NXT upstart Trick Williams sits down with Daily DDT to discuss his rise to singles stardom, his upcoming opportunity at Deadline, and a conversation with Shawn Michaels that changed the trajectory of his career.
WWE NXT has produced several success stories since the brand’s relaunch in September 2021, but few have a higher ceiling than the incredibly charismatic Trick Williams.
The 29-year-old former football player has been a fixture in the corner of Carmelo Hayes for the past two years but has only just recently broken out as a singles star.
At Saturday’s Deadline event, he’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime when he takes part in the second-ever men’s Iron Survivor Challenge match for a future NXT Championship opportunity, one he was robbed of when he was ambushed by an unknown individual two months ago on NXT TV.
The stacked bout will also feature the likes of Bron Breakker, Dijak, Josh Briggs, and Tyler Bate.
“There’s a lot of muscle in this match,” Williams told Daily DDT. “Usually I’m the biggest guy, but I might be one of the lightest in there. I’m in there with some studs, man. Some great athletes, some guys with great experience. I’m excited to get in there and compete.”
Despite everyone else involved being more accomplished, Williams should be considered the odds-on favorite to emerge victorious considering the massive wave of momentum he finds himself riding at the moment.
His surge in popularity can be traced back to his phenomenal performance against Ilja Dragunov on NXT’s Heatwave special in late August. Although he fell short of victory that evening, he pushed the now-NXT champion to his limit and proved he could rise to Dragunov’s level.
It was shortly before that Williams went to NXT head Shawn Michaels, asking for an opportunity to showcase his skills on his own and not be relegated to being a background player for Hayes. That meeting marked a major turning point in his corner.
“I can honestly say that since I went to Shawn Michaels’ office and told him that I wanted to be the guy and show him what I could do on my own, it’s really taken off from there,” he said. “Every single win and every loss has built me to where I am now.”
He added that he was worried what response the WWE Hall of Famer would have to his concerns but knew that it was what he needed to do to elevate his career to the next level.
“It was an experience, to be honest with you,” Williams said. “I walked in his office with my mind made up and he looked at me and said, ‘A lot of guys say this, but not a lot guys can or have delivered. Don’t ask for something you’re not ready for.’ He said it with a straight face and he said, ‘We’ll see.’
“He gave me the opportunities and I feel like so far things are going pretty well, but he’s a straight-shooter,” he continued. “He’ll tell you when you’re performing and when you’re not. It was one of those moments that I took a chance on myself and he gave me a chance and I’m grateful for that.”
His match with Dragunov in particular was what really opened fans’ eyes to what he was capable of and the white-hot babyface he had the potential to be. The outcome was never in doubt, but his stellar showing meant more than a win ever could.
If he can come out on top in the Iron Survivor Challenge at Deadline, and if Dragunov beats Baron Corbin in their NXT Championship clash later in the night, there’s a strong possibility Williams and Dragunov will wage war once more, this time with a title at stake.
“I do believe it was the Dragunov match and something happened where I feel like Dragunov was going to work someone else, but that was just how the chips fell,” he said. “I was the guy up and ready. I would say that match with Dragunov… he’s a special guy because he brings the best out of everyone he’s working with. There’s a multitude of things coming together at the right place and right time. That match right there I would definitely say was my breakout performance.”
That outing alone solidified Williams as more than a hype man but rather his own man. His stock skyrocketed, seemingly overnight, and he earned himself a shot at the NXT North American Championship less than a month later.
At NXT’s No Mercy event, he defeated “Dirty” Dominik Mysterio in shocking fashion to win the prestigious prize, only to lose it back to Mysterio on the subsequent edition of NXT one day removed from making his Raw debut in a backstage segment.
Williams referred to the three days as a whirlwind and that it made him that much hungrier to hold gold again.
“I’m not going to lie to you: Those are the best three days of my life,” he admitted. “I went to Raw and cut a promo on Raw that Monday, and that Tuesday, Dom got his rematch and it took the whole Judgment Day to take me out.
“I never got my rematch on that because I’ve got my eyes on the NXT title, but man, my first time holding gold puts another hunger in you that you’ve never felt. If you thought you were hungry before you touched gold, once you’ve had it and lost it, that’s a whole other monster right there. I’m locked in.”
Fans started chanting “Whoop That Trick” during Williams’ entrance early on in his ascent to the top. It’s made him come off as an even bigger deal and he hasn’t taken that overwhelmingly positive feedback from the audience for granted.
For him, it was a dream come true.
“That what I love about this business: The people will let you know how they feel,” Williams said. “You get that instant feedback that you’ve been putting work in or you haven’t. I wasn’t sure how the Raw audience was going to react, but that was awesome.
“Even going into No Mercy, that was my first time competing at a PLE, so inside our NXT auditorium, the people love ‘Whoop That Trick’, which is awesome. But at No Mercy, we’re all the way out in California, ‘Whoop That Trick’ was even stronger. That was eye-opening.”
Two-time WWE Hall of Famer and NXT color commentator Booker T, who can be heard singing along with Williams’ walkout song every Tuesday night, has been among his biggest supporters. Williams revealed that he’s been a huge influence on his recent rise, in addition to his ring coach Terry Taylor as well as Shawn Michaels.
“I would definitely say Booker T is that guy for me,” he said. “I probably check in with Booker weekly. We watch film, we talk business, we talk wrestling, we talk how to carry yourself on TV and backstage. He’s a great mind to pick from. He’s definitely taken a liking to me and I appreciate that. He’s a great dude and I’m grateful for that.”
The former NXT North American champ has merely scratched the surface of what he can achieve, but Deadline is where he can take his rightful place among the elite. A rematch with Dragunov awaits, along with whatever resolution he’ll have to his ongoing angle with Hayes.
He knows the work he’s put in is already paying dividends but will amount to so much more in the months and years ahead.
“I can’t remember who the artist is, maybe it was Jay Z, but they said, ‘It took my whole life to blow up overnight.’ And that’s exactly what I feel,” Williams said. “It’s new to anybody else, but anybody who knows me, they know I’ve been grinding for a long time, even if it was in different ways.
“I look the way I look and my mindset is the way it is because I’ve been grinding a long time. I’m not arrogant enough to say I deserve this, but I am confident enough to say I worked for this. That’s why I can handle it. I’m ready for it. This is why I was made to do.”