Otis on cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase: ‘The sooner, the better’
I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know who Mandy Rose and Otis were before I watched WrestleMania 36. And then they walked into the ring, into my life, and I was forever changed.
If you — like I once was — are not lucky enough to be acquainted with these two rising stars of WWE, allow me to introduce you. Let’s start with Otis: he is a very large man who looks like he could be equally at home in one of those old stripy singlets that strong men used to wear at the circus or in a fishing shack in Minnesota (where he was born!), bundled up in a buffalo-checked wool coat. His signature move is The Caterpillar, which is known on the wedding circuit among inebriated, sweaty groomsmen as The Worm. And he loves Mandy Rose.
Mandy Rose is a very fit, TikTok savvy pro (she’s worth checking out on the app, because she danced her whole life and she knows what she’s doing). Mandy used to be best friends with Sonya Deville, who was her tag-team partner for many years, but the two are feuding.
Because of Otis.
You see, ahead of WrestleMania 36, Mandy found out that Sonya sabotaged a Valentine’s Day date between herself and Otis. Sonya had texted Otis from Mandy’s phone to tell him that Mandy would be late. Sonya then sent Dolph Ziggler (still can’t believe that’s a real name, love it) to the restaurant, so when Otis showed up, he saw Dolph and Mandy talking. Otis assumed Mandy was into Dolph, became very sad, and ran away.
The match between Otis and Dolph at WrestleMania 36 was therefore basically a battle for Mandy’s heart. But Mandy isn’t some damsel in distress — she wasn’t about to let Otis fight for her, especially after finding out that Sonya had betrayed her. So Mandy strode into the ring to help Otis, and thanks to their teamwork, Otis defeated Dolph.
And then? Otis and Mandy kissed. It was a beautiful moment. I hope that if things work out, they ask me to officiate the wedding once we are allowed to stand close enough to other people to actually do so.
— WWE (@WWE) April 6, 2020
I was lucky enough to chat with Otis and Mandy about their relationship, Otis’ big win on Sunday night when he took home the Money In The Bank Briefcase, how they’re staying busy during these strange times, and their favorite matches from WrestleMania 3.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and flow.
CHARLOTTE: Well I have to tell you guys, I’m a huge fan of both of you. I cheered, alone, in my parents’ basement, watching WrestleMania 36 when you guys kissed each other, so …
OTIS: Yeah, I kissed her.
MANDY: Yeah, we’re pretty cute together.
CHARLOTTE: You are! You’re adorable.
Otis, you just had a really big win, you’ve got the Money in the Bank briefcase, how you feeling?
OTIS: I’m just wondering how much stuff I can fit into that briefcase — I’m just kidding. But it’s definitely a crazy feeling. I was mentioning in interviews before, it’s crazy, watching this match, the history of this match, seeing the first one at WrestleMania, and seeing what it’s become now as its own pay-per-view, but also this history-making event inside of the headquarters.
That was definitely an experience. I’ve been to the headquarters before, but I had no idea where a lot of stuff was. So every time we did something—there was an exit door. Being a big man my size, it was kind of hard to keep my speed up, so I used my certain strategies there. NFL possession, baby. Right between these hands.
MANDY: So proud of you.
— WWE (@WWE) May 11, 2020
CHARLOTTE: Otis, have you given any thought to who you might cash in on or what you might do next?
OTIS: The thing with me, honey, is, I’ve got a simple mind, so I don’t even know what’s going on next. I would hate to say it now, I’ll leave it a surprise. But in my mentality, as the Dozer, the sooner the better. The sooner the better. Let’s get this thing cashed in and become champion.
You’ve just got to take action. I mean, no one has any idea what’s going on in general right now, so you might as well just go for it.
CHARLOTTE: Now Mandy, obviously your relationship with Sonya has been really highlighted recently. If you were in a room with her with no cameras, can you give me any sense of what you might say?
MANDY: I don’t think it’s PG, so I don’t think I could say that. But yeah, I don’t even know what I would say to her, to be honest. I mean, she obviously was like a sister to me, best friends, we did everything together, lived together, I confided in her, and vice-versa.
I don’t know what her deal is and why she’s so jealous, but apparently she’s been like this for a while, so …
OTIS: I don’t know what I did.
MANDY: Yeah, she’s got a problem with you and me.
OTIS: Must be my body sweat.
MANDY: We’ll settle it, don’t worry. This isn’t the end.
— WWE (@WWE) May 10, 2020
CHARLOTTE: Otis, what did you do, man?
OTIS: I don’t know!
MANDY: She must not be that happy in her situation and whatever she’s going through, because she can’t be happy for us, and that’s a problem.
OTIS: You’ve got that party pooper in the room, and you can’t.
Do you have any idea how you’d want to resolve things with Sonya? What kind of match you’d want to have?
OTIS: I’d hate to see two beautiful ladies in the steel cage, but that seems like the place to resolve it, baby.
MANDY: Book it! Let’s go.
CHARLOTTE: Let’s go! So, WrestleMania III is airing on FS1 [Editor’s note: this interview was originally conducted on Monday], and I’m a relatively new fan, so I’ve never seen it. And I think we were all born after it happened. Is this a part of your life? Are there matches that really resonated with you?
OTIS: Oh, absolutely. The opening match with The Magnificent Muraco, man, that guy, in my eyes, was one of the best big man bad guys of the past.
The experience of watching it, that place was huge. I forget the exact number …
MANDY: It’s like 93,000, I think? Insane. It’s, I believe, the second biggest ever, behind Dallas at AT&T recently, 2016, but oh my gosh, the crowd. It’s insane.
OTIS: And in the opening, you see Jesse “The Body” Ventura commentating, Gorilla Monsoon. You’ve got my favorite, Macho Man Randy Savage, having a classic battle with Ricky Steamboat, and of course, the main event, the Hulkster, the guy I looked up to also. Two of my favorite wrestlers are in one card, that’s Macho Man, and that’s Hulk Hogan.
That match with Andre, you know, is one of his last few, so it’s a very special moment with two big men getting in there. Plus, the thing with Hulk Hogan and Andre, no one had seen that in the United States. People had seen it in Japan, but this was the first time that a whole massive audience saw them clash together. You’re going to have fun watching it, baby, I’m telling you. I watched it this morning while I was eating my eggs.
The slam heard 'round the world!
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) May 13, 2020
CHARLOTTE: I’m really excited. How do you think styles have changed between WrestleMania III and WrestleMania 36, the old school to what you’re doing now?
MANDY: It’s definitely changed. I was just recently watching it too, and the thing I loved the most was the entrances. Obviously we have cool entrances now, but it’s evolved.
OTIS: No music. The first couple entrances have no music, they just walk out there to the loud crowd. You have music for the Hulkster, for Andre, for certain guys, Macho Man, but I’m telling you, the styles nowadays — those guys were going every single night. Back then, the mystique was a whole lot bigger.
Now, they see us all the time on social media, she’s doing her posing stuff, she’s doing her calorie burning stuff, I’m over there eating and barbecuing. So everybody kind of knows you as a person as you walk in the ring. So the fans already know us. Back then? They only saw what they saw. That’s what I think is missing today is a lot of good mystique, because it’s good for the fans not to know every single thing.
CHARLOTTE: Do you like that? Do you think that if things were a little more mysterious, or there weren’t quite as much social media — or do you think social media adds something that they didn’t have?
MANDY: I think it’s good and bad. There’s definitely some pros and cons. Obviously now people can see us outside of wrestling, and they’re able to follow our journeys and see us do things outside of just wrestling in the ring. But I think like Otis is saying, there’s the mystique, for sure, and we’re all larger than life characters on TV.
So when fans see us in person, it’s such an amazing, cool experience for them, which is still true for them today, obviously, but I can totally see what you’re saying about back in the day.
CHARLOTTE: What have the recent reactions been? What did you guys see after WrestleMania 36? Otis, what did you see after Money in the Bank? Fans are really in this with you, it’s a real-time thing, and are you able to gauge the reaction generally from that?
OTIS: Yeah, it never sets in, with our lifestyles, the way that working here is, we just keep on going, you know? And momentum is key, and obviously luck is a huge factor in that. I’m lucky enough to get the lady of my dreams and to get these opportunities, like a win over Dolph. That was Dolph and my first single WrestleMania match, and now we’ve got the Money in the Bank briefcase.
So it sets in, but I don’t think it totally sets in until one day, I’m an old man and I go, “That was probably pretty cool.”
— WWE’s The Bump (@WWETheBump) May 13, 2020
MANDY: Yeah, we’re always on the go, and that’s a big thing I’ve realized during quarantine, that you have to be more in the moment, with everything going on. And I feel like because we have more time on our hands, and we’re not as focused on, “Oh, what’s next? What’s tomorrow?” It’s like, no, this is now, and you’ve got to enjoy these moments, because when you look back when you’re older, it’s like, that went by so quick, and it flashed before your eyes.
I feel like an older person talking to a younger person; that’s what my mom and dad tell me all the time, and now it’s finally settled in.
OTIS: Yeah, that’s going to be us, oh yeah. We’re gonna go to the coffee shops, “I remember back in the day when I used to stretch, and now I don’t.”
CHARLOTTE: I love it! I mean, it’s true, we do kind of have to take everything day by day right now, and it’s really great that you guys are having a moment in this moment, and I think you’re bringing a lot of joy to a lot of people who—we don’t have a lot going on right now, you guys.
OTIS: That’s what it’s all about, baby.
MANDY: And a happy moment, too. A genuine, happy moment.
OTIS: The emotion inside me, it’s burning.
MANDY: Don’t get too excited, now.
CHARLOTTE: Calm down, Otis, Calm down.
Otis is my one true love?
— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) April 6, 2020
CHARLOTTE: Mandy, you’ve been pretty active on TikTok, you’ve been doing some amazing workout situations there.
MANDY: Yeah, that’s another thing that I’ve just—it’s a lot of fun, it’s a little addicting, I feel like. I danced my whole life, so I feel like it’s just a cool, fun hobby for me, too, to learn these dances. A lot of them are really hard. And I noticed it’s the biggest, hottest thing going on right now, TikTok, so I’ve gotta be involved in it. It’s another platform we can have for our fans, so it’s been a lot of fun.
I’ve gotta get this one on there and have him do a duet with me.
OTIS: Yeah, I’m very not tech savvy, and I’ve gotta get on that thing. I don’t know how it works, but I did one with Nia. I’ll tell ya, the timing to do it, while the song’s going, is a lot harder than I thought. I’m doing one move, the song’s already going forward, it’s already getting bass going.
MANDY: No, it’s hard for sure.
— WWE (@WWE) January 21, 2020
CHARLOTTE: I haven’t even tried. I feel very old — I’m not that old, but TikTok makes me feel ancient. But Otis, you have The Caterpillar, man. Isn’t that made for TikToks?
MANDY: I know! We should do something with The Caterpillar, that’s a good point.
OTIS: We did it with the #NoRushChallenge, there, but yeah, it’s basically my only move as a dancer, besides thrusting my hips certain ways. But yeah, it’s been my only dance move forever. I used to do that when I couldn’t dance with one girl at a school dance, I’d say, “What would get me going here? Get me some love?”
I remember the first one, it was a sock hop — they called them sock hops, for some reason — in the third grade. And I remember just sitting there, like, “Dang it, mom, no one’s dancing with me.” Then finally, I just dropped my hips, started going, ever since then I became the popular kid.
MANDY: It’s all over, that’s all you gotta do.
OTIS: I get sore ribs at every wedding, because I get a little bit, you know.
MANDY: And they all want to see you do it.
OTIS: And I start going around the ballroom area, and I wake up the next morning going, “Man, my ribs are killing me, why?”
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) May 11, 2020
CHARLOTTE: Oh my gosh, a pro wrestler who gets more hurt at weddings than in the ring.
MANDY: I know, right?
OTIS: Those weddings, man—my family especially.
CHARLOTTE: That doesn’t totally surprise me. Well, I think that if you guys get a Caterpillar TikTok challenge going, just let me know.
MANDY: That’s not a bad idea.
CHARLOTTE: Think about it. Well, thank you guys so much for your time, it was a pleasure to talk to you.
MANDY: Thank you! Thanks for having us.
OTIS: Thanks, Charlotte.