Jake Herbert's path from Warrior to Olympian

Jake Herbert's path from Warrior to Olympian
As the entire world celebrates the Olympic Games in London this month, the WWE Universe will want to pay close attention to one of its own: freestyle wrestler Jake Herbert, who is competing for the gold in the 185 pound weight class on Aug. 11. A former two-time NCAA Champion at Northwestern University and a WWE diehard, Herbert has been training for competition at the Cliff Keen Wrestling Camp in Ann Arbor, Mich. — which is the home state of the Steiner Brothers, as Herbert points out.

WWE.com caught up with Herbert just before he flew off to London for the opening ceremonies to dish on a variety of topics, ranging from Olympic preparation to ECW original Spike Dudley.

Jake Herbert's path from Warrior to Olympian
WWE.com: What is the personal significance of representing the U.S. at the Olympics?

Jake Herbert: It's awesome. I'm already representing the greatest country in the world, and now I get to go out there and prove that I’m the greatest wrestler in the world. To be on the Olympic team for the Untied States is what everybody dreams of, and I know it makes all the other Olympians from other countries jealous that they're not representing the USA.

WWE.com: You won the silver medal at the 2009 World Wrestling Championships, and now you’re competing for the gold at the Olympics. What’s the difference in terms of the field of competitors and your own individual preparation and attitude?

Jake Herbert: There have been no standouts. It’s not like our weight class has a guy who’s won three in a row or is undefeated or anything like that. My weight class is pretty wide open. We've all wrestled each other — you know, everybody's beaten everybody else. There's no one in there who's just a standout favorite. It's all going to come down to whoever's the best on that day, whoever's going to be ready to do it on Aug 11. That’s the big thing. I know that with my preparation and with my training, I can go in there and take that gold medal. I shoot to be coming back with the gold.

WWE.com: Is it true you dressed up as Ultimate Warrior for Halloween last year?

Jake Herbert: It was Halloween 2008, I believe.

WWE.com: Has the Warrior influenced your game plan on the mat at all? Have you considered wearing tassels or trying to gorilla press opponents?

Jake Herbert: (Laughs) That's how I try to run out there. I try to run out like Ultimate Warrior. I do a lot of pacing, I pump myself up a lot. I like to think when I go on the mat and I wrestle, I block out whatever happens. When I wake up, my hand's raised, [and] I look all over, there's blood everywhere and a guy who's crying, and I’m not responsible for anything. I unleash my inner warrior. (Laughs)

WWE.com: Clearly, you're a sports-entertainment fan.

Jake Herbert: Huge, yeah.

WWE.com: You practiced judo as a child before finding wrestling. Have you ever considered trying to make the jump to sports-entertainment?

Jake Herbert: I wouldn't mind it. I was just talking about that to people today. They're like, “Aren't you too small?” because I’m only 185 pounds and most of the guys are like 240, 245 pounds. I was just joking with my coach today that maybe I could be like Jimmy "Mouth of the South" Hart and be one of the managers. I could jump in and wrestle people, which I think would be awesome.

WWE.com: What would your hypothetical finishing maneuver be, if you ever found yourself competing at WrestleMania?

Jake Herbert: I love the Spike Dudley Acid Death Drop. It's one of my favorite moves, especially with me being a smaller guy compared to all those other guys out there. I think that would have to be one of my finishers. It'd have to be a double, where I hit him and he falls down, I pick him up and do it again. A double dose, if you will.

WWE.com: You went pretty deep in the catalogue with that one. We don't get too many Olympians referencing Spike Dudley's finisher by name.

Jake Herbert: He's one of my favorites. I was a huge fan of D-Generation X and then turned on to ECW. It's sport entertainment. It’s awesome. I read Kurt Angle’s book, “It’s True, It’s True,” right before the Olympic trials. So that was really cool because it went from his regular wrestling career to his sports-entertainment career.

WWE.com: Did you take any lessons away from the book?

Jake Herbert: He had a lot of injuries and he was really banged up going into the trials, and I was the same way, so I think if he could do it, I can do it to. I want to be just like him. He was one of my heroes growing up.

WWE.com: It seems like you ran up against a lot of injuries after the World Championships in 2009. What was the process of trying to bounce back and going into the Olympic trials?

Jake Herbert: It was tough to go through because you know you're favored and it's like you almost have everything, like you're supposed to go out there and you're supposed to win —you're supposed to do that. But that wasn't the case. I've never made the Olympic team before, so it wasn’t necessarily mine to lose. I just had to go out there and get it done, because I haven't been training just to make the Olympic team. I've been training to get a gold medal. That's just step one. I went out there with this attitude that I just had to get it done, it was just a stepping stone, and it was such a big sigh of relief just to get it behind me. Now I can go on, the world training begins, and I can start preparing for the gold.

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