Exclusive interview: The Usos talk reinvention, rap battles, missing out on WrestleMania and why their best match of the year was a “slap in the face”
As The Usos wrapped up their career-best year, we sat down with Jimmy & Jey to ask them about a couple of their matches and turns on the mic for our year-end lists. They had a few other things on their mind.
Like how they’ve never been on a WrestleMania. Or a SummerSlam, for that matter. Like how hard it was to get their hands on a microphone even after two Tag Team of the Year Slammys, and how they only had 30 seconds to show they could deliver on the opportunity they demanded. Like how shows suffer from putting them on the Kickoff instead of the main event. But most of all, they wanted to talk about how they reinvented themselves by just being themselves, and left the tag team division in the dust in response.
In fairness, they’re not wrong. By any measure, this was the greatest year of their careers, the one that finally showed everyone what they were capable of. Few would question The Usos’ abilities at this point, to say nothing of their creativity or placement among the top echelon of WWE tag teams, if not Superstars as a whole. So why isn’t that enough for them?
WWE.COM: Let’s start with SummerSlam. You had one of the best matches of the year against The New Day on the Kickoff show, but did you feel slighted that you weren’t featured on the main card?
JIMMY USO: [Long pause] Hell yeah, we felt slighted. You grind to get on these shows. One of the biggest pay-per-views of the year is SummerSlam. We had one of the hottest rivalries of the year with New Day going into SummerSlam. So to be put on the Kickoff was a slap to all our faces. Me, my brother and The New Day. We did our thing.
I feel like we’re doing everything we’re supposed to do and then some. There’s gonna be a time when you can’t hold us back no more. There’s gonna come a time people are gonna want The Usos.
JEY USO: All year we been doin’ our thing, like my brother said. Hottest rivalry in the game. A tag team rivalry. The Usos and The New Day. We done killed Battleground. What else we kill, Uce?
JIMMY: Money in the Bank.
JEY: Money in the Bank. The next one was Hell in a Cell, but to put us on the Kickoff show? The Usos and The New Day on the Kickoff show, especially The Usos, when you know we deliver every single night, man. We delivered. And, all of a sudden, we got half a house full, Uce.
JIMMY: To be on a Kickoff at 5 [p.m.], and the fans aren’t even in their seat? Our mindset is, we’re gonna make sure this will be the hardest match to follow. And yeah, they messed up by putting us on first, but we ain’t got no choice but to do it. But to make this match a hell of a tag team match, to make this match a hell of a title match, to make this match a hell of a match period … we almost hurt the show, you know what I’m saying?
WWE.COM: You changed up your whole style this year, especially the way you deliver on the mic. Tell us how that new approach came about.
JIMMY: As far as change goes, we needed it. We had a good run with the painted-up Usos. The colors, doing the Siva Tau was cool, showing the Universe our heritage. But you start to feel it when it’s time for a change. If you don’t adapt and evolve, you will get left behind in this business. We knew it was time to change. The people knew it was time to change. But this change was solely for me and him. Put our feet down. “Hey Uce, this is what we’re gonna be. This is us, and if they don’t like it, the hell with them.”
If they give you 30 seconds, you better find something relevant to say in 30 damn seconds because that’s what we did. That’s where the paranoia line came from.
JEY: We say what’s on our mind, Uce, and people are gonna listen. They wanna listen. Our whole [persona] right now is The Usos. It is me and him 100 percent. If you ran into us at a Walmart or a Publix, you are gonna get what you see on TV.
JIMMY: That’s what makes it more unique. People get drawn to it. When we talk, you wanna listen. You wanna hear. You’re stuck to the screen. You wanna hear what comes out of our mouth. Like brother said with delivery, we’re twins. We’re twinning. We’re winning because we’re twinning.
WWE.COM: It’s been a strong year for tag teams across the board. Where do The Usos fit in to that picture in 2017?
JIMMY: I feel right now that we are the team that the other teams try to get on our level. I feel like we passed New Day. New Day has been the cream of the crop forever. But after this [year], if we’re not right by ‘em, we passed ‘em. That’s off just grinding, and where we come from, grinding is everything. The traveling. Finding out what gear you gonna wear, how you’re gonna look, what you gonna say. If they give you 30 seconds, you better find something relevant to say in 30 damn seconds because that’s what we did. That’s where the paranoia line came from.
WWE.COM: Tell us about that. It was the first night we really got to see you talk.
JIMMY: We never got to talk. One day we just kept pushing and asking and asking and asking, and they go, “Usos, you got 30 seconds.” Thirty seconds. Now, what the hell do we say in 30 seconds that’s gonna make it relevant or get people to go, damn, that was dope. Like Austin. “Austin 3:16 says I just whupped your a**.” When he said that, everybody got it. That whole day, Uce, let ‘em know. For a few hours, we were pacing trying to figure out what to say. Brother came up with it.
JEY: And it came from just stop worrying about it, stop walking on eggshells, stop feeling like we’re stuck or restrained.
JIMMY: “They need to be worried about us. They need to stop being paranoid and start worrying about The Usos.” Bam. Wait a minute …
BOTH: It’s not paranoia, it’s The Usos.
JIMMY: I got goosebumps right now just thinking about it. We said that within 30 seconds against American Alpha right after their match. We go there, we cut the line. Next TV, I told brother, if we don’t have the mic live in the ring, they didn’t like us. If we do, the office liked what we said. Next week going to SmackDown, what do we have?
JEY: Live mic in the ring. That’s the one that opened up like, whoa, the boys can talk. Damn right we can talk. Come on, man.
JIMMY: Now they start pushing the mic, giving us the mic. Now we’re going, “OK, let’s play with this. You rapid fire, I follow,” this twining thing, the way nobody’s ever done. I ain’t never seen it. And I’ve watched wrestling for a long damn time.
WWE.COM: You guys had a big opportunity to put that style to the test in your rap battle with The New Day. Talk to us about that.
JEY: Far as the rap battle, that had never been done. We was a little nervous about it, because it’s out of our element. But it was different too.
JIMMY: You should have seen the buildup the week prior to that rap battle. It was a bunch of negativity on the internet, [but] if you watch SmackDown LIVE that day, the rest of the show could have been the rap battle. Nothing else could have followed that. It was entertaining, it was raw, it was gritty, and it was us showing the world a whole ’nother way of what The Usos can do, not just in the ring wrestling. Ain’t nobody touching it.
JEY: Nobody touching it. Nobody touching the promo game, nobody touching us in the ring, nobody touching us on style, nobody touching our theme music. There is no one on our level right now, man. Check the resumé. We done put the work in. We won the titles against The New Age Outlaws. We won against The Dudley Boyz. We won against The Shield, man. The Wyatt Family. The New Day. Our resumé runs long. Check the rap sheet.
WWE.COM: You’ve had all this success, the fans are responding to you, but like you said, some of these major events are still just beyond your grasp. Do you feel like there’s any escalating pressure at this point to deliver with that hanging over your heads?
JIMMY: There’s two major shows The Usos ain’t never, ever, ever been on. The two biggest shows in WWE. One, SummerSlam. The other one?
JEY: Always Kickoff. Always get there, always get right there but never on there. I feel like we’re doing everything we’re supposed to do and then some. There’s gonna be a time when you can’t hold us back no more. There’s gonna come a time people are gonna want The Usos. Put us on the big stage man, the main card, the WrestleMania card we deserve to be on. You know what hurt me most? I’m sitting back last year watching WrestleMania. I see three, four other tag teams in the match. Me and my brother been here the longest. Been putting in work for the longest. All of a sudden I see a tag team that ain’t even a real tag team. This other tag team just got here. What’s the deal with that? I don’t know, and I really don’t care. Why? Because I know they can’t stop us. The cream rises to the top, Uce. And me and my brother? We’re the cream.
WWE.COM: WrestleMania season is about to come up. Do you think this is finally the year you break through?
JIMMY: This is it, Uce. If we don’t make it to WrestleMania this year? Stick me on a damn halftime show, man, just put me on the damn card!
JEY: Let the people vote or something, man. We deserve to be on that damn card. Pick the opponent; we don’t care what it is.
If they decide to put us on SummerSlam Kickoff again next year? Guess what? We’re gonna do it again. We’re gonna hurt the show.
JIMMY: We grind to get on WrestleMania. Year after year after year you wanna be the team to get there. You wanna be the main movie. Not the previews of the movie. This year it needs to happen, because I know we’re hotter than ever, we’re better than ever, people like us more than ever.
JEY: Best shape ever.
JIMMY: We’re taking it serious, Uce. We want everybody to know we’re serious about it. And it’s all coming out of love, too. We’re barking, but we ain’t biting, you know? This is all out of love, here.
JEY: Let us in, before we kick it in.
JIMMY: Just lettin’ em know. Ain’t nothing gonna change on this end. And if they decide to put us on SummerSlam Kickoff again next year? Guess what? We’re gonna do it again. We’re gonna hurt the show. And if they put us on WrestleMania Kickoff again next year? We’re gonna kill it again. They can try to hold us down, but we’re gonna turn up.