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'The NXT Five' talk their passion for wrestling (and Kenta taking back the GTS from CM Punk) in WWE's latest kayfabe-stretching interview

It could be said that CM Punk's pipebomb promo from 2011 cracked opened the kayfabe door between the independents and WWE.  At the time, casual fans asked "what's a Colt Cabana?" even as so-called smart fans were tickled by the mention of Ring of Honor on Raw.

Since then, that door has been kicked wide by everything from Daniel Bryan's "I'm a wrestler" promo leading up to his SummerSlam match with John Cena, to The Shield special on WWE Network that featured quotes from Gabe Sapolsky and video from CZW.

The leaders in worked-shoot journalism are undoubtedly Joey Styles' team at  And they've done it again with an interview posted today (September 18, 2014).  Based around a Tweet sent out in August by Sami Zayn, John Clapp & Ryan Murphy's article, "Leaders of the New School", is a discussion between established NXT Superstars Zayn and Adrian Neville, along with the trio of signings that made a splash this Summer in Hideo Itami, Fergal Devitt and Kevin Steen.

And in the tradition of the mid-Aught's "Smackdown Six", these men have been dubbed the "NXT Five".

Their conversation starts out by discussing the decade-plus each man spent working with international and indy promotions, and where the crossed paths along the way.  While Itami and Neville say that they were initially not interested in WWE (partially because they didn't think the sports entertainment giant known for larger than life characters would be interested in smaller, agile guys like them), Zayn and Steen claim to have signed their contracts without reading them.

In talking about what drew them to WWE, Sami talks about their influences and makes a comparison that is sure to warn many a smark heart:

When we were young, we all looked up to the Jerichos and the Guerreros and the Malenkos and all these world-traveled guys who started where they were from and then made a name in Europe, then went to Mexico, then went to Japan, then went to ECW, then WCW and then they ended their careers here in WWE. Those are the guys that I looked at like, "That's what I want to be." Now, we're that generation - we're the Guerreros, we're the Malenkos.

All five men talk frankly about what a risk it was to walk away from established careers where they had security and comfortable incomes for a chance at greater success in WWE.  While they acknowledge that there are a lot of decision makers in the company (with the implication that some of them may not exactly be rooting for them to succeed), none seemed to hesitate about making the jump.

Steen seems to have had the easiest decision - his biggest concern was moving his family, a problem that was resolved in part by his seven year old son's desire to see him face John Cena - while the man formerly known as KENTA made the biggest leap to travel to not only a new company, but one in a land with a different culture and language.  It will be worth it for Itami if he can prove to himself he belongs in WWE.  And maybe take back one of his many maneuvers.

STEEN: Maybe you also came to WWE to take back the Go to Sleep. (Laughter.)

ITAMI: I hope! (Laughter.)

Each guy also shares something else in common - none were born and raised in the United States.  Devitt is Irish, Neville is British, Steen is French-Canadian, Zayn Canadian and Arabic and, of course, the Japanese Itami.  One of the changes they hope to bring to pro wrestling is a move away from characters defined by their ethnicity.  This quote from Sami will be encouraging to many of us, even as we fret that his plans will be dashed when they make it to the main roster:

I do feel like wrestling's evolved past that. I certainly felt it when I did the tours to the Middle Eastern countries. Being an Arab and still being able to come out there and be myself and not have to wrap a turban around my head, that's really cool. And that's going to be part of the legacy of this generation of guys: We're going to smash down many boundaries and preconceived notions.

Besides their backgrounds, and ethnic diversity, the "Five" share something else that they believe will serve them well as they try to become the next Jerichos and Guerreros of pro wrestling - passion.

It's an innate human quality to be able to sniff out phoniness. And everyone at this table has been nothing but honest and true in their journey to get here. That's kind of what got us here, to be honest. That's the commonality here. And that's why we have these 14-year journeys. It's a really long time and you're not going to make it through that journey if you don't have that passion to drive you.

Check out the full post at for more, including Sami talking about his bad Metallica experience and Steen's great story about learning English.

And let us know what you think of the approach WWE is taking with these men.  Is the sky the limit for them on the main shows?  Are they better served by staying in NXT?  What's the next thing to come from other promotions being entered into WWE's continuity?

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