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Byrons Interviews

Career longevity is an attribute that nearly every WWE Superstar seeks. Those who achieve it often do so by adding a new element to their skillset. In recent months, Tensai has embraced that new element by joining the NXT broadcast team. WWE.com sits down with Sweet T to discuss the newest chapter in his WWE career.

WWE.COM: How did you get your start in the industry?

TENSAI: I was a fan of wrestling from the first time I saw it on my television in the early ’80s. When college and football ended, I stepped into the real world and I began teaching. A few months into the school year, I heard there was a wrestling show coming to our auditorium. Keep in mind; I never knew exactly how to get my foot in the door to become a wrestler. I used to go to ECW events and sit in the crowd, hoping to get noticed. That never worked, by the way.

Eventually, I went to our principal and asked him if it would be okay if I had some sort of contest to bring three students with me to the show. My secret plan was to maybe get noticed, as well as enjoy the show. The principal agreed and I took the three kids that won a contest to the show that was being promoted by WWE Hall of Famer Killer Kowalski. We got to the show before the ring was set up and I introduced myself to Walter. He looked me up and down and told me about his school and invited me to give it a try. The next day I went to his school, and the rest is history.

WWE.COM: Tell us about your first experience joining WWE nearly 15 years ago?

TENSAI: My first run with WWE was definitely a learning experience. I went from wrestling in arenas that held 1,000 people to sold-out arenas that held 20,000-plus at times. It was a dream come true but at the same time, it was a huge wake-up call. WWE is a big business. With age comes maturity and I may have gotten a bit too complacent at the time. There is always someone out there who wants your position and I learned that the hard way.

WWE.COM: After about eight years away, you returned to WWE in 2012. What kind of changes did you notice in WWE when you came back?

TENSAI: Coming back to WWE after eight years was eye-opening in so many ways. The biggest change was the age of the talent that was working. I was the older guy in the locker room now. Minus a few guys, I was working with young men most of the time, but the work ethic was just as high as it was during my first go around.

Social media is also a huge change. WWE is a full-time job. When you are out in public, you’ve always got to be aware of how you are being perceived. With Twitter, Facebook, Tout and mobile phones, not only can everything you do be seen, it can spread to millions within minutes. There is no shutting off who you are. Good or bad, social media has taken WWE to a new level.

Most people and most young talent have no idea what travel entails. The majority of people think Monday and Fridays are the only days we work. It is a schedule that is, the for the most part, the same as with my first run, as we typically spend 250 days or so on the road a year. Friday through Tuesday is the typical schedule. That doesn’t include personal appearances on our off days.

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Byrons Interviews

Need a prototype for a career makeover? Look no further than “The Boss,” Sasha Banks. Once seen as a cute and quiet member of NXT’s Divas division, Sasha has become boisterous, bold and unapologetic. Alongside Summer Rae and Charlotte, Sasha is a proud card-carrying member of the Beautiful Fierce Females (BFFs). This week, Sasha is riding solo as she steps into the ring for NXT 10-Count and answers questions fromyou, the NXT Universe.

NXT UNIVERSE: Who was your favorite male or female sports entertainer growing up?

SASHA: Eddie Guerrero. Eddie was just so captivating in the ring. He wasn’t the biggest, but you could see it in his eyes that he believed he was. CM Punk may call himself The Best in the World, but to me, Eddie is the best of all time.

NXT UNIVERSE: Since you’re a big “Sailor Moon” fan, which character is your favorite and why?

SASHA: Without a doubt, Serena Sailor Moon is my favorite. She makes mistakes, fails tests, almost always wakes up late and she’s addicted to sweets. Basically, she’s me in cartoon form. I like the fact that she has so much girl power that, when push comes to shove, she gets the job done. She’s the baddest scout of them all.

NXT UNIVERSE: What’s your inspiration for the entrance wardrobe you wear?

SASHA: I just do me, though I do like what Beyoncé and Kanye bring to the table. I have my own custom designer who brings my visions to life. I have so many ideas for different outfits and luckily he’s good enough to keep up with all the designs that I need. As a matter of fact, I have a special idea for the NXT live debut on WWE Network Feb. 27. But you’re just gonna have to stay tuned to see that work of art.

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Byrons Interviews

At 6-foot-10 and more than 250 pounds, Colin Cassady is hardly average. If you placed the NXT Superstar in a crowded room, his presence would arguably grab the most attention. When it comes to NXT, however, Cassady’s identity has been linked exclusively to his tag team partner and good friend, Enzo Amore. With their clever catchphrases and unique delivery, the duo quickly became one of NXT’s most popular tandems. Last November, though, the career trajectory for both men changed when Amore suffered a broken leg during a training session.

“At first, I thought, ‘This is going to be real difficult for us,’” Cassady told WWE.com. “Then I thought, ‘This is just another obstacle to overcome.’ In order to succeed, we all have to fight through adversity, and this was no different.”

If one thing has separated WWE’s greatest Superstars from those who couldn’t reach the next level, it has been their ability to adjust to challenging circumstances. For the first time in his NXT career, Cassady has found himself without a partner, and he has no choice but to adjust or get left behind.

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Byrons Interviews

As Social Ambassador to Alexander Rusev, Lana has declared herself the prime orchestrator of “The Bulgarian Brute’s” path of destruction. As successful as Rusev has been, what is his relationship to Lana? What is her background? What are her long-term intentions? This week, Lana sheds light on those questions and reveals her story, which just may surprise you.

WWE.COM: How did your association with Rusev come about?

LANA: When I was living in Russia, I heard a lot of things about Alexander Rusev’s physical ability, in and out of the ring. From his unique fighting style to his incredible strength and aggression, I was extremely curious about what he had to offer. Growing up as a lover of all kinds of sports and entertainment, I was really excited to go to his matches. After I saw in-person what he was capable of, I knew I wanted to invest my time into him. I was also happy to help a man from my side of the world hold titles and become a WWE Champion.

WWE.COM: What is the relationship between you?

LANA: My parents told me I needed to find a hobby. Because I wasn’t married and didn’t have children, they told me I should find a hobby like my uncle, who owns a sports team. I looked into the possibility of investing in a team or an athlete, and that’s when I found Rusev. I guess you could say we have become good friends from working to make the #RusevLegacy the strongest force in NXT.

WWE.COM: What are your responsibilities as Rusev’s Social Ambassador?

LANA: I take care of all his public relations matters, I handle his social media, I am his cultural ambassador and I schedule his appointments and public appearances. I make sure he has his proper dietary consumption of meat along with his favorite Greek yogurt for energy and strength. The American and Eastern European/Russian cultures are very different. I make sure there is nothing that distracts him from staying focused on building his legacy.

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Byrons Interviews

Aiden English has created a distinctive niche for himself. as NXT’s resident songbird and one of its most flamboyantly verbose Superstars, English never hesitates to literally call for the spotlight to ensure the focus of the NXT Universe. This week, we delve into the background of “The Artiste” and will follow English’s insistence that we present his story in the form of a four- act play. (Seriously.)

ACT I: The beginning

You could say that the inception of “The Artiste” took place in Chicago – English’s birthplace. The middle child of two brothers and one sister, the acting bug bit at an early age.

“I was cast in a role as ‘Dying Child 3’ in a run of ‘Les Miserables’ when I was 5 years old. Being bathed in those lights was a feeling that never left me. Plus, the makeup was latexbased and that also never left me… for the next two weeks anyway,” English told WWE.com.

From “Les Miserables,” English went on to study the art of stage and screen at Columbia College in Chicago.

“My mentor was the great Guido Crescendo of ‘Swashbuckling’ fame, and one-half of the infamous Swordsmen duo. He not only taught me the art of performance, but the art of combat as well.”

It was during this time that the seeds were first planted for Aiden to consider a career path in the world of sports -entertainment.

ACT II: Transitioning

By the time Aiden English was 20 years old, “The Artiste” had acted and performed in nearly 20 different stage shows, ranging from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” Constantly seeking out that next big challenge, English turned his sights toward sports-entertainment and the goal of grabbing his piece of the global juggernaut that is WWE.

“Many actors have made careers on both stage and screen,” English noted, “but how many performers can say they’ve conquered the stage, the screen and the ring?”

Putting forth the funds to enroll in a night class at WWE’s developmental training system, English embarked on his path. Despite having no promises or guarantees of future Superstardom, English earned a WWE contract once the three-month enrollment period concluded – a rare achievement for a student, but not one that surprised him.

“Anybody who knows anything about me would know that I was destined to earn a contract,” English said.

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Byrons Interviews

BY Byron Saxton

Polished, distinguished, well-mannered and classy are not exactly the appropriate words to describe NXT Superstar Scott Dawson. Sylvester Lefort’s prime client has an unconventional take on life—and an equally unconventional appearance. In this third installment of NXT’s 10-Count, Dawson steps out of the ring and into our land of inquiry. Scott Dawson’s 10-Count starts right now!

WWE UNIVERSE: What do you like to do in your spare time?

DAWSON: First and foremost, drink coffee. I really like working out, but not that sissy core and ab stuff all the other Superstars do. I’m a fighter, and abs ain’t ever won a fight. Big plates and big steaks equal big pecs and big checks.

WWE UNIVERSE: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

DAWSON: Well, seeing how I’m, like, the James Dean of WWE, everything I do is cool. The coolest was the time my friends and I took a trip to a local farmer’s horse farm. It was late at night and raining. I started sneaking up behind the biggest horse in the pen and I jumped right on top and rode her like I was Smokey Davis! Needless to say, she threw me off about 50 feet in the air! But nothing hurts me, so I was OK.

WWE UNIVERSE: Who inspired you to step inside the squared circle?

DAWSON: I’ve fought my whole life, literally. I’ve fought behind trailer parks for money; I’ve bounced; and now I’m wrestling. My biggest inspiration to train for WWE, however, is Bret “Hit Man” Hart. He was the absolute best at what he did.

WWE UNIVERSE: What’s your favorite meal?

DAWSON: Anything my mama cooks. Choosing one is just too hard. But since you’re making me choose, I’d say rib eye, potato salad, baked beans and baked mac ‘n’ cheese. As for dessert, a big helping of banana pudding. OH DADA!

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Byrons Interviews

After weeks of heavy anticipation, Mojo Rawley has arrived on the WWE NXT scene. The former collegiate standout has had some unique experiences up to this point with an equally compelling outlook on life. Earning a victory in his debut NXT matchup, Mojo has lived up to his self-coined motto: “I don’t get hyped, I stay hyped.” WWE.com takes a deeper look into a story of hard work, sacrifice and positivity as we learn what makes the “hype” behind Mojo Rawley.

WWE.com: How did you get your start in WWE and NXT?

MOJO: I was coming off of an injury with the Arizona Cardinals that sidelined me for 18 months. When I healed up, I had some offers on the table to resume my career in the NFL and also had offers to enter the financial services industries with companies such as Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. I ended up getting in touch with WWE through a friend. Being part of WWE was the first thing I ever wanted to do, so I ran with it. When I was offered a contract, I left everything I had ever known and everything I had ever done to start over here.

WWE.com: Tell us about your football background.

MOJO: I wasn’t recruited to play football out of high school, so I went to Christopher Newport University where I was a two-year starter and captain. I was on a full academic scholarship at CNU, but I ultimately decided I wanted to take a chance at a major Division I school, so I walked on as a defensive lineman at the University of Maryland. I gave up my full academic scholarship to pay $40,000 a year to have a chance at something special. I had to fight extremely hard at Maryland but eventually earned my scholarship and starting position on the team. Eventually I was giving all the pregame speeches every week.

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