WWE NXT North American Champion Leon Ruff recently spoke with Alistair McGeorge of MetroUK to promote Sunday’s “Takeover: WarGames 2020” event. Ruff is scheduled to defend his title against Damian Priest and former champion Johnny Gargano in a Triple Threat.
Ruff shocked the pro wrestling world with his upset title win over Gargano on the November 11 NXT episode. Ruff says this is the win that he needed, and he just hopes he can inspire people to keep pursuing opportunities.
“I’m not saying I was supposed to win this championship, but if you’re training hard, doing your job and doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you’re gonna get an opportunity that you knock out of the park,” Ruff said. “That’s my main thing. I hope that this win makes people feel like, ‘Man, he was just getting beat up and thrown around.’
“People can feel like that about their whole life. Then I get one win, and it’s the biggest win, the win that I needed. I want people to just try!”
Ruff and NXT referee Aja Smith revealed earlier this week that they are now engaged to be married. Ruff did this interview before the engagement, but he talked about how excited they were over the title win, being grateful to be able to share the triumph with Aja, and his family’s reaction to the win, despite them not knowing much about the sport.
“We’re so excited, we’re happy, this is such a great thing,” he said of his family’s reaction. “And with me and Aja, we get to sit and talk about what it means.”
Ruff revealed that he and Aja have been dating since he got into wrestling. He noted that having a partner who truly understands the business is huge to him, and that Aja has been by his side since his early days as a trainee.
“I’ve known her since I started. It wasn’t until I was doing a school show, it was a big school show event,” Ruff recalled. “Me and her were just talking and we went on a date after the show, and it kinda just snowballed from there.”
The happy couple then moved to Orlando when Aja signed with WWE back in February. He admitted that the COVID-19 pandemic actually brought them closer together.
“It’s really just been us two ? especially with the quarantine,” Ruff added. “You can always find the silver lining in anything. I feel like the silver lining for us in the pandemic is we got to spend a lot of time together.”