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Byrons Interviews

The Authors of Pain have quickly defined a role for themselves as one of NXT’s most unstoppable tandems. With their sights set on the NXT Tag Team Championship, WWE Hall of Famer Paul Ellering dishes on his team’s motivation to succeed and the impact he’s had on their careers.

WWE.COM: Mr. Ellering, you’ve been guiding the Authors of Pain for the past seven months. Why have your men been so successful under your tutelage?

ELLERING: When I first met Akam and Rezar, they had one thing on their mind: being great. There’s a million wrestlers out there who will do whatever it takes to make it, but only the ones who are willing to go above and beyond actually make it big. Being great is more than just reading books and training, it’s about what you are willing to give up. The great ones give up friends, family and temptation to be completely committed to their craft. The great ones are willing to wake up four hours early just to out-train their competition. When I knew that Akam and Rezar were willing to do that, I knew they would be successful.

WWE.COM: You’ve managed many teams throughout your nearly 40-year career. Most notably was your time guiding the careers of The Road Warriors. How would you compare The Authors of Pain to Hawk and Animal?

ELLERING: Both teams have two totally different styles. Hawk’s first line to someone with an amateur background was, “Can you take a punch?” The Road Warriors were brawlers and fighters. Rezar has a mixed martial arts background and fought for Bellator. Akam is a former Olympic freestyle wrestler. I believe The Authors of Pain have the balance and toughness to make it to the levels of success that Hawk and Animal reached.

WWE.COM: Speaking of Hawk and Animal, you had a reputation for taking a very active role in not just managing their professional life but personal life as well. Have you assumed that same role with Rezar and Akim?

ELLERING: I have. We’ve only been together since June but we get closer every day. We have respect for each other and our families. I believe you have to go further than just business to understand your team. You have to dig into what it is to be a man. I’ve been there and I’ve seen everything. I know all the detours and curves. I can take them from chapter one to chapter 17. With their background and my genius, I believe I can do for them what I did for The Road Warriors.

WWE.COM: What has impressed you the most about your team?

ELLERING: I’m impressed by their growing commitment to our gameplan. We have a strategy and we execute that strategy. They are believing in the concept of what I lay out and they are gaining trust in the adjustments we continually make outside the ring. It’s no different than Bill Belichick making adjustments after the first half in order to secure a victory at the end of the game.

WWE.COM: To that point, Akam and Rezar are always ultra-focused the moment they head to the ring. What do you say to them before they walk through the curtain?

ELLERING: I tell them that this is our house of pain. Nobody enters or exits our house without feeling pain. We bleed pain and this ring is going to be our playground.

WWE.COM: Speaking of your playground, what do you think about the current landscape of competition in the NXT Tag Team division?

ELLERING: Its incredible. The bar has definitely been raised compared to when I broke in. You went from territory to territory and every night was a different match. I used to watch Hawk and Animal sit and just diagram stuff on a piece of paper. These teams are training every day and its tremendous commitment.

WWE.COM: What are your thoughts on the NXT Tag Team Champions, #DIY?

ELLERING: We beat them in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, which we won. Ciampa and Gargano are a very good team. You never underestimate the heart of a champion. Once you win those titles, it shows that you’ve found a way to win. With that said, we look forward to the challenge ahead. We are taking things one step at a time. In the final edition of the Book of Pain, #DIY will just be a footnote.