We're here, but we're not all there
Paul London & Brian Kendrick have been dominating WWE Tag Team Champions MNM for four weeks straight. The high-octane duo has amassed four victories over MNM in various matches over the last month, and now they will finally be rewarded for their efforts. This week on SmackDown, Kendrick & London finally get their WWE Tag Team Championship opportunity.
But it took four wins against the champions to even get an opportunity. Both Superstars have a strong fan following from their days on the independent scene, but at the same time, many of those fans feel that London & Kendrick haven't received the respect they deserve in WWE.
"I don't think it's a matter of respect," said Kendrick. "It's just that this is our first opportunity. We're just going to take advantage of the first opportunity that's being presented to us."
"I try not to pay attention to the critical aspect of things, because it's coming from people that have really high expectations, but aren't really in the driver's seat," said London. "I think if they were here with us every step of the way, then their opinions would change dramatically. Kurt Angle has the three I's. Well, I have the three P's -- Paul, preparation and patience. Opportunities will come and go, and you have to be ready for whenever they do come. You never know when an opportunity will come. After not being on WrestleMania, we had no clue we would be wrestling MNM on SmackDown, and now we have four wins over them. The worst thing you can do is lose hope because then you're not ready when the opportunity arrives."
London is no stranger to making the most of his opportunities as he's already a former Cruiserweight and WWE Tag Team Champion. London got his first taste of gold in 2004 when he and Billy Kidman defeated The Dudleys for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Less than one year later, he picked up his first singles championship, winning an eight-man battle royal for the Cruiserweight Championship. London's first reign as a champion ended abruptly when Kidman brutally turned on him. Luckily for London, that's something that he doesn't have to worry about with his current partner.
"Me and Brian were always friends, and our styles are very similar, so we decided to throw them together," said London. "I knew Brian from our days on the independent scene. I've learned a lot from him."
"Teaming together was something we've thought about before, and we have teamed up in the past," said Kendrick. "We looked at our situations as singles competitors and realized things weren't looking so great, and we noticed there was a gap in the tag team division, so it seemed like a good idea, and luckily it worked out."
Kendrick & London have not only been achieving success in terms of wins, but they've also been receiving more and more support from the fans in recent weeks. London & Kendrick attribute their rise in popularity to their uniqueness and creativity.
"Our motto is we're here, but we're not all there," said London. "We want to show people that we're different, and different is good. Different doesn't always have to be something negative. Everyone has something to offer in this world. Everyone is unique. We're a circus coming to town."
London & Kendrick actually started teaming up together in WWE back in 2003. But towards the end of that year, Kendrick, who was known then as Spanky, left WWE. Kendrick's dream was to make it to WWE, but in a decision that shocked many of his peers, he cut all ties with WWE and moved on.
"It was something I thought about for a while, but when I realized I wasn't really progressing in the ring, I knew I didn't want to stay at that level forever," said Kendrick. "I just wasn't moving forward. It was a real risk financially, but I would've been kicking myself if I didn't do it. I'm in debt to this day, but people respected the move because they knew I was trying to become a better wrestler. I went all around the world and learned different styles. It was a step in the right direction."
The decision to leave ended up paying off. Kendrick honed his craft, and WWE noticed and brought him back into the fold in Sept. 2005. Upon his re-arrival, Kendrick and London actually competed against each other in a few matches before teaming up.
While Kendrick has endured some financial hardships to pursue his dreams, London has also had to overcome some hurdles. London admits that he was almost thrown out of his family over wrestling.
For a long time, London lied to his parents about his "secret life" of being a professional wrestler. London even said that when he chose which college to go to, he made sure a wrestling school would be nearby. London eventually dropped out of college, but he didn't stop pursuing his dream of becoming a WWE Superstar.
"I was wrestling all over the world and my parents didn't know for a good three, three-and-a-half years," said London. "That was the price I was willing to pay to live wrestling. Girlfriends and friends have come and gone. But if I hadn't done everything I did, I might not be where I am today. I'm living my dream right now, and I'm very fortunate. I've sacrificed a lot. I've lived out of my car, I've traveled hundreds of miles for nothing, but it's awesome and every day is an opportunity to learn something."
Even though London & Kendrick are on a tremendous hot streak right now, they still receive some criticisms from their biggest fans. Many fans of their independent days feel that their high-flying arsenal has been very limited ever since coming to WWE. But London & Kendrick have another take on the situation.
"When you make it to WWE, you do eliminate the amount of risks that you take. If we break our necks out there, then it affects the whole company, and it's just not worth it," said Kendrick. "It's a challenge because you have to be creative. You have to restrict yourself, and at the same time, be creative and exciting. I enjoy the challenge."
London had a unique analogy to make his point.
"If I'm a carpenter and am used to building a certain style of house, but then try to move on to build another kind of house, I'm going to have to get some new tools," he said. "I can still use my old tools, but I'll have to use the new ones too. One isn't better than the other, they're just different. The style here is different. If I use the old tools, they won't necessarily fit. It's just a matter of how you apply the tools."
London & Kendrick have made a successful transition from the independent scene to WWE, but, due to their former styles, it wasn't easy at first. London had another comparison to explain his adaptation.
"I'm a big Duke basketball fan, so I kind of compare it to Christian Laettner. He was amazing in college and his team would win all the time," said London. "Then he was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he never seemed to win. He did a total 180. That's kind of what it was like for me. It's all a matter of patience and timing. When I first started here I wanted to go 1000 mph, but that just doesn't work here. It was a big adjustment, and it's a constant adjustment. You can never know everything. Once you think you know everything, you should hang up the boots."
Paul London and Brian Kendrick have been all around the world. They have overcome personal and financial obstacles just to make it to WWE. Right now they're on an incredible winning streak. And for all of their hard work and sacrifice, they finally have their first opportunity as a team for the WWE Tag Team Championship against MNM Friday night on SmackDown. After notching four wins over the champs, London & Kendrick are excited about their opportunity.
"Well, this is my first title shot," said Kendrick. "This is what you dream about when you're a kid. We've beaten them four weeks in a row, but we're not cocky. I'm just happy to have the opportunity Friday night."
"You're either excited about an opportunity like this, or you're in the wrong line of work," said London. "You're here to be a champion. It means you're the best in your field. We seem to have MNM's number. I think we're in their head. We'll see what happens. Hopefully we're going through the airport with much heavier bags," joked London, referring to the WWE Tag Team Championship belts.
Can Kendrick & London make it an amazing five in a row against MNM? Will they become the new WWE Tag Team Champions? Tune in to SmackDown Friday night at 8/7 CT on UPN to find out.