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    Whether you are huge WWE fan or or you don't even know what it stands for (World Wrestling Entertainment by the way), you can acknowledge that a wrestling ring inside a music festival is definitely a weird thing to see. NXT, which is WWE's developmental system, arrive at Louder Than Life for a total of 6 hours of wrestling. While it is developmental and all newly signed WWE wrestler must go through the NXT system, the NXT superstars are not rookies. Some have been traveling across the world for over ten years to wrestle and this brand of wrestling is so popular that many audience members for the shows on Saturday and Sundays were strictly NXT fans and purchased tickets to the festival solely to watch their favorite NXT superstars. Louisville.com talked to Colin Cassady and Enzo Amore, an NXT tag team, at Louder Than Life about their experience at the festival and how their time in WWE has been so far. 

    Louisville.com: Outside at a hard rock festival. Is this one of the weirdest places you have ever wrestled?

    Colin Cassady: This is definitely one of the weirdest places. I’ve done some fairs and stuff. We didn’t know what to expect coming in because we weren’t sure if most people were here to see the music or if anybody was here to see NXT.  Then we peaked our heads out of the curtain right before the show started and it was packed. People couldn’t get in. People were standing outside the guardrail to look in so it was crazy to see a lot of people are here to actually see NXT.

    LC: There are hundreds of people here but at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn (an August 2015 live event) there was around 16,000 people in the Barclays Center watching you. Do you have to perform differently in those two environments?

    Enzo Amore: I think you cater to the moment no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing. I think that a lot of people get a feeling that as professionals that we come out there and we have an idea in our head as to how the fans are going to react. Sometimes you have to go out there and you can’t expect anything. When you go out there in front of 16,000 people…I know through travelling around the country with NXT that when we spell out (their catchphrase) S-A-W-F-T, they usually repeat it and Cass doesn’t have to hold the microphone up. When I came out in front of 16,000 people, I could have said my name is and held the microphone out in the air for the next five minutes. You don’t get that everywhere you go. A place like today…we came out not expecting to have NXT fans here today because we are catering to a different audience. Reluctant to say, there are NXT fans everywhere we go and that has been proven to us. This is a brand and it is not developmental anymore.

    LC: Like you said, it is a brand and I know Triple H (WWE's Chief Operating Officer and a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion) is at the top of it all. Do you think NXT is doing so well because a lot of the trainers and coaches were wrestlers too?

    Cassady: NXT offers an alternative in wrestling. Maybe caters to a different audience. There’s a ton of crossover of course but wrestling fans are wrestling fans and they want to see good wrestling and sports entertainment so they watch Monday Night Raw, Smackdown and they watch NXT. Wrestling fans just want a good product.

    Amore: I think one of the goals when Triple H started taking over talent development and NXT became a brand was to better professional wrestling as a whole and the business and the WWE because if you really think about it, the entire future of the business is underneath the roof of the performance center in Orlando. In order to create the greatest product the WWE possibly can, they need to start where it all starts and that’s in the middle of the ring with the talent. Every single day that NXT talent gets into the ring and hones their craft, we have an opportunity to change the business and I think that is what you are seeing and I think that is why NXT has created such a buzz. The amount of hard work that people don’t get to see…they do see it when they turn on NXT because it translates what we do at the performance center on our television show.

    LC: WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes was an NXT coach until his death a few months ago. Could you tell me about the impact he made on your career?

    Cassady: Dusty Rhodes probably has the biggest impact on my career to date. He was my biggest supporter from the second I walked into this company. He always had my back through thick and thin and no matter who doubted me. He always had my back. He always pushed me and always believed I was going to become something special. So Dusty Rhodes is such an influential person in my career. It’s not just from the sports entertainment aspect. It is also from a life aspect. Just sitting down in his office with him for hours, you learn so many life lessons. He is so knowledgeable. He has so many stories and he can relate to anything.

    Amore: A lot of what he said holds true to myself. You can’t say enough about that guy. Us coming together and becoming a tag team…a lot of people didn’t see it but somehow someway two good buddies who are talking to each other but it literally translates on screen because what we do is what we do backstage. Dusty knew it. Dusty saw it. Dusty gave us a chance and is the number one reason why we have been on your NXT television screen. Honestly I don’t think I would be here today if it wasn’t for Dusty Rhodes. They don’t make them like him no more. He was the last of a dying breed and you never take that guy for granted. He got to see him almost on a daily basis and you had to pinch yourself every time and say that’s (Rhodes’ nickname) The American Dream and we get to listen to talk and run his mouth and tell stories on a regular basis and it never got old. There was always something new that he had to say. He was always dropping wisdom. It was an experience to say the least.

    LC: When a superstar gets to the performance center are they just itching to get to RAW?

    Amore: I think you are itching to get on NXT. There are a lot of people in the performance center that people don’t even know exist. The goal is to get on NXT TV. We are one of the hottest promotions in the entire world and if you are at work every single day at the performance center and your are busting your butt and you are not on our television show, you got one goal and that’s to get on NXT.

    Cassady: You are not going onto RAW or Snackdown without getting on NXT. To get to the big show up there, you need to go to NXT. Everybody has the same dreams and the same ambitions but truth is a lot of them aren’t going to make it on NXT. In order to get up there you have to be on NXT.

    Amore: I don’t people realize how often we have tryouts and people that have been working in wrestling for all over the world for 10 years, 15 years who are just trying to get in to the WWE performance center. We just had a class this week that brought in 12 new people. We see people come and go all the time. Guys that never make it on our television screens that have been here over a year that end up getting weeded out. The ultimate goal is to be on Monday Night Raw, Wrestlemania but one step at a time. You don’t want to miss out on what is happeing at NXT. We all know we are a part of something special right now and I don’t think anyone that is a part of the NXT roster wants to miss out.

    LC: Is there one match or one wrestler that inspired you to do what you are doing today?

    Cassady: I’d say Stone Cold Steve Austin. The match would be him and Bret Hart at Wrestlemania XIII.

    Amore: Shawn Michaels for me. The match was the Royal Rumble. Entered at number one and threw out The British Bulldog to win it all. Pamela Anderson was waiting for him on the side of the ring. That was all I ever wanted in life man. 

    Photo courtesy of Between The Ropes. 

    Will Ford's picture

    About Will Ford

    Covering Louisville music like it's the 6 o' clock news. I've covered Forecastle, Louder Than Life, Moontower, Starry Nights, and Louisville music news for 3 years. Follow me @parasiticnoise

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