nZo Wants To Reinvent People’s Perception Of Him As A Professional Wrestler

CaZXL and nZo recently spoke with Wrestlezone’s Dominic DeAngelo ahead of their appearances at Northeast Wrestling’s trio of events this weekend. Tonight nZo will be making his in-ring return at Northeast Wrestling’s Prison Break in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he faces Brian Pillman Jr. at the very same venue he had his last match in. nZo’s last match was 572 days ago against Cedric Alexander at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. 

nZo talks about the details of tonight and what he has planned to change the perception of fans when they think of the Enzo Amore character. nZo expressed that he is very much about taking wrestling back to it’s lock-up, tackle days of storytelling and isn’t afraid to show his physical side because that’s what he’s always has done as the real-life Eric Arndt. 

“I think that people fail to realize that you know often times as pro wrestlers we get caught up in blurring the lines of what’s real and what’s fake. So oftentimes I played that character of Enzo Amore too well, where people really did have fun with the character to the point where maybe they didn’t take him too serious. And you know. you can pick and hold yourself that spot in our business, but I always knew and had faith in my wrestling ability and the things that people never seen me do that I did every day, that when I was in the WWE in the Performance Center—Cass can attest to it—I was a ring rat. I was in the ring as often, if not more, than any other NXT talent and would do justice, I mean I had to. Because if I wasn’t, (A) I would have been fired, (B) I would have never been able to catch up on these guys who had years and years of experience, traveling around the world and wrestling in front of crowds and learning from those experiences, but also in the same token I don’t know anybody in the history of our business has been thrown into the fire quite like I have. Because mind you, when Cass started his WWE career, he had a little bit of a background in indie wrestling and by the time he met me, he had almost a year under his belt in Florida Championship Wrestling. When I debuted on television against Mason Ryan, I was told basically I was going to be fired, I was going out there to do a job. That very same day, John Cena invited me in the ring with Big Cass and we spelled out S-A-W-F-T, the crowd repeated it, and a guy was supposed to get fired is now getting booked by NXT, every single Thursday, Friday & Saturday night against some of the best wrestlers in the world for five years straight.

So, when you get booked against The Revival, when you get booked against The Hardy Boyz, when you get booked with John Cena and he’s calling it on the fly from the ring apron and you get thrust into the fire, even on the main roster, much like me and Big Cass did, thrown into a big spot, constantly being pushed in the direction that was appropriate for my character. Now, that meant that I didn’t have to do a lot of wrestling and I got to enjoy the fruits of my labor on the microphone a little too much by making my job very easy on things like European tours where I went out and did pretty much the same song and dance most nights. But, in the same breath, that same guy who was in the ring every single day, was standing on a apron, tagging in and out, working for three straight hours every day, where other wrestlers maybe knew what they were doing or felt like they had it down pat, I never ever, ever wanted to put myself in a position where I couldn’t do this or I couldn’t do that and I could constantly prove people wrong if I wanted to. Now when I played the character of Enzo I didn’t necessarily want to do anything other than what was necessary to stimulate the storyline and do the best in getting all that I needed to out of the match and my opponent and wherever my character was going.”

nZo continued, saying he wants to reinvent the way people see him in the ring, noting that he can wrestle but it’s not what people were used to seeing him do on TV. He says there’s plenty of footage from his earlier work before hitting the WWE main roster that shows what he can do, and now he can prove himself to a new audience on the independent scene.

“I have my reasons to come back and show the world that as a pro wrestler, I am beyond formidable. The character that I play as Enzo Amore can either make you cry and literally he can cry one tear on TV as an actor or he can get kicked in the face and throw a wig in the air on a live event, or I can take a brand on the road as a cruiserweight and showcase the other talent that are around me and how theatrical we can be in essence as performers who don’t necessarily have to go out there with a script. I want to take wrestling back to the days of multiple lock-up, less hitting the ropes, selling a tackle instead of doing ‘tackle, drop down, leap-frog, hip-toss’—let’s just sell that tackle. Let’s work that lock-up for the first two minutes of a match, let’s move around. Let’s not give each other things, let’s take things from each other. If a guy ain’t giving me a reason to sell, I’m not going to sell. If he gives me a good reason to sell, that’s the heat right there.

“So I want to reinvent the way that people perceive the character of ‘Enzo Amore’ because the real-life character of Eric Arndt, is in a boxing gym—as Cass would tell you—rolling MMA with Mickey Gall and doing all sorts of jiu-jitsu classes and I’ve been that way my whole life. I’ve played college football, I was first team in all of North Jersey, played against [former New York Giants star] Victor Cruz, 1,000-yard running back in high school. That is clearly not the character that I played in the WWE, a formidable opponent and athlete, but I was in the midst of reinventing myself while I was on the main roster when I had that title. And then in order to build that credibility, you need to do things like what I’m about to do this Friday and that’s work with a young kid who’s hungry, who has a lot to prove, who wants to go out there and have a stellar match and wants to prove to the world that he can go. And in the same token, I literally feel like that I have nothing to prove. I don’t have a nervous bone in my body. To me, I’m getting in the ring and doing what I’ve done for the past six years of my life at a level to which the world has never seen.

If people think I can’t wrestle, I can wrestle a fuckin’ broom right now on the internet and put on a better match than some of the shit I see on TV.”

nZo went on to talk about choosing his opponent, Brian Pillman Jr., for tonight’s match, noting he sees a lot of potential in him and says he has a good wrestling look, in addition to idolizing Brian’s father as a kid. nZo continued, noting how he was booked for tonight’s Northeast Wrestling show and talked about all of the memories that the venue held for him.

nZo: “They got my first wrestling match back because Mike Lombardi pulled some strings and got the Mid-Hudson Civic Center which is the place of the legend where Macho Man Randy Savage debuted and the fuckin’ home of the only 205 Live Cruiserweight Tour ever and now I’m returning to the same place where I had my last match to defend the title that I never lost, you know, and I don’t need a piece of hardware to tell you that I’m the fuckin’ man.”

CaZXL: “You can put this direct quote from me in this—Michael Lombardi ain’t fuckin’ around.’”

(Transcription credit should go to @DOMINICDEANGELO of WrestleZone)

RELATED: CaZXL On Facing Jon Moxley, Finding New Life & Being Motivated By People That Wrote Him Off

The Free AgentZ will take on the following schedule this weekend:

8/16 (Poughkeepsie, NY)

nZo vs. Brian Pillman Jr.

CaZXL vs. Thrillride

8/17 (Norwich, CT)

CaZXL (w/ nZo) vs. Jon Moxley

8/18 (Scranton, PA)

CaZXL (w/ nZo) vs. Wrecking Ball Legursky

You can purchase tickets to the big Northeast Wrestling shows this weekend by going here or watch the shows on Highspots Wrestling Network by going here.