Following a lucrative career in pro wrestling from 2001- 2016, inaugural Tough Enough winner Maven Huffman continues to strive outside of the pro wrestling industry. In his interview on WWE's The Bump, he informs the panel what he's been up to since hanging up his boots.
"I'm happy," Maven replied cheerfully. "When this appearance came out and people reacted, it's good and humbling to know that people still miss me, still remember me. It's been quite a while. These days, I'm in The City; I'm in New York. I work for a financial company on Wall Street, TTC. I'm living in Jersey, so a little bit different from the wrestling days, but still keeping my eye on what you guys are doing."
In the midst of The Undertaker's "30 Days of the Deadman" docuseries, the panel asks Maven about his Royal Rumble spot with the "American Bad Ass" back in 2002, where Maven dropkicked Undertaker out of the main event match. He recalls this moment as a pivotal turning point for his main roster career.
"I was in developmental. I was in Cincinnati, Ohio, at HWA/Heartland Wrestling... I got the call literally the day before saying-- you know, because Tough Enough had just ended. I think I had been on programming probably a handful of times, maybe two or three times. I wrestled Taz a couple of times, I wrestled Booker [T] on SmackDown once, and the day before they called and they were like, 'You're going to Atlanta,' which is where the Rumble was. I flew out the next day with no clue what was gonna-- at that point, you know, I'm not an idiot. I knew I'd probably be in the Rumble," he began.
"When I got there and they called me to the ring, and it was Shane [McMahon] and 'Taker. At the time, I'm terrified, you know? I mean, I'm the rookie, I'm young, I'm in my mid-20s, and I'm standing there with Shane McMahon and The Undertaker, scared to death. And then he tells me, he's like, 'Maven, you're gonna come in and eliminate him.' And I thought he was completely joking. I thought it was the rib of the century."
He continues towards the in-ring encounter he had with Undertaker.
"Well, then Taker turns, looks at me, and says, he goes, 'Are you f'n kidding me?' And at that point, I wanted to run," he said with a chuckle. "I wanted to just leave. But come to find out, it was, I think, 'Taker had his hands on that and what was going down for that day', so he helped my career more than anyone on that single day."
He remembers that after their monumental confrontation, Undertaker was quite fond of this new up-and-comer. He says "The Deadman" was quite impressed with his athleticism and demeanor for a rookie.
"From that day on, me and him had kind of a bond I guess you would say," he mentioned. "He always gave me that smile, that little, 'Hey, kid' look, and that me know that what I did he was satisfied with."
Although he got dragged around all through the arena following Taker's elimination, Maven said he officially felt like he was living the dream that he worked so hard to achieve since he was a little kid.
"Call it doing business," he chuckled again. "A year-and-a-half earlier, I was that person in the crowd, I was that person going to the shows. Even though I got hit with a chair, got thrown over the barricade, got the hell beaten out of me up through the stands all the way up to the popcorn machine, you know, laying there on my stomach, it was one of those moments where I realized I was living my dream. I was doing everything I said I wanted to do when I was younger. I had no clue how to do it, but I was there. I had made it. I was there with the pinnacle of what the business has to offer."
His reign in popularity continued following The Undertaker spot, where top-tier Superstars like The Rock helped him out during his matches against "The Phenom." It didn't dawn on him that his credibility and likability were gaining so much traction up until he started touring more with the big named stars in WWE.
"That was one of those moments where I knew I was in the big leagues," he began. "I used to look at it, and at any given time on the road, there were probably 60 to 80 people that had this job in the world. To know that I was one of the ones on the road week after week, part of the show, part of the pay-per-views, part of the titles changing hands, it was the best feeling in the world."
You can watch Maven Huffman'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.