Tye and me, and he wanted to be involved, and so he was.
A lot of the reason the match was as good as it was, was because he was there. The pressure of him sitting there at Gorilla and watching, because this is kind of his baby, we go out and we execute it to a T. We come to the back, and he's kind of hyped up and bouncing around.
I fought hard to hold back tears again. Hunter's there, and all these people are there. I'm almost crying, and they don't know it, but I was very emotional. It's complete joy, jubilation even as I thought of every step along the weird journey that led me to this moment.
He's running some classes at the Performance Center now. Whenever I'm going to be in town, Shawn invites me to kind of come by, help with things, and that's something I will 100 percent do. I've been joking with my wife saying I'm going to have to move to Orlando full time, because he's moving and he's going to live down there and be at the PC all the time. Even at this stage, I feel like I need to take the opportunity to be around him as much as possible.
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- As noted, SmackDown Women's Champion Alexa Bliss will now defend in a Six-Pack Challenge with Naomi, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Carmella and Mickie James during the two-hour WrestleMania 33 Kickoff pre-show on Sunday. Naomi re-tweeted the following comment from a fan who wants to see her glow in the dark: