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Byrons Interviews

Exclusive interview: How TM61 continue to push past adversity

“It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” — Rocky Balboa

This much-heralded quote from Rocky Balboa has been a staple of our society for decades. Sure, on paper, they may just be words, but for NXT’s TM61, those words must now become a way of life.

“We’ve been working so hard to get over the setbacks and roadblocks of 2017 and were looking forward to starting off 2018 rolling,” Nick Miller told WWE.com. “Fate stepped in, and we ran into the biggest roadblocks in all of NXT.”

Referencing TM61’s elimination from the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic last week courtesy of The Authors of Pain, Miller expanded on the heartbreak of the loss.

“AOP is a monkey on our back,” he said. “We lost to them in the finals of the 2016 Dusty Rhodes Classic, and when we saw that we had them in the first round of this year’s Dusty Classic, we trained as hard as possible. We were so focused, yet to go in and lose in the first round hurt a lot, both physically and mentally. It’s been tough.”

The 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic kicks off with an incredible rematch of the 2016 Finals between TM61 and former tournament winners, The Authors of Pain. Video courtesy of the award-winning WWE Network.

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Byrons Interviews

A family history explored: Bianca Belair discusses her influential ancestors
NXT fans are beginning to become familiar with Bianca Belair’s power inside the ring, but it’s not just her competitive nature that drives Belair to be The EST of NXT. The NXT Superstar also finds motivation in her family tree, having come from a long line of trailblazers, including men and women who helped break new ground during the Civil Rights Movement. In celebration of Black History Month, Belair spoke to WWE.com about her remarkable family history and how it continues to inspire her to this day.

WWE.COM: What does Black History Month mean to you?

BIANCA BELAIR: Black History Month is a time to celebrate, learn, acknowledge and pay tribute to African Americans’ past, present, culture, struggles and achievements. It has always been an important aspect in my life growing up because it taught me my roots. Black History Month also reminds me of how far we have come, and it motivates me. If African Americans can win the Olympics, desegregate public places, become artists, authors, doctors and engineers, contribute to agriculture, mathematics, astronomy and medicine, invent hot combs and haircare products, traffic lights, and become President, then I can do it, too. If they could create history, then so can I.

WWE.COM: Let’s talk about your family history. I understand that your family tree is chock full of groundbreakers in the African American community.

BELAIR: My great-grandfather, Edward N. Toole, was the first licensed African American electrician in Durham, N.C.; he was still a licensed and practicing electrician in 1993 at the age of 95. His father was also the son of the governor of South Carolina.

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Byrons Interviews

Exclusive Q&A: Why No Way Jose has something to prove to the NXT Universe

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but in the case of No Way Jose, absence has made the heart grow hungrier for competition. After making his return to NXT television last week, Jose spoke with WWE.com about his goals and his plans to take his game to the next level.

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

NO WAY JOSE: It’s like I never left. The NXT Universe always welcomes me with open arms. As soon as I walk down the entrance ramp — well, I guess dance, not walk — that energy, that rhythm, the emotion that hundreds or thousands of people give someone, makes you experience an unexplainable emotion and fills you with so much joy.

WWE.COM: What led to you stepping away?

JOSE: I’ve been away for a little bit. I had to go handle some things, face a little adversity and grow from it. Now I’m back, and the most important thing is what I do from here. Like many people, I began to focus on the past because I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with the present. The more I progressed, the more I seemed to take a step back, and I knew this was a pattern that couldn’t continue. Somewhere in there, I lost a part of me, and I knew I had to get it back.

WWE.COM: Now that you are back, how has your mindset changed since you’ve been away from the ring?

JOSE: Well, before my last match with Cezar [Bononi], there was a man named Lars [Sullivan], a huge, powerful, anomaly of a man. And what he did was show me that I needed to tone back on what brought me to the dance, which is the dance. I need to tone back on the hip swivels, and I need to turn up the intensity in the ring.

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Byrons Interviews

Adam Cole, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly have invaded NXT with a brash attitude and intentions to shake up the system at its very core. They’re three men with internationally acclaimed backgrounds that share one common goal: to rule NXT.

When Cole, Fish & O’Reilly first burst onto the scene at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, their impact was immediately felt by then-new NXT Champion Drew McIntyre, who was the target of a blindside attack. Since then, the Superstars known as The Undisputed ERA have expanded their campaign of mayhem to include SAnitY. This week, all three men sit down with WWE.com to discuss their relationship with each other and their objectives in NXT.

WWE.COM: Thank you for joining me, gentlemen. Adam, let’s start with you. Why did the three of you choose NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III as your moment to burst onto the scene of NXT?

ADAM COLE: Here’s the deal. You don’t make a statement unless you make noise. We knew that what we were doing was going to cause a lot of ruckus. We knew it would get people talking. And that’s exactly what we wanted. The only way you make a name for yourself in this sport is to make a statement, a loud statement, and that’s exactly what we did at TakeOver: Brooklyn.

WWE.COM: Bobby, you made your NXT debut several months prior to Cole and O’Reilly’s arrivals. Did you know about the planned invasion back then?

BOBBY FISH: Nothing I do is impulsive; everything I do is based around a sound strategy. Of course I knew all along. This was a deliberate course of action designed to expose the holes within NXT, capitalize on those weaknesses, and ensure success.

WWE.COM: Kyle, you and Fish have had a great deal of worldwide success as a tag team, while you and Cole have been rivals and partners in the past. What’s the relationship been like among all three of you?

KYLE O’REILLY: The three of us have traveled the world together and headlined pay-per-views, both as friends and enemies. We’ve been bitter career rivals that competed and strived for our own personal gain and success. In that same breath, we are ready and willing to put aside any grievance for the common good and underlying goal. Bobby and I have always had each other’s backs and are like brothers. Our past tag team success is a direct result of this mentality. We were once known as “reDRagon.” We captured the IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles in Japan for two reigns, including a successful title defense in the Tokyo Dome.

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Byrons Interviews

It’s not every day that you come across an individual who looks and sounds like Lars Sullivan. In the case of NXT, one might suggest that there has never been a Superstar quite like Sullivan to step inside the squared circle. With a freakishly intense demeanor matched by massively rich vocabulary, Sullivan has created quite the buzz recently. This week, WWE.com attempts to learn just a little bit more about NXT’s highly threatening Superstar.

WWE.COM: You’ve displayed a very intense and fiery personality the last few weeks that we’ve seen you on NXT. Where does this come from?

LARS SULLIVAN: You’d have to ask a psychiatrist to get an answer as to why I’m as belligerent as I am. As far as I’m concerned, all I do is get in the proper state of mind before a match. I’m not an angry person, but I do get angry at anyone who gets in my way. Listen, I’m not oblivious to the fact that I’m a scary guy. I get it. If I had to fight me, I’d be scared too. I’m not interested in being nice and complacent; I want to win and be the best. The best way for me to accomplish that is to be as aggressive as possible.

WWE.COM: Not a lot has been publicized about your background. Did you participate in any sports prior to NXT?

SULLIVAN: This is a question a first date would ask. Ask me how much can I overhead squat.

WWE.COM: OK … how much can you overhead squat?

SULLIVAN: Well, since you asked, 365 pounds.

WWE.COM: Would you be interested in divulging any of your other weightlifting accomplishments?

SULLIVAN: Now we’re talking. I’ve always had an affinity for moving a lot of weight, as it makes me feel exuberant. My numbers are up there in every lift, trust me. However, I find that focusing on mobility, stability and flexibility is far more important than the weight-room numbers. I can surely confirm to you that I’m overall the most athletic big man in this industry. It’s a matter of when and how I decide to showcase it.

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