Ahead of WWE Clash of Champions 2020, Jey Uso talks to Daily DDT about his upcoming Universal Championship opportunity against Roman Reigns, getting advice from his brother Jimmy, his critically-acclaimed Chronicle documentary, and more.
At this time one month ago, Roman Reigns had only just returned to the ring and Jey Uso was nowhere to be found on WWE TV. Now, they’re in the midst of arguably WWE’s hottest storyline over the Universal Championship heading into the WWE Clash of Champions 2020 pay-per-view on the WWE Network.
It’s been a feud that started out simple enough but has progressed to a point where fans are eagerly waiting to see them wage war for the first time ever one-on-one. Although the outcome of the contest may feel predictable, the story they’ve told in the past month has been nothing short of sensational and has left everyone wondering where it will go next.
That’s coupled with Uso’s new in-depth documentary (now available on WWE Network) receiving rave reviews for showing the WWE Universe another side to the multi-time tag team champion and highlighting his incredible journey up to this point.
If you aren’t rooting for Jey by the time his episode WWE Chronicle is over, you might have to check if you still have a soul. He’s simply that likable, and his phenomenal promo on Friday’s SmackDown proved that as well.
Despite debuting in WWE over a decade ago, Jey Uso has never before fought for a singles title, at least until Clash of Champions. His sights have always been on becoming a tag team champion alongside his brother Jimmy, with whom he’s the WWE tag titles an astounding six times.
He’s a stranger to the singles spotlight, but come Clash, all eyes will be on him.
“Leading up, every week has been crazy and we’re almost at the finish line,” Uso said in a phone interview with Daily DDT last Thursday. “I’ve been doing interviews and a whole bunch of extra stuff. I’ve done stuff while in a tag team like with The New Day, so I kind of saw what it takes. But here, now, doing it alone for the Universal Championship against my cousin Roman Reigns, this stuff has doubled up on me. I always have Jimmy to lean on so whenever we’re doing this stuff and I stutter or whatever and he sees me messing up, he’ll take it, or if I see him messing up, I’ll take it. We’re always leaning on each other. Right now, I’ve got cameras in my house following me everywhere. I’ve got interviews every half-hour, but man, have I enjoyed this. I love it. I’m so glad I get to do it against my cousin for the Universal Championship. Get out of here!”
Jey is in a similar situation to Big E, whose tag team partners are also on the shelf at the moment. However, they’ve both made the most of the opportunity to fly solo, and in Jey’s case, he has a Universal Championship match with Reigns to look forward to on Sunday night.
Jimmy is expected to be out for a little while longer but is excited to cheer his brother on from the sidelines. Not being at the shows weekly like his brother and his cousin, he has a different perspective on the program and is urging Jey to watch his back, especially after the glare Reigns shot Jey at the end of last week’s SmackDown.
Then again, it’s difficult for Jey to not trust Reigns given their history both inside and outside of the ring as both allies and family. Even if he can’t get the job done at Clash of Champions and take the title home, he hopes to make believers out of everyone who doubted him being in such a prominent spot to begin with.
“[Jimmy] watches every Friday. He’s texting us in a group text, which makes it weird. He’ll go, ‘Hey guys, that was a good show, but Joe [Roman], why you looking at him like that?’ When I watched it back, I was like, ‘Oh okay, that’s a real feeling inside.’ What’s the deal with that?'”
“There’s a lot of people who don’t believe I should be in this spot or that there’s no way I can hold my own,” he continued. “‘What is this guy doing here? He’s a tag team guy.’ I know that, I know that. If you want to expand, you can’t stay on the porch. You’ve got know when to jump and I’m jumping. This opportunity is right here to show the people, ‘Yo, we know Roman, but that boy Jey Uso? I’m a big fan of him now.’ You know what I mean? I just want to do the family proud. On Sunday, we’re going to be standing across each other like we’re about to line up like we’re kids again.”
Jey Uso has been knocking it out of the park every week since the start of the feud with Reigns, both in the ring and on the mic. A majority of the fans were long of the belief that The Usos wouldn’t work as singles competitors, but his recent work in the Universal Championship picture has shown otherwise.
That’s likely why he was off WWE TV for many months after Jimmy got hurt in the Triple Threat Ladder match at WrestleMania 36. Much like when Jey suffered an injury five years ago, the roles had been reversed and he had to deal with the reality that he probably wasn’t going to be used much until his brother was cleared to compete again.
“I was watching that match as a producer with the headset on calling the match, but as soon as he got hurt, I knew something was wrong,” he said. “We find out it’s a torn ACL and we know what that’s about. It’s a legit injury. After that, there are moments where you’re like, ‘All right, uce, we’re about to sit on the side,’ but when you sit on the side a little bit, you lose your momentum. Then there’s another tag team behind you. That’s the thing, too. You get spots, and if you can’t hold your spot, the next man will take it. That’s how this business is. You’re either rolling or get rolled on. That’s what was happening. It’s cool because it gives different tag teams some time to shine. Part of me has gotten to see The Street Profits break through. The Viking Raiders, I like them. In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, ‘I can’t wait till the bro gets back and ya’ll are still here. We’re about to do this! Y’all better step up!'”
Jey’s only two appearances on SmackDown after Jimmy’s injury came in a Battle Royal in May (where he was among the final competitors eliminated) and as the host of a karaoke contest in July. That made his impromptu return earlier this month and his Fatal 4-Way win over Matt Riddle, Sheamus and King Corbin that much more shocking.
When he got word that he’d be taking part in that bout to determine the number one contender to the Universal Championship, he genuinely thought it was a joke. He’s been extraordinarily busy with media obligations and filming his own Chronicle since then.
“I was like, ‘Get out of here! Stop ribbing me, bro. I’m not in the mood for it today. I’m about to sit here, eat all this free catering and then I’m going to go back and play some Madden in the locker room,'” Jey said. “They’re like, ‘Nah, bro, it’s right here. It’s in the show. I see it.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ They said, ‘It’s you and Roman coming up.’ I didn’t even know what pay-per-view we had coming up. That’s how much I wasn’t in it. I was going to work and going to the PC to plug in my Playstation and dish it out to anyone who wanted it. But I had that 4-Way, won that, and that Saturday, I had interviews all day. Every single day, things have picked up. Social media has picked up. My cell phone never stops ringing. I’ve got 100 cousins and I have to respond to every single one of them.”
Singles stardom was never a goal for Uso, not even growing up. Rather, he and Jimmy were solely determined to become one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history. Given their success in the last 10 years on Raw and SmackDown and the matches they’ve had with a variety of tandems, it’s safe to say they did just that.
Whether he’s going up against WWE Hall of Famers or fighting his cousin for the Universal Championship, it’s all still surreal to Jey Uso. That’s made abundantly clear in his Chronicle documentary as well as how fans are finally getting to see the real him.
“I never had eyes on a singles run,” he admitted. “It was always the tag team titles. The eyes on the prize were always the tag team titles. First day we walked in, tag team titles. Win or lose Sunday, my goal is still to be the number one tag team in wrestling. We won our first titles from The New Age Outlaws and then I had a WrestleMania match with The Dudley Boyz. Then, I lost the titles to The Hardy Boyz. The Shield, too. Check the resume. I was marking out on all these teams. I’m so blessed. I can’t believe I’m doing this as a grown man. I still feel like a little kid out there just wrestling. This is my real story, these are my real feelings. We’re not going to be wrestling in the pool in front of nobody now. We’re about to do it legit for the Universal Championship in a WWE ring in front of a lot of people.”
The Chronicle on Jey released on Saturday tells viewers everything they either need to know or didn’t already know about the former Raw and SmackDown Tag Team champion. He’s incredibly honest when it comes to talking about what got him to this point and how he feels he’s being underestimated, including by Reigns himself.
If he does walk out of Clash of Champions the new Universal champion, he plans to dedicate his victory to his family as well as everyone else out there busting their tail right now trying to make ends meet.
“This Chronicle is all Josh Fatu. It’s all me,” Jey said. “Everyone knows Jey on TV, which you really don’t kind of know, but in this documentary, you see the real me. After you see it, you’re going to want to get on my team because you’ll see how real of a person I am, how down to earth and humble I am, how cool I am. Like, you want to be my neighbor, uce. I just want to spread love. With everything going on in the world today, I’m over here about to fight my cousin for the Universal Championship and for a lot of money. People are out there everyday breaking their backs doing labor work hustling, waking up at 6 a.m. and coming home at 7 p.m. Clocking in, clocking out. I’m blessed and I’m soaking it in as it comes in. This documentary will show you that and show you the real me. You will see me in a different light that no one has ever seen me before.”
Of course, Jimmy Uso is heavily featured in the documentary, specifically when it comes to interacting with Jey and giving him tips as he prepares for the biggest match of his life. Jey has taken all of the advice given to him and used it to his benefit but realizes that the toughest part of the journey is yet to come.
“For him to be able to give me the blessing and say, ‘Yo, don’t worry about me, uce. It is you right now. It’s all you. It’s The Usos, but right now it’s Jey Uso vs. Roman Reigns. Embrace it. Enjoy it.’ I think what I’m more nervous about is that I really want to do great,” Jey said. “I really want to perform to the height this match is getting, which I had no idea people would be invested in this match the way they are because I thought they would just downplay it. I feel like they’re starting to believe in me, and as they see me on TV every week growing, they’re starting to get with me. I can’t wait to show them. I just want to show. I want to deliver.”
It’s worth noting that, before recently, The Usos and Reigns have been on opposite sides of the ring in the past. They competed against each other in six-man tag team action multiple times in 2013, and on one occasion, Jey actually pinned Reigns during a Handicap match on Raw.
It marked Reigns’ first televised pinfall loss in the company, and that factoid isn’t lost on Jey. It just means that he’s not as much of an underdog as he’s been perceived as lately, not to mention how he had no idea people would get so heavily invested in his pursuit of the prestigious prize.
“We’ve fought Roman in The Shield before, but at that time, no one knew we were related,” he said. “Now, everybody knows we’re related. Now, we have history and people know. Now, people are invested. I’m so happy because I didn’t think this would catch fire the way it’s catching fire and the closer we get… I have goosebumps right now.”
Regardless of the result of Reigns vs. Uso at Clash of Champions, fans are still holding out hope that we’ll soon see some sort of stable with the two of them and Jimmy. It was nothing but a pipe dream until Reigns finally turned earlier a month ago, and although they’re currently feuding, it’s entirely possible they’ll get back on the same page as heels down the road.
When asked about the idea, Jey expressed interest in it happening but emphasized that, first and foremost, he’s fully focused on becoming Universal champion come Sunday night.
“If that faction forms, like the heel stable with Paul Heyman, I am all for that. Samoan SWAT team in this thing, uce. We’re coming out. Man, I love that. But I’m going to try to get this Universal Champion on Sunday first.”
Don’t miss Jey Uso challenge Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at WWE Clash of Champions this Sunday at 7/6c, only on WWE Network.