Originally from Australia, Murphy is a regular fixture on WWE NXT, and will be part of the first-ever NXT tour of Australia and New Zealand this December.
Murphy spoke to NZPWI’s David Dunn about the upcoming tour, WWE video games, his new look, and more in this exclusive interview conducted Tuesday, October 25.
David Dunn: What has the vibe been like in the locker-room since this tour was announced? Are the American NXT Superstars excited to come out and see where you’re from?
Murphy: Absolutely, man. Obviously, Australia and New Zealand and other countries on this side of the world are on people’s to-do list. And what better way to tick those off than come to those countries and wrestle? We’re going to take New Zealand and Australia and tear ‘em down. It’s going to be a huge show in all the different states. Shinsuke [Nakamura] was telling me the other day, he said to me in very broken English, ‘Can’t wait to go to Australia and get them to like me more than they like you’. And I was kind of a little taken aback by that—settle down, settle down—but we’re all very excited, man. I get a lot of the boys coming up to me asking me about all the different hangouts and the food places to go in Australia and they’re very excited, as am I. It’s going to be huge.
We’re buzzing about it over here in New Zealand, and I imagine Australian fans are the same. Speaking of Australian fans, back before you were signed and you were a WWE fan in Australia yourself, did you attend a lot of live events when WWE would come over?
I remember very vividly that there was a show and one of the Superstars had walked out and they cut this promo. And I remember looking at the person I was with at the time, and I said, ‘This is what I’m going to do one day’. And it was just ‘cause this promo hit it out of the park and the whole crowd was chanting his name. And I remember looking at the person and saying, ‘I’m going to do this one day, this is going to be me’. It just all of a sudden became so clear and I knew what I wanted to do in my life and that was it, it was all off going to one of those live event shows. I didn’t get to go to them all but the ones I did were very fun and obviously a life-changing moment.
Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in a steel cage for the NXT Championship has been announced for the Melbourne event, but there are no other matches announced for any of the other tour dates. Is there a particular match you’re hoping for?
That’s a very good question – a very hard question. I think the one thing that I need to do in my home country would be to face Blake, my former tag team partner. A couple of weeks ago we were on NXT trying to settle the difference and Samoa Joe came out and put an end to that but that’s unfinished business. I think especially in Melbourne, my home town, if I took out Blake, my former tag team partner, I think that’d be what I want. I think I want to take out Blake. I think that’s what we all want.
We’ll cross our fingers. On Instagram, you recently put up a photo of you playing the original SmackDown video game. Have you always been a big gamer?
Yeah, I’m a big fan of video games, more the sports games or the shoot ‘em up, the Call of Duty, but wrestling games were always on the top of the list when it came to playing something. I remember I had to get SmackDown – when I saw that at the shop, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, getting this one!’ I ended up buying War Zone, Attitude, I got them all. Huge fan of the games man, they’re so good even going back 10 years ago. They’re just amazing games, and they’ve come so far. The new game’s incredible.
You were a downloadable character in WWE 2K16 but you’re a playable character right out of the box in WWE 2K17. Is it surreal to be able to play as yourself in a video game?
Absolutely, man. I don’t want to toot my own horn but as soon as I got the game I played as myself, and I won the NXT title.
Oh wow, congrats!
Yes, I beat Samoa Joe for it—get some little revenge for what he did in me and Blake’s match—but yeah man, it’s amazing. I remember when I was a little boy and I’d get the SmackDowns and the SmackDown vs. Raws and I’d always create myself as what I kind of wanted to be and I’d try to get it so accurate but then it looks nothing like you because I’m just not very good at it. Now there’s a character that looks identical to me in every way, to the closest details – I’ve got a little freckle by my nose in the video game. It’s surreal, but it’s so cool and I’ve become like a little kid again. It’s awesome.Sticking with your Instagram, you uploaded a photo within the last week where you’re at an NXT live event, you’re slumped down in the corner and you’ve got half your face painted in this black and white face paint. Online commentators have drawn comparisons to Raven, Sting, and Vampiro. What’s the inspiration behind the new look?
I’m a huge fan of comic books. If you’ve followed me over the last couple of years you’d see that I kind of get inspired by things. I remember at NXT Brooklyn I was inspired by Iron Man. Then in England I was inspired by Freddy Krueger. So I have these inspirations that I like doing. To me, it’s the coolest thing ever. This is more of an inspiration to the Two-Face character out of Batman Forever, as you can tell by the zebra pattern on my attire. Two-Face is basically to show a side of me that people don’t normally see. More of a distraught, an angry – everything has two sides, and that was kind of my tribute to that. I’ve helped Alexa Bliss with her inspirations of Harley Quinn, and she’s got a Freddy Krueger inspired costume. It’s just inspirational to us to play these characters that we love so much.
As someone who’s come from the Melbourne independent wrestling scene, what advice do you have for independent wrestlers in this part of the world hoping to make it to WWE?
It’s pretty simple, it’s hard work and never say no. And when I say hard work I don’t just mean in the gym and with diet and stuff. It’s all these things. Everything that you think you need to do, you need to do plus more. Never say no. One thing that happened to me when I was in high school is I used to get teased because I wanted to be a professional wrestler and everyone thought it was a stupid goal, a stupid dream. I got teachers that gave me detention because they thought that I wasn’t taking whatever they said seriously. You can’t let that stuff deter you. If you have a goal, go for it. If you put in the hard work and you don’t say no and you keep going forward then good things happen. Thankfully for me, good things happened.
Finally, what would you say to someone who might be a fan of Raw or SmackDown but who hasn’t seen NXT before? What can they expect from this tour?
Expect the unexpected. Expect a fun-filled, super entertaining, action-packed show. There’s a reason why NXT is the hottest brand in professional wrestling, and when we hit this tour, New Zealand and Australia will witness that. We are NXT, we are taking over, and we’re going to do some damage. NXT, we’re not the third brand, in our eyes we’re the first brand, and we’re going to show the rest of the world that.
WWE NXT comes to Auckland at The Trusts Arena on Monday, December 5, and Wellington at TSB Bank Arena on Tuesday, December 6. Tickets available from Ticketek.