How does it feel to be WWE Universal Champion:
"Feels pretty good. It's pretty surreal to wait 21 years from the time you're 11 years old to 32 [years old] to think about becoming WWE champion and it finally happened Monday night and it feels good for sure."
Is he amazed at how far he's gone:
"Not really. That was always the goal. I always thought that I would end up here. There were moments during that 15 years where I wondered, not because I thought I wasn't good enough to get here because I did… I wondered if some of the sacrifices and the way things have to be in order to make it to WWE if that was worth it all and now I could say with absolutely no doubts that it was all worth it. I have a lot of confidence in my abilities. I know that I will bring prestige to this championship and I want to make people back home proud of what I've achieved."
Thoughts on Jim Cornette and Vince Russo:
"Jim Cornette and I have never really seen eye-to-eye. Ultimately, he knew that I could make it if I wanted to but he just didn't think I had the right attitude. But that's just because the way he and I saw things differently. He's been saying that he thinks that I must have changed the way I see things because now I have success and it must be because I changed things. But it's not; now I just work with people who I agree with more. The people who I work with now have the same vision that I do of what professional wrestling should be and what it is now. Jim and I just didn't share that vision.
"As far as Vince Russo is concerned, I don't think he means a single word of what he says. I think he says all of it to get attention. I think he knows how good I am and that me being the champion is a great move, he's just trying to rile people up."
Who he is hoping to defend his championship against:
"Finn Balor is at the top of the list considering that he won it and never got to defend it. Seth [Rollins] obviously is probably going to come knocking. A logical choice will probably be Sami Zayn. I feel like we have Wrestlemania caliber matches every time we step in the ring with each other. But I'm open to anybody who wants a shot."
Will his team with Chris Jericho be continuing:
"I don't know if we're a team or two guys who befriended each other and happened to share time on screen together. I hope it continues because people enjoy seeing us together and I don't know what the future will be. I just know that I have this Universal championship and I want to make it worth as much as possible and that's what I'm focusing on."
Memories of working with John Cena:
"The one thing that stands out is how insane of a crowd reaction he gets every time his music hits. I wrestled him on television, Pay-Per-View's, live events. It didn't matter how many people were in the building, how big the crowd was, how long of a night it was; you got pelted by noise. Big Cass who is one of my traveling partners recently experienced the same thing, he partnered with John and when the music hit he was telling me that the noise was just incredible.
"Somebody else who has that kind of reaction these days is Roman Reigns. I wrestled him at a live event a couple of months ago and I was in the ring when his music hit and it was something.
"People are very passionate about those guys. Whether they love them or they hate them, those guys bring something out of the crowd and that's why they are at where they are now."
Kevin Owens' pick for Dean Ambrose vs AJ Styles at Backlash:
"I've been in the ring with both. I think Dean Ambrose has got this one. AJ Styles is an incredible performer; very spectacular. There's something about Dean Ambrose that you can't really put your finger on it as to why he is so successful but it's always the same kind of appeal as I have. He's very determined, very passionate, and I think he will fight very hard to keep his title and will."
How he feels that the company has changed with the brand extension:
"I think it's a lot more exciting. Two separate rosters, two different PPV's, two different main events, two entire different feels. I really like how it freshened up the product. Me and Dean Ambrose were at each other's throats for 8 months. Now, there's no risk of seeing each other in the ring at the same time. Next time we are in the ring together it might be a year, 2 years, 3 years now the road. But at that point we will be different people because of everything that happened since the last time we were in the ring with each other. I like how it freshened up the product and everything is more interesting because of it."
Looking forward to NXT Takeover and Survivor Series in Toronto:
"There are some cities that you go to that bring something out of you. Toronto is one of them. A lot of it has to do with the way the crowd perceives us. As soon as I heard that Survivor Series would be in Toronto, my goal was to main event against the champion. Now that I am the champion, my goal is to main event that show and defend my championship there."