WWE

WWE Draft (not-so) live blog

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The 2016 WWE Draft felt like the most important show the company has put on in recent memory, so it seemed like the perfect time to bust out the ol’ running blog shtick and recap everything that happened on the first Tuesday edition of SmackDown Live as it happened, or at least when I watched it on DVR.

– The show kicked off right away with Daniel Bryan’s music as he and Shane McMahon made their way out from the back. Stephanie and Mick Foley were already standing behind the Raw podium. Foley counters Bryan’s yes chant by getting a cheap pop of his own.

Stephanie cutting off Foley and announcing the first pick was a smart way to start tension between the two.

1st Round

Raw: Seth Rollins

SmackDown: Dean Ambrose

Raw: Charlotte

SmackDown: AJ Styles

Raw: Finn Balor

Instant reaction: Stunned Balor would go before Brock, Reigns, Cena, Orton and the New Day. It’s a great way to establish “The Demon” as one of the future top stars of Raw, especially with the tag team that was drafted to Raw later in the night. I was also a bit surprised that Charlotte went this high, but it’s great for the women’s division. Rollins, Ambrose and Styles placement all made logical sense.

Cool guy Shane makes sure to drop the “crossfit Jesus” nickname for Rollins, but he stumbled on the line, which allowed Stephanie to get in one of her patented cheap shots.

– How many shirts does Shane sweat through in a day? Over/under is 4.5. I’m going over.

John Cena vs. Luke Gallows

– Enzo and Cass come out to join Cena. Normal shtick by Enzo, Cass tells The Club they are SAWFT.

– Gallows dominated all of the action during the commercial break in the small screen, which was a neat idea that I hope the WWE continues to use. IndyCar, F1 and NASCAR use a similar concept during their commercial breaks because the action doesn’t stop. The transition back from break was a hell of a lot smoother than it usually is.

-The Club, Enzo and Big Cass stood on the apron and then got in the ring. Styles and Anderson ran at Enzo and Cass, but were dumped to the outside. Cena hit the FU and pinned Gallows.

– You can always tell where a guy is on the roster by the amount of FUs he kicks out of during a match.

2nd Round

Raw: Roman Reigns

SmackDown: John Cena

Raw: Brock Lesnar

SmackDown: Randy Orton

Raw: The New Day

Instant reaction: Oh no, this means we’re totally getting an Orton- Cena feud again aren’t we? Even though they’ll square off again at some point, I will say it’s nice to have the possibility of some Cena-Orton vs. American Alpha tag matches down the road. Those would be very beneficial for Jordan and Gable. Don’t forget, Cena-Orton have some really good in-ring chemistry as tag partners.

A WrestleMania 31 rematch between Rollins-Lesnar-Reigns is going to be pretty damn fun. Lesnar was apparently sloted to be drafted in the first set of picks, but after news of the second failed test was reported on Tuesday, he was dropped down to the eighth overall pick. When Roman returns at Battleground, he’s going to get booed back to Pensacola.

Darren Young & Zack Ryder vs. The Miz & Rusev

– Lawler on Young and Backlund: “It’s the bland leading the bland.” #DamnJerry

– Love the live ticker. Not only does it add to the presentation of the show, but it’s also an easy opportunity to sell ad space.

– “We want Backlund” chants from the crowd, SmackDown is so much better live.

– After Rusev and Ryder were taken out of the equation, Backlund instructed Young to apply the Crossface Chicken Wing, which is exactly what he did. The Miz taps out.

– The crowd popped huge for the Crossface Chicken Wing, but the fact this spot was given away on SmackDown should tell you Mr. No Days Off ain’t winning the title on Sunday.

Xavier Woods vs. Bray Wyatt

– This new version of Bray’s Uranage (rock bottom type move) looks vicious.

– I really like the direction Bray Wyatt is heading in. The way he connected his crab walk into the Sister Abigail needs to be done way more often. It looked incredibly smooth.

– Xavier Woods has also really improved. Even though his knee to the head of Bray wasn’t good, his offense as a whole has looked much better lately. Woods’ reaction to seeing Bray after doing a front flip was A+.

Kane vs. Kevin Owens

– Big pop for K.O. who immediately bitches about not being drafted yet when he walks out from the back.

The match never starts because Sami Zayn attacks Owens on the ramp. The two fight into the ring and Owens catches Zayn with a superkick. Owens then feeds Zayn to Kane and orders him to chokeslam Zayn, but instead Kane grabs Owens and hits a double chokeslam.

Serious

3rd Round

Raw: Sami Zayn

SmackDown: Bray Wyatt

Raw: Sasha Banks

SmackDown: Becky Lynch

Raw: Chris Jericho

Instant reaction: I agree with Lawler, why did Stephanie pick Zayn after he was just laid out by Kane? Him and Owens look like total geeks here. It’s a smart decision to split Sasha and Becky; Lynch makes perfect sense on SmackDown. Even though we know Bryan didn’t actually make that pick, if this was a shoot, it would be totally believable for him to take the Lass Kicker. Bray Wyatt has the opportunity to be a main event player on SmackDown.

Top Superstars available graphic is another good idea. Big Show somehow made the list. Good call Easy Ed.

Charlotte & Dana Brooke vs. Sasha Banks

 HOLY SH!T what a clothesline by Dana to Sasha.

– Charlotte tags in as Sasha hits the Banks’ Statement to Dana, hits the Natural Selection and pins Sasha.

– So Nia Jax is going to be Sasha’s surprise partner on Sunday right?

4th Round

Raw: Rusev w. Lana

SmackDown: The Miz w. Maryse

Raw: Kevin Owens

SmackDown: Baron Corbin

Raw: Enzo & Big Cass

Instant reaction: Really surprised that Zayn and Owens ended up on the same show, Battleground felt like the right time for their feud to end for the time being. It’s ridiculous that Owens went this low. It really shows what the company thinks of him right now. Cole called Corbin a future WWE champion, expect him to get a big push right away. With the IC and U.S. champions going to opposite shows, it’s pretty safe to assume that both will retain on Sunday.   

– Certified GM line by Foley was actually funny, but damn does Stephanie have to say the catch phrase for every person that’s drafted to Raw? I get it, she’s a heel and should be acting this way, but it’s so effing annoying to hear her say something after every pick. This isn’t something new, she always feels the need to say someone’s catch phrase whenever they start to gain some steam.

Chris Jericho vs. Cesaro

– Y2J with a top-rope frankensteiner!

– Mauro’s call of Cesaro’s uppercut party sequence is just the best.

– Felt like both of these guys were going through the motions and looked tired. The pace was a bit slow, which is typical for at 2016 Jericho match, but the finishing sequence was great. Cesaro went for a spinning springboard uppercut off of the second rope and Jericho countered it into a Codebreaker for the win.

– “DON’T SCREW ME,” Jericho to the ref after getting the win.

– When we come back from break, Becky Lynch and Natalya are being separated on the outside of the ring by numerous officials.

5th Round

Raw – Gallows and Anderson

What

SmackDown – American Alpha

Raw – Big Show

SmackDown – Dolph Ziggler

Raw – Nia Jax

Instant reaction: Pour one out for The Club. It feels way too soon to break up Styles-Anderson-Gallows. They were just starting to hit their stride on the mic, but the Balor Club on Raw is a nice consolation prize. The pop for American Alpha was unexpected. People are going to complain about Nia Jax, but she’ll be fine if she doesn’t get overexposed in the ring.   

Great idea from The Roommate: “They should have had cameras in the Performance Center to get the reaction of the NXT guys that get drafted.

– Turns out they had the entire NXT roster gathered for a viewing party at the PC, but for some stupid reason, it wasn’t shown during the broadcast:

Fun fact: Tom Phillips is listed at 6’0.” Seth Rollins is listed at 6’1.” When Phillips interviewed Rollins, Seth looked like he was about 6’5.”

6th round

Raw: Neville

Smackdown: Natalya

Raw: Cesaro

SmackDown: Alberto Del Rio

Raw: Sheamus

Instant reaction: The best of the rest. I’m looking forward to Alberto Del Rio on SmackDown. He still has another main event run in him. With the return of the cruiserweight division on Raw, Neville was a logical choice here. Cesaro going this low is a joke and he should have been on SmackDown, which he mentioned later on during one of the most honest promos you’ll ever see.

Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

Ambrose back-body drops Rollins into the timekeeper’s area.

Weak superkick by Rollins, almost totally whiffed.

After a big clothesline by Ambrose out of the corner, the action really picks up. Seth counters Dean’s elbow from the top rope with a bucklebomb. Ambrose gets out of the way before the frog splash and gets a great near fall with a cradle.

– Rollins pokes Ambrose in the eye and goes for the pedigree. Ambrose back-body drops him over the top rope. Suicide dive by Ambrose. Elbow off of the top to Rollins. This is getting really good; already better than their match on Raw.

– Ambrose goes up to the top rope again. Rollins runs up and hits a superplex off of the top to Amrbose. He goes for the Falcon Arrow, but Ambrose counters into the Dirty Deeds for the win. Great finish, the crowd popped huge for the pin.

– Shane and Bryan come down to celebrate with Ambrose. Mike Cole and Coach II run down the main matches at Battleground and we go off of the air with a hard sell to the Network where 30 more picks are going to be made.

Overall I thought the show was disappointing. The pacing of the draft segments felt a bit quick and it felt like Shane, Bryan, Foley and Stephanie were reading off of a spoiler list. I was shocked at the lack of backstage reactions to the picks. Even though the rosters were predetermined, most of the talent had no idea where they were going to be drafted, which means we would have seen genuine reactions.

Even though the wrestling was pretty good tonight, I thought there was a bit too much of it. I was surprised at the lack of promo time for guys after they were picked. It’s one of the few times that I wish a show would have been three hours…

Idiot

Raw easily “won” this draft. The roster for WWE’s flagship show is incredibly deep and there is something for everyone (Rollins-Reigns, Brock, deep mid-card, perhaps too deep, Charlotte, The New Day, cruisierweight division). The main even scene on SmackDown is pretty solid (Cena-Styles-Ambrose-Orton-Wyatt) and American Alpha is going to make an immediate impact, but it definitely seems like the company was scared about driving viewers exclusively to Tuesday nights, so they decided to beef up the three hour monster on Mondays.

Twitter: @ScottDargis

Some tidbits from the after show on the Network

– Man Cesaro really let it all out in that promo. He was justifiably ticked at the decision creative made and vented in a way that felt incredibly refreshing.

– Corey Graves wonders if The Club has just expanded. Hmm…..

– I’m surprised at the amount of cursing on the Network.

– Booker T on fans booing Roman Reigns: “They hate him.”

– I’m beginning to really like the Backlund/Young paring.

– Why is Mojo JoJo interrupting Bob Backlund?

– Thought Graves had excellent analysis about Apollo Crews. “He got lost in the shuffle a bit with guys like Enzo and Cass.”

– Funny backstage bit with The Social Outcasts. Bo Dallas was drafted to Raw by himself, but Axel and Slater thought they were on Raw as well. Axel ended up being picked by Raw, but Slater is a free agent.

– Alexa Bliss, Mojo Rawley and Carmella are coming to the main roster on the SmackDown brand. The Hype Bros. are here baby.

– The two new commentary teams are:

Raw: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton

SmackDown: Mauro Ranallo, JBL, David Otunga

– Mauro is going to have his work cut out for him. Hopefully JBL kicks it up a notch, because he’s been awful lately.

– And now you’re number one contender for the worst promo of the year:

Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque’s quest to change WWE as we know it

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Paul Levesque, aka “Triple H”, has evolved from one of the top performers of his generation, to a prominent role behind the scenes as the Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative for WWE. I had the chance to chat with “HHH” about what he specifically looks for when he’s recruiting new talent, why this past year has been so challenging for NXT and how he presents new talent to Vince McMahon. 

(Don’t miss NXT Takeover: Orlando on Saturday, April 1 at 8 p.m. ET Live on WWE Network)

Me: You’ve had an incredible in-ring career; a 14-time world champion. As I look up and down the WrestleMania 33 card I see so many NXT alums and I wonder, what did you learn from your time as a performer that has helped you as an evaluator of talent?

Paul “HHH” Levesque: “Oh man … everything that I’ve learned since I’ve walked through the door. The funny thing for me is that I’ve been in a unique position during my career. I was fascinated early with the behind the scenes and production aspects of the business.

So, shortly after I came to WWE I was in creative conversations with Vince that led to me to being offered to come to production meetings, which I didn’t have to go to. I would get up early on TV days and go to these production meetings that I didn’t need to be a part of. People thought I was crazy, but I wasn’t trying to do anything more than learn. I wanted to learn what they were looking for.

The vision of what the talent thinks they want and what the office thinks they want are sometimes two different things.

I have the unique perspective of having both sides and that allows me to I think look at talent a different way, but to also to be able to say here’s what you need to be able to do. Here’s the way you need to be able to work at it. Here’s the way you need to perceive cameras and how cameras see you. How you put your character out there and how you put your brand out there.

At the end of the day for us, characters are all about charisma. So that’s the thing you’re looking for the most. I see a lot of unbelievable athletes come through the Performance Center; sometimes they have charisma, sometimes they don’t.

I’ve hired a lot [of people] that have charisma, but aren’t necessarily the greatest athletes we saw that week because you just can’t take your eyes off of them.

For example, there’s a guy that I hired in China that everybody on the team who was over there didn’t put this kid on the list and when we went through the list at the end of the day of who we’re going to offer an opportunity to come and train with the WWE I was like, ‘Where’s this kid?’ and everyone was like, ‘You’re kidding, right?’

I was like, ‘No, where is he?’ He was heavy and a Mongolian wrestler, so he’s athletic but he’s heavier and in some ways he’s not anything we would look for, but he worked his butt off. He was always last, but he never quit man. He just went. Some guys would pull up with an injury and they’d go sit out. You could clearly tell that they were just gasping for air and needed to sit for a second. They’d be back ten minutes later.

He gutted through everything and you couldn’t take your eyes off of this guy. He did stuff that was funny, even though he didn’t mean for it to be that way. He was always the center of attention, even when he wasn’t doing anything!

Everyone was against him and I said ‘Is there anybody in this room who didn’t watch this guy the entire day? I’ve heard everyone talk about this guy. Why? He’s the sleeper money in this group.’

So we brought him [to the Performance Center] and there’s not a week goes by that somebody doesn’t send me a clip or a photo of him doing something where there’s 10 or 15 people around him watching. He’s just one of those naturally charismatic people that you can’t put your finger on why.

I look for that more than I look for anything else.

Is he ever going to do a moonsault? Probably not. Is he ever going to be a Shawn Michaels in the ring? I guarantee you he won’t. But, if he loves it, if he works hard and keeps himself straight, he’s probably going to make it and he’s probably going to be good.

That’s the biggest thing to me, the charisma factor.”

You kind of answered my next question, but I’ll ask it anyway. When you’re scouting someone, what do you specifically look for?

“Look, I mean there are other factors as well. I don’t want to make it sound like ‘Oh, look at this guy he has a big personality and forget all of the rest of it.’ Obviously athleticism, the willingness to do this, the desire to work hard, but then there’s leadership qualities that we really look for.

When guys go to a camp, sometimes people watch them and go, ‘You’re just making these people throw-up in garbage can because you’re working them so hard.’ I want to push them to where they’re really outside of their comfort range and then see what they do with it.

It’s really easy to be nice and be the perfect professional when you feel great, but when you’re on the verge of puking in barrel and you’re exhausted and there’s someone barking at you to do more and the guy next to you just fell on you because he’s at the same place you are, do you help pick him up or do you curse at him and go about your own business?

There are differences in how people react to things. I’m looking for leaders. I’m looking for someone that can be a professional. I’m looking for the consummate athlete on all aspects.

It’s not just one thing, but if you ask me the one thing I look for, charisma is king.”

Going back for a second to the guy that you were talking about in China; it seemed as though there was and still is a certain look that a talent needs in order to reach a certain level of success in WWE. Now, obviously there have been exceptions to the rule, but it seems like over the past few years you’ve bucked that trend. How did that transition happen?

“So, I’m a big believer in talent is talent. It comes in all shapes, sizes, looks, feels, everything. I think sometimes there’s been a bad rap of like take this as the thing that’s most successful, so that’s what we’re going to give.

I think that’s happen here in the past. People can say whatever about WWE and look, is there a particular style of athlete [we look for]? Sure, it’s like that in anything.

If you’re shown steak all of the time, it’s no surprise that you’re going to eat steak. So when everybody coming to you with the same look and feel, a certain pattern begins to develop because that’s what being put in front of you and that’s what you have to select from.

My selection process is different. Yes, I understand what Vince likes and what Vince sees in an ideal archetype performer, but I also know him well enough to know that he likes a lot of different archetypes, so I’m not going to give him one; I’m going to give him a little bit of everything.

He’s going to see a Bray Wyatt and go (Vince voice) ‘That’s great!’ He’s going to see a Braun Strowman and go ‘Ah yeah, that’s my wheelhouse right there. I love that.’ He’s going to see Finn Balor and hear the girls going nuts and then see the paint and go ‘Geez look at that, I love that!’ That’s something that I don’t think would have been put in front of him eight years ago.

I sometimes wonder if Bray Wyatt would have been put in front of him 10 years ago. I don’t know that he would of. That doesn’t mean that Vince wouldn’t have loved him back then.

I want there to be so much diversity on every level. I want it to be international diversity. I want there to be something for everybody within WWE so you can gravitate towards characters that you can relate to. That’s still a work in progress.

It’s a work in progress when you look at the Performance Center and you look at the talent there and see that 40 percent of the talent is international now, there’s 17 countries represented. A quarter of the talent there is women. The diversity level is at an all-time high and that’s on purpose. We’ve done that for desired effect.

Is it showing right now on the main roster? Nah, not necessarily because it’s going to take a little bit of time to percolate up, but it’s there.

I want that diversity. When you talk about the women, I want there to be a Sasha Banks; the smaller, run her mouth, cocky, arrogant, little athlete. I want there to be a bigger, dominant athlete like a Charlotte. I want there to be a Nia Jax that brings a whole different danger component. I want there to be a Bayley that is this naïve, fan-friendly, little girl centric character that everybody loves.

Then you still want there to be the Bellas, who are like the Kardashians of the women’s division. You want that variety.

It’s the same with the guys. I want there to be a Cena, I want there to be a Randy Orton. But I also want there to be a Bray Wyatt. I want there to be a Braun Strowman. I want there to be a Finn Balor. I want there to be a Samoa Joe or a Kevin Owens. Big Cass and then a little guy like Enzo that can run his mouth nonstop.

I want that diversity.”

As I looked at the WrestleMania card and noticed all of the former NXT stars, I thought about how much the roster has changed over the last year. There have been so many guys and girls that have gotten the call-up to the main roster, how challenging has it been to deal with such a major transition to NXT?

“So that’s been the most challenging thing for me in the last year. When we had the draft, 16 talents got called up. I started over with the women’s division. Thank God I kept Asuka because she’s been the anchor. My male division was pretty much stripped down. I lost a lot of it.

Behind the scenes, the same thing happened. My executive producer that works with me on the show got called up. I got a new one; he made it two weeks before he got called up.

I lost my edit team that helped me get the feel and the look of the brand because they got called up. I was thrilled for them. They were so good that the office said, ‘Look we’re expanding, we’re going to do 205, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that. We need these people.’

I’m very hands on with the writing of NXT and the team that was writing NXT with me got called up. When we split the brands, we needed a different writing team and they got called up.

So I started over with this whole new team and they needed to get their feet on the ground. It was really a brand new start over point for us. That’s challenging, but that’s also to me part of the strength of NXT. It’ll change, but it’ll be fresh and it’ll be different than it was a year ago. I’m not saying it’s always going to be better, but it’ll be different.

I just got a whole new behind the scenes team and it’s taken me since SummerSlam to get them, but I just got them and I’m really excited about it. I feel like for the first time since the draft, NXT is back in business and we’re going to rock and roll.

I’m looking forward to NXT constantly keeping us on our toes and the demand for more and more on the main roster, the demand for more and more shows, whether that is localized content in the UK, or the cruiserweight division or the women’s tournament that we’ll have coming up sometime this year.

All of those things are exciting opportunities and make NXT an exciting opportunity.”

Can you describe what it feels like to see a talent that has had success in NXT, but struggles to find their footing on the main roster?

“It’s hard for me. It’s hard for them. It’s a difficult situation. I say this to talent all of the time, careers are marathons, they are not sprints.

Even though we say it’s a third brand, it really is and you might never make it out of NXT and you’ll do really well in your career, but if you do get the chance to go to Raw or SmackDown, it’s like starting over. You’re starting over with new management and new everything. The job is the same, but you’re starting over and you have to re-earn your stripes. It’s a slightly different product.

It used to be that way in the territory days. You might be over in one territory and take the gamble to go to another territory and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

It can be frustrating for them. They ask a lot of questions and we try to give them as much guidance as we can.

The other thing though that everybody has to remember is that in today’s world if you’re not “The Guy or The Girl” at the very top, the number one draw, you can still be a talent on Raw or SmackDown and working all of the time and be doing very, very well for yourself.

Do you always want more? Yes. Will that come over time? Maybe.

You reinvent yourself, you work hard. You continue to do the things you’re doing.

Back to the career being a marathon and not a sprint; when you’re a few years in, being on Raw or SmackDown and you’ve only been in the business for four years or whatever, it’s not a bad place to be.

If two years down the line you get that ride up to a much higher level, it’s a pretty good run.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis

WWE’s Bayley: Facing Stephanie McMahon would be a ‘dream’ match

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Even though Bayley made her main roster debut back in late-August, she’s quickly become one of the biggest fan-favorites on the main roster. Before she defends her Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMania, Sunday, April 2 at 7pm ET live on WWE Network, I had the chance to chat with Ms. Hug Life about her extra time in NXT, if she asked for any advice from The Rock and her dream opponent. 

Me: While three of the “Four Horsewomen” were called up to the main roster, you stayed down in NXT. Do you think you needed the extra time in developmental?

Bayley: “Yeah, now looking back I definitely did. At the time obviously I was like what about me? I’m ready, let’s go! I wanted to do everything that they did. Now looking back, I think that has been the most important year of my career. I look back and think I wasn’t ready. I was so dependent on them throughout my years in NXT. If something went wrong, I always had them, but the year without them was all on me.

The whole division relied on me, everybody came to me for advice. If something went wrong, it was my fault. I really needed that leadership to build confidence in myself. In the future if I’m the leader for the locker room in WWE, I know that I can handle it. I was able to work with girls that have never been in a wrestling ring with before, girls who were just getting started, and girls who have been doing it forever like Asuka.

It was the most important year and maybe one of the most fun years I’ve had.”

You’ve been on the road with the main roster for seven months now; do you find yourself still adjusting to what life is like on the main roster?

“A little bit … the actual backstage and being in WWE was easy because in NXT the coaches and Triple H had prepared us for what to expect. That’s what the Performance Center is for, from doing promo class, to being in the ring for hours, to watching your matches back.

It’s the traveling and not being able to see my dog every day when I get home (laughs) that’s a little bit harder to deal with. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that, but it’s all worth it though.

The brands are split right now; I can’t imagine what it would have been like to do two TV [tapings] every week.”

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think about winning the Raw Women’s Championship?

“Oh man … just unbelievable. I just didn’t expect all of that to happen so fast.”

Obviously you’re a lifelong fan and I’m sure you envisioned that moment happening, so what went through your mind as you stood there with the title, in the ring, in front of thousands of people?

“I wish my family was there. That was the first thing that I thought about. My mom always says, you have a title match, should I be there? She was at every single NXT title match because she never knew if that was going to be the night. I just knew that she was going to be so mad that she wasn’t there.I knew they were watching.

I was in the Cow Palace when Eddie Guerrero won his first [world] title. I felt like I knew him and was so happy for him. I remember him jumping into the crowd and the crowd being so happy and then I did that and I just had that vision in my mind. It was weird! The crowd just made it more special considering my family wasn’t there. It was just amazing.

Did The Rock give you any advice when you met him?

“He told me that he watches and said you’re the champion so you must be doing something right. I was like, yeah I guess so. I didn’t want to take up too much of his time. He said that he really enjoys watching. I hope he wasn’t just saying that to be nice though.”

Recently you’ve been paired on television with Stephanie McMahon quite a bit and she plays a character that rarely gets one-upped by a babyface. Have you thought about Bayley-Steph in the same way that “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had Vince McMahon?

“I’ve thought about that so many times. Even when I was a kid (laughs). When she was having matches with Lita, I was like I want to have matches with Stephanie one day. That’s one of my dream matches to be honest.

If it could continue on, like you said with Austin and Vince, that would be so much fun, but I’m sure it’s a little much to ask for right now.”

Do you find yourself putting extra pressure on your shoulders because you’re the champ going into WrestleMania?

“Yeah totally. I’m probably doing way too much. Leading up to it I’m just stressing myself out. Do I need to get into the gym three times a day and try to still make everyone happy by doing all of these things that I need to do? I don’t even really know how to prepare for Mania, so I’m just doing what I think I need to do and I might be doing too much.

I think once I get to Orlando and I can digest what’s actually happening and appreciate it and know like holy crap dude, you’re here, then I’ll be able to calm down a bit. Right now, I have to be over-prepared.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis