Exclusive interview: Kona Reeves on his transformation from “Mr. Nice Guy” to NXT’s Finest
Self-motivating affirmations are nothing new to the world of sports-entertainment. From WWE Hall of Famers Shawn Michaels to “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Superstars have used a boastful sense of confidence to propel themselves into the promised land of success.
Enter NXT Superstar Kona Reeves. While Reeves joined the ranks of NXT in 2014 as a humble aspiring young Superstar, it seems only recently that Reeves has tapped into the same fountain of confidence that benefited his predecessors. More specifically, Reeves has embraced the belief that he represents the finest aspects of life both in and out of the ring. This week, Reeves speaks to WWE.com about his newfound confidence, his background and more.
WWE.COM: You’ve boldly proclaimed yourself as “NXT’s Finest.” Can you explain your motivation behind the nickname?
KONA REEVES: I insist that I’m “NXT’s Finest” because I know I am the finest in every aspect. People call themselves the “greatest” or “the best” all the time. That’s okay because they are all alike. I am different than all those basic people. I have the finest hair, finest skin complexion, finest taste in music and finest ethnic background! My life is the finest it has ever been, and it’s only the beginning!
WWE.COM: How do you maintain your self-proclaimed “Finest” status?
REEVES: I go to the finest hair salon in Orlando, Fla., thanks to Mandy Rose. I have my coats and boots custom-made, and I only eat the finest organic foods. It’s not easy to live the finest lifestyle, but if you work hard, you get to play hard.
WWE.COM: You mentioned having the “finest ethnic background.” Can you tell us about your heritage?
REEVES: My mother is Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino and Spanish. My father is Dutch and Indonesian, hence why I have the finest ethnic background. I know you’re jealous.
WWE.COM: You also got your start in sports-entertainment with WWE Hall of Famer Afa the Wild Samoan. Tell us about that experience.
REEVES: I met Afa when I was 17 years old and had just graduated high school. I trained under Afa for over six years in Minneola, Fla., because I wanted to go to the Harvard of all wrestling schools. Afa is wrestling royalty and head of wrestling’s Samoan dynasty. I learned all the basics and how to be successful in this business from him.
WWE.COM: What’s the most important thing you learned from Afa?
REEVES: The one thing that Afa preaches to his students is to never forget where you come from. I never will forget because I would never want to go back to being just fine.
WWE.COM: How did your upbringing shape who you are?
REEVES: My upbringing is exactly why I want the finest things in life. When I was younger, I wasn’t one of the cool kids. I didn’t have the name-brand clothing. I didn’t have materialistic things that a lot of the kids at school had, and no one paid attention to me because they were too busy sucking up to the kids who had those things. I tried to fit in but wasn’t accepted, and honestly, it made me irate. I promised myself that one day I will have all the finest things in life so I can rub it in everyone’s face.
WWE.COM: You joined NXT several years ago, but it wasn’t until recently that your mindset apparently changed. What’s the difference between that Kona and the Kona we’ve seen over the last few weeks?
REEVES: The difference is I stopped caring about what people thought of me. I stopped being “Mr. Aloha,” aka “Mr. Nice Guy.” I used to allow myself to get stepped on just because I wanted to make friends. I had to remember why I pursued sports-entertainment in the first place. I want the fame, fortune and glory, and that means I need to make tons of money. In order to make tons of money in this business, you need to win and become the face of the company. With the finest face, it shouldn’t be hard.
WWE.COM: You’ve displayed a tendency to become very vocal with your opponents during your matches. Why is that?
REEVES: I’ve been vocal because whoever steps foot in the ring with The Finest needs to know who runs that ring. If they don’t want to bother listening, I’ll just continue to beat on them until they get the point.
WWE.COM: How do you answer critics who may suggest you are too cocky for your own good?
REEVES: (Laughs) Like I said earlier, I don’t care what people think about me because those people aren’t on my level. I call those people the “common people.” The common people are the ones who are fine working their nine-to-five jobs wishing they could be me. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make the money I’m making doing what they love?
WWE.COM: Lastly, what are your current goals?
REEVES: Current goals? Well, I have the finest plans for my career, but I think instead of me telling you, I think you should just watch!