WWE signs Kevin Steen to NXT

WWE signs Kevin Steen to NXT

WWE has signed Canadian Superstar Kevin Steen to its NXT division. The Quebec native has held championships in Canada and the U.S., as well as competed in Europe, Asia and Australia.

A 14-year veteran, Steen began training, with his parents’ approval, when he was a teenager. Early mentors included former World Tag Team Champions and fellow Quebecers Pierre Carl Ouellet and Jacques Rougeau. Possessing what no less than “Stone Cold” Steve Austin has described as a “hell of an arsenal,” Steen has earned many accolades stateside, including the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Ring of Honor heavyweight championships. In 2013, the magazine Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked him 10th on its annual list of the world’s top 500 wrestlers.

Along the way to becoming a world-class competitor, he also amassed one of the largest followings of any wrestler outside WWE, a fan base that belts out their “Fight, Steen, fight!” mantra with pride. In his first official interview as a WWE signee, Steen, a well-known “zoo enthusiast,” spoke to WWE.com about his long-awaited signing, his expectations for NXT, WWE Network’s debut on Rogers Communications and the importance of carrying on Canada’s rich wrestling legacy.

WWE.COM: Congratulations on your signing. How’s it feel to finally be part of WWE?

KEVIN STEEN: It feels great. I’ve been waiting for this pretty much my whole career so it’s pretty nice to finally get to do it now.

WWE.COM: Fans who know you love, but many WWE fans might not be familiar with you. How would you describe your style?

STEEN: I think I’m pretty apt at every style. I can do highflying and that kind of surprises people, considering my size. I can do technical wrestling as well. I guess my specialty would be brawling, but I’ve been known to dip into whatever I need throughout my career, so I think I’m pretty versatile.

WWE.COM: If you could suggest one match for the uninitiated, what would it be?

STEEN: I guess the best match to give somebody an idea of the stuff I bring, I wrestled a guy named El Generico in a company called Ring of Honor. I wrestled him many, many times. We had a bit of a rivalry that lasted exactly one year, so any match in that time period would be a pretty good way to get to know me.

WWE.COM: With all due respect, you’ve never quite fit the profile of a stereotypical WWE Superstar. Did you ever have any doubt that you’d find yourself here?

STEEN: I actually didn’t, and that might be hard to believe for a lot people. I’ve encountered a lot of people in my career that didn’t think I’d ever get to WWE, but I’m actually really proud to be an exception, which is what I’ve been pretty much my entire career, everywhere I’ve went. I’ve never been the norm and I take great pride in that, but I never doubted that I would get here eventually.

WWE.COM: Have you started at the Performance Center yet?

STEEN: No, I start Aug. 25, in a couple weeks. I’m really looking forward to it. I had the chance to go there just last week and got to see how everything works and meet everybody there and it was really good, so I’m looking forward to being there full time.

WWE.COM: The Performance Center just celebrated its one-year anniversary. What are your thoughts on the facility, the curriculum and the coaching staff?

STEEN: I remember a year ago when I would read all the NXT guys commenting on Twitter about how amazing the Performance Center was, not only the way it works but the actual building itself. When I went there in March for the tryout camp, I could see what they were talking about. There’s seven rings and there’s a conditioning room and it’s just a dream for somebody who does what we do to have a chance to develop themselves in that environment. And then the coaches who are there, their names speak for themselves as far as how well they can help somebody build and develop himself to become a WWE Superstar. I think everybody who’s there is very lucky to be there and that’s why pretty much everybody independent wrestling wants to get there. So I feel very lucky to have the chance to be in that environment.

WWE.COM: You’ve probably been on the WWE radar for some time. What do you think ultimately led to your signing?

STEEN: William Regal came to a wrestling show I was taking part in in California almost a year ago exactly, I believe it was Aug. 31 of last year, and it was for PWG, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. The match I had that night, I think did a lot. I had never met William Regal before; I didn’t know him at all. I had great respect for him already; he’s actually been one of my favorite wrestlers for quite some time. To have him watch my match and take the time to tell me what he thought and give me advice was already great, but then a couple days later, I was contacted to see if I wanted to be part of a tryout camp. Just for have somebody like William Regal to have enough esteem for me to go as far as to actually recommend me for a tryout meant a lot. Then I think when I went to the tryout camp and I got through it, especially, we have the promo [tryout], where we basically sell ourselves vocally. That’s always been one of my strong suits — the way I talk and what I say. I make it count, and I think that went pretty far in getting me to where I am now.

WWE signs Kevin Steen to NXT

WWE has signed Canadian Superstar Kevin Steen to its NXT division. The burly, outspoken, Package Piledriving Quebec native, who bolts around the ring with equal parts grace and bad intentions, thrives on throwing fists and talking trash.

A 14-year veteran, Steen began training, with his parents’ approval, when he was a teenager. Possessing what no less than “Stone Cold” Steve Austin has described as a “hell of an arsenal,” Steen has earned many accolades in North America and abroad, including the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Ring of Honor heavyweight championships. In 2013, the magazine Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked him 10th on its annual list of the world’s top 500 wrestlers.

Along the way to becoming a world-class competitor, he also amassed one of the largest followings of any wrestler outside WWE, a fanbase that belts out their “Fight, Steen, fight!” mantra with pride. In his first official interview as a WWE signee, Steen spoke to WWE.com about his long-awaited signing, his expectations for NXT, WWE Network’s debut on Rogers Communications and his well-documented passion for visiting zoos.

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WWE.COM: Congratulations on your signing. How’s it feel to finally be part of WWE?

KEVIN STEEN: It feels great. I’ve been waiting for this pretty much my whole career, so it’s pretty nice to finally get to do it now.

WWE.COM: Fans who know you love you, but many WWE fans might not be familiar with you. How would you describe your style?

STEEN: I think I’m pretty apt at every style. I can do highflying and that kind of surprises people, considering my size. I can do technical wrestling as well. I guess my specialty would be brawling, but I’ve been known to dip into whatever I need throughout my career, so I think I’m pretty versatile.

WWE.COM: You’ve probably been on the WWE radar for some time. What do you think ultimately led to your signing?

WWE signs Kevin Steen to NXT
STEEN: William Regal came to a wrestling show I was taking part in in California almost a year ago exactly, I believe it was Aug. 31 of last year, and it was for PWG, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. The match I had that night, I think did a lot. I had never met William Regal before; I didn’t know him at all. I had great respect for him already; he’s actually been one of my favorite wrestlers for quite some time. To have him watch my match and take the time to tell me what he thought and give me advice was already great, but then a couple days later, I was contacted to see if I wanted to be part of a tryout camp. Just to have somebody like William Regal have enough esteem for me to go as far as to actually recommend me for a tryout meant a lot. Then I went to the tryout camp and I got through it, and what made me stand out were the promos, where we basically had to sell ourselves verbally. That’s always been one of my strong suits — the way I talk and what I say. I make it count, and I think that went pretty far in getting me to where I am now.

WWE.COM: Speaking of your interview skills, it was during a chance encounter in an airport with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin that you received the advice to “never stop running your mouth.” Clearly you view trash-talk as a pivotal ingredient to your success.

STEEN: I don’t think I would’ve had the success I’ve had if I hadn’t met him. I mean, I may have figured it out on my own eventually, but him telling me that in 2005 really put it into my head. And then I realized it made sense, because if you look at “Stone Cold” or The Rock — you know, the biggest WWE Superstars there have ever been — at that time, in 2005, they weren’t full-time actors, but they were still the biggest names in wrestling. Steve Austin was my favorite wrestler from the moment I saw him. When he came into WWE at the time as The Ringmaster, I was already sold on him.

So when he became “Stone Cold,” that’s when he really started “running his mouth,” as he put it. When he told me to never stop running my mouth, it made sense to me. It clicked. I was like, “Of course!” Because that’s what he did. The next night, I was again at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in California, and I began running my mouth. I immediately put it to good use. The difference was instantaneous. The attention I got from the fans and the buzz around me in wrestling grew exponentially from that point on. It was a pivotal moment, for sure. Like I said, maybe I would’ve figured it out on my own eventually, but having the biggest name in WWE history tell you something really hammers it into your head pretty quick.

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WWE.COM: With all due respect, some have argued that you’ve never quite fit the profile of a typical WWE Superstar. Did you ever have any doubt that you’d find yourself here?

STEEN: I actually didn’t, and that might be hard to believe for a lot of people. I’ve encountered a lot of people in my career that didn’t think I’d ever get to WWE, but I’m actually really proud to be an exception, which is what I’ve been pretty much my entire career, everywhere I’ve went. I’ve never been the norm and I take great pride in that, but I never doubted that I would get here eventually.

WWE.COM: Have you started training at WWE’s Performance Center yet?

STEEN: No, I start Aug. 25, in a couple weeks. I’m really looking forward to it. I had the chance to go there just last week and got to see how everything works and meet everybody there, and it was really good, so I’m looking forward to being there full time.

WWE signs Kevin Steen to NXT

WWE.COM: The WWE Performance Center just celebrated its one-year anniversary. What are your thoughts on the facility, the curriculum and the coaching staff?

STEEN: I remember a year ago when I would read all the NXT guys commenting on Twitter about how amazing the Performance Center was — not only the way it works but the actual building itself. When I went there in March for the tryout camp, I could see what they were talking about. There are seven rings and there’s a conditioning room and it’s just a dream for somebody who does what we do to have a chance to develop themselves in that environment. And then the coaches who are there, their names speak for themselves as far as how well they can help somebody build and develop himself to become a WWE Superstar. I think everybody who’s there is very lucky to be there and that’s why pretty much everybody in independent wrestling wants to get there. So I feel very lucky to have the chance to be in that environment.

WWE.COM: Changing topics slightly, are you excited about the fact that touring with WWE could broaden your access to zoos?

STEEN: Zeus?!

WWE.COM: Well, maybe him too, but no, zoos.

STEEN: Oh, the zoos! I thought maybe you meant Zeus from “No Holds Barred,” which was pretty sweet. But yeah, I call myself a zoo enthusiast. I’m a Zeus enthusiast, as well, that’s a little-known fact. Yeah, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that fighting within WWE brings name recognition and if it hadn’t occurred to me that the better known I become thanks to WWE, the more privileges I might get as I visit the various zoos across the U.S. and Canada and the world. I’m definitely looking forward to that.

See Zeus confront Hulk Hogan on Saturday Night's Main Event on WWE Network

WWE.COM: So going back to you where came up, the Montreal scene. Canada, and Quebec in particular, have very proud wrestling legacies. Is carrying on that legacy and representing Canada something you’re mindful of?

I want to make my legacy at NXT count.STEEN: Absolutely. Especially the tradition of Canada, which, like you said, has a very rich history. Quebec does, too, but I think Quebec wrestlers have always been a certain type. They’ve always had a certain role in WWE, and I hope to not fall into that mold. I hope to create my own path. While I want to do everybody proud in Quebec, I don’t necessarily want to follow the path of the Québécois that came before me. But upholding Canada’s wrestling history in WWE is very important. Sami Zayn’s been doing a great job of it obviously, so have Tyson Kidd and Natalya, and I really want to be right up there with them.

WWE.COM: Speaking of Zayn, Kidd and Natalya, WWE Network — the home of NXT — has arrived in Canada with Rogers Communications. What are your thoughts on your countrymen having access to the NXT roster?

STEEN: I’ve been following NXT closely for years now just because I had a feeling that whenever I did get to WWE, obviously, I’d have to go through NXT. I’m very excited for all the Canadians who haven’t had the chance to get a look at NXT to actually get that chance. I think it’s going to blow people’s minds because of the quality of wrestling there and just the entire product. Raw and SmackDown are obviously what people call the flagship shows and they call it the “main roster,” but every time I watch NXT, I feel like everybody there belongs on the so-called main roster. I don’t see NXT just as a way to Raw and SmackDown — I want to make my legacy at NXT count.

Hopefully, eventually, I will get to Raw and SmackDown and the main roster, but … being on NXT is very important because of the quality of the product. I want to make sure that when I’m done in NXT, Kevin Steen and NXT together mean something. And I think when everybody in Canada gets a chance to see what NXT is, they’re going to understand why I’m so determined to make a good name there.

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WWE.COM: Any names in particular on the NXT roster or, looking down the road, the WWE roster you’re excited to compete against?

STEEN: Of course, Sami Zayn and I go way back. I go way back with Adrian Neville, as well. I had traveled the world with both those guys, and we wrestled each other in Europe and Canada and the United States. I think finally getting to wrestle each other in a WWE ring on NXT or Raw or SmackDown or wherever it may be, will be a nice way to cap off that history we’ve had together.

As far as on the main roster, it’s John Cena. I read the interview that Fergal Devitt did with WWE.com, and what he says is true. If you’re wrestling John Cena, you’re wrestling the top guy — and who doesn’t want to wrestle the top guy? But I also can’t wait to get in the ring with Bray Wyatt because I find him to be probably the most intriguing person in WWE right now. And whether it’s by his side or standing across from him in the ring, I think he and I can do something special eventually, so I’m really looking forward to hopefully getting that chance.

WWE.COM: You mentioned your experiences competing outside North America. Was it important to you and your trajectory to WWE to get that experience in other countries and styles before finding your way to the biggest sports-entertainment company in the world?

STEEN: To be completely honest, it wasn’t. From the moment I started wrestling, my goal was to get to WWE. Some guys have plans laid out where they want to go to Japan, go to Europe, go here, go there, and then they feel they can to go to WWE. I always felt like WWE was where I belong. Not even since I started wrestling, but since I was a kid. When I was 11 years old and I saw my first WWE show, that’s where I wanted to go. Obviously, you can’t start at the top, so I made my way, for years, to that moment, but I didn’t necessarily think I had to go to Japan, Europe or Australia. I was just fortunate to get all those chances and they were all great experiences, things I would never take back. It was never something I necessarily felt I had to do, though I’m very happy I got to do it.

WWE.COM: Thanks very much for your time and good luck with everything. Any last words for the WWE fans?

STEEN: For those of you who know me and are following me for this new chapter of my career, I appreciate that continued support. And for those of you who don’t know me, you’re in for a pretty crazy ride.

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