Byrons Interviews

It’s been a long, winding road for NXT Superstar Mia Yim. After recently making her NXT TV debut as an official member of the black-and-gold brand, Yim spoke with about her road to sports-entertainment, her unique upbringing and her powerful passion for domestic violence awareness.

WWE.COM: How are you settling into your role as an official member of the NXT roster?

MIA YIM: It’s a dream job come to life, although it doesn’t even feel like a job. I wake up every morning thankful for my life and that I’m able to go into the WWE Performance Center to train. I have tons of friends there, old ones from the independents and new friends that I have made since being on the roster. The work is hard, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

WWE.COM: It’s been a rather long road for you to get here. Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get your start in the industry?

YIM: I started training at the end of 2007 and made my in-ring debut in 2009. I began my wrestling journey in Northern Virginia. Soon after, I branched out to the Philadelphia/New Jersey/New York area.

WWE.COM: I understand you started training right out of high school. What attracted you to the sport?

YIM: My parents didn’t like the idea of wrestling just because of the intensity of the sport, along with how some women were portrayed in wrestling at the time — mud matches, etc. I made a deal with my father that I’d make college a priority and graduate if I’m allowed to train and pursue wrestling. I’ve always been a tomboy since I was a kid. I would play football and street hockey with the neighborhood back in California. So, when I first started watching wrestling and saw Lita and Chyna go toe-to-toe with the guys, I knew this was the sport for me.

WWE.COM: What was your upbringing like, especially having a father who was in the military and then later worked for the FBI?

YIM: My parents were strict, especially my father. Growing up in California, my dad was in the field most of the time. We weren’t allowed to tell anyone what our dad did growing up just in case the criminals he put away would come after us. Once we moved to Washington, D.C., he grew a bit stricter when it came to boys, grades, friends, etc., just because we were getting older. He became a part of the Missing & Exploited Children unit in D.C., so our online activity was closely monitored. But I thank him for it; I wouldn’t have the discipline and work ethic if my dad let me do whatever I wanted growing up.

WWE.COM: I assume your dad’s job led to your own personal interest in IT/cybersecurity.

YIM: I’ve always been a techie. Computers, coding — it all came easy to me. After wrestling, that’s my backup plan. My dad played a big role in the FBI using computers to catch kidnappers and predators. I want to follow in his footsteps. He’s my hero.

WWE.COM: What is your ethnic background?

YIM: I am African American and Korean mix. My father is black, and mother is Korean.


Byrons Interviews

All hail The King of Bros: Matt Riddle on his NXT debut, his royal nickname and the first time he “Bro”-ed William Regal
Last week, the NXT Universe got its first taste of royalty (kind of) with the television debut of the self-proclaimed “King of Bros,” Matt Riddle. An accomplished mixed martial artist and former UFC fighter, Riddle made the decision to follow his childhood dream and embark on a career in sports-entertainment. Now firmly in the mix as one of NXT’s newest competitors, Riddle sat down with to talk about his background and this new chapter of his athletic career.

WWE.COM: Congrats on your recent NXT TV debut. How did it feel?

MATT RIDDLE: I had fun. The crowd was really hot. Everything went according to plan—I got to show a taste of my skillset, and I think people can see that I’m not just a normal wrestler.

WWE.COM: From where exactly did you get your “King of Bros” nickname?

RIDDLE: It was a name that was given to me because I say “Bro” a lot. The first time I was in a ring with William Regal I called him “Bro,” and from there, everyone just kept saying “Bro” to me. I kept saying “Bro” and before I knew it, I was deemed The King of Bros.

WWE.COM: When did this initial meeting with NXT General Manager William Regal occur?

RIDDLE: I was on a show for EVOLVE. Regal was talking to one of the guys about a possible opportunity to work with WWE when I stepped into the ring and said, “Yo, Bro, why aren’t you talking to me?” Some guys thought I was being disrespectful, but that was the first time I met William Regal. It took a little bit of time and persuasion, but they finally let me in the door at NXT.

WWE.COM: You have an extensive MMA background, including several fights in UFC. What lead to your decision four years ago to begin training for a career in sports-entertainment?

RIDDLE: I always had watched pro wrestling. I happened to be watching the WWE Network one day and started watching differently. I wasn’t watching it as a fan, but instead I was watching it as something that I could possibly be a part of. I thought to myself, “I can do this,” and it was something I always wanted to do. In fact, pro wrestling was the reason I pursued amateur wrestling when I was 13 and eventually trained in Jiu-Jitsu. It was sort of like I came full circle, because I watched as a kid and then learned all these different styles and made it to UFC. But I almost felt like I was limited in MMA. In sports-entertainment, you can be larger than life. That was the day I decided to call my buddy who’s a lawyer and get his opinion on me leaving MMA and training full time to wrestle. He was all for it. I trusted him and I trusted my gut feeling, and as you can see, it all worked out.

Byrons Interviews

Refreshed and refocused: How Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan plan to fight their way back into title contention
It’s been a tumultuous few months for the team of Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan, two men cut from the same cloth who earned themselves the highest profile match of their careers at NXT TakeOver: Chicago II last June. After nearly capturing the NXT Tag Team Titles from The Undisputed ERA, a broken orbital bone sidelined Lorcan and subsequently halted the upward trajectory of both men’s tag team careers. Lorcan is now healed, and last night on NXT TV, both men seemed poised to pick up right where they left off. This week, the team spoke to about Lorcan’s injury, their frustration and their plans to become the premier tag team in NXT.

WWE.COM: How does it feel to finally be back in action on NXT?

DANNY BURCH: Oney and I are both very excited to be back in the ring again. We love competing more than anything, so we’re back in our stride.

WWE.COM: Oney, describe the challenge of recovering from a broken orbital bone.

ONEY LORCAN: At first, it was difficult to eat. They had to put two metal plates on my cheekbone and one on my orbital bone. They cut through the inside of my mouth above my gums and above my right eye to do so. For about a month, eating was pretty difficult, but other than that, I was able to train in the gym not long after surgery. I’ve had quite a few injuries — a broken hand, broken rib, dislocated jaw, numerous sprains, cuts, bumps and bruises — but the broken orbital and cheekbone were by far the most painful.

WWE.COM: I’m sure it was hard for your loved ones to witness your struggle.

LORCAN: My family hates seeing me get hurt. I always feel bad putting the people I love through this kind of stuff, but it’s just part of the job. After my surgery, I spent a lot of time alone, clearing my head and training to come back.

WWE.COM: How frustrating has the setback been for the both of you as a team?


Byrons Interviews

In the infamous words of Rocky Balboa, “It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” Truer words cannot be applied to the career of Johnny Gargano. After suffering a painful loss to his former best friend Tommaso Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: Chicago II, a shocking defeat at the hands of Velveteen Dream and a growing reputation as a failure, Gargano has been on the hunt to regain the competitive fire that endeared him to the NXT Universe for years. This week, Gargano spoke to about his latest career trials and why Johnny Wrestling is poised to make a comeback.

WWE.COM: You’ve obviously had a very difficult month or so. Where is your mind at now?

JOHNNY GARGANO: I feel like I’m in a good place. I went home to get my head right. Ever since TakeOver: Chicago, things have been spiraling out of control. I wanted to sort through whatever issues I needed to address on my own terms. I think I did that, and I’m ready to get back to work. Like I said, I can’t be Johnny Wrestling just sitting on my couch.

WWE.COM: You recently said on NXT that you are going to be the man you were meant to be. You earned a victory over 205 Live’s Tony Nese this week in the process of achieving that goal. In your mind, does that win get you back on track?

GARGANO: I hope so. It’s been a tale of one step forward and two steps back for me recently. I’m just trying to take things one baby step at a time.


Byrons Interviews

Exclusive interview: Kassius Ohno on NXT’s “bias problem,” becoming NXT’s gatekeeper

Bitterness or truth? Jealousy or conviction to a cause? It is those questions that have seemingly found an appropriate target when it comes to NXT’s Kassius Ohno. Ohno has been quite vocal in recent weeks regarding his displeasure with the attention given to NXT’s newest Superstars. This week, speaks to Ohno about his frustrations, his purpose and his plan to teach the NXT Universe to think for themselves.

WWE.COM: How do you feel about the state of your career since returning to NXT nearly two years ago?

KASSIUS OHNO: Contrary to popular belief, I’m exceptionally happy with my career. Surely there have been moments of frustration, but after 20 years in the ring, my body of work speaks for itself. My focus lately has been to identify the source of these frustrations and confront them head on.

WWE.COM: What exactly is the source of your frustrations?

OHNO: There’s a recent bias here in NXT. No one wants to partake in that difficult discussion, so I’m here to force everyone to face the truth. New isn’t always better. And when respect is given rather than earned, it certainly isn’t appreciated. That’s a problem.

WWE.COM: Specifically, you’ve claimed the bias nature favors a number of NXT newcomers. Why is this?

OHNO: When you give a child a new toy every day, some toys will inevitably find their way to the bottom of the chest. For what? The child doesn’t know any better. Plus, lots of these new toys are cheaply made and easy to break. It’s a waste of money, and I think that it’s time to start taking some of these toys away.