During a recent interview with WWE.com, NXT’s Mansoor opened up about a series of topics following his first NXT win recently. Mansoor has been on the scene for a while now, after becoming WWE’s first official signee from Saudi Arabia.
WWE.COM: You recently earned your first victory on NXT TV. How did it feel?
MANSOOR: Surreal. That match was a really important benchmark for me here in NXT. My first televised match was against Jaxson Ryker, and I got absolutely destroyed. It was also something of a welcoming party, my way of realizing that if I wanted to be successful in WWE, I was going to have to step it up big time. I went to the WWE Performance Center every day, took extra classes and watched more footage. I did anything that could improve me as a wrestler and as an athlete. When I found out my second match would be against another monster in Dominik Dijakovic, a little part of me thought, “Does someone in the company have it out for me?” But I was determined to show that I was not just another victim to be thrown in the lion’s den. I took the fight to Dijakovic. The man chucked me out of the ring like an empty soda can, but I got back up and gave him everything I had. After losing that match, I decided if everything I had wasn’t good enough, I was just going to have to get more. I promised myself that every time I was given an opportunity on NXT television, I would be better than the time before. My victory is only going to push me harder to achieve that goal.
WWE.COM: What has life been like for you since signing your NXT contract a little over a year ago?
MANSOOR: I can’t even begin to explain how much I owe WWE. Before getting signed, I was living in an apartment that was falling apart. The heater was broken during winter, mildew was growing all over the bedroom, a hole opened up in the bathroom ceiling from a leaky pipe dripping down. It was bad. I was determined to make a living wrestling full time, so I worked part-time jobs in order to keep my schedule open for training and bookings. I thought it would be years before I even got a shot at a tryout here. Even when my older brother told me about the one in Jeddah last year. He thought this was the perfect opportunity for me, but I was so entrenched in my pessimism that I believed I didn’t have a chance. Luckily, I was convinced to apply, and what followed was the craziest two weeks of my life. I went from struggling to pay rent in Oakland to standing before 60,000 people in King Abdullah Stadium. What I’m most grateful for is now having the means to support my fiancée, who sacrificed everything to be with me and believed in me while I was working on the indies. My life has completely changed.
WWE.COM: What made you want to step inside the ring in the first place?
MANSOOR: It wasn’t easy to get wrestling in Saudi Arabia, but what was always accessible were the video games. No Mercy, Here Comes the Pain, the Smackdown vs. RAW series, etc. Those games were how my friends and I learned almost everything we knew. If you had a pay-per-view DVD, you were the king! Nothing beats the real thing. We would dream about a WWE show in Riyadh, where we grew up, but it always felt like a pipe dream. That’s why it means so much to me that we get these Saudi shows and why I so desperately want to wrestle on them. When I was out there at the Greatest Royal Rumble, I saw kids who looked like me, like my friends, who huddled around the PlayStation creating ourselves in games, dreaming one day that would be a reality. As I grew up and became more cynical, that dream faded away. I wanted to be a part of the business so bad, but I didn’t think a person like me could make it to WWE. I thought I could be a manager or a referee. That all changed for me when Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2013. That match was like a revelation. I realized the only thing keeping me from achieving my dream was myself. I was 17 at the time, and if you told me then I’d be in NXT by the age of 23, I’d call you a liar and a phony time traveler.