Exclusive Q&A with Sesugh 'Uhaa Nation' Uhaa: Why he's 'here for the long run'
When the WWE Performance Center announced the signing of 11 new recruits earlier this week, perhaps none of the NXT prospects generated as much buzz as Sesugh Uhaa. Previously based out of Atlanta, the 27-year old — a six-year veteran who competed on the independent scene under the name Uhaa Nation — has cultivated a devoted following stateside and abroad, and for good reason.
Combining the musculature of a bodybuilder with the agility of a cruiserweight, Uhaa defies conventional wisdom and might just epitomize what it means to be a next-generation WWE Superstar. It’s simply not common for a man boasting deltoids the size of bowling balls to routinely bust out standing moonsaults and Shooting Star Presses in rapid succession.
A week after his arrival in Orlando, Fla., WWE.com caught up with Uhaa to discuss his path to the Performance Center, his growth as a wrestler and why NXT is “the best place to be.”
WWE.COM: Congratulations on your signing.
SESUGH UHAA: Thank you.
WWE.COM: What was your reaction to being offered the contract?
UHAA: After my tryout, I had an idea that they were looking to hire me, but you know in wrestling, things can happen, so I was just trying to stay levelheaded and at the same time be excited for myself. I came here to do the tryout, and as the process got further rand further along, I was like, “Wow, this Is becoming more real.” For me, it’s more the thing of trying to keep it a secret, but at the same time, I was telling close friends and family because this is something you can’t help but be excited about. I felt a great deal of excitement because this is where you want to be. Anybody who’s in wrestling, I think their goal should be to want to be an NXT Superstar. The talent here is amazing, and it’s just amazing I finally get to be a part of this after working on the indies.
WWE.COM: Where did you begin training, and how old were you when you started?
UHAA: I trained in Atlanta, with WWA4 [Pro Wrestling School], with “Total Protection” Mr. Hughes. I was 21 years old. I'm going into my sixth year of wrestling now. I wanted to go to college and get my degree and finish off that way, and when I left school, I found a job immediately and the whole purpose of getting a job was to save up to pay for the wrestling school. At that time, I found a good one in Atlanta; I read up on it and did my research, and read it was one of the better ones in the nation. By the time I got there, I was told I had a great deal of potential, so all I did was keep my mouth closed, ears and eyes open, listened and dedicated myself to this craft. It was the best decision I’ve made in my life.
WWE.COM: You became a prominent name on the indies pretty quickly. Is there anything you credit your rapid progress to, whether a rivalry, an opponent or competing in a specific organization or country?
UHAA: It’d definitely have to be competing in Dragon Gate Japan. Over there, we’d sometimes wrestle six times a week, and l learned from those guys, who took me in like family. Whenever I went there, my skills just improved. By the time I left, I was completely different; I wrestled completely different. Japan was definitely the place that helped me fine-tune my skills. My first tour was with Neville, Ricochet and Rich Swann, and those guys really helped me out. Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA) was actually what gave me the opportunity to go to Japan, so after Japan, I got the opportunity to wrestle in England, Germany, Scotland, the Netherlands. I did it in just six years. Of course, the United States, too. For me being here [at the Performance Center], I definitely credit Dragon Gate Japan. And leaving there was a bittersweet thing because I’d made such close connections with people. It was sad to leave, but at the same time, they were happy for me, and I was happy I got to take the next step in my career.
Next page: Uhaa on his dream opponents, NXT's expansion and more ...
WWE.COM: You’re known for your creativity between the ropes, as well as for your athleticism, as a big, muscular dude who’s also very nimble. Who were your inspirations in the ring?
UHAA: I grew up watching mostly The Attitude Era, especially when Kurt Angle came along. He had me glued to the TV every time he was on the screen. You’ve got Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero, who had similar backgrounds to mine, working overseas and making a name for themselves before ultimately getting to where they got. Of course, there’s Triple H, The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. “Stone Cold” was the guy everybody could relate to. He was the guy coming to work and beating up on his boss, which everybody who works a regular job can relate to. What people loved about him so much is the fact that he was doing what they just dreamed of doing. The Rock was just always entertaining. Guys like those are the ones who really got me motivated to do what I do. After I started doing it for long, I moved away from trying to wrestle like certain guys and I developed my own style. It took some time, but I think I figured it out after a while. I have a lot of learning to do, and I’m excited to be here as an NXT Superstar in recruitment and learn from these coaches, who are the best coaches you can get.
WWE.COM: Let’s talk about that. You’re now working with a renowned training staff in a top-of-the-line facility. What are you looking forward to most about training at the WWE Performance Center? Is there a certain aspect of your game you know you need to improve most?
UHAA: Definitely working on my mic work, talking. I’m not the best. I didn’t get to do a lot of it on the indies. But as far as learning, I’m game for anything, and I’m just going to soak up any amount of knowledge I can get. You can never learn too much, no matter how far you get. The fact we get an opportunity to be here with guys who have been around the world and just have that wealth of knowledge, those guys who have been to the stage that we’re trying to get to, the fact they take the time out to teach us and help us is amazing. I’m definitely going to take advantage of it. I’m going to soak everything up that they tell me, like a sponge, incorporate it into my style and try to find that happy medium, where it’s some of the stuff I do, along with what they show me. From there, hopefully everything takes off and goes smoothly.
WWE.COM: Switching gears to NXT, which some folks have started to dub the “super indie,” what are your thoughts on the product and its growth, and how do you see yourself eventually playing a part in its expansion as a brand?
UHAA: Man, the growth has just been crazy. I heard the San Jose show sold out in a couple hours, if not minutes. Five thousand people. For me, I was [in California] wrestling my last indie at EVOLVE, and the talk of the whole weekend was NXT. It’s becoming a brand in and of itself, with the weekly show on WWE Network, the talent here, it’s just ridiculous. Like I said, it’s the place you want to be if you are a wrestler. It’s what helps you get to that next stage, but at the same time, you’re trying to make a name for yourself and be seen worldwide. NXT is the place to be, especially if you come from the indies. The facility here is amazing — we don’t have anything like that anywhere else in the world. NXT is taking over. If it hasn’t already, it’s heading that way, and I just want to fit right in and bring what I can to the table. I want to stand out and develop more and hopefully become a worldwide Superstar like so many of these guys.
WWE.COM: You’ve already crossed paths with several NXT and WWE Superstars, including Neville and Luke Harper. Taking a look at the rosters, who are your dream opponents?
UHAA: Oh, there are so many. You’ve got Neville, Finn Bálor, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens. Luke Harper, we had a lot of fun in DGUSA. Dolph Ziggler. The list is endless. Kalisto... There are just so many talented guys here. You’ve got Hideo Itami. There’s so many that it almost seems like there’s not enough time. You want to go out there and wrestle them all at one time. Another one is Solomon Crowe. I got to wrestle him before during WrestleMania Week in New Jersey for EVOLVE, and he’s just a guy I want to learn so much from. The list is endless.
WWE.COM: Any last words for the NXT fans, either those who know you or those who will eventually get to know you?
UHAA: Just look out. I’m not holding anything back. I’m here for the long run. It’s going to be fun, and it’s going to be exciting.