You've finally made it to NXT. How are you settling in?
Wonderfully. There is so much to learn and a lot of training to be had. Being intellectually stimulated is something I enjoy greatly. I was rather imbalanced when I first came here. But the training has been efficiently bringing balance my way. I've regained a lot of strength that I was unsure would return, so I am more than grateful for that. I can't wait to see how much further I progress.
Your style really defies what is typically expected from a man your size. How did you develop it?
In the beginning, credit here goes to William Regal and Dusty Rhodes. In 2013, they were two of the very few who told me to stop doing what is expected of me and to do what I want to do. Those two, and one of my closest friends (and fellow wrestler), Jerome Daniels, convinced me of this. In every sport I've ever done, I've been a versatile athlete. In basketball, I could be a point guard, small forward or power forward. In football, I've been fullback, tailback, tight end, defensive tackle, defensive end, nose tackle, and middle linebacker. And so, it was something that came very natural to me to want to do. I was always advised against it. But the moment I took the advice of those three, my career began a new path. From there I watched my inspirations more closely. We're talking the names I mentioned above plus The Rock, Eddie Guerrero, Low Ki, Ron Simmons and Daisuke Sekimoto, as well as a healthy amount of old-school wrestling and a very large helping of Japanese wrestling. Then I began applying little things here and there to fit who I am as a person.
Tell us more about how the late "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes made a lasting impression on you.
When I first met and worked with him, he let me know how much and where I lacked. I applied his words and honed myself. During the 2013 tryout, if you were going to show who you were on a microphone, you had to do it in front of The American Dream. When I finished, he pulled me aside and said to me, "That's it, baby. You've got a presence I can literally bask in. Take it and do what you want." And thus, "Bask in my glory" was born. It is now something I hold very dear.