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Byrons Interviews

They may be new to NXT’s Tag Team division, but they’re hard to miss once you catch them. With overflowing charisma and unbound energy, we introduce you to The Street Profits. On one side is Angelo Dawkins, a three-sport national champion collegiate athlete in football, wrestling and track. His partner? A former United States Marine and record-setting track athlete named Montez Ford. Both sat with WWE.com to talk about their team name, their intentions and their bond.

WWE.COM: Describe to the NXT Universe exactly who The Street Profits are.

MONTEZ FORD: The Street Profits are for the culture. Dawkins and I represent everything now and current. We are two men with similar backgrounds who have faced hardship and troubled upbringings at times because of the environment that we lived in. We are just showing people that we made it. We’re also trying to spread the message that with hard work, direction and perseverance, you can make it, just like us.

WWE.COM: Your partner knows all about perseverance. Dawkins, you’ve seen a lot in NXT over the last five years. What drew you to a partnership with Montez Ford?

ANGELO DAWKINS: Well Tez [Montez] and I already knew each other before he came to NXT. Tez is from Chicago, and I went to Harper College, which is near Chicago, so we have always had that chemistry right off the bat. Me being at NXT for a while and him still being fairly new led to us talking about teaming up and seeing how this move would be super beneficial for us both. That’s how we decided to start teaming.

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Byrons Interviews

There’s an old saying that, sometimes, you just need someone to slap some sense into you. Enter Zelina Vega.

After making her abrasive NXT debut with a jaw-shattering slap to Andrade “Cien” Almas last month, Vega has vowed to turn Almas’ career around. Almas will have no bigger opportunity for that turnaround than his one-on-one matchup with Johnny Gargano this Saturday night at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III. Just days before the event, Vega shed some light on her relationship with Almas and their intentions in Brooklyn.

WWE.COM: What exactly is the relationship between you and Andrade?

ZELINA VEGA: I am his business manager, and as his business manager, my job is to keep him on track, with his eyes on the prize in NXT.

WWE.COM: How long have you known Andrade?

VEGA: I first met Andrade seven years ago in Mexico. We struck up a deal for me to help manage his career affairs and take the success of his unique brand to a whole new level. The problem is, the more success Andrade experienced, the larger his ego grew. Eventually, we decided to part ways, and I let him do his own thing.
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WWE.COM: What led to the both of you reuniting in NXT?

VEGA: I don’t think I’d call it reuniting — more like me saving Andrade from himself. I know the real Andrade, and the guy I was watching on NXT for months before I got here was not the real Andrade. The Andrade I knew in Mexico would do anything to get to the top and even more to stay on top. The Andrade I knew would give his left arm for the spotlight and the money that comes with it. But the Andrade I’ve seen on NXT got lazy and complacent.

WWE.COM: I see you are very passionate about this …

VEGA: (Interrupts) You need to understand something. Andrade had a large reputation to uphold because of his rich family heritage in Mexico, and he upheld that reputation because of my management behind the scenes. We were treated to five-star restaurants every night, walked into any club we wanted to, women falling over him; you name it, and we had it. Andrade was treated like a god in Mexico, but when he’s on the biggest stage of his career in NXT, he suffers a losing streak? It’s like he stopped caring. Honestly, it’s upsetting because I know he’s better than that.

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Byrons Interviews

Well-traveled, highly gifted in the world of martial arts and a familiar face to some of the top names in WWE today, Bobby Fish has joined the ranks of NXT. Despite seeing the new NXT Superstar fall short in his debut match against Aleister Black, most sports-entertainment aficionados agree that the addition of Fish to the roster is a win-win for both parties. Fish sat down with WWE.com to talk about his pre-NXT career and the impressive resume that preceded his arrival.

WWE.COM: How did it feel to walk down the ramp of Full Sail University in Orlando, Fla., for your NXT debut?

BOBBY FISH: Somewhat surreal because much of this has come together very quickly. I watched the success of former co-workers and peers, such as Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami, make that very same walk at Full Sail. At this point, I feel so prepared for this new challenge. In my opinion, this life is about the journey, and when mine ends, I expect that this vessel, my body, will be banged up, battered and beaten, which will be a clear indication of a life well lived. NXT represents the next step in my journey.

WWE.COM: You mentioned some of the names you came up with during your career. Who are some other current WWE Superstars you worked with along the way?

FISH: Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, Cesaro, Luke Harper, Samoa Joe, Daniel Bryan, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn. I’m bound to leave someone out because the list is a pretty lengthy one.

WWE.COM: Did you ever think you’d make it to this point?

FISH: At times, yes, and at times, no. I remember a conversation I had with Kevin Owens in a hotel gym in Chicago a few years back. We were both working for Ring of Honor, and at that time, it seemed like Kevin was headed toward the next step in his journey. I have immense respect for Kevin and all that he’s been through to find his success. He is not the prototype for what was rumored to be ideal here and neither am I. Understanding his drive to succeed here through that conversation made me think that if I want that — which I believe, in some way, anyone who laces up the boots to do this, does on some level — then I will create a similar opportunity for myself. So yeah, I did think I’d be here one day.
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WWE.COM: How did you get your start in the industry?

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Byrons Interviews

After suffering a shoulder injury that derailed her career for two months, Ember Moon is back. This week, Moon speaks to WWE.com about her injury, frustrations and her belief that she still has what it takes to defeat NXT Women’s Champion Asuka.

WWE.COM: How does it feel to be back on the active roster of NXT?

EMBER MOON: I feel like I’ve lifted a huge weight off my back. I’ve always known that every time you step into that ring, you run a huge risk of getting seriously injured. I’m just relieved my shoulder is 100 percent and I’m back in the mix.

WWE.COM: What exactly was the injury to your shoulder?

MOON: I had a grade-one AC joint tear or, in layman terms, a separated shoulder.

WWE.COM: Take us through that moment last May when your shoulder slammed against the ringside barricade, thus causing the injury.

MOON: When I hit the barricade, I knew that I was hurt. I heard something pop in my shoulder and I initially thought it was my collarbone. The pain didn’t hit until I rolled over onto my back. I remember telling myself that it hurts, but it won’t be too bad. As soon as the medical trainers tried to move me, I realized that it was worse than I thought. I remember literally hitting the floor with my hand, realizing that I was probably going to miss NXT TakeOver: Chicago.

WWE.COM: What was your rehab like?

MOON: The first two weeks after the injury, I was mostly only allowed to rest. Resting was the hardest part because I’m used to being in the game. I’m used to being at the WWE Performance Center six hours a day, training and working on getting better. After two weeks, I was able to get more aggressive with electrotherapy and light weight-training. I would start with two pounds and then bump up to five pounds, then 10 pounds, etc. It got to a point that instead of training six hours of day, I was doing therapy for six hours a day.

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Byrons Interviews

It was only a few weeks ago that the NXT Universe witnessed the debut match of one of the most offbeat and eccentric personalities to grace the roster, The Velveteen Dream, an individual one might describe as flamboyant, yet perplexing. We attempt to understand more about the entity known as The Velveteen Dream in this week’s interview. Prepare yourselves as we turn down the lights of clarity while flipping on the spotlight of intrigue.

WWE.COM: First off, let me offer my congratulations on your recent NXT victories on WWE Network. Tell us, just exactly who, or what, is The Velveteen Dream?

THE VELVETEEN DREAM: I don’t live in a prism, and I’m not afraid of anything. I haven’t built any walls around myself. I’m just like anyone else; I need love and water. I don’t really consider myself a “Superstar.” I live in a small town, and I always will because I can walk around and be me. That’s all I want to be; that’s all I ever try to be. If people dig it, cool.

WWE.COM: Is there a meaning behind your extremely unique appearance?

THE VELVETEEN DREAM: Prince played a big influence on my style. When I was 10 years old, my stepdad put me on the stage with him and I danced a little bit until the bodyguard took me off. As I exited the stage, I spotted the finest ensemble of backup dancers I had ever seen in my life. This is where I immediately felt his influence — the absolute control he had over this group and the beautiful women that always surrounded him.

WWE.COM: What does an individual like yourself enjoy doing in his spare time?

THE VELVETEEN DREAM: I don’t believe in time.

WWE.COM: Okay … What is your observation of the current NXT roster?

THE VELVETEEN DREAM: Can we be frank?

WWE.COM: Sure …

THE VELVETEEN DREAM: Top to bottom, left to right, the NXT roster reads, “complacency.” Then again, maybe it’s fear because if everyone isn’t happy with where they are in “Bobby Roode’s NXT,” then obviously they fear him because no one has successfully challenged him. Hello, Bobby.

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Byrons Interviews

“Fighting is my specialty”: Why getting paid to hurt people makes Sonya Deville happy

The WWE Universe was introduced to Sonya Deville via the reality show WWE Tough Enough in 2015. Since then, as seen on NXT Television, Deville has transformed herself into a hard-nosed fighter poised to make an impact in NXT’s Women’s division.

This week, Sonya spoke to WWE.com about transitioning from MMA to WWE and her goals for the future.

WWE.COM: Congrats on your recent NXT victory on WWE Network. You’ve had a very interesting couple of years under the WWE/NXT umbrella. What’s the difference between the Sonya Deville who first arrived and the Sonya Deville we see now?

SONYA DEVILLE: My first time being inside the Performance Center was for the WWE Tough Enough tryouts, and although I knew hardly anything about sports-entertainment, I knew I wanted to be a part of this place. All I knew was that I loved to fight, I loved to perform and I loved being inside the WWE Performance Center. Here we are almost two years later and my mindset is the same as day one: I love being here and I love fighting, and with NXT, I get to do that almost every single day of the week. My life is amazing. I get paid to hurt people.

WWE.COM: Speaking of hurting people, you did quite a bit of that prior to NXT. Tell us about your mixed martial arts background.

DEVILLE: When I was 14 years old, I said, “Mom, I want to fight MMA.” My mom hardly knew what MMA was because there was no women’s division in the UFC, and UFC president Dana White had said at the time, “Women will never fight for my company.” But I knew that wasn’t true, and I knew women in sports, in general, were on the rise. I knew I could be the next big thing in the fight world.

My mom drove me an hour away to a gym called Liberty Boxing. I walked in, asked to speak with the owner, and I’ll never forget the conversation. A little bald Italian guy named Phil came out of the back office. I said, “Hi, nice to meet you, I want to be a fighter.” He laughed in my face, then said “OK” and put me through one of the most vigorous workouts I’d ever been through. He tested me, and I passed. I started training judo along with boxing and, five months later, I entered an in-house grappling tournament against the boys in my gym. I ended up winning first place.

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Byrons Interviews

Lacey Evans may be one of the newest additions to NXT’s Women’s division, but her entry into the world of sports-entertainment is both inspiring and heartwarming. Find out how the proud mother and former Marine turned into an NXT Superstar.

WWE.COM: You started at the WWE Performance Center a year ago. What has the experience been like to train and perform under the WWE umbrella?

LACEY EVANS: Amazing! (The trainers) really push you to do your best. They are always there for anything you need, but for the most part, they expect you to take the initiative and I love that about this company. It is different from the life I’ve lived because everything in the Performance Center is top-notch. The medical care, gear, training equipment and facility are the best in the world. I came from a background where I had to share everything with seven other siblings. From hand-me-downs to sleeping in tents, we had to make what we had work. With WWE, they give you everything you need to perform at your best.

WWE.COM: You have a very unique background as a former Marine. Tell us about the time you spent serving our country.

EVANS: I served for five years. My MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was Military Police 5811 with a secondary MOS Special Reaction Team 5816. I loved the Marines. I loved being a police officer and I loved the non-stop challenges that I had to face. I graduated as the company’s highest shooter out of boot camp. From there, I had MCT (Marine Combat Training), where I graduated as squad leader, receiving a Meritorious Mast award. I was in charge of an entire squad for 30 days. It was my job to keep accountability, task out jobs to complete missions and make sure we were all on the same page before responding to scenarios that were put in front of us.

From there, I went to my MOS training. By the end of the nearly year-long stay in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., I graduated top of my entire class as the Honor Graduate and was stationed at Parris Island, S.C. My job was to make sure the base entrances were secure, that people entering were scanned and cleared and that people within the bases were safe and abiding by the rules set forth by the Marine Corps. I became part of the Special Reactions Team (Military SWAT), where after my training, I became the assistant breacher. My duties during this time were responding to active shooter and hostage situations, barricaded suspects, terrorist threats, suspicious packages and felony stops, to name a few. I also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health administration management. Before leaving the Marines, I was the Training Non-Commission Officer, where it was my job to set up all training scenarios each week that my unit would partake in. I was in charge of all administrative and logistics of getting the training planned, scheduled and the accountability for the Marines involved.

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