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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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Byrons Interviews

The NXT veteran weighs in on dream opponents and tag partners, homesickness and high-fiving Mr. McMahon.

He is the one NXT Superstar who claims his existence exudes perfection while simultaneously looking down on those who walk hand-in-hand with mediocrity. This week, it seems only fitting that “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger be subject to the NXT 10-Count. We’ve gathered your questions, and Mr. Dillinger has graciously answered, discussing everything from dream matches and pre-match nerves to gummy bears. Ring the bell, because the NXT 10-Count starts now!

WWE UNIVERSE: If Mr. McMahon asked you to give him a perfect high-five, would you oblige?

TYE DILLINGER: First, a “perfect high-five” does not exist, and second, no. I’d tell him he’s halfway there, shoot him a quick wink and keep on walking by.

WWE UNIVERSE: What must someone do to become a Perfect 10?

DILLINGER: For those of you holding your breath in anticipation of me finally acknowledging this question, here is your answer: Pray. There can only be one Perfect 10 and you’re reading about him right now.

WWE UNIVERSE: What runs through your head right before you pass through the curtain?

DILLINGER: I actually don’t want to go through the curtain. Literally. My nerves and excitement build throughout the night, right up until my music hits. Once that happens, I am so nervous and excited that I literally want to turn around and run home, but no one ever accomplished anything great by going backwards. I set very high expectations for myself to put on a great show for the audience in attendance or watching worldwide, so that is where my nervousness stems from. It fuels and motivates me, creating that “rush” you hear so many other Superstars speak of. It will always be there and has been for over 14 years. The day that goes away, I don’t belong in WWE anymore.

WWE UNIVERSE: Do you have any pets?

DILLINGER: I do, yes. He is a Miniature Pinscher and his name is Sheriff. Why? Because as soon as I saw him, I couldn’t leave him. For the record, he is also a bada**.

WWE UNIVERSE: What is your top 10 list of favorite wrestlers of all time?

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Byrons Interviews

If there is one Superstar we’ve seen evolve over the years, it’s Alex Riley. The man who once served as a cohort to The Miz and then turned into an announcer for WWE and NXT returned to the ring last year, only to be sidelined by a knee injury. This week, WWE.com talks to Riley about his injury, his diet and the renewed sense of urgency in his career.

WWE.COM: Last week, you finally returned to NXT after being sidelined for several months. How happy are you to be back in the ring?

ALEX RILEY: It is like being able to breathe again. Not being able to work is suffocating for me. I have another business I run, outside of WWE, but nothing replaces being in the 20-by-20. I tried to keep myself busy by staying in shape and building some other venture of mine, but the world outside WWE is so slow to me now. I felt the same way when I was done with football. I felt like everyone and everything was moving in slow motion, and I hated it. My senses began to dull and I became numb. I have always felt more alive in the line of fire with my back against the wall, and that is what I wake up to every day in WWE. I love it.

WWE.COM: To those unaware of the injury you suffered, what exactly happened?

RILEY: Well, shortly after my matches with Kevin Owens, I found out I had a second meniscus tear in my right knee. Prior to that, I have no idea. I had hurt my knee in a match in Washington, D.C., almost a year before I had it looked at. At that point, I thought it was like most of the injuries I had dealt with in my life. I figured I’d ice it, give it some time, and 99 times out of 100, the injury just gets better.

I was also coming to the end of my contract with WWE and very badly wanted an opportunity to get back in the ring full-time, and for some reason I got the feeling I was going to be given another look, so I ignored the injury. Kevin Owens threw me over the desk three months later, and I had finally gotten a chance to go be myself again. I can tell you in those weeks that I was in and out of the ring with Kevin Owens, the knee had never felt better. I attribute that to the high I was on from just being back out there. When that was over, I had an opportunity to get it looked at and it ended up being a small meniscus tear. It was a very simple surgery, and off we go.

WWE.COM: How long were you out?

RILEY: I think, completely, it was only a total of three months. The rehab process was a bit longer than I would have liked, but I wanted to make sure I got my knee as strong as possible moving forward.

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Byrons Interviews

After a shoulder injury sidelined Sami Zayn for seven months, the popular former NXT Champion finally returned to action last month, much to the delight of the NXT Universe. If Zayn’s arduous rehabilitation took a toll on the popular Superstar, though, you’d never know it by watching him in the ring. Since his return, Zayn has picked up right where he left off, earning himself a place in next week’s No. 1 Contender’s Triple Threat Match against Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin.

With that huge match looming, Zayn sat down with WWE.com to discuss how his time away from the ring changed him as a competitor, as well as to play name association with several of NXT’s top talents. Who does Zayn think has the most raw potential in NXT? Who has become NXT’s “all-star”? Find out below!

WWE.COM: Sami, now that you’ve had a few weeks for it all to register, how does it feel to finally be competing back on NXT?

SAMI ZAYN: It feels great. I think the landscape here has changed so much since the time I got hurt, and that means a whole new set of challengers and opponents. It’s also exciting to think about the prospects of what NXT can become. I almost feel like a proud papa to see what NXT has done in my absence and the potential for where it’s going to go. I’m just loving the ride.

WWE.COM: I understand you were on the shelf a little longer than you expected after you suffered your shoulder injury.

ZAYN: When I initially saw the surgeon, I was told I would be out of action four to six months. In my warped wrestler brain, I figured that meant four. But I was wrong and it ended up being six months by the time I was cleared, and seven by the time I had my return match.

WWE.COM: How challenging was it for you mentally to watch so many NXT Superstars work their way up the ladder while you could only watch from the sidelines?

ZAYN: I think the answer is in the question you just asked. Sitting on the sidelines is so painful because it’s very difficult for me to watch wrestling and not be a participant in the ring, since that’s just where I belong. I had the same feeling watching WrestleMania last year from the stands in California and the year before that. I felt like it just ripped apart the very fiber of my being because, in my head, I don’t belong on the sidelines. I belong in the ring.

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