Last week, Leon Ruff became the talk of the town when he dethroned Johnny Gargano to become the new NXT North American Champion. Now, a week later, Ruff is still in awe of what happened.
“This whole experience has been crazy,” Ruff reiterated in his interview on WWE’s The Bump. “It’s also been a dream come true. I haven’t been able to sleep, still. I smile a lot, but I do that a lot anyway.”
Ruff has had quite the journey making it to WWE. His first big break came from his time in EVOLVE from 2018-2020. Before making it on the main stage, he says his mentor and former tag partner, AR Fox, was always the mentor he wanted to have train him for big matches like the one he just had last week.
“So, I’ve been wrestling for three years,” he began. “I started my journey wrestling at the WWE training center in Atlanta under AR Fox. It was under his wing that I started learning a lot. Me and AR Fox became the Evolve Tag Team champions together and wrestled at many different promotions. Evolve is where I got my start – they were the first to sign me. I got to work with a lot of great talent through Evolve.”
Before becoming a singles champion, Ruff and Fox made quite the splash when they picked up the Evolve Tag Team Championships off CZW legend, now newest WWE signee, Joey Gacy and AEW’s most buzzworthy contender, Eddie Kingston, at Evolve’s 10th Anniversary Celebration.
“It’s a feeling you don’t ever get tired of,” he exclaimed. “That night was a really hot night to be in Philly. A year before that, I was there, but I didn’t get a chance to wrestle. Then, a year later, I win the championship. So, to have a match with Johnny Gargano, I know that feeling, and I can achieve that feeling again.”
For any wrestler wanting to make it big, getting a call from WWE is a surreal experience. When Ruff got a call to appear on Monday Night RAW this year, he couldn’t help but think he was getting pranked.
“When I got that first call, it was unbelievable. I thought it was a prank at first,” he said with a chuckle. “Monday Night RAW was a brand I couldn’t watch growing up because we had a bedtime, and it came on too late. So when I finally started watching RAW, it was a new world to me. To not being able to watch it as a kid, and now I’m going to be featured on Monday Night RAW? It was something I couldn’t believe was happening to me.”
You can watch Leon Ruff’s full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE’s The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.