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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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Byrons Interviews

At NXT ArRIVAL, Adrian Neville entrenched himself in the WWE history books by defeating Bo Dallas and capturing the NXT Championship in what was NXT’s first-ever Ladder Match. A week removed from the event,he buzz from the contest and NXT ArRIVAL continues. Neville sat down with WWE.com to discuss the future, his past and his brand-new title.

WWE.COM: Now that you’ve had some time to digest the feeling, what does being NXT Champion mean to you?

ADRIAN NEVILLE: The NXT Championship means everything to me. It’s more than just an accolade or just an achievement, this title means validation. The NXT Championship is a message to anyone and everyone that anything is possible.

WWE.COM: You find yourself now representing a movement for the next generation of WWE talent. How important is that to you?

NEVILLE: That’s hugely important for me. I’m surrounded by the Superstars of tomorrow, day in and day out, and there’s a fantastic atmosphere fueled by passion for this business. I’m proud to be at the forefront and to represent this crop of Superstars and Divas every time I compete. I want the world to see the dedication we have and that no matter what obstacles you encounter, let your passion drive you and let your ability speak for itself.

WWE.COM: You captured the NXT Championship by competing in the first Ladder Match of your career. What was that like?

NEVILLE: Being in a Ladder Match was an exhilarating experience, but it was right up my alley. It’s a match I predicted would be a perfect fit for ”The Man Who Gravity Forgot” and I wasn’t wrong. Despite my preparations, I was still surprised by the unpredictable nature of the match. As you saw, literally anything can happen and you never know what to expect.

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Byrons Interviews

On Thursday, Feb. 27, at NXT ArRIVAL on WWE Network, Paige will defend the NXT Women’s Championship against No. 1 contender Emma. Undoubtedly two of the most popular and successful NXT Divas today, it seems only fitting that this highly-anticipated contest will take place live on the largest stage of NXT’s four-year history. While the NXT Universe is abuzz over the matchup, there’s another interested panel of observers – the NXT Divas. This week, WWE.com gets the NXT Divas’ predictions on Paige vs. Emma.

As the inquiring journalistic mind behind the innermost thoughts of NXT’s Superstars and Divas, Devin Taylor wasn’t shy with her prediction.

TAYLOR: I think Paige will remain the NXT Women’s Champion. Although she has been out for a while with an injury, I don’t think this will be a disadvantage to her. Sometimes when you’re on the sidelines, it makes you hungrier, and you come back stronger physically and mentally. Paige has had the opportunity to see Emma’s success on Raw and SmackDown, and the last thing she would want is for Emma to continue that success on NXT.

Having been in the ring with both combatants, NXT Diva Bayley believes the ArRIVAL match will more than exceed expectations.

BAYLEY: I can’t wait to see part two of this match. Paige beat Emma to become the first NXT Women’s Champion, and now we get to see if Paige can do it again. The first match was great and historic, but at NXT ArRRIVAL, it will mean even more. This is their time to prove to not just the NXT Universe, but to the whole world, who is the best once and for all. It’s hard to choose who I want to come out on top because I’m good friends with both. But if I have to choose, I would have to go with Emma. The #EMMAlution has been running strong as of late, and I’m not sure that Paige can stop it.

Not surprisingly, Beautiful Fierce Female members Sasha Banks and Charlotte had similar views … kind of.

CHARLOTTE: I want Paige to hold onto the Women’s NXT Championship so the BFFs can be the ones to end her winning streak!

BANKS: As far as we are concerned, Emma is a joke and a comedy act. If by some miracle she’s able to win, we are going to slap that smirk right off her face and take the NXT Women’s Championship.

Though JoJo has yet to compete on NXT, she has been particularly interested in the matchup, and its impact on the entire NXT women’s division.

JOJO: I think the match between Emma and Paige is going to be very close. Both Divas are tough competitors, and both bring something different to the table that we really haven’t seen in a long time. I know Paige won’t give up her title up, but I also think Emma is going to surprise a lot of people with how well prepared she is for this match. It’s a win-win situation for all of the NXT Divas.

Will the fiery, raven-haired Paige continue her historical reign as NXT Women’s Champion, or will Emma’s era of awkwardness assume its bubble-filled throne atop the NXT women’s division? The speculation will conclude on Feb. 27 at NXT ArRIVAL, live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on WWE Network!

Follow Paige on Twitter @RealPaigeWWE and Emma @EmmaWWE. Get more NXT coverage on the official NXT Facebook page.



Byrons Interviews

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I must’ve been 6 or 7 years old when I got ahold of the Junkyard Dog action figure. Even though it came out during the mid-1980s, its true-to-life features (especially for that time) gave me the opportunity to appreciate an individual whose charisma and personality not only broke barriers, but became a worldwide attraction for a company I grew up watching. Even though my mom had issues with me head-butting my friends back then, watching Junkyard Dog reminded me that I could achieve anything I wanted and be universally accepted, regardless of my race or background.

This month, all across the United States we pay homage to the contributions of individuals of African descent to our society. Here in WWE, it’s no different. Much like Junkyard Dog influenced me, there is a host of other African-American Superstars and Divas who, in some way, shape or form, helped pave the way for the NXT Superstars of today.

“One of the Superstars I looked up to was The Big Cat Ernie Ladd. Even though he was well before my time, at 6-foot-9 he was one of the first big (literally) African-American Superstars,” said NXT Superstar Angelo Dawkins.

“He earned Hall of Fame honors in both WWE and the NFL, which tells you how good he really was,” Dawkins said. “I still have a pair of Ernie Ladd retro black trunks that I used to wear. He was class personified whether he was in the ring or behind a microphone.”

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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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