Before he battles Damian Priest on WWE NXT, Bronson Reed talks to Daily DDT about his huge title opportunity at TakeOver XXX, his recent rise on the brand, wanting to face Samoa Joe, and more.
Despite debuting in WWE NXT‘s Breakout Tournament over one year ago, Bronson Reed is only now breaking out on the black-and-gold brand and the timing couldn’t be better.
The up-and-coming Aussie in the midst of a major momentum shift at the moment coming off his huge victory over Roderick Strong and Johnny Gargano last month on NXT TV. It earned him a spot in the NXT North American Championship Ladder match at TakeOver XXX on August 22 in what will be his TakeOver debut.
Before then, he intends to keep his winning ways alive when he takes on Damian Priest on tonight’s edition of NXT. They’re the only two men confirmed to be competing in the high-stakes bout at TakeOver as of now and both have their sights set on becoming the brand-new NXT champion.
In an interview conducted over the phone on Tuesday afternoon, Reed commented on how beating the popular Priest on Wednesday night would instantly make him the odds-on favorite going into TakeOver.
“I think it’d be a big win,” he said. “I’m on a roll and I don’t want that to stop. I think me being able to beat Damian Priest going into TakeOver would make a big statement.”
Reed confirmed that he’s wanted to work with Priest for a while now, along with current NXT champion (and former NXT North American champion) Keith Lee. He’s well aware that they’d rip it up together, but it all comes down to chemistry as far as who he gels the best with inside the squared circle.
“I think I’ve always had a natural tendency to have better matches with a smaller guy,” he said. “For some reason, that dynamic just seems to work. Whenever there are two really large athletes, I think that’s something interesting for fans to see as well. One match that I hope happens someday is me and Keith Lee.”
Reed, Lee, and Priest are among the many big-man wrestlers NXT boasts on its roster. Killian Dain and Dominik Dijakovic are also included in that conversation.
The more agile athletes that join the black-and-gold brand, the harder it is for someone such as Reed to stand out. Then again, there’s plenty of moves in his arsenal that are exclusive to him and help him establish an identity of his own.
“We were all on the independents around the same time as well and we were all getting noticed at the same time,” Reed said. “It is harder to stand out when you have someone else who can do similar things to what you can do, so I feel like us big guys have to push it each and every time that we’re in there.”
At the onset of the year, Reed made his intentions quite clear of wanting to win the North American title before 2020 was through. He’ll get that golden opportunity at TakeOver XXX and it isn’t something he plans on taking lightly.
For him to qualify for the contest by beating two of NXT’s finest in Johnny Gargano and Roderick Strong made the moment that much sweeter for him.
“It was one of those things where you work really hard to get to where you are,” Reed said.
“Obviously, I come from the independents in Australia and being able to wrestle guys like Gargano and Roderick Strong who are so well-known and established in NXT. It’s really good to be able to wrestle one of those guys but especially coming away with a win. If anything, [my wife] might be more excited than me. I’m super excited, but at the same time, nerves kick in as well. It’s a big-time thing. It’s not only TakeOver, it’s TakeOver XXX. It’s a Ladder match for the North American Championship. She’s seen me work so hard throughout all these years that she’s just over the moon and excited to see me get this opportunity.”
Although Reed has been a part of NXT for over a year, it wasn’t until recently that the NXT Universe got their first in-depth look at Auszilla. A video package that aired on the July 29 episode told viewers everything they needed to know about him and what’s driving him on his journey to the top.
Reed agrees that production pieces such as that one are imperative in the evolution and development of certain characters in wrestling.
“I feel like before coming to NXT and before coming to WWE, that’s how I always connected with the fans. It was after the show and online people would ask me questions,” he said. “I’ve always been such a fan that understands where people are coming from and I try to connect with them. Being able to show just a little slice of who I am and what got me here, I think it’s important and I hope you get to see more of that.”
Aside from a few he had on the independent scene, Reed is largely a stranger to Ladder matches. However, this upcoming one at TakeOver will allow him to shine, showcase his skills, and leave fans with something they’ll never forget.
“Being able to wrestle in a Ladder match in WWE is something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I grew up watching Shawn [Michaels] and Razor [Ramon] at WrestleMania and the rematch at SummerSlam and those things are etched into my memory. You see Shawn do the splash off the ladder and remember it. I want to be able to have these moments that people will remember forever.”
As far as the North American Championship is concerned, its prestigious lineage dating back to April 2018 is not lost on Reed. He wants to be the same fighting titleholder that Keith Lee was and take it to new heights, starting with a win at TakeOver XXX.
On his potential plans as champion, Reed said: “The North American Championship is on that same level as the Intercontinental Championship in that here’s the belt that’s going to get defended more and the person who has it has to be quite the competent wrestler to do so. I think if I was champion, I’d face as much talent as possible and also defend the belt as many times as possible on TV.”
This push for the former Jonah Rock heading into TakeOver seemingly came out of nowhere, as Reed hadn’t been involved in anything of note on NXT until now. Previously, he would win an occasional match but would mostly come up short whenever it mattered most.
Reed discussed how it’s been a roller coaster ride up to this point in his NXT career and how all of the trials and tribulations were well worth it.
“I think as a performer you always have… not doubt in your mind but you’re always questioning what is happening,” he said. “There’s a lot of the unknown, but I feel like the people who do work hard and keep at it are the people who get opportunities. Everywhere that I’ve gone including the independent scene in Australia, I worked very hard to become a top guy there. I worked really hard in Japan, I worked really hard on the independent scene around the world to try and get noticed to be here and it’s taken me until this year to really try and break out. Even though I was in the Breakout Tournament, I think it’s taken me a whole year to break out. I think people are starting to notice that and hopefully it’s onward and upward from here.”
In addition to capturing the NXT North American Championship, eventually waging war with Samoa Joe leads the list of Reed’s goals in the remainder of 2020. He’s modeled himself after many of wrestling’s greatest giants, but he considers The Samoan Submission Machine to be his ultimate dream opponent.
“I’m such a student of the game that even to this day I’m still constantly watching wrestling,” he said. “I’ve been inspired and I’ve emulated a lot of wrestlers in my time, but for me personally in-ring, I grew up watching a lot of the big guys like Bam Bam Bigelow and Vader. I never thought I would be a heavyweight wrestler when I got older, but obviously I am. Those guys inspired my style but also Samoa Joe. I was a big fan of Samoa Joe as a teenager, but I still followed him throughout his whole career here in WWE. He’s a big influence on what I do.
“[Facing Samoa Joe is] a goal of mine and that’s something that I’ve said that he’s my dream opponent,” he continued. “I want to wrestle him someday. Now that I’m closer than ever and now that I’m here in NXT, somewhere down the line it has to happen.”
Rhea Ripley was another individual Reed had plenty of praise for, specifically because of their history wrestling on the independents in Australia before arriving in WWE. They’re just two of the many talented Aussies the company currently employs and have already experienced success.
Having originally met her as a fan in the stands, Reed and everyone else from the Australian wrestling scene knew she was destined for big things almost immediately.
“I think the world of Rhea Ripley,” Reed said about the former NXT Women’s champion. “I think she’s an amazing talent. I think she’s an amazing person as well. It’s weird for me. At one point in my career, I was wrestling in Adelaide, Australia which is where we’re both from. I remember Rhea as a teenager used to come watch our matches. She was a fan of guys like myself and Brendan Vink who’s also with the WWE, so to see her get into wrestling and get really good really fast at so young, we all knew years ago on the independent scene that she’d be here in WWE and doing big things.”
His upcoming clash with Damian Priest on NXT promises to be a hard-hitting affair, but where it will rank among his favorite matches in WWE to date remains to be seen. So far, he regards his battle with Matt Riddle from last year on NXT TV as being his best.
“I think Riddle and I had a really fun match,” he said. “It wasn’t the longest of matches, but it was just so explosive and I liked being able to wrestle him. The Roderick Strong match as well is one that stands out to me and again we wrestled in a Triple Threat match. I think there’s good chemistry between me and Roderick Strong. Those ones definitely stand out.”
Looking forward to the future, NXT’s resident “Thicc Boy” assures the audience that they haven’t seen everything he’s capable of just yet. He has plenty more in store and plans on showing the whole world what he can do on the grandest stage possible at TakeOver XXX.
“There’s definitely more to come,” he said. “I always have things in my back pocket that I save for another day and there’s a lot more to see from the Thicc Boy, trust me.”
Don’t miss Bronson Reed collide with Damian Priest this Wednesday on WWE NXT at 8/7c, only on USA Network.