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Bank on the Kidd: Tyson Kidd's unlikely march towards Money in the Bank

Everything is about to change for Tyson Kidd.

He is the cherub-faced assassin of WWE, a Superstar with a blinding smile and a charming personality who you’d think, upon meeting him, would be the calmest guy in the world. You’d be wrong.

A veteran of the legendary Hart Family Dungeon and a former WWE Tag Team Champion ( PROFILE), Kidd is the kind of methodical, surgically precise Superstar who will have already figured out five ways to beat you by the time your entrance music finishes playing. One of the banner competitors of WWE NXT for much of the past year, Kidd gained a ravenous following among the more meticulous members of the WWE Universe for his dynamic mix of mat work and high-flying dynamism, but still hadn’t seen much time on either Raw SuperShow or SmackDown.

Last month, though, Kidd won his way into the Money in the Bank Match for a World Heavyweight Championship Contract ( MATCH PREVIEW) by upsetting Jack Swagger in a Qualifying Match on SmackDown. Three days later on Raw, he defeated the domineering Tensai in a matter of seconds with a roll-up pin. Suddenly, the WWE Universe is starting to take notice, and his longtime fans are foaming at the mouth to see their favorite gain ground on WWE’s veterans. Despite this, though, Kidd finds himself in a familiar position going into what he describes as the biggest opportunity of his career: the underdog.

It’s a cruel label for a Superstar to wear at times, but Kidd has taken any stigma that might accompany it and turned it on its head. In a match where the outcome is (literally) up in the air, he’s not looking to be so much the dark horse as the guy they didn’t see coming.

“If you embrace it, I think being an underdog becomes more of an advantage than anything.” Kidd told WWE.com of his mindset heading into Money in the Bank. But despite the bravado and the outpouring of support from both the WWE Universe and his former mentors, Kidd’s under no illusions that a win – or even a strong showing – is guaranteed.

“There’s also a sense of pressure to deliver,” Kidd said of the opportunity to compete for the contract. Happily, that atmosphere suits him just fine. “I’m like coal under pressure,” he said. “I turn into a diamond.”

The high-flying Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd take flight against Heath Slater & Johnny Curtis.

Kidd would know pressure when he sees it, too. The Hart Dungeon, by all accounts, is one of the more miserable (and effective) places a WWE Superstar can cut his teeth, but those who survive are typically the highest quality of competitor. Stories of Stu Hart stretching out hapless students in the bowels of his makeshift training facility still echo in the testimonials of the Superstars who endured its horrors. So how does a guy like Tyson Kidd – one of the last Superstars to pass through its doors – get the label “underrated”? The short version: It took him a while to show the WWE Universe the dynamic, daredevil style they now come to know him for.

“I was trying to establish and show people that I was a technical wrestler, which I am,” Kidd said. He grew up with Bret Hart’s nephew, Ted, rubbed shoulders with Stu and Owen during his training and after a while, developed a mentor-student relationship with The Excellence of Execution himself. Except for a WWE Tag Team Championship run as part of The Hart Dynasty in 2010, following his teacher’s intricate style wasn’t bringing Kidd the kind of notoriety it had for the “Hit Man.”

“I was watching myself and said, ‘I have to change things,’ ” Kidd said. “I have to show the WWE Universe that I can be versatile.”

He had nowhere to go but up, so Kidd, fittingly, took to the skies. The Calgary, Alberta, native began incorporating intricate high-flying maneuvers that were as punishing in their execution as they were beautiful to observe. Kidd says he was inspired to adopt the new moveset after then-interim Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis terminated John Morrison last November, but he doesn’t look anything like Morrison when he flies. While The Prince of Parkour was long and lithe, Kidd is built like a bulldog and his moves seem to hit harder as he lunges onto his unsuspecting opponents.

Oh and by the way, most of the time he’s winging it. “A lot I’ve never even practiced before,” Kidd said of moves like his daring Frankensteiner from the turnbuckle to outside the ring at No Way Out 2012 as an example of his spur-of-the-moment dynamism. ( PHOTOS)

“I’ve been now wrestling 17 years,” said Kidd, who started his training with the Harts at 15. “At this stage I’m very confident of what I can do and what my athletic abilities are. … I almost have to question myself why I didn’t show the WWE Universe sooner.”

Better late than never, though, as Kidd’s new style won him over a new legion of fans, cementing him firmly in the same class of unlikely star that CM Punk and Daniel Bryan found themselves breaking into over the past year. And Kidd doesn’t mince words when he says he believes himself to be part of the recent change in perception of what makes a top-tier Superstar.

“It’s almost like we all got together and said ‘enough,’ that the underdogs are not being held down anymore,” Kidd said. “We were asking nicely before, but now the asking is done and we’re gonna take it.”

Jack Swagger tries to end downward spiral against Tyson Kidd on SmackDown.

So now, for Kidd, it all comes down to this Sunday in Phoenix, where he’ll take the ring alongside seven other Superstars – Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes, Intercontinental Champion Christian, United States Champion Santino Marella, Tensai, Sin Cara and Damien Sandow – and put body and career on the line in the hopes of capturing the contract that could change his life. While Kidd does admit that the Money in the Bank Ladder Match for a World Heavyweight Championship Contract is his potential launch pad to the next level, he’s not getting ahead of himself.

“I’m not even thinking past this right now; this is the hardest I’ve ever trained,” Kidd said. “Ever since that Qualifying Match I haven’t missed a day at the gym. I’m training every single day until I get there.”
Kidd is in pure preparation mode at this point, retweeting both compliments and insults (he finds motivation in each), loading up his iPad with three DVDs’ worth of Ladder Matches that he takes with him every time he works out. He’s sought advice from Bret Hart and had an outpouring of support from friends and foes alike, from Zack Ryder to Chris Jericho (who tweeted that fellow Dungeon-dweller Kidd “never has a bad match” after Kidd qualified) to Good Ol’ J.R. The hashtag #BankOnKidd has gained serious steam on Twitter.

But as Money in the Bank approaches, there is one unlikely source whose words hit Kidd the hardest: Michael Cole. During the Qualifying Match, the controversial announcer commented that he believed the surest way for Kidd to recognize his potential would be to distance himself from the Hart legacy that had been his calling card throughout his entire career, and instead present himself as the unique Superstar he is.

“It hit home a bit with me,” Kidd said thoughtfully when asked about Cole’s comments. While he’d never go so far as to abandon the heritage that he obviously holds dear to his heart (“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Hart family. That’s a guarantee”), he did find truth in the two-time Slammy winner’s comments. “Now’s the time where there’s a little bit of spotlight on me at the moment. … This is the moment where it’s not about me being a Hart or affiliated with the Harts, it’s about me having my own personality and being my own self.

“Maybe it’s not so much a disassociation as a next chapter,” Kidd continued. “You know, if you read a book, once you get to chapter five and stuff starts stepping up, it doesn’t mean chapters one to four didn’t happen. They happened, but now we’re on the next chapter, and that’s how I’d like to be perceived.”

So what exactly can fans expect from Chapter 5? Kidd’s not one to spoil the surprise, but he’s looking forward to showing the WWE Universe more personality and, hopefully, a hard-earned spot among WWE’s top dogs.

“I see this not as a stepping stone, but a launching pad, where maybe a year from now I’m in the mix with guys like Punk and Bryan or Ziggler or Cody. Maybe we’re all [competing] for the World Heavyweight Championship and not just fighting and scrapping to [try and get there].”

Win or lose, that likely won’t come overnight. It never does in WWE. But that sits just fine with the Kidd from Calgary.

“I’m not gonna stop fighting,” Kidd said. “I never will.”

And that, you can take to the bank.

( HOW TO WATCH MONEY IN THE BANK)

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