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Byrons Interviews

Mysterious, intriguing and ultra talented would be accurate descriptors for NXT’s Ember Moon, who created a well-deserved buzz for her successful debut against Billie Kay at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II. She opens up to WWE.com about joining the NXT Women’s division and the incredibly long road it took to finally make it to WWE.

WWE.COM: First off, happy birthday! Tell us what was it like for you to make your debut inside Barclays Center at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II?

EMBER MOON: Thank you! It was absolutely incredible and surreal. TakeOver: Brooklyn was a justification that everything I went through on the independents wasn’t for nothing. There were fun times and great times, but there were just as many bad ones. I had to fight my way for recognition and respect out there. Now, I’m starting all over again and I’m ready rise to the challenge.

WWE.COM: Although you made your TakeOver debut in Brooklyn, you actually signed with WWE in August 2015. What has it been like to hone your skills at the WWE Performance Center in preparation for your debut?

MOON: I was doing two to three times the amount of training just to burn off extra energy. I would get up at 5 a.m. and do a cardio session before going to the Performance Center. After our normal training session, I’d stay late just to get extra ring training. Then after I’d leave the Performance Center, I’d go back to the gym for another workout. I was determined to prove I belonged here in NXT.

WWE.COM: I understand you had a number of high-profile trainers prior to joining NXT?

MOON: My first trainer was General Skandor Akbar from World Class Championship Wrestling. I started to train with him in April 2007. I trained with Akbar Monday through Friday for about four to five hours each day. I learned the old-school way. I didn’t even touch a ring until a month and a half later, when he felt I earned my way into it. Before that, I would have to run down the side of the freeway in 100-degree weather, hoping that it would be the day I was able to get into the ring.

WWE.COM: How did it feel to finally step into the squared circle?

MOON: When that day finally came, I was ecstatic, but before I could leap for joy, I had to learn to endure the brute force of landing and being thrown around on concrete. Akbar made me appreciate everything I did in the ring. Right before Akbar’s school shut down, I actually ended up getting invited to train with former WWE Superstar Vance Archer. That’s where I learned a lot about power moves and strikes. I only trained with Vance once a week, but I used to go to the ring by myself for extra training two to three times each week. I loved the alone time. That’s when the ring became a home away from home.

WWE.COM: What led you to Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling?

MOON: After training with Vance, I drove five hours for a tryout and made the cuts to be part of Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling promotion in Houston. In addition to being able to work his shows, I received full access to his training facility. Booker was the one who helped me hone in on the high-flying aspect of my move set. Even though I was really comfortable in the ring, Booker gave me the confidence and motivation that I really needed to succeed in the wrestling world. Booker even suggested that I try to broaden my training by traveling around the world.

WWE.COM: And you followed his advice?

MOON: Yes, I traveled and I ended up meeting former WWE Superstars Rodney Mack and Jazz. They were phenomenal people. Jazz mostly taught me to not be afraid to break barriers and be different. After that, I drifted on my own, learning whenever and wherever I could. I traveled across the United States, Canada and Mexico to wrestle.

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Byrons Interviews

Find out how Andrea D’Marco went from Miami Dolphins cheerleader to NXT backstage reporter.

The New Era of WWE has brought us new rivalries, new opportunities and, in one case, a new announcer. Meet Andrea D’Marco. Since joining WWE NXT this past spring, Andrea has served as a ring announcer, host and backstage interviewer, even recently taking her talents to Monday Night Raw. Now, WWE.com talks to Andrea about everything from her experience in the National Hockey League to her most embarrassing moments on NXT as she embarks on her new exciting path in sports-entertainment.

WWE.COM: What has it been like to be a part of WWE NXT?

ANDREA D’MARCO: Being a part of WWE NXT has been absolutely amazing. I’m especially fascinated by the coaches and the Superstars. Seeing them train, day in and day out, gives me a whole new level of respect for these tremendous athletes. I also very much love getting to know our fans at the Live Events. Their energy is infectious and their passion for the product makes my job incredibly rewarding. I am truly fortunate to do what I love with NXT.

WWE.COM: You’ve had a pretty extensive broadcasting background prior to joining WWE. Can you tell us about your background?

D’MARCO: I spent four seasons as the digital reporter and arena host for the NHL’s Florida Panthers. I have also hosted for Fox Sports, Florida Atlantic University football, CBS 4 [in Miami] and CNN en Español. When I’m not hosting sports or entertainment, I’m a travel host for Walt Disney World/About.com.

WWE.COM: Speaking of the entertainment aspect, you’ve also had some acting and dance experiences as well. What inspired you to try so many different things?

D’MARCO: Growing up, I wanted to do everything! But, I’ve always had a passion for the arts. I have been truly blessed to receive so many favorable opportunities. My parents taught me that there’s no such thing as a small job, so when I found the chance to learn and become a better performer, I immediately went for it.

WWE.COM: Is it true that you’re a certified Zumba instructor?

D’MARCO: Yes. After making the decision to retire as a Miami Dolphins cheerleader, I auditioned for a unique opportunity with Zumba. They were looking for a spokesperson that danced professionally, had a hosting background, and was also bilingual to lead their dance fitness campaign with Kellogg’s. Fortunately for me, I met all of those requirements and after a long audition process, I was hired to be the national spokesperson for Zumba and Kellogg’s. I toured the country promoting a Zumba dance fitness video that I hosted, while educating people about fitness and eating right.

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Byrons Interviews

NXT Tag Team Champions, travel partners and best friends are just a few titles that Blake & Murphy have earned over the last couple of years in NXT. But these days, it seems the term “dysfunctional tandem” might be more appropriate.

Blake & Murphy attempted to get back on the same page this week on NXT, only to have those plans gored (literally) thanks to the return of Rhyno. Afterward, WWE.com caught up with both Superstars, who did their best to shed light on the current state of their tag team alliance.

“The state of our partnership is frustration,” Blake told WWE.com. Yet, after his suggestion for he and Murphy to give it another go this week backfired, it seems that Blake still sees hope for the troubled team.

“I would never turn my back on my brother, Murphy,” he continued. “We are just going through a rocky time right now, which is frustrating because we know how great we are as a team.”

On the flip side, Murphy expressed a rather significant opposing view.

“Our status is unknown at this time!” a heated Murphy yelled. “I’m here in NXT for greatness! And last year, Blake & Murphy were greatness. But as of late, things haven’t been there. Blake’s accidents keep costing us wins. If I can’t win with him, I’ll win by myself, and that NXT Title would be nice around my waist!”

Conflicting viewpoints aside, let’s take a look at the history between these two men. This time last year, Blake and Murphy had a firm grasp on the NXT Tag Team Championship. One might say losing those titles led to the team’s rollercoaster status. But, perhaps, one must also look toward their former partner in crime, Alexa Bliss. After all, Bliss has openly claimed responsibility for the team’s past success, only to decide recently that she would much rather focus on her own NXT aspirations. Was Alexa the glue that kept the team together?

“All I have to say is she is a manipulative little Bliss!” Murphy shouted. “She came to us while we were the champions, then once she comes in, we lose the titles! Somebody say gold digger?”

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Byrons Interviews

What led to the split of the once-thriving Blake-Murphy-Bliss triumvirate, and why should the NXT’s Women’s division be very concerned about Alexa’s plans for the future?

For what was once one of NXT’s most promising factions, the trio of Blake, Murphy and Alexa Bliss seems to have permanently dissolved. This week, WWE.com sits down with Alexa to discuss the split and her impending plans for the future. Needless to say, Miss Bliss holds nothing back about her views and goals.

WWE.COM: For the record, how would you describe your relationship with Blake & Murphy?

ALEXA BLISS: Let me put this in terms so that even you can understand. I’ll describe it in one word: over. Blake, Murphy and I used to be best friends. They helped me discover who I am. They taught me that Bliss was good, but bad is better. Because of the boys, I was able to really express who I am, instead of being the pixie princess I was pretending to be.

Blake & Murphy were winners, I was a winner, and winners usually gravitate toward each other. They helped me, so I helped them in any way I could. I knew they were able to retain their NXT Tag Team Championship on their own, but when the matches weren’t going the way they wanted, I made sure to step in. We were an unstoppable group. We worked well together, we all trusted each other, and we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. That’s what made our relationship good in the beginning.

WWE.COM: I noticed that you stressed “the beginning.” What led to your decision to disassociate yourself from them?

ALEXA: After a while, I felt I was being taken for granted. Blake & Murphy didn’t seem to appreciate who I was and what I was doing for them. After losing the NXT Tag Team Championship, they went on a long losing streak. They needed me, yet just used me as an accessory. I was the third member of that team, not just a piece of arm candy. Blake & Murphy stopped utilizing me and stopped appreciating what I could do for our group. I did everything in my power to give those boys opportunities to win in their matches.

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Byrons Interviews

No Way Jose is way more than a big smile and fancy dance moves. Find out how NXT’s dancing destroyer overcame a volatile past and learned to “let the positive vibes win.”

Arguably the most rhythmically inclined Superstar ever seen in NXT, No Way Jose has epitomized the term “making an impression.” Between his Latin dance moves, infectious smile and untamed energy, No Way Jose has quickly become a fan favorite of the NXT Universe. This week, WWE.com sits down with the new Superstar to talk NXT competition, his unique style and so much more.

WWE.COM: Tell us, who exactly is No Way Jose?

NO WAY JOSE: If I wanted to be brief, you can say No Way Jose is a one-man fiesta! But since we have time, let’s dive into this a bit. The name itself is a nickname that stuck, because back in the day, my Latin temper was a bit more volatile. Would anyone want to mess with Jose back then? No way!

But with time, I grew up and tamed the fire once I started opening my eyes to the rhythm of life. There are so many people everywhere, all doing their own thing, but when they come to a show they want to smile. People want to have a great time. The way I see it, there ain’t no way you’re wiping this smile off of my face. That’s what I’m all about now: a nickname to remind me of where I came from, along with a smile and carefree attitude to show where we can end up.

WWE.COM: We’ve seen you incorporate a very unique offense into your matches thus far. What inspires your style?

JOSE: I’ve been all over the world experiencing different cultures and enjoying the uniqueness every culture has to offer. When given the opportunity, I realized no matter where you are, dance is something everyone enjoys and everyone has their own take on it. From the samba in Brazil, merengue and bachata in the Dominican Republic, to polka in Germany and even the can-can in France, dance is universal. I’m trying to create my own from the lessons I’ve learned, and it seems like dance-fighting is becoming a thing. It’s like capoeira, but not as smooth. Incorporate that with some of the highlights of my childhood sport, baseball, which is huge in the Dominican Republic, and it all just fits naturally for me in the ring.

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Byrons Interviews

Find out how Alex Reyes went from calling Harlem Globetrotters games to becoming a host of NXT Live Events.

If you’re a regular viewer of NXT, then you’ve undoubtedly noticed one of the newest additions to the announce team, Alex Reyes. Asking the hard-hitting questions of NXT Superstars, Reyes has discovered firsthand the plethora of personalities competing under the NXT banner. This week, WWE.com takes a special look at NXT’s newest announcer and why his current role is nothing short of a dream come true.

WWE.COM: How did you get your start with WWE NXT?

REYES: I have always wanted to be here in WWE and am honored that I am part of the announce team. I’ve been sending demo materials to WWE since 2004 when I was a student at Boston University. I received callbacks a few times, but they never materialized into an audition. As my career started to blossom in radio and television, I also started working for some independent wrestling promotions in South Texas and in Houston. I ended up visiting WWE announcer Rich Brennan in December 2014 at NXT Takeover: R Evolution. I had a chance meeting with the WWE Live Event producers and we chatted a bit about my background and career, and they told me to keep in touch but there wasn’t an open position available at the time.

I continued to work in sports talk radio and play-by-play in Houston until I got a phone call last summer from WWE asking me to come in for an interview and, later on, a tryout at the WWE Performance Center. I came down to Orlando in June and met with a lot of the coaches and the Live Event staff. I felt good about my tryout but didn’t hear anything until September, when I was offered an announcing position here in WWE. I was beyond excited, and I am so honored to be here every single day. It wasn’t an easy road to get here at all, but the journey was certainly worth it.

WWE.COM: You mentioned fellow announcer Rich Brennan. I understand you two have some history together?

REYES: Yes. I had the opportunity to work with Rich at Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling as a commentator and at another company, called Lone Star Championship Wrestling, as a ring announcer. Coincidentally enough, Rich and I also used to call hockey games together in the Central Hockey League.

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Byrons Interviews

Love him or hate him, NXT’s Lone Wolf doesn’t mince words as he addresses the adulation surrounding his TakeOver opponent, Austin Aries.

Baron Corbin brings a whole new meaning to “making no apologies.” The abrasive and imposing NXT Superstar is on a collision course with NXT’s newest acquisition, Austin Aries, at NXT TakeOver: Dallas. This week, Corbin provides his thoughts on Aries, independent wrestling and his own cocky attitude as only he can — with no regard for being politically correct.

WWE.COM: Let’s begin with the elephant in the room. You recently attacked Austin Aries on his debut night with NXT. Why would you ruin such a big moment in his career?

BARON CORBIN: Why would I do that? Why would I not do that? Some kid walks in here thinking he deserves a warm welcome. He wants everyone to stop what they’re doing and celebrate. I don’t have time for that. I am here chasing the NXT Championship. William Regal cost me my chance and then wants to throw Aries a big welcome. Not while I am around. Aries was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he paid for it. If he wants to cry about it, tell him to cry to Regal, because I don’t care about him or his welcoming party.

WWE.COM: Aries isn’t exactly just “some kid.” Perhaps the reason Mr. Regal was so happy was because Austin Aries joining the NXT roster is actually a pretty big deal for our industry. Are you familiar with his extensive background?

CORBIN: What do I think of his background? I can’t answer that because I don’t know what it is. I didn’t know he existed before I ran him over on his big night. And whatever it is, I don’t care, because his future will be seeing the End of Days.

WWE.COM: In other words, you don’t respect anyone, no matter who they are or what their background is?

CORBIN: It’s true. I don’t respect anyone who has a background on the independent circuit. NXT is the professional level, and it’s the best of the best. If you played on an intramural l flag football team, it doesn’t make you NFL material. I came from one professional sport to another, and it’s an entirely different level. I was in the top 1 percent of football players. Indie guys are in the bottom 95 percent of wrestlers. I don’t care what they did or how many nobodies are sitting in their mom’s basement tweeting how good they are. If they were so good, it wouldn’t take them 10 years to get here. When those guys walk in the door, I am happy to show them they don’t belong.

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