Matt Rehwoldt, formerly known as Aiden English in WWE, was released from the company during the mass release of talent in early April.
During his time with WWE and its developmental territories, he found success with his tag teams with Simon Gotch and Rusev, known as The Vaudevillains and Rusev Day respectively. He was also known for the drama king gimmick he would use as a singles competitor.
Rehwoldt spoke with Kenny McIntosh on Inside The Ropes where he discussed his time with North America's biggest wrestling promotion. He said while he was in NXT, the main roster would see the TakeOver specials as competition to the pay-per-views. Rehwoldt also said Triple H would make them feel like an army going to war with the empire before the shows.
"Every TakeOver, Triple H would talk to the locker room, and he would let us know that, and he wanted that," Rehwoldt said. "He wanted that feeling of, he would always say like , 'Look, make WrestleMania, make SummerSlam, make Survivor Series, make them follow you guys.'
"He was one hell of a speech giver in those locker rooms, because you felt like an army going up against, you know, a huge empire. We were, again, kind of back to that trenches feeling still, even though NXT was (getting) more and more popular it was that thing that we're up against 'Mania, we were up against these huge world champions, these huge international names and everything. But we were determined to make a name for ourselves."
Rehwoldt made enough of an impression on management in his tag team with Gotch that the pair were called up after WrestleMania 32. He talked about being called up, saying he didn't know they would be called up to the main roster until WrestleMania weekend.
"I remember it was WrestleMania weekend, WrestleMania 32 in Dallas," he said. "The biggest WrestleMania we've ever had. So I remember like, that was when Enzo and Cass had gotten called up, Apollo Crews got called up, Baron Corbin made the move, and a lot of those guys had heard either at TakeOver or the Friday before or something like that. We kind of kept hearing rumors that we were going to be a part of that crop, but nobody could confirm it.
"We kind of kept going back and forth, and again I saw Enzo and Cass talking to Hunter, I saw Apollo Crews and Corbin. I'm like, 'Okay,' and I started to wonder if it was going to happen, and then it was WrestleMania Sunday that they pulled us into, you know, the gorilla position at WrestleMania and were like, 'Hey, you're coming up too. You'll be there debuting on Tuesday, blah blah blah, we'll get this all kind of worked out.'"
Rehwoldt said all of the NXT call-ups that year planned to return to Orlando the day after WrestleMania before being told they would appear on RAW or SmackDown.
"All of us who did get 'called up' that weekend, we were all prepared to go back home to Orlando on, I believe, Monday morning, because we were going to stay for WrestleMania and fly home with the crew to Orlando," he said. "And they were like, 'Alright,' they rented us a minivan and so, like, there was six of us in a minivan. We each had two giant suitcases driving from Dallas to wherever 'Mania, excuse me, where RAW and SmackDown were. We all packed in and were staying at the hotel, so that first couple of days were just like a whirlwind, but it was a lot of fun."
He said the biggest change between NXT and the two flagship brands was the travel, saying he went from just working in Florida to being in a new state every week. While The Vaudevillains found success in NXT, winning the brand's tag team championships at the first TakeOver: Brooklyn, they found more trouble on SmackDown. Rehwoldt said the audiences were different and he wishes they were given more time to flesh out the characters.
"The NXT audience wanted, for lack of a better term, they wanted weird and different, and they embraced that uniqueness," he said. "The main audience is so much more wide, so much more general, and so people, that kind of niche popularity, fades a little bit. So I think when we came up, I don't think they really got it. The one thing I do wish, I wish we would have had a chance to really illustrate who we were. I don't care if it would have been the goofiest, funniest, more silent movie vignettes, whatever it was. I think if people would have had the chance to have some fun with us, I think they would have gotten with it. But then you have to balance it because you also want to be taken seriously, especially on the main roster.
"Talking with The New Day a lot, they are all amazing, and so we got to work with them a lot. We had so many ideas of what we wanted to do. I remember talking to Xavier Woods about so many things and vignettes and backstages and these stories we could do between our crazy weird characters and their insane, obviously fun loving characters and all this stuff. I think there was a lot of meat on the bone just for, like I said, for illustrating and filling in the background of those characters. It would have been awesome."
Rehwoldt also mentioned the importance of building a good relationship with the chairman, Vince McMahon. He said he didn't do a good job of building that relationship early while a part of The Vaudevillains, but he developed more of a rapport with McMahon when he was a solo act later on.
He said McMahon's busy schedule made it hard to build that relationship.
"The man has a million things to do, and Hunter was great because when NXT was starting, Hunter was out there on the floor, and he still is to this day and he's helping put the show together, especially the TakeOvers and all that stuff," he said. "He's hands on. I mean, Vince, between all the business stuff, network stuff, international stuff. He's dealing with that on our TV days, as well as trying to get these shows written. So it is hard, and there's a lot of the stories of waiting outside the office door and hoping knock and catch him at the right time, 'cause the man's got to eat too. You don't want to be the person knocking when he's about to have dinner.
"It's patience, it's picking the right moments. I probably didn't, I was probably nervous, like there were a lot of people in there that probably didn't try to get in there and really get a chance to get a rapport with him enough early on. Later I would do that. Especially being in a tag team, you're not always in the same place together and you're not always on the same age together. When I was on my own later on, I kind of did a little bit better job because I was like, 'Alright, it's all about me, so I'm the only one who is going to advocate with me,' so I made a little bit better of an effort to do that."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Inside The Ropes with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.