WWE NXT Superstar Damian Priest recently spoke with Sports Illustrated and said he's worked very hard to become something special in the world of pro wrestling.

Priest, who finally signed with WWE in late 2018, revealed that WWE turned him down twice in the last five years.

"I've worked very hard to become something special," Priest said. "Early on in my career, I was frustrated when I didn't have the right to be frustrated. What I needed was to work harder. And I changed my life, shed 100 pounds, and developed a positive work ethic.

"The times when I was overlooked, I've used that to fuel me. WWE turned me down twice in the last five years. I thought I'd never have the chance to work here. Then, a year later, my contract was up with Ring of Honor, and I got a phone call from WWE. Since starting in late 2018, the Performance Center has me in the best shape of my life, I feel like a rookie all over again, and I'm excited for everything to come."

It was noted that one of the keys to Priest's success is WWE Performance Center Head Coach Matt Bloom. Priest gave credit to Bloom and his staff, and talked about the real feeling of his character.

"Every single coach has played a part, and Matt Bloom has helped with my demeanor and presence," Priest said. "He wants me to give off a feeling just by the way I look at him. He's adamant about my cadence and delivery and mannerisms. All of the coaches have taken everything I am and morphed it into the best wrestler possible, and a lot of my presence is thanks to Bloom. He gets me thinking.

"I've become Damian Priest, not pretending to be a character. I did that for years, but now it's a real feeling. It's all coming from a real place, and it is never pretending to be something I am not."

Tonight's NXT episode on the USA Network will feature Priest, Keith Lee, Cameron Grimes, and Dominik Dijakovic in a Fatal 4 Way to crown a new #1 contender to NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong. Priest said he plans to put on a hell of a performance, and then go on to win his first title in the company.

"I'm going to put on whatever performance is needed so that the name Damian Priest lives forever," he declared. "That is my only goal. The plan is to put on a hell of a performance, win, then go on and win my first championship in NXT. I'm creating a story that will only end in one wayŚmy name living forever."