All hail the King: WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville on ditching his "superhero" persona, missing WrestleMania and why he wasn’t part of the Cruiserweight Classic
They say you either die the hero or live to see yourself become the villain. Neville, arguably, has done both: After having his wings clipped mere weeks before his WrestleMania debut, the Superstar who had drawn comparisons to a superhero underwent a drastic transformation. He returned as an unrecognizable bully who declared himself King of the Cruiserweights and bludgeoned anyone who stood in his way or refused to bend the knee.
Neville’s campaign for the throne paid off when he won the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, but it’s clear that the man once introduced with splash-panel flair as “The Man That Gravity Forgot” hasn’t forgotten the slights that befell him during his stint among the stars. To get the answers behind Neville’s shocking transformation, WWE.com sought, and was granted, an audience with The King of the Cruiserweights. He was not entirely amused with our line of questioning.
WWE.COM: You were going to be featured in a Ladder Match at last year’s WrestleMania before you suffered an injury. Was it especially frustrating given that you were going to be able to truly showcase your abilities on The Grandest Stage of Them All?
NEVILLE: Of course, it’s very frustrating. It was set to be my first WrestleMania, which is obviously a lifetime goal. To have that taken away from me right on the approach — we were something like three weeks out — was devastating. It certainly changed me as a person, that process.
For the longest time I tried to hold up
this nice-guy, superhero, role-model
persona ... it was getting me nowhere.
WWE.COM: In hindsight, do you think that’s what led to the attitude change everyone is seeing now?
NEVILLE: There was a lot of time to sit and reflect on the previous however many months I’d been on the roster. It’s safe to say I wasn’t satisfied with what I had achieved. I had to recalibrate and think about a different approach.
WWE.COM: What were your plans when you knew you were coming back? Seeing the Cruiserweights starting to bloom, did you make a conscious decision that you’d try to make your mark on that division?
NEVILLE: You know, I was reluctant for a while. I was reluctant to make this change. It wasn’t in my nature to behave like I’ve been behaving recently. So for the longest time, I still tried to hold up this act — this nice-guy, superhero, role-model persona — that wasn’t really me and wasn’t serving me. At all. I didn’t want to let people down. But then I made the realization that it was getting me nowhere, and getting me nowhere quick. If I wanted to achieve anything in life, it was time to put myself first.
This was refusing to sit back and watch these comeptitors,
who are not of my caliber, be showcased in front of the world.
WWE.COM: Let’s talk about the Cruiserweight Classic for a bit. That tournament was highlighted by Cruiserweights from around the world, and you obviously fit both categories. Were you upset when you found out you weren’t going to be in it?
NEVILLE: At first, I thought I was being withheld because maybe I was above that. Maybe I’d already proven not only to the office and the higher-ups but also to the WWE Universe that I’m in a different class than those guys competing in the Cruiserweight Classic. That’s what I thought. That’s what I genuinely thought. As the months played out, I realized that wasn’t the case, and in fact, what had just happened was that I had been forgotten about. A talent like myself had been overlooked. And that was simply something I refused to accept.
WWE.COM: What were your thoughts on the tournament as a whole?
NEVILLE: The Cruiserweight Classic was a fantastic platform for people of my size, people who are similar stylistically to the way that I am, to show the world what we’re capable of. But nobody competed on the level that I am on. If I had been part of that, it would have been a very different landscape. That tournament would have been completely different if I hadn’t been overlooked.
WWE.COM: How did the idea of you eventually joining the Cruiserweights get going?
NEVILLE: This wasn’t an idea. This was taking what was rightfully mine. This was refusing to be overlooked. This was refusing to sit back and watch these competitors, who are not of my caliber, be showcased in front of the world repeatedly. I wasn’t going to allow that to happen anymore. I was going to make a statement to the world, and that’s exactly what happened.
A talent like myself had been overlooked. And that was simply
something I refused to accept.
WWE.COM: Now it seems like you walk around — and maybe you can admit this — with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. Do you feel like you have something to prove?
NEVILLE: A chip on my shoulder? Would you not have a chip on your shoulder if you’d been treated the way I’ve been treated? Think about this. Let’s be logical here. Let’s not play a game. Think about what would happen. Would you not feel the way I feel? Would you not have a chip on your shoulder? A chip is putting it very lightly. Very lightly.
WWE.COM: So you feel like you’ve got something to prove?
NEVILLE: I’ve got nothing to prove. I’ve already proven to everybody that I’m untouchable.
WWE.COM: We started to talk about your injury before last year’s WrestleMania, and now, you’re looking to represent the Cruiserweights heading into this year’s WrestleMania. What are your goals for representing not only yourself but also an entire division that you say you’re the king of?
NEVILLE: Well, I’m finally where I deserve to be and where I should always have been: on a platform to showcase my abilities. I’m not sitting back and watching it unfold. I am right on the forefront. I am proud of what I’ve done. I’m not at all regretful for how I’ve behaved and I will continue to do what is best for me, my family, and what has my best interests in mind.