I had the opportunity to speak with former WWE NXT superstar CJ Parker on Tuesday to discuss his wrestling career, NXT, what's next for him, and more following his departure from WWE last week. Below is an entire re-cap of the interview:
First off, I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with WrestlingNewsWorld.com!
Parker: No problem, buddy.
I'll start by asking, how did you get your start in wrestling?
Parker: I started when I was just getting out of high school, and I started going to independent shows a lot. I tried to get trained by a couple of guys and then ran into some roadblocks. I ran into Truth Martini down in Nevada, and then ended up going and moving to Detroit and living there and training with him for twelve weeks, then I was just ready to go and I moved back home and worked the indies until I got signed by WWE.
Who did you enjoy working with the most during your time in NXT?
Parker: That's a tough one. Oh man, great question. There were so many guys I was having a lot of fun with, especially on the live events. I always loved working with Tyler Breeze. I can't say enough good things about him. Hideo Itami, tons of fun. Finally worked with Kevin Owens once, but I enjoyed it. I actually really enjoyed working with Baron Corbin on the live events We started getting more time and we started doing more stuff. It's cool being the smaller guy sometimes I had a cool match with Finn Balor I really liked. I know I'm pretty much naming everybody, but man everybody's so good. Sami Zayn, of course. All those guys were so much fun to work with. I had a match with Great Khali on TV once that I really liked. It's a pretty long list, but there's a couple highlights right there.
Who do you think is the most underrated performer in NXT right now that could potentially make a big impact on the main roster?
Parker: There's four guys that I think are very underrated. A guy by the name of Tye Dillinger. He's incredible and I think he needs an opportunity to show people that he's the man, because he's awesome. There's a tag team by the name of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder. They are on live events, but not quite to TV yet down here. Holy cow, they are so good. They love being in the ring and hitting brain-busters. They can make anybody look good, they always have great matches. I just love watching them. Then there's two of my buddies, Jason Jordan. I think he's got everything, and he's slowly making an impact in WWE for sure. And Aiden English. I don't think the world knows how good he is. He's an incredible pro wrestler. And those guys, I'm lucky to call them friends, and can't wait to see what they do in WWE in a couple years.
What was it like training at the Performance Center?
Parker: Man, the Performance Center is incredible. It's like nothing else in the history of pro wrestling. You walk in and it's seven rings. There's a padded ring to work on aerial moves, bigger bumps, and harder stuff. There's green screens, promo rooms, trainers, state of the art strength and conditioning room. It's got every single thing that a young wrestler needs to just get better. Everything you need is right at your finger tips. It's like a one-stop shop, man. It's incredible. It's like a college football facility, but pro wrestling. It's go everything and it's awesome. You can't get better than that.
Everyone has been talking about the accusations made towards Bill DeMott. Have you witnessed any of these accusations first-hand?
Parker: My experience with Bill DeMott was he was a guy that was extremely proud to be the head coach. He put his heart and soul into NXT. He built that from the ground up. He was the first one there, and the last to leave at the Performance Center every single day. He put blood, sweat, tears into NXT, man. He put everything he had into it. That's all I'm going to say about that.
Did you work with Matt Bloom (Jason Albert) in your final days with the company?
Parker: Yeah I did. He's great. He's just an easy guy to talk to. When I decided I needed to step away from NXT and WWE for awhile, I went to him and he listened and gave great advice. I can't thank him enough. He's like a big brother to me, a real big brother. He's just got a big heart. He's a great coach and has had an incredible career. I think right now he's the interim head coach, and I wouldn't be surprised if he does become the head coach. He just has a knack for helping people and making sure everything's okay, and I think that's a really important quality to have as head coach. I think he'll be head coach in the future, definitely.
We know that Triple H is very hands-on with NXT. Has there been anything that he's done for you that you will never forget?
Parker: Yeah, several times he would pull me aside and give me advice, and say that didn't work or try this, or I know what you're trying to do it, but try this. First of all, he's got an incredible mind for the business obviously, he's insanely smart. Just the fact that NXT is his baby and all the kids down there are guys he wants to help. You can just see the passion in him, he's very hands-on with everybody. He helped me pick my music, and he was just an easy guy to bounce ideas off of. He's very hands-on with everyone. I think he was more hands-on with other guys, but I think that was just by chance.
Where did the "eco-warrior" gimmick come from?
Parker: Everyone knows those activists, the green peace people. Those are real people in society, you know, and they can be annoying at times. So, as the character started as a babyface, but it didn't work and needed to be tweaked, and needed to be a little more edgy and I needed to turn. It just needed to change. I think it was always kind of the thought to begin with that I would always go that route, and talk like that, be one of those self-righteous people who thought they were better than everybody else. It just gradually came, and it was the idea all along. At first of all, I was trying to expose that I was a hypocrite and didn't believe in the things that I was saying, but I don't think we every quite got that far. But in my eyes, that was the next step for the character was to be found out, you know, he was just a guy blowing smoke.
You talked about transitioning from a babyface to a heel. Which character did you like to portray the most? Did you like one or the other more?
Parker: I think the heel I liked more, and maybe that was just because the Full Sail crowd liked that version. But I think even more so, in recent weeks and shows, I've just been being me, and that is what feels the best. I think that's what you should be in pro wrestling, is just an extension of yourself. That's what was slowly becoming, and that's what I will become. And when I am being myself, I'm not going to worry about what the fans think. Good guy or bad guy, I'm going to be me and we're going to find out if I'm a good guy or bad guy, depending on the situation.
Have you ever met or talked with Vince McMahon?
Parker: Here and there. A handshake, a hello, a thank you very much. You know, hi, I'm CJ, and hi, I'm Vince. But nothing noteworthy or anything.
What has been your favorite match of your career so far?
Parker: That's a tough one. There's three, I think, on TV. I had a match with Cesaro a long time ago. I gave him an airplane spin, and he immediately gave me the big swing. I just thought that the crowd was really into and I remember liking that one on TV. And of course, the Great Khali match, and the Kevin Owens match. Yeah, they were short, but they were just exactly what they needed to be. When I watch them back, you know, I think it's good TV pro wrestling. As far as live events go, me and Tyler Breeze used to have matches a lot together. We had one in Jacksonville a long time ago, and I just remember thinking while we were in there, holy cow, this is good. And when we got to the back, everyone was like that was really good. It was a lot of fun. It was one of those nights where all the wrestlers were at the top of their game and it was awesome.
I had a match with Roman Reigns once in Jacksonville that I really enjoyed a long time ago in 2012 before he got called up. I remember that it was cool. There's just so many. I have two shows this weekend coming up, and I think those are going to be my favorite matches. I'm just always looking forward to it. Good question, man.
If you could have a match with anyone, past or present, from any promotion, who would you want to face in that dream match?
Parker: I think it will be cool to go way back and face Ric Flair for an hour. That would be the thing that I would want to do, you know, just go out there with Ric Flair. Just holy sh*t, how much I would learn. That is a great question, but a thousand answers to it. I could choose Randy Savage, Curt Hennig, Steve Austin, Ricky Steamboat, Shawn Michaels, and the list goes on and on. But for this, I'd say Ric Flair for an hour. Back in the territory days, brother!
What are your thoughts on #GiveDivasAChance, and how the fans think the NXT Divas are out-performing the main roster Divas?
Parker: My thoughts on that are that I think it's cool. I think it's awesome. I'm all for girl power movements and stuff, I'm down with it. The girls down there are good, they are really good. But, I think the girls up there are good, too. The girls down there, though, they may be a little better, I don't really know. I haven't watched both separately enough to really know, but I do know that the girls down there do get a little more time, which is cool, because they deserve it. So it's kind of like I know how it is to perform in front of a crowd for only four minutes, so I know how the girls up there may feel. Yeah, the girls down there may get one, two, or maybe even three-segment matches. I do know the girls today are killing it and I think the whole give Divas a chance thing is awesome.
I think the girls up there had a two-segment tag team match on Raw a couple weeks ago, the night after WrestleMania right? So yeah, give Divas a chance, man, hell yeah.
I'll throw a fun question out there: What's your favorite movie?
Parker: Let's see... Man, that is such a hard one, like the favorite wrestler. There's so many. One that's been out recently that I thought was awesome was Interstellar. That was my favorite that I've seen lately. I love Shawshank Redemption. And if you want to go the other way as far as genre, I think Mrs. Doubtfire was successful.
I'll finish by asking, what's next for your career?
Parker: Okay, what's next for me is I am going to try and wrestle all over the world, and I'm going to try and wrestle all kinds of different people in front of all kinds of different crowds. I'm going to try out a bunch of new things and find out what's best for me as a performer. I'm going to go out there and hit the ground running. I hope I'm living out of a suitcase for a while. I can't wait to have fun. That's what's next for me. I don't have anything set in stone. Everyday I wake up is just a new day. All I know is I'm traveling this week, going to Brooklyn and CZW. I'm hoping to sell a couple t-shirts, that's right I'm looking into right now.
Thank you again for speaking with Wrestling News World!
Parker: You're welcome. Hope I gave you a great interview, man.
Be sure to follow CJP on Twitter @WWEMoonChild.
You can follow me on Twitter @cj_blaze24.