On His Upbringing:
I graduated from High School when I was 17 years old, and I was 6’5, 305 lbs at the time. I played High School football for two years. My first two years of High School, I didn’t really get good grades like I should have so they wouldn’t let me play Football and that kind of lead to me not play in college. I played semipro ball for North Carolina after High School and stuff like that. I did the NFL Combine in 2007 and had pretty good numbers, but without the college experience I couldn’t have anybody, NFL wise, to look at me or make me offers. There wasn’t really anything I wanted to do but football.
On His Eating Habits On the Road:
I eat a lot of Chipotle. That is my guilty pleasure when it comes to food. I guess they advertise that they are organic, and the price isn’t too bad for how much I have to eat, and I usually eat with them 35 times a week whenever I am out doing that. It gets tough, when late at night there isn’t a whole lot of options, so I mean it’s loading up, whenever I go into a town, first place I go to is a vitamin shop and go straight loading up on protein bars and protein cookies and snacks like that so I don’t have to be a fat pig and eat whatever at a gas station around 2 o’clock in the morning whenever I’m making it into towns.
On Getting into the Strongman Competition:
My first contest was in September of 2009. I trained, maybe like 4 weeks for it and I won my first contest. It was the Beast of the East in South Carolina and I will never forget being out there and not knowing what I was getting myself into, and seeing these guys I had to compete against, which really opened my eyes, because I thought I was a strong guy, and once I got into competing and meeting these athletes around the world, it’s insane with the amount of human beings that walk this earth. Just from where I started, I am the fastest to ever start Strongman and turn pro. I started in September of 2009 and got my procard in October of 2011.
On How WWE Noticed Him:
Mark Henry was the one that turned the company on to me. Mark and I got to be good friends after doing the Arnold in 2010 and I met Mark there for the first time, and I have been a huge fan of his throughout his wrestling career, and we got to talk, and Mark turned to them and say that I am not your average Strongman because I had a way of turning the crowd involved, while others just pick up the weights and put it down, and then they turn around and go in the back; not me, the louder the crowd got the stronger I was becoming, so the thrill that gets me going, and the crowd is out there having fun, I am having fun and I think that was one of the big thing that drew WWE to me to see that I enjoy going out there and being entertaining and that I basically am an attention whore. So, I met Canyon Ceman (Former professional Volleyball player turned Senior Director of Talent Development) in 2012 and it was pretty short and sweet. He said, Hi, I’m Canyon, I’m with WWE and you know Mark [Henry], so if you are ever interested, give me a call, and I was like, ok, thank you. During that year I was an alternate, and basically out there testing the events and making sure everything would be ran right, so I knew that I wanted to compete in Arnold in 2013 and got in touch with Canyon, and said, hey, I am definitely interested but I want to do one more Strongman contest and what not, and met them in September of 2012 and by December of 2012 they sent me to FCW, where developmental was at the time in Tampa. I went down and had me run the ropes and move around and cut a promo and feel me out to see what I had to offer. In a couple of days of seeing me they liked what they saw and signed me in May of 2013. I did the Arnold Classic, took a couple of months off and then signed, moved to Orlando in July 4th, 2013 and started July 7th of 2013. I walked in with a lot of confidence but I’ll tell you what, it didn’t take long for me to have second thoughts. They wanted to make sure that you want it, you don’t get nothing here, which I was more than happy with because my entire life there wasn’t anything I didn’t work for, nothing was handed to me. So, it was just another thing that I knew when I came in I would start from the bottom with no experience. I mean, I wrestled in High School, but I came in with no sports entertainment background in me other than hammering it up on the Strongman competition.
On the Struggles of Training:
I remember after the first week of practice, I remember waking up on a Saturday morning I was off and got out of bed, I felt that I was 90 years old, all hunched all over, everything hurt, I sounded like Rice Krispies when you pour milk on them, just snap, crackle and pop. That was one of those moments where I’m like, what did I get myself into? Then I had to take a step back and go, man, sometimes I don’t know, is this worth it, but then you pop a couple of Ibuprofens and pop a cold one and think to yourself, you know, I don’t think anything that is easy to attain in life is worth having. Anything can be handed to someone but I don’t see any satisfaction or gratitude of self worth of, here’s a plate and eat it. I am more of the get out there and grind, do my thing, and if I don’t make it, it’s my fault.
On Being Paired up with the Wyatt Family:
Actually for a long time there was talk that it wasn’t going to happen. When I was first talked about being brought up to the main roster, they were talking about cutting my hair, my beard, giving me a different look, going with something else. Then the powers that be decided that they wanted something else, and paired me with the Wyatt Family. I’ll tell you what, the little experience that I have had by being called up with wrestling and then to be paired with a bunch of guys like that to hide my weaknesses while I hone my skills, I couldn’t have been in a better spot. Luke Harper is one of the best big men, Eric Rowan is the same way. Rowen has stepped up in Harper’s position while Harper has been hurt, and he’s out there flying around, bumping and doing all these crazy stuff and leaving with Bray, leaving me mesmerized, and I’m going like, what’s going on and just listening to him talk. I was very very blessed to be put in that spot, I think it helped me greatly. I don’t know what would have happened if I was paired with someone else, because you know, in this business, you fly in the seat of your pants. You either make it or you don’t.