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Byrons Interviews

Few would argue that Solomon Crowe hasn’t made an immediate impact on the NXT Universe. In the short time Crowe has spent on NXT television, his actions inside the ring have been just as buzzworthy as his behavior away from it. After all, it’s not every day that an episode of NXT is interrupted by color bars and warning signals, but somehow Crowe has repeatedly been able to infiltrate broadcasts with this unique form of communication.

In an effort to delve deeper into the mind of the man some would refer to as NXT’s resident hacker, WWE.com sat down with the tech-savvy Superstar. But as is quickly becoming obvious with Crowe, nothing, in fact, is normal.

“I used to be a 325-pound kid who was always picked on. My best friends were my computer and wrestling,” Crowe said during an interview that he insisted be conducted via Skype. In fact, the term interview must be used loosely, as the conversation with Crowe vacillated between informative and ambiguous depending on the minute. Then again, would you expect anything different from a man who hails from Anonymous, Ohio?

“I was the kid at home on my computer making films, editing and disappearing into the dark nest of the Internet,” Crowe said. When asked about his computer projects, Crowe responded with silence and a stare that would’ve shaken the confidence of The Incredible Hulk.

So just who is Solomon Crowe? We know he has extensive in-ring experience acquired during successful tours across the globe, from Mexico to Japan, England to Australia, and everywhere in-between. Prior to his NXT debut, Crowe had already developed a significant cult following of fans anxious to see him compete in NXT for the first time.

His appearance is that of a classic nonconformist. Wearing labels like “outcast” and “loner” like a proverbial badge of honor, Crowe’s affinity for corruption is of the greatest concern. It’s a trait he says said he learned during his childhood.

“My family was all over the place,” he explained. “My father was a sergeant who served in Vietnam and my mother was a street-smart saleswoman,” he said. “My oldest brother was pretty much Captain America and works for the government, and my middle brother was an ex-con with the attitude of a pit bull, so I got the best of both worlds.

“I understand how corrupt this world can be,” he added. “My mother and father passed away a few years back, and I don’t really have that voice of reason anymore.”

When Crowe first appeared on the scene, he chose former NXT Superstar CJ Parker as his initial target, only opting to inform the NXT Universe that they could return to their “regularly scheduled programming” following the attack. Though we know he’s present backstage at NXT events, finding Crowe’s daily location is a mystery better left untouched. It would seem that much like his childhood, distancing himself from his peers in the NXT locker room in favor of an iPad is where the cryptic Superstar feels most at home. For a man who once hacked his school’s mainframe as a freshman, what does Crowe have in store for NXT?

In true Solomon Crowe fashion, he emailed us a binary code and insisted that our effort to decode it would give us the answer to our question. Luckily for you, we’ve completed the decoding: Click here to see Solomon Crowe’s answer.

Follow Solomon Crowe on Twitter @WWECrowe.



Byrons Interviews

In the first installment of this in-depth interview with Alex Riley, A-Ry opened up about defying expectations en route to finally making it back into the ring. In part two of WWE.com’s exclusive interview, the former analyst speaks on the emotions of his first match back, the #FreeRiley social media campaign and plenty more.

WWE.COM: Let’s talk about your first match back, where you faced CJ Parker. Describe that experience.

ALEX RILEY: I have always respected CJ Parker and the work he has done in WWE. When I called his matches, I genuinely enjoyed his talent and the type of man he is outside of the ring. When I had the opportunity to face him the first night back, I was more than pleased. Coming through the curtain at Full Sail University was surreal. It was something I was told over and over that I would never do, so it was special to me in a lot of ways. In my mind I had never left, so I was prepared for the situation and thrilled to enjoy the ride.

WWE.COM: Following your return match on NXT, you got a little choked up. Can you explain what led to that moment?

RILEY: I certainly was not planning on getting emotional after the match was over. I am a professional wrestler and realize I am being paid to be cold and calculated, but I couldn’t control myself. When the dust settled after Kevin Owens came out and I had realized what had just happened, I was too overwhelmed to hold it back. I had spent so many Monday nights walking the halls of WWE Headquarters in Stamford, Conn., thinking I would never step foot in a ring again. Walking by the posters of all the guys that would continue their wrestling careers, I can’t put into words how painful that was. If you looked at it mathematically, I had zero chance of joining the men on the wall but for some reason, I just kept working out.

I just kept showing up to the WWE Performance Center, even though I was told there was no room for me on the shows. People used to say, “Why are you beating yourself up for nothing? Why don’t you just enjoy getting paid and having a job?” That blew my mind! I genuinely love to wrestle. I love being at practice, and I love the brutality and the contact. My job always has been to wake up and do everything I can to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Until that happens or my knees give out, that will always be my job, even if the company has me doing something else. When I had realized that all the work that I was doing for seemingly no reason finally made sense, and although the logical thing to do by anyone looking at the situation would be to quit and give in, on faith I didn’t stop. I realized I had truly resurrected myself, and the emotion was too much for me to keep inside.

WWE.COM: You mentioned that you continually worked out during your time away from the ring and we clearly saw the results when you returned. What does your time in the gym mean to you?

RILEY: I have always believed that is part of being a WWE Superstar. Keeping yourself in the best shape possible comes with my job. I want to be the best at my job, so I do it. I am blessed that I find comfort in the weight room. At times I needed a place to put my pain and the weight room was always there. I have always told people I lift weights more for my mind than my body.

WWE.COM: You received a lot of traction on social media from what’s been called the #FreeRiley movement. How did that begin?

RILEY: #FreeRiley came from a WWE fan that had written a review of a match I had with Tyson Kidd in Fairfax, Va. He spoke about how good the match was and the potential I had in WWE. He suggested putting me back in the ring and hashtagged #FreeRiley. When I saw it, I loved it. I had been feeling somewhat bound to that desk but because of my desire to still wrestle, I ran with it.

WWE.COM: Prior to your two-year hiatus from the ring, you suffered a serious shoulder injury. Now that you are back, do you have any concerns in the back of your mind about getting hurt again?

RILEY: No. I signed up to get hurt. I signed up for physical contact. I enjoy it. The only thing that is more fun than hitting someone is getting hit. I have always enjoyed the brutal nature of this business. I joined the WWE to be a high-impact athlete. The world without things like that is very slow to me.

WWE.COM: Imagine we’ve never met. At his core, who is Alex Riley?

RILEY: I couldn’t tell you exactly. The face I see in the mirror is not the man that looked back at me when I started in this business. It’s strange sometimes when I feel like I am losing control and the barriers come crashing down. Three years ago, I was a kid that most of the time was scared and timid. That kid is now dead. He needed to go. He was not built to survive here. If I did not destroy him, I would not be doing this interview. I would be back selling medical devices to doctors and that was horrifying to me. I am truly fearless. I can say that with all honesty.

When you have things taken from you or you lose them for whatever reason — your identity included — it is very scary. When you’re truly not happy with what you see in the mirror and you can’t find a way out or a way to fix the problem, it creates a lot of anger. I don’t know how I got set on this path or where it began, but the product of that road traveled is truly a caged animal. Somebody that thrives on anger, emotion and lives for one reason, and that is to protect what he loves at all costs. At this point in my career, I make no apologies; I will not be held responsible for my actions. I am in survival mode until the last of my days as a wrestler and anyone that tries to take what I love better be ready to be put in a life-or-death situation because that is what it means to Alex Riley.

WWE.COM: What’s does your future hold?

RILEY: Rage.



Byrons Interviews

Alex Riley has finally parted ways with the suit and tie of his commentary duties, opting instead to again don the trunks that were once a mainstay on WWE’s flagship programs. Despite suffering a loss to NXT Champion Kevin Owens this week on WWE Network, Riley has stepped out of his cage, making it clear to the world that he is indeed ready to rage.

WWE.COM: In back-to-back weeks, we’ve seen you return to the ring. Most recently, you battled NXT Champion Kevin Owens. What is your take on the situation that led to Owens snapping at you while you were doing commentary, which itself eventually led to a match?

ALEX RILEY: I have said this from the start: All I can ever say to Kevin Owens is thank you. I had been looking for a reason to break free from the desk. I loved doing commentary for WWE, but at times I felt like a caged animal. Kevin Owens unlocked the door. He unchained me and now I will not be held responsible for my actions.

WWE.COM: Did you foresee things going down the way they have over the last couple weeks?

RILEY: In all honesty, no. I was unsure about everything, including the fact that I may never step foot inside a WWE ring again. You need to understand that I bleed WWE and when my time here is done, I will never put on another pair of boots again. I did not want it to end the way it did two years ago and I never want it to end now. If it was up to me, WWE would be the last thing I ever do with my life. Not knowing if you will ever regain your purpose in life is something that is extremely scary and it changed me forever.

WWE.COM: Up until last week, it had been two years since you had a televised match in a WWE ring. What was the reason for your long hiatus from the ring?

RILEY: The company asked me to play a role for them behind the desk as a commentator, which I was more than happy to fill. For me, it was an incredible opportunity. When WWE Network went live for the first Raw Pre-Show, I was a part of it and I was honored.

WWE.COM: You racked up quite the resume as a commentator from working the Raw Pre-Show, to “WWE Superstars,” Main Event and even pay-per-view panels. What did you take from all those experiences?

RILEY: Commentary and working as an analyst gave me a chance to stay as close to the product as I could. I love sports, I love competition and it is very easy for me to talk about it. I watched every moment of WWE programming for two years with an unbiased eye because I was removed from the ring. I learned a lot in the process.

WWE.COM: Your father has had an extensive career in broadcasting as well. Did you take a page out of his book?

RILEY: I grew up watching and listening to him. He always has been a good man, so I watched him closely to learn. The broadcasting was part of many more things that I took from my father.

WWE.COM: You had a very unique path to start your WWE career, from NXT Rookie in 2010 to The Miz’s protégé. What goes through your mind when you look at those experiences?

RILEY: Growth. The Miz was great but I am not The Miz. For whatever reason, people thought we were similar years ago and I never understood why. It was frustrating. I believed I was something that the company did not. This time there will be no grey area. There will be no doubt or confusion on who Alex Riley is.

WWE.COM: You touched earlier on having doubts about the likelihood of returning to the ring. At any point did you accept that you would never possibly wrestle again?

RILEY: It was never over in my mind. Although I had people in WWE and in very high-powered, prominent positions telling me I was never going to wrestle again. I heard things like, “if you have anything in common with Alex Riley, you should be worried.” Honestly, hearing those things was more painful than I can put into words. But in my mind, I lived everyday like I was hours away from WrestleMania. That’s how you know you love something. It’s when there is zero chance of you ever getting to see it, touch it, do it again and you go on faith and never stop pursuing it.

NEXT WEEK: Riley talks about the emotions of his first match back, staying in shape and the #FreeRiley social media campaign. You can follow Alex Riley on Twitter @AlexRileyWWE.



Byrons Interviews

The once-powerful trio of Charlotte, Summer Rae and Sasha Banks is no more. As the WWE Universe has witnessed on NXT, the BFFs have all gone their separate ways. Charlotte reigns supreme as the NXT Women’s Champion, and Summer Rae has transcended her notoriety from Raw and SmackDown to leap onto the silver screen with “The Marine 4.” But what about Sasha Banks? The cornerstone of the BFFs has found herself on a singular path in the pursuit of success. This week, The Boss sits down with WWE.com to discuss the BFFs, her future and NXT. Some of her comments may surprise you!

WWE.COM: What are your honest feelings about the breakup of the BFFs?

SASHA BANKS: I’m glad to be rid of them. They were like leeches, living off of my hard work. I’m the one who put in all of the hours, all of the blood, sweat and tears that made the BFFs the dominant group we were, and they’re the ones who received all the glory. It’s about time I grabbed that shine for myself.

WWE.COM: What are your thoughts on Charlotte’s reign as NXT Women’s Champion?

SASHA: Bravo for her. I’m happy she’s got something to fool herself into believing that she’s the best around here. But if I have anything to say about it, she won’t have that championship for long.

WWE.COM: What about Summer Rae?

SASHA: What about her? Every time I hear about something new that Summer has thrown her way, I feel like the knife she left in my back is sliding deeper. She fed me all this nonsense about how siding with her would lead to all of those same opportunities for myself, yet nothing has come of it. She just used my talents to get herself ahead. Personally, if I were Layla, I’d be sleeping with my eyes open.

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Byrons Interviews

Did you know that Mojo Rawley is an avid collector of Zubaz clothing? How about the fact that Mojo never drinks coffee? This week, the “Master of Hype” is in the hot seat answering the questions from YOU, the WWE Universe, in NXT’s 10-Count.

WWE UNIVERSE: What is the difference between the training you went through in the NFL compared to the training you’ve gone through with WWE?

MOJO: I was surprised to see the extent of how different the training is. In football, I was a defensive lineman so my weight training was centered around achieving mass and power. I did mostly high weights and low reps. My cardio training primarily required me to operate at a high energy output for short bursts throughout a football game. Now, my cardio and weight training has to enable me to function nonstop throughout a match. I have to be able to function continuously throughout the entirety of a whole match. Quickness within a ring is more important than straight line speed on a football field. The structure of my training has changed completely but my training style has not. Intensity, conditioning, power and HYPE!

WWE UNIVERSE: There has to be a time when you are not hyped, right?

MOJO: There isn’t. I stay hyped all the time, no matter what. That is what I stand for, that is my foundation. I learned a long time ago that this is what is required to achieve success. Even when things are at their worst, you have to be more hyped than ever so you have what it takes to fight through the storm and into the light.

WWE UNIVERSE: What do you do in your free time?

MOJO: Outside of training, my favorite hobby is break dancing! I love going and dancing for hours nonstop. It’s phenomenal cardio, plyometric and agility-based training, and my dance moves are awesome! I am also a collector of the clothing known as Zubaz. I own hundreds of pairs of shorts, pants, underwear, shirts, head bands, bandanas, neckties, sunglasses and even a wrestling singlet among others. They are the only thing I like to wear in my free time because they are crazy comfortable and look amazing!

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Byrons Interviews

Camacho has never been known as the flashiest Superstar on NXT nor the most boisterous. This former tag team competitor has recently resurfaced and has vowed that things will be different this time around. In a rare WWE.com interview, Camacho speaks on his new rival, Adam Rose, the NXT Universe and why he plans to change NXT as we know it.

WWE.COM: What has been your mindset since embarking on your singles career on NXT?

CAMACHO: The mindset is to let the NXT roster and NXT Universe know that I’m better off alone. I am very capable of standing on my own two feet and taking down every opponent I face in the ring.

Watch Camacho on WWE NXT on WWE Network

WWE.COM: There’s always been a cloud of mystery surrounding you. Who is Camacho?

CAMACHO: Camacho is the name of a very angry man. I’m angry because I don’t get the respect that I’ve earned since I joined NXT. I’m always hearing of people who underestimate the work and heart I put in to my profession so that I can be the top Superstar in NXT. I don’t have to record a video diary like some NXT Superstars to prove to the world that I work hard at my job. I don’t have to check in on Facebook every time I go to the gym and I sure as heck don’t have to hashtag every goal I have on Twitter. I work in silence so my success can be my noise.

WWE.COM: Tell us about your background.

CAMACHO: I know what it’s like to compete for things you want. I grew up with two brothers and a sister. Every time Mom made us dinner, you made sure you were at that table an hour before or else you were probably gonna go to bed hungry. I was the first from my family to receive a full scholarship to college and the first to graduate. I put in the work, time and sweat to get everything I want, and everything I’ve wanted I’ve gotten.

WWE.COM: What are your thoughts on the NXT Universe?

CAMACHO: The NXT Universe is full of schmucks. I grew up watching competitive athletes work and fight to make a living and it was honorable, unlike some of the Superstars who prance around the ring. Where is the honor in that?

WWE.COM: I suppose you are referring to Adam Rose, who you’ve had issues with recently.

CAMACHO: Adam Rose can take his freak show to MTV. NXT is a show for athletes. Adam Rose takes my profession and turns it into a joke. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no place for Adam Rose or anyone like him around here.

WWE.COM: What separates you from the other Superstars of NXT?

CAMACHO: I’m tougher. I’ve never had surgery, I’ve never had a broken bone and I’ve never been sidelined by any injury. How many guys on the NXT roster can say that? These days, it seems like guys are on the shelf because they stubbed their toe. I’d dare someone to stub mine just so I can have a reason to hurt them.

WWE.COM: What’s different about this Camacho compared to a year ago?

CAMACHO: A year ago, I was unsure about me and my future with Hunico. Today, I know who I am and what I’m going to accomplish. You can’t trust anyone to help you get what you want and to help get you to where you want to be.

WWE.COM: What can we expect to see from you in the future?

CAMACHO: Dominance. I know that my opponent doesn’t hit harder than me. Heck, my opponent probably doesn’t even hit harder than my mom. I plan to accomplish my goals of being the No. 1 contender for the NXT Title, becoming NXT Champion and then ridding this place of the circus characters that annoy me. After that, I’m gonna reconstruct the foundation of NXT and rebuild this place the right way. I’m gonna make NXT respectable again.

Watch Camacho on WWE NXT on WWE Network Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET. Follow Camacho on Twitter @TheWWECamacho and get more NXT coverage on the official NXT Facebook page.



Byrons Interviews

Who is Sami Zayn’s celebrity crush? How does the Montreal native feel about comparisons to Seth Rogen? And could we see Zayn vs. Cesaro one more time? Sami Zayn is in the hot seat this week answering questions from you, the NXT Universe.

WWE UNIVERSE: How do you prepare for your matches?

SAMI ZAYN: Sometimes I listen to music on my headphones and walk around backstage acting weird. But in recent years, I’ve found it better to avoid trying to “get in the zone” so I just stay loose, go out when it’s my turn, and feel the moment as it comes.

WWE UNIVERSE: I’ve noticed that you’re a punk rock fan. What bands would be on your fantasy lineup?

ZAYN: Rancid, Against Me!, The Bouncing Souls, Street Dogs, Dropkick Murphys. It would be pretty sweet if Operation Ivy also re-formed for this one fantasy evening.

WWE UNIVERSE: Could you see yourself facing Cesaro again?

ZAYN: There is no doubt in my mind that our paths will cross again one day. It just won’t be on NXT.

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