WWE

WWE Draft (not-so) live blog

Leave a comment

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:

Shawn Michaels Q&A: Legendary Raw match with John Cena, the nWo, working with WWE’s future stars

WWE
Leave a comment

WWE will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Raw with a unique show on Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on USA. The show will emanate from both the Manhattan Center and the Barclays Center.

I had the chance to chat with Shawn Michaels about some of the memorable matches and moments he had on Raw throughout his career, his role in developing the next wave of WWE talent and one moment when he knew he was going to venture off script during a promo. 

I’m sitting here watching the match you had with Max Moon on the first episode of Raw and I’m wondering how it must feel to know that you’re going to walk back into the Manhattan Center and participate on the 25th anniversary edition of the show.  

“Well I gotta tell you, I hope that’s where I get to go. No one has made any decisions yet as far as I know. As much as I love the Barclays Center, I would rather get to go back to the Manhattan Center.

I don’t know that at the time I was mature enough to appreciate how unbelievably cool and awesome that building was.

It’s sort of like a rock band. They start out in those places and then you want to get to play in stadiums. As phenomenal as it is to be in front of 80 or 90,000 people in a stadium, it’s really hard to beat going back to those intimate places, filling them up, and feeling that electricity, that passion, that excitement in that environment.

For me if I were to get to pick, that’s where I would want to go back to, especially on that night.”

I imagine you had a similar feeling when you appeared in San Antonio as a special guest referee in an NXT show

“Yeah! The old Aztec is a great environment as well. It’s one of the things that NXT does that I really enjoy. They play a lot of similar venues to that. It was a great deal of fun. That is one of the many things about helping out with NXT and the folks down at the [Performance Center].”

So last night as I was prepping for this interview I went on a YouTube deep dive into some of your memorable matches and moments on Raw. The first one I want to ask about is your hour-long match with John Cena in London. I’m curious to know how that came together because it’s so rare to have a WWE match that pushes the hour long mark, especially one that’s on free television.

“So that turned out at the very end of our European tour that year. We had already been on the road there for over a week.

I found out what we were doing when I got to the building and was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’

When you hear that the match is going an hour, it seems like a long time, but when you’re working with someone like John so much … I’ve had the opportunity to go back and watch that match and it just flows right by. That’s obviously a testament to John and heck I’ll even pat myself on the back a little for that one (laughs).

It’s amazing how trying to do that hour-long match didn’t seem like such a big mountain to climb. It really helps when you have a history with someone. John and I were coming off of the WrestleMania [23] match and because of that, we had a decent amount of story points to work around, so it was easy.

It obviously doesn’t hurt when you’re in a phenomenal environment as well. Let’s face it, the folks in the U.K. are pretty easy to wrestle in front of. They are a very passionate group.

I gotta say that’s one of my favorite matches.”

Another one of my favorites was the match you had with Shelton Benjamin in the Gold Rush tournament. You guys made unexpected magic in the ring that night. Had you worked with him before that match, or was it something that just organically came together as you were talking it out in the ring?

“I don’t think Shelton and I worked together before that and we barely worked together after that. It was just something that came together. Shelton is a phenomenal athlete. There isn’t anything that he can’t do and he also makes everything look flawless.

One of the strengths that I bring to the table is that I can work to other people’s strengths. If you have a lot of them, that makes it easier for me (laughs).

It’s one of those situations where you have someone who can do anything under the sun and you’re not too shabby yourself and then it becomes just a matter of putting things together that makes sense.

It certainly helps when you’re building to a certain point in the match and the timing comes off perfectly and that’s exactly how that match ended.

I know there are a fair amount of times that I’ve tried to capture that lightning in a bottle again and I don’t think it’s ever turned out as well as that did.”

Agreed. The only spot like that I can think of that came close was the superkick on Rey Mysterio, but it just didn’t have the punctuation because that was during a Survivor Series match, so it was just an elimination, which is much different than the finish of a high-energy match.

“Yes and that’s the thing. You know it is just special and when somebody asks to do it again you go, ‘Uhhhhhh we can try it ….’ I certainly knew that when it happened that it’s something you don’t mess with. You shouldn’t try to go back and do it again.”

I stumbled across the promo you cut at the beginning of Raw in Montreal in the summer of 2005. You were working with [Hulk] Hogan at that point, but obviously the only thing the crowd cared about was Bret Hart. It had to be an unbelievable feeling to know that you had everyone in the building eating out of the palm of your hand.

“That was one of the few times after I came back in 2002, where I went out there and there was absolutely no way that I was one, going to hit any of my time cues and two, that I was going to stay anywhere remotely close to the script.

That was a situation where everyone who knows anything about this line of work felt the same way as the crowd, so no one was going to be angry about it because the moment was perfect.”

Another little random moment in time is when you returned in 2002 as a member of the nWo. The group’s run was cut short due to Kevin Nash’s injury, but do you know how the storyline was supposed to play out? It seemed like we were going to get to a point where the group consisted of you, Nash, Hunter and X-Pac.

“That is a phenomenal question and I honestly don’t know where it was supposed to go because I had just gotten back to WWE. The extent of it, that I knew, was that Kevin was supposed to work with Hunter at the next Pay-Per-View.

(Writer’s note: Triple H appeared on the next PPV, Vengeance, in a segment backstage where, in storyline, SmackDown commissioner Stephanie McMahon and Raw commissioner Eric Bischoff tried to convince Triple H to sign with their brand, but Shawn Michaels persuaded Triple H to sign with Raw and then Hunter turned on him the next night when they appeared as D-Generation X.)

I know that we had turned on Booker and then we turned on [Big] Show, but I honestly don’t know where it was going because I was just finding my footing and didn’t know enough to be asking someone, ‘Where is this going?’

I had no intention of wrestling at that point and then of course so many things changed after Kevin went down. I need to hunt someone down and find the answer.”

In an interview you talked about fading into the background, but now here you are working at the Performance Center and helping out with NXT. What was it about being down there that made you want to get involved?

“It’s honestly the environment at the PC. Matt Bloom, Sara Amato, Terry Taylor, Robbie [Brookside], Norman [Smiley], Steve [Corino]. There are just so many great people who are there to do one thing.

Everyone is pulling the rope in the same direction. Absolutely nobody is trying to prove anything to anyone. Nobody is looking to do anything but help these young men and women have an opportunity to go out there and do what we had a chance to do.

It doesn’t work if all of those men and women you work with are all pains in the backside, but they’re not. If there was something that stuck in my craw I’d tell ya, but that’s what drew me to it.

For me, it was a situation where I looked at it and said, ‘Oh my goodness, all of the stuff that I absolutely love about this business is here and all of the stuff that I don’t care for and that I don’t feel like doing again are also here.’ It was just an absolutely perfect situation. It’s infectious and you feed off of the desire and the passion.

And then of course the direction and the vision of the people who are running that place. I’m not even talking about Hunter. He’s my buddy, obviously, and I can hang around him no matter what, but it’s what Matt and Sara and everyone else brings to that place.

It’s just a fun thing to be a part of and it’s fun be a part of the wrestling business.”

I have to imagine it’s great for someone like you who has so much experience in the business to help people when they’re struggling to find the answer with something and you can call back on an experience that will help them understand how to solve the issue.

“For sure and also getting them to think in ways that they might not know, or even more importantly, letting them know that what they were thinking about was right.

It also helps them because I was a risk-taker during my career. I’m certainly less structured than almost everybody else there (laughs). There’s a little bit of a rebellious gunslinger in me and that’s something that might be a part of some of them and I think those are the people who can be put with me and we can see where it goes.

I think they understand that if I say it’s too much, then it’s probably too much because let’s face it, there isn’t much that I think is too much.”

So what talent has stood out to you down there?

I love my guys. That’s [Johnny] Gargano, Roddy (Roderick Strong), Velveteen Dream, Adam Cole, Drew McIntyre, Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe, [Tommaso] Ciampa, Authors of Pain, they’re doing great.

But as I’m learning now, there’s so much talent worldwide that I think the wrestling business is in great shape for the future.

What makes NXT standout to me in this clustered landscape of professional wrestling is the way it blends old school storyline building blocks, but with a new school twist in terms of in-ring style.

“I 100 percent agree with ya. It’s all of the sort of stuff that you like about the old school wrestling, but it’s done in today’s style. I think it’s a perfect dose of both.

Again one of the things that really helps down at the PC is, I’m not the bitter old timer (laughs). I encourage the change, I encourage the evolution, but it’s important for them to hear when they need to slow down. I tell them, you won’t slow down as much as they probably want you to, but neither did I. It’s all a learning curve.

I think it’s important for them to know that people said the same things to me when I was that age.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis

Q&A: Natalya on WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge, Nakamura, and why she didn’t want Sami Zayn as her partner

WWE
Leave a comment

WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge debuts tonight and will stream live in the U.S. exclusively on Facebook Watch at 10 p.m. ET.

The first match of the inaugural Mixed Match Challenge will be Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya vs. Finn Balor and Sasha Banks. I had the chance to chat with Natalya about why she’s so excited to team with Nakamura, the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble and why she was thrilled that Sami Zayn wasn’t her teammate.

How is your relationship with Shinsuke Nakamura? This is someone who you haven’t worked with on television before, so I imagine you have to be excited to have the opportunity to share some on-screen time with him.

“I’m so excited to be working with him. When we first found out that there was a group of girls and a group of guys who were going to be competing in the Mixed Match Challenge concept, he was one of the first people I wanted to team with because he’s very quirky, he’s very unusual, he’s very different.

It’s hard to explain exactly what Nakamura is like. His persona on TV is kind of like how he is backstage. He has this mystique about him. He’s very, very charismatic. He leaves people talking and guessing and wondering.

He’ll walk through an airport and grab attention in a different way than say somebody like Braun Strowman. Obviously their proportions are different (laughs).

He’s really cool. He’ll wear like really weird shoes, or a really cool hat, or a really big scarf and you’re like he’s so cool.

Nakamura embraces his own unique eccentricities and that’s what we, at WWE, want to express, especially when we’re talking to kids about bullying and having goals and being different in this crazy thing called life.

We talk to kids about being different and embracing it and Nakamura totally embraces that. It’s very important to be different. I don’t want to be like the person next to me and nor should anyone. When I see Nakamura, he loves to be unique. He is proud of it.

It’s so funny, we’ve been filming a lot of these backstage vignettes on my phone and yesterday I showed him a gift I got for Finn [Balor] and Sasha [Banks] when they lose to us because I don’t want them to feel sad.

So I was explaining this to Nakamura and he’s like ‘a present? Why did you get them a present?’ And I was like, when they lose, they’re going to be sad, and we don’t want that. So I showed him the present was and it was magnets with cats’ bottoms. I saw them at the dollar store and thought they were so stupid and funny at the same time.

I showed them to Nakamura and he was like ‘I want them!’ And I was like no you can’t have them, they’re for Finn and Sasha when they lose. He was fighting with me about wanting to keep the magnets for himself. We got it on tape and I was like Nakamura these are presents for them! And he was like ‘oh yes, yes, yes, yes, we will give them presents.’ He just cracks me up. That’s why I think partnering with him will be so great.

The charity aspect of the Mixed Match Challenge is the cherry on top of this whole thing. Yeah we’re doing this for fun and it’s a great thing for the superstars, a great dynamic for us backstage, and a great way for us to perform. It’s a great way for the WWE Universe to see a different concept because you don’t always see girl and guy tag teams and it’s so cool to see inter-branded tag teams matches.

But then you throw in the charity aspect and there are so many charities the WWE is working with from Connor’s Cure, to Make-A-Wish [Foundation], to Rescue Dogs Rock and so many more. It’s really cool.

Make-A-Wish is the charity that Nakamura and I are representing and it’s one that is really close to my heart because I have granted wishes. And when you can change a kid’s perspective or change their quality of life, even if it’s for a few moments, you realize what the worth of your actual career is. I want to make people happy and lift kids up who don’t have that much time left.”

The use of cats in the promos you’ve done with Nakamura has been hilarious. Was there any thought of having 2pawz as the manager for your team?

“I thought about it and then I thought well, I don’t want PETA coming after me because 10,000 people are yelling as I walk down to the ring with my cat (laughs).

You know, 2pawz doesn’t get out of bed for just anyone or anything. I truly had thought about it because that would be so cool if he came down with us. My mom actually made him a costume that matches Nakamura’s ring costume.

We will reign victorious in the first ever #WWE #mixedmatchchallenge! #NAKAMEOWA

A post shared by 2pawz (@2pawz) on

We filmed some videos and posted them on my account. 2pawz has posted them on his Instagram account. He’s very into Nakamura’s music, his costume and Japanese culture. He’s very ready to do this!

But like I said, I thought about him, but I just think it might be too much for him. I don’t want to traumatize the cat.”

Nakamura does strike me as someone who would have a cat.

“Yes. Now I know he has a dog, but he definitely has cat-owner-like qualities because cats are … Cesaro is a cat owner and he’s kind of like a cat. My husband, TJ, is kind of snippy. They’re like cats. Everything is on their terms.

Whereas dog people … dog people are like Mojo Rawley and Bayley and Becky Lynch. They’re happy. They want to hug you. They want to play and jump. They want attention (laughs). But us cat people, we make you work for it.

Your reaction to Nakamura being revealed as your teammate for the Mixed Match Challenge was noteworthy because of how excited you were that Sami Zayn wasn’t your partner. Why were you so excited that Sami wasn’t standing behind you in the selfie?

“What’s so funny about this is that I actually forgot I said that because I have such spontaneous reactions. The WWE producers were like we need to film a video for you because soon you’re going to find out who your partner is, but it’s not today. So I was doing this interview and then all of a sudden they were like do you want to take a selfie because you’re going to need a selfie for the Mixed Match Challenge and all of a sudden I see these red teeth behind me and it was Nakamura wearing a mouthguard and I was like oh my God, Nakamura is my partner! Like it just clicked to me that this was the reveal.

 

I was so excited, but I had this feeling that I was going to get Sami because he and I were both bad guys on TV. I was like I’m going to get Sami and I don’t know if I have chemistry with Sami, I don’t know if it’s there. It wasn’t that I don’t like Sami, I just couldn’t see us gelling together in the ring. In order to have really compelling and great matches, you need to be able to gel with your partner.

So my first reaction was to jump up and down and yell ‘I didn’t get Sami!’ And then later on that day Sami walks up to me and goes ‘are you and I OK?’ And I go yeah, why? And he goes, ‘because you jumped up and down and said you were so happy that I wasn’t your partner and WWE aired that on Twitter to like 12 million people.’ I was like, ‘I don’t recall doing that (laughs).’ Of course it was like the first thing I did (laughs).

It was so funny because Sami thought I was mad at him. He was like I love you and TJ so much that I didn’t know if I ticked you off and I was like, ‘No!’ I just wanted Nakamura.”

With the first women’s Royal Rumble coming up quickly, I was wondering how much you’ve thought about the potential impact of the match on the division as a whole.

“The WWE is really putting their money where their mouth is. They’re really pulling out all of the stops for this. It’s not just 20 girls in this Royal Rumble. They’re trying to, as much as humanly possible, make it as equal to the guys as they can.

We can try to be as equal to the men as we possibly can, but there are some things that … look you’re not going to have girl who is the same height as Braun (6’8”). There are reasons why different is good. There are a lot of things that the women bring to the table that the men can’t do and there’s a lot of things the men bring to the table that the girls can’t do.

WWE has gone above and beyond in every way, shape, and form to make this first-ever women’s Royal Rumble feel equal and that to me is huge. We have 30 women competing and it’s over-the-top-rope.

It’s all about us girls standing out and showing that we’re equal and WWE has been awesome about embracing that.

I have thought a lot about what I’m going to do in the Royal Rumble. I’ve thought a lot about who could possibly be in the match. There has been a lot of speculation and that’s really the fun part. Who is going to be a part of this? Am I going to see Trish Stratus? Am I going to see Michelle McCool? Is there going to be someone who isn’t even a female superstar come and be a part of it?

I was thinking about the girls from G.L.O.W. like what a shock that would be to see one of the girls from the show because it’s so popular. Anything and everything can happen and there’s this huge element of surprise.

The crowd in Philadelphia will let you know … they’re one of those renegade, rowdy, wild, awesome, amazing powerhouse of a crowd. They’re going to let us know what they love and they’re going to let us know what they hate and they’re going to put the pressure on us more than ever.

I think you’re going to see some magic for sure.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis