During a recent interview with ProWrestlingSheet.com, Damien Priest commented on winning the NXT North American Championship at NXT Takeover XXX, Shawn Michaels reaction, and more. You can check out some of the highlights from the interview below:
On when the change in his character began:“It was basically in the lead in to that match. It’s a cool story. I was talking or doing something and Triple H heard me. Then he pulled me aside and we were just talking. Then he started telling me about advice that Undertaker gave him about when you learn how to be yourself, you’ll make a lot of money in this business. That’s what Undertaker told him. Then he tapped me on the chest and basically said, ‘now I’m telling you that.’ I didn’t realize it until he said that, that although they had been for months telling me ‘hey, you can just be you now,’ I was still pretending to be a version of me. Or I was pretending to be who people thought I was, instead of really being me, and I think that day it hit me. I was like, ‘Oh … I’m still pretending.’ It was even the way I was speaking in promos, where I felt like I had to have a certain voice and I had to sound a certain way. Instead of just talking like I’m speaking to you right now. And Shawn would be on me about that too. He was like, ‘Hey, you’re a pretty cool guy. Just be you.’ I think finally leading into that match, I think that’s when it finally all came together and I haven’t looked back since. Obviously working with Finn Balor makes it really easy to go out and put on a great match too.”
On Shawn Michaels’ reaction to his tribute gear: “He died laughing when he saw it. I wondered if he would even get it, because he’s worn so much stuff. But immediately he knew. He was like, ‘Ohh, there it is!’ and started laughing. So I was really happy. Of course with certain things or certain people I’ll reach out and ask, but with that one I kinda wanted to surprise him … but at the same time I was hoping he was ok with it. Because you never know … But no, everyone has been super cool any time I do something like that. I remember my first TakeOver when I kinda paid homage to The Outsiders. The pants were kinda Kevin Nash. The vest was kinda Scott Hall. They were at the taping the week before TakeOver and I remember telling Scott the idea and showing him pictures of the gear to make sure it’s cool. And he’s excited saying he loves when people bring him up. He’s like ‘You’re keeping people thinking about me. That’s cool.’ I was like that’s fine by me, because it means something to me. Then he was like, ‘show Kev.’ I remember thinking, like, ‘naw, we don’t have to.’ Just cause I didn’t know! I already knew Scott somewhat. I had never really had interactions with Kevin. So, I don’t know. But he was also super cool about it. He saw it and was like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome, man! That’s really cool.’ Then they were thanking me! That’s when I realized it was definitely cool.”
On Keith Lee’s Raw debut: “I was happy. Obviously everybody knows our history in the ring together, but through competition you form relationships and through rivalries you end up getting a deeper respect for each other. Because of the battles that we’ve had, we ended up becoming really good friends and I was stoked for him. Him being ‘limitless,’ I know that’s like his thing, but it’s so true. Sky’s the limit there for him. I think he’s gonna do extremely well there. Just as he did in NXT. That’s the reason why everywhere he goes he excels the way he does. He’s gonna be fine there. I’m excited to see where they go from here with him.”
On what he thought of Pat McAfee’s NXT debut: “What everybody else thought. We were all surprised. I knew he had training. I know he’s an athlete. You know he’s a jerk, so he’s got a personality. I do get along with him though (laughs). I actually like the guy. But you still don’t know what to expect. That’s a lot of pressure. I know the pressure that I have and I always fear of not being able to perform to the highest ability that I can perform to. What he did, he surpassed expectations. From not just fans, but from us. Everybody in the back was like, that was actually good for anybody. Not just somebody’s first match. Not just an outsider. That was good for anybody’s match. And we saw two of those this weekend, which was kinda cool with Dominik Mysterio as well. That one I kinda expected though. There was no way he was not going to be good. But Pat, that was impressive. And kudos to him for actually putting in the effort to be good. That’s something that needs to be said about that. He could’ve just came in and taken whatever he was going to get paid, done a match and left. But he went out there and he put in work. You could tell he really prepared for this. There’s no amount of training that can substitute for a performance. So that was extremely impressive.”
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