Rising talent Cedric Alexander is one of the best ring performers in the WWE, and he’s recently joined up with The Hurt Business. He speaks with The Inner Sanctum about his career and where he wants to go.
Jack Hudson: How’d you get into wrestling?
Cedric Alexander: I was watching WCW all the time, I came into it when I was around five or six years old.
I made the decision to be a wrestler when I was about 12, and I went through school telling my mum ‘I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it’ and when I was 18 I did my two years of college and now I’m going to be a wrestler.
JH: How did the family react to that?
CA: They were very supportive, my mum is my biggest fan.
The third match I’ve ever had, I was wrestling my trainer and she threw a chair at my trainer.
It was my third match ever, and she’s getting out of a crowd and tossing chairs at people, she loves it.
JH: Do you remember your first match?
CA: It was a rival high school’s wrestling coach. His name was Greg Davidson, I didn’t realise he wrestled professionally aside from being a coach.
He was a good 450lb brother, that match took place in some random armoury in North Carolina in front of about 10 people, eight of which were family.
JH: Tell us a bit about tag team wrestling, and early on you faced two great athletes in Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, what was that like?
CA: It was intimidating, very intimidating.
Charlie Haas is very intense and he’s all in your face, he’s all or nothing.
Shelton’s awesome, I’ve known him for about 10 years now, he’s always been helpful and supportive of trying to get guys to be better.
With small things, even if it’s things like looking different ways in matches, dressing different ways.
JH: What was the first lesson you took from those two?
CA: Appreciation is a big one.
Funny story, Charlie got kind of hot at me once because after a match we had, he had a promo after the match and it was at Ring of Honor.
Caprice Coleman and I were at gorilla after the match ended, we went to the backstage area to get changed again.
By the time we even got to the locker room, Charlie was hot because we weren’t at gorilla waiting for him to thank him for the match.
It’s small things, it was a learning lesson. Charlie put his time in this business and done his time and we should say thank you for the match and making me a star essentially.
JH: How did you go moving from tag team wrestling to singles competition?
CA: Cardio is a big one, you don’t have a partner to tag out to.
That’s just the biggest thing.
JH: Then you were picked up for the Cruiserweight Classic?
CA: When I was announced for that, I had literally just cut the 25lb I was supposed to cut.
I had a WWE tryout in February, they told me they’d like for me to be in the tournament, but you have to cut the weight.
I said ‘cool, I can do that’.
By the time I hit it, it was about a week before they were supposed to announce it.
JH: The cruiserweight division, how great was it to be involved?
CA: For me it was a dream come true because I loved watching the cruiserweights.
One of the first matches I remember watching was Juventud Guerrera versus Rey Mysterio, those matches made me love wrestling.
JH: How important was it to you to win the Cruiserweight Championship?
CA: I remember when I won the championship at Wrestlemania 34, I got back to the hotel with my wife and my mother, and I cried.
It didn’t dawn on me until the night was over, like, that was Wrestlemania, I just won the Cruiserweight Championship, this is the title that made me realise I’m in the same boat as the guys I grew up watching like Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Juventud, Billy Kidman, those are my favourites.
What do you remember from the build up to Wrestlemania?
Even before the build up, me and Mustafa became really close friends.
It was after Enzo dropped the title and left the company, there was a 205 Live show where Mustafa and I were randomly put in the main event, after that night we knew we are the guys.
And if we’re going to say we’re the guys, we need to prove it.
From that match all the way to Wrestlemania, which was a few months, that was the moment I knew we were going to prove we can be future WWE Champions and US Champions.
JH: Moving over to RAW, how intense is that pressure?
CA: That was a lot of pressure and knowing I was going back on the USA Network full time, which is WWE’s home base for RAW, it was a little bit intimidating.
In my first match I wrestled Cesaro and I had never wrestled him before, so I was thinking ‘what am I going to do here?’
Pound for pound the strongest man in the WWE, behind Bobby Lashley.
But it was awesome, it was one of the things that made me think this is why I do it.
JH: Now moving into becoming a heel, how do you change that mindset?
CA: To be perfectly honest, for me that’s what I’ve always been, at least in my mind.
In some ways I think I’m an evil person sometimes, it’s easy to just let it out.
George South was my trainer, and he always said it’s easier to get people to hate you than it is to love you, and that’s the truth.
I feel like I’m the best wrestler in the world and no-one can touch me, so when I’m out in the ring and I’m a heel, that’s what I am, that’s me and that’s how I feel.
JH: How does it feel as a heel to hear the hatred from the crowd?
CA: The nice guy in me is like ‘aw, guys, why? I’m just doing my job’, but the true side of me is like ‘keep hating me, I love it, it gives me fuel, cry your tears of pain it’ll fill my coffee later’.
JH: On to The Hurt Business, how great are factions in your opinion?
CA: Factions are amazing, when done correctly they never fail.
I firmly believe that, you look at the great factions, the nWo, DX, Evolution, these are great factions that were guys coming together to say ‘hey we’re the best’.
That’s all you need sometimes.
The Hurt Business is exactly like that, MVP being the mastermind behind the thing, he’s done phenomenal work, he’s helped me in ways I didn’t think I was able to be helped, he’s been incredible.
JH: What‘s it like working with veterans like MVP, Lashley and Shelton?
CA: It’s like working with old friends, even though I’m technically the newer guy and they’ve known each other for about 20 years.
JH: Moving forward, what are your goals?
CA: I want to win some championships, I’d love to be a tag team champion, tag team wrestling is one of my favourite things about wrestling.
I want to be Intercontinental Champion, United States Champion, I want to win the Royal Rumble, I want to do everything I possibly can.
My main goal is to build this legacy that when my daughter and my future sons hopefully get into wrestling, they have a foot to stand on.
JH: Is there something you think you need to improve on?
CA: My comfortability with the mic is something I’ve been working on, and hopefully the world’s been seeing that improve with the last few weeks on RAW.
I feel like I’m one of the best in-ring performers in the company, but I need to get company with talking.
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