Former Marine Kenneth Crawford ready for action in NXT
Like many members of the latest class to arrive at the WWE Performance Center, Kenneth Crawford took a unique path to NXT. A standout track athlete in high school, Crawford holds several records in the 200-meter, 400-meter and 4x4 relay races, and was named 2007 Athlete of the Year at Anson High School in North Carolina.
After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his four years of service, Crawford scored a perfect 300 on the Marines’ physical fitness test. Though he doesn’t boast the independent wrestling credits of some NXT standouts, Crawford’s athleticism, discipline and determination make him a hot prospect for the future. Now that he’s settled in at NXT, Crawford spoke with WWE.com about his road to WWE and what his hopes are for his time as a Superstar.
WWE.COM: Congratulations on signing with WWE.
CRAWFORD: Thank you very much, sir.
WWE.COM: How has life been at the Performance Center so far?
CRAWFORD: Really, really fantastic. There’s a culture of knowledge here. I’m staying humble, but taking everything in, because it’s an overwhelming experience, but very positive. There’s rigorous training, but it’s been a blessing.
WWE.COM: Going back a little before you joined WWE, can you tell us about your service in the Marines? What led you there and what did you do?
CRAWFORD: I did JROTC in high school, along with track. It was a toss-up for me, whether I was going to continue running [in college] or join the military. During senior year, my mother was going through a divorce and incurring debt. I didn’t want to put any more pressure on her by attending college, so I joined the Marines.
I enlisted in September 2008 and stayed until September 2012. [In my battalion], I handled all Defense Travel System plans. So whenever Marines needed training or anything else,I would handle the arrangements and make sure they got from point A to point B.
WWE.COM: What does it mean for you to be part of an organization like WWE, which does a lot of work to support the military?
CRAWFORD:WWE supports the military so much. It’s a plus. Like with Tribute to the Troops, I remember a lot of my guys were so glad that they took the time to go over there, even though it was real hectic. I don’t know any other organization that takes as much time to entertain people who are putting their lives on the line.
WWE.COM: Were you a fan of WWE growing up?
CRAWFORD: I’ve been a fan my whole life. The first thing I remember is Owen Hart. He was so obnoxious and eccentric, but a really good talent. That and The Attitude Era drew me in, with big characters like The Godfather. I knew wrestling was a sport, but WWE exposed me to the entertainment side of it.
WWE.COM: Who were some of your favorite Superstars?
CRAWFORD: The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Owen and Bret Hart, Eddie Guerrero, to name a few.
WWE.COM: Growing up, had you ever given any thought to becoming a Superstar?
CRAWFORD: I thought about it, but I didn’t know the steps of how to get here. I was trying find out ways of getting in. I thought it was a long shot, and it is. I never doubted myself, but I knew it was going to be a long road. This was actually my second tryout.
WWE.COM: So how did you end up getting on WWE’s radar?
CRAWFORD: In early 2013, I found WWE’s recruiting website, where you could submit your photos and videos. My wife submitted them for me. I didn’t think they were going to look at them. Maybe three or four months later, they gave me a call for the first tryout.
WWE.COM: You’ve been through Marine boot camp. How does that compare to WWE’s tryout process?
CRAWFORD: They both have a mindset of everything being for a reason. There’s a method to the madness. They teach us how do lockups and rolls, because there’s a method. It’s like in the military; they have you do the same drills and formations, so eventually it becomes muscle memory.
WWE.COM: Now that you’re here in WWE, what are your goals?
CRAWFORD: I want to be WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The title has so much history. By having that, it means the company has trust in you. When the company has invested in you to be the No. 1 man, it’s on you to rise to that level or continue doing what you’re doing.
Another goal is just to be as entertaining in every aspect [of sports-entertainment] as possible, whether it’s on the mic, on commentary, in the ring, attire, presentation, everything. I want to be the best example in the company.
WWE.COM: Now that you’ve had some time to take in everything at the Performance Center, what’s been your favorite part?
CRAWFORD: That’s a tough one. I love the training, it pushes me so much. But the best part would be obtaining more knowledge through everyone. Everybody has different styles, so you take in that knowledge, and it makes you, as a Superstar, more diverse. Fans can see that diversity in your style. Tying all of that together is fantastic.