Otis is Starting a New Chapter
By Ryan Satin
2020 has been filled with highs and lows for Otis.
The WWE Superstar started the year embroiled in a central storyline involving Mandy Rose and later went on to win the Money in the Bank briefcase for a future world title opportunity.
Unfortunately, the big WrestleMania moment between Otis and Mandy happened in front of an empty audience due to the COVID-19 pandemic and she was later moved to Raw.
Otis’ title shot also went up in smoke after his longtime tag team partner Tucker caused him to lose the Money in the Bank briefcase to The Miz, which ended their on-screen relationship.
The Blue Collar Solid worker is now attempting to drag himself out of the wreckage by starting a new chapter in his career and this week he reflected on all of it in a sit-down interview.
Watch the conversation below or scroll down for the full transcript.
RS: I want to talk about your new team with Chad Gable because I’m a huge Chad Gable fan. I love his work in the ring.
How did this all come about and when did you first hear you were going to be doing stuff with Chad?
Otis: It started off as a backstage.
You know, all the boys going like, "Oh, man, if you guys could get this on television. I mean, good lord."
Cause it’s basically Tommy Boy. David Spade mixed in with John Candy – I forgot his name in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – come on, baby. I forget his name. Sorry about that.
RS: John Candy and Steve Martin?
Otis: Steve Martin, yes. Yes, Steve Martin.
We’ve known each other since – well, I met him in like 2008, but we started knowing each other at the Olympic training center up there in Colorado Springs.
So, we trained together, we’ve always hung out.
He’s always wrestled the big guys. He waits until we’re tired, though, to get us. Like, five heavyweights. He comes over and wants a piece of us, and we’d start training together.
But, in reality, we’re good friends.
I don’t think Gable has – I don’t know if he’s shy sometimes – but, he is a very, very funny guy behind the scenes. He’s got that Olympic mentality. When we train together, it’s just like, "Man, how many are we doing?!? Good lord, alright. Body weights, yeah, cool."
So, we started getting ideas there. Basically what it is, is just us having fun and putting it on there.
It’s an opportunity where I had a lot of bad things happen. I got Mandy on RAW, Tucky-Tucky turned on me. He’s on RAW. I’m just a lonely man in a lonely world. 2020’s been a tough year for everybody.
It’s been like, when I have a buddy come over. We travel together, we eat together, we get coffee together. He takes me to these fancy coffee shops. I always mess up what I order.
I always say venti, they give me some kind of milk. I got nothing against milk, but I don’t want milk in my coffee. He’s basically like my, I don’t want to say a road wife, but he’s like, "No, order like this. Come on, what are you doing?’ I’m like, "Sorry about that."
RS: He’s like a life coach, to a certain degree.
Otis: He’s definitely a life coach. Yes, he is.
My father always told me, he’s got a foreign accent, he goes, "Son, you always need someone to look after you, I tell you what." I’m like, "Me? You’re talking about me? What about you?"
It’s kind of crazy that we started training together in 2010 and now putting it on live television. It’s pretty darn cool.
It was very special for us last Friday to get out there and start going and wrestling together a little bit there. He looks a lot cooler in a singlet, though, than me.
RS: He does look cool in a singlet. He’s got that whole singlet collection, too.
Otis: He’s got a sweet, native tan. Yeah, he’s got it all, man. He watches every single calorie. I’m kinda half the calories I watch, yeah.
RS: I don’t think a lot of people know that the two of you knew each other prior to WWE when you guys were doing amateur wrestling, so you guys have been friends that long?
Otis: Yeah. Been kinda crazy.
I think the only other time we wrestled together was on RAW, it was Heavy Machinery versus Gable and Bobby.
I remember doing the Compactor on him.
He just goes, "Oh, you guys are so sweaty." I go, "Yeah, right. You talking about your baby oil." And that was special to us, but to actually be on the same side is really, really cool.
You just said, he has that pretty old smile. He keeps on showing off. To me it’s kind of unreal to do this with one of your buddies and all that, you know what I mean? It’s cool, man.
RS: Absolutely. The chemistry thing you talked about between the two of you, where people said if you could kind of bottle that up and show it on TV there would be success there. I agree.
I’ve watched your guys’ social media videos for a long time, where you are doing the workout Alpha Academy stuff. You had a different name for it before, though, that he didn’t like.
Otis: The Carnage Shack. Yes, the Carnage Shack. He doesn’t like that name so well, but hey. I’ll put it in there somewhere. But, mainly it’s the Shack. Yes.
RS: In this pandemic, I feel like you’ve had a lot of extra time to workout and focus on fitness. What’s it been like training with him? Has it been intense since he has that Olympic mentality?
Otis: It’s been a blessing in disguise.
I know a lot of people and my buddies are just like, "I can’t even get in the gym. Things are on lockdown. No one can go anywhere." And I’m over here going, "Yeah, man. What a sick workout. I’m telling you. The sweat pouring off my pores, I’m telling you."
I know him, he cannot not be working out. He’s always going for a walk. He’s always doing something. I know he’s very routine, brother.
And with me, it keeps me on track to make sure like, "Hey, we gotta get this in." ‘Cause what else there is to really do if you’re not traveling and going to these shows?
I would drive him nuts sometimes.
Like, we’ll come over for dinner. He goes, "You’re getting a little too rowdy now." I said, "Sorry, I’ll tone it down." Got the kids, got the wife. It’s been very good, man. I’m very proud.
What I’m very proud of, is like a lot of the things I couldn’t do, like balance wise. These different jumps he has me doing, you know what I mean? Explosion, the rocket ship. It’s really cool that I’m actually benefiting way better than I was six months to a year ago.
So, we’re improving. He’s seen the improvement. The mobility is always gonna be a little tough cause certain days you’re a little more sore than the other.
He’s a machine. I would definitely say he’s a walking, talking machine. We always called him the Midwest Machine. He loves those cheesy nicknames. It reminds us from back in the Olympic Training Center.
Between that time when I first got to NXT, he just got called up to SmackDown. I saw him for about two weeks, then I moved to Florida and all of a sudden bam, he’s gone.
And it’s like, "Oh, we were gonna train together, but hey, I’m happy for you!" So, that was about four years of not training together.
When we finally got back with each other, I moved into his hometown and we’re about five minutes away from each other.
We just, basically, I take a sip of coffee, I get the bones rockin’ and rollin’, I turn that car on, make sure it’s nice and warm for the Minnesota weather, pull that thing out and we get it done.
We try to get it done in under two hours. Usually an hour and a half. But, it’s a very high pace.
The training I was used to back then and now I’m getting more accustomed to now. So, it’s a lot of muscle endurance, but also we get a little crazy in there.
You know, I started telling him, "You know, why don’t you put a little extra weight on there?" He’s just like, "I don’t know." I said, "You don’t know? You don’t know?!?" So, I get him to put the weight on there. He gets me to do extra reps or something crazy.
We’re kind of like enemies in the gym, but it helps us out. Your best weapon is your training partner. Remember that. Your best weapon is your training partner.
RS: I like that. Because you are looking jacked lately.
I saw you post a picture the other day and I was like, "Damn. Otis is looking buff right now."
Otis: Yeah, he cut my cheese and carb soda intake.
That and cuts a lot of other things out. I believe that, you know, you gotta have a little bit of fun here and there, and he’s so hardcore, he only has a steak to have fun. Me, I’m just like, "Ah, I don’t know about that. I need some nachos." Milk and cheese.
RS: So, Tucker. You mentioned Tucker turning on you.
Was it hard to find out that you guys were going to be split? You had been inseparable for so long. I assume it was a big shock when you found out.
Otis: It was like, basically, I think it’s a five year relationship. The only time we haven’t spent time together was there during this pandemic when things started slowing down.
When we actually heard it on the announcement, I think it was on Talking Smack, where we hear announcing say like, "Oh, Heavy Machinery are gonna split their ways."
I looked at him and he was walking by, and I saw him get emotional. I’m kinda like, getting a little crazy here too, and eventually I’m going like, "Holy crap. We’re really not gonna be together for a long time."
It was crazy, man.
Because again, me, him and Gable, we traveled together and it’s just that three group mentality of you always give each other crap all the time. It was always all full of love, you know what I mean? We always had each other’s back.
If I forget a protein shake, he always has one for me, you know what I mean? And vice versa.
When I got together with Tucky, we really didn’t know each other and then when we got to know each other, it was like, obviously it takes time to find out your groove with each other and find out who is going to be who with the character. Who was going to be the "buck stops here" kinda guy and I just had nothing but fun, man.
He’s a great, great performer and like, with his ear to the crowd, I’m very impressed. Because sometimes I’ll lose it in there.
I get in this weird mode, and he always looks at me and goes, "You’re looking crazy again. Stay focused." I’m like, "Yeah, okay." He always has a great ear for the crowd, tells me things that I probably wouldn’t have seen if I was not tagging with him.
So, it’s sad at the same time, but hey, man. Things don’t last long. He hit me over the head with a briefcase. Okay, cool. And losing my Money in the Bank. It’s been very depressing.
It started off really good, 2020. Very solid there.
Got the beautiful Mandy Rose, got the Money in the Bank briefcase. Then all of a sudden that hill started going way down for me. So, now Chad Gable’s gonna help get me back up there, my man.
RS: If anybody’s had a rollercoaster year in WWE, it’s definitely you. You had such highs and then such lows and now you’re kind of working your way back up.
Was it confusing when Mandy got taken from you?
Because I feel like you guys were such a fixture of SmackDown for a brief period of time. People were really into it and then the pandemic hit, which kinda threw things out of whack a little bit since the fans were a big part of that storyline, because we were kind of living vicariously through you.
Did that affect you when everything got thrown out of whack and taken from you?
Otis: Yeah. The main thing in my mind; you always hear the guys that have been there at WrestleMania. They go, "You never forget your first WrestleMania reaction or pop."
And I just remember going, "Man, there were a lot of great things that happened at WrestleMania this past year, but I know if there was 75,000 plus people in Tampa watching me kiss Mandy, lips-to-lips, I think that place, the roof would have come off, basically.
Cause we teased it so much, and this and that.
Dolph was such a great adversary of having him get in the way, and Sonya, as well. When we locked in, it was like, it wasn’t special then because it was just us – it was special for me – but when it aired, the internet reaction was just ridiculous.
My phone kept going off and it was something special, man.
Again, we kept doing these funny things and all that. The hardest part between me and Mandy was not laughing during, even with the serious moments, cause she’s a cool lady herself, you know?
She was raised with boys, she has all those brothers. Just a really cool lady. I had so much fun working with her.
When she went to RAW, it was like, "Aw, man. There’s the fun out of there, too. Geez! Aw, man." You know what I mean? But, hey, man. You gotta get what you can take and keep on giving.
She came back this last Monday kicking some serious ass with that kendo stick. I’m happy for her big time. Her and Dana. Both very beautiful, good girls.
RS: Because of the Money in the Bank stuff, and how heavily you’ve been featured on TV, I feel like you’ve probably had a lot of interactions with Vince McMahon at this point. What’s it like being directed by him when you’re doing some of these things?
Otis: Very funny and very cool at the same time.
I think we have the same approach with the character. I think a lot of things when we’re talking here is certain things like how do you walk? How do you do this motion? And he agrees with this and that.
So, it’s just cool, man.
One thing in common we have, we love AC/DC, man. We rock out to that stuff all the time. Talk about red meat and steak.
The funny thing is when he comes to you and it’s either he wanted to see something or he loves something. He just has that one "[guttural sound]." He gets you all fired up, man.
I call it the Vince McMahon Grr.
You know you done good if you got that grr, man.
RS: Is there something specific you can remember where you got that grr from him and you were pumped about it?
Otis: Let me think about it. I think it was the entrance I started doing the marching down the ramp.
Now, I was misunderstood. I thought he wanted a couple of them. He wanted THE WHOLE thing. I said, "Okay."
So, the next time I came out there I stomped the hell out of that damn ramp. Did the match. I think it was actually just beating up Miz and Morrison.
Came back there and that’s where I got the, "Grr, yes. That’s what I’m talking about!" I was like, "Alright. That’s what I’m talking about. And if that’s what you’re talking about, then we’re all talking about it."
Yeah, man. Very blessed to have things going on right now. It’s just a train moving and now with Chad Gable here, we can just keep on rocking and rolling, you know? I think we’ll get things to the people that people can relate to in some of the things coming up.
The cool thing about me and Chad Gable, he’s obviously pro-fitness industry. I am pro-barbecue and let’s have a cold one on the side. We combine those two and that’s two worlds.
Cause when you’re on social media, you see only one thing. Oh, it’s only a fitness person. You got this guy who’s having barbecue in the backyard with his kids.
But, you combine those, it’s an opportunity for us to show them, "Hey, man. This is going to be entertaining stuff." Just get us out there and let’s do it, man. That’s what I figured out to him and he was, "Oh, yeah. It’s definitely that," Gable would say.
RS: Well, sinces you’re always training, you’re doing more in the ring, you’re always growing. There were these reports recently that you and a few other wrestlers were made to do more training again at the PC.
Was that an accurate report? Is that something that you’re doing more of again?
Otis: I think it’s always been there.
It wasn’t like, "Hey, we were told this and that." That Performance Center is a tool for us to get better.
If another big man wants to come up to me and wants to work on stuff, or vice versa. We’re always working.
So, that report was kind of funny at the same time. We’re never not working. Especially now that we don’t have live events, so we can’t really get our stuff out. It’s just bottled inside in a little bottle.
Right now it’s like, we’re not getting that stuff out there. So, we’ll find more and more ways to get in the ring with each other. Which, nothing beats a crowd. That’s the one thing I miss to this day is that crowd, man. Feeling that rush from there.
The acceptance, you know what I mean?
Especially my favorite towns. Milkwaukee? Good lord. Yeah, Milkwaukee. We’re not getting that out so much.
But now it’s time to get better. It really hasn’t been set dates, there hasn’t been set anything. It’s just, like, when you want to come in, brother. Or I’ll talk to Braun about something, so me and Braun will do curls for about thirty minutes. Then, let’s talk about something over here. So, it’s always been there.
I don’t know why it came in a big report gimmick.
But, yeah, I don’t know.
RS: No, that definitely makes sense. I was also confused by it. I said the same thing on Twitter this week.
There’s no live events. So, training at the PC is just kind of a normal thing when you don’t have live events. That made all the sense in the world to me.
Otis: Here’s what it sounds like. "Oh, did you guys hear that they’re doing weights?" To me it kind of sounded that way.
It was like, "Yeah, we’re gonna train, know what I mean?" There wasn’t much of a report.
I don’t know if somebody saw somebody. That’s, again, with my reading dyslexia, I don’t even read any of the stuff on there. That’s probably bad for the good stuff, but my head’s always been, "Just tell me right here," know what I mean?
I found out through my father. He told me. I go, "Well, dad, I tell you when I’m going to the PC." It was just one of those things where it’s misinterpretation, of course, of 2020 … almost come to 2021, baby.
Let’s get a crowd, finally. Beat this damn virus.
RS: Are your parents like my parents, where they have Google alerts set for your name?
Otis: No, no. They don’t know how to work the internet.
These are my hometown people telling them and I go, "Dad, that’s what I told you yesterday we were doing."
I gotta live with it. I got parents from the stone age. They never sent an e-mail. They never sent a text. They can’t figure FaceTime.
I go, "Just press that button, dad" and I’m sitting here, my blood pressure going up high. I’m like, "Just press the damn button!" He goes, "I don’t know what’s going on, Niko? Lalala." So …
RS: Alright, well I got two questions for you that were from Twitter and then I’ll let you get out of here.
"If the storyline with Chad Gable continues to materialize, has the thought of a possible team name been conceived yet?"
Otis: Oh, baby. Team name. Yeah, that’s interesting.
Cause we’re already are labeling it as Alpha Academy Training. Now, I don’t really see that as a name. It is a training facility.
That’s something where we’ve talked about it and good lord knows when we’ll come up with this, but right now I think the 'ole Otis & Gabes is the best one, right now.
I know it’s very plain. But, Otis and Gable are coming straight out of the Alpha Academy. Right out of there. So, yeah, we’ll figure out the name right down the road.
RS: Alright. Well, I’ve noticed you and Gable seem into nicknames. So, I feel like you’ll be able to come up with one.
Otis: No, no, no. He hates them. I love them.
RS: Oh, okay. I thought you had said he likes them.
Otis: Oh, no. When I say dazzle, he goes, "Why are you calling me dazzle?" And I’m just like, "Hey, baby."
It gets under his native skin. It’s just funny, man.
They go, "How did you get that nickname?" He goes, "It’s just Doze or Otis calling me these names." When he’ll say a nickname, I’ll look at him and go, "What did you call me?!?" That’s the funny part.
He comes out with them every now and then.
RS: Lastly, Corey Schout asks, "Knowing how it all shakes out, do you wish you had never won the Money in the Bank briefcase?"
Otis: Why wouldn’t I want the Money in the Bank briefcase? It’s an opportunity. The question is, would I have not wanted it?
RS: Yeah. If you could go back in time, would you have not wanted to win the briefcase since bad things happened afterwards and you inevitably lost it?
Otis: Well, you know, you can’t live and learn going back and wishing, man. So, my personal opinion, no.
Heck, we got that Money in the Bank briefcase, we had a great time with it. I made myself a little lunchbox with it.
I always learn from the past and all this. I never regret anything. The only thing I regret is maybe things I could have done on the road to get there, but, hey, man. That’s living and learning.
Things turned out the way they turned out, but, hey, baby, I had a great time while I was going, so. And, plus, I had the beautiful Mandy with me. She was polishing the briefcase and all that. Nice green and yellow Packers colors.
We just had a great time with it.
That darn Miz, man. Him and his authorities and his ways, man.
He’s always got something up his sleeve, that Miz. If I can get my hands on him again, I’m going to love it. Every single finger I’m gonna break. Bam.
Catch Otis Friday nights LIVE on SmackDown at 8pm eastern every week on FOX.
*Interview lightly edited for clarity*