Firsts are important in wrestling – because everyone remembers them – and A-Kid etched his name in the history books by becoming WWE’s first ever Heritage Cup recently in NXT UK!
Since emanating from the BT Sport Studios upon its return, the presentation of the show has been incredibly impressive – and the Superstars seem to have taken the challenge to personally up their games too. That rise is no more prominent than in NXT UK Heritage Cup winner A-Kid! After triumphing over Trent Seven in the final, A-Kid spoke to Inside The Ropes‘ Gary Cassidy about his journey in WWE so far!
The one place I want to start is actually the end of the match. I’m not sure if you’ve watched that back yet, but it was a line that was said on commentary that I really liked. Nigel McGuinness said, “El Nino Anonimo – anonymous no more.” If we look back at the start of the year, I don’t think you were “anonymous” anymore anyway, but if you look back to the start of the year, NXT UK having to essentially cease operations, to A-Kid then lifting up that Heritage Cup – was that something you thought was possible back when NXT UK effectively wasn’t taping shows anymore?
Not at all. It is surreal. It’s surreal to think that I’ve had, like, five matches maybe from March until now and my career has changed completely in those five months. Last year, I had almost 100 and it didn’t even have that effect on my career. So, it is an amazing time anyway. Like as you said, I’m feeling so happy right now to have finished that tournament and being the Heritage Cup champion, it is something I’m very proud of – not only because of how big it is, because it’s the first ever champion, but also because it’s the first time a Spanish-born wrestler is a champion in WWE, so it’s a celebration time.
Most definitely. We’re going to onto that and about being the first ever Spanish-born wrestler to the lift gold, essentially, but let’s talk about the tournament first. The Heritage Cup was under British Rounds rules. Everyone might have predicted a British talent winning the first one because of home advantage.
Now, I know that you’ve have adapted to life in Britain quite well because I’ve seen that photo of you with a plate full of Yorkshire puddings! So, I think you’ve adapted to life in the UK well, but what about British Rounds rules? Was there any added pressure for you to adapt to something you’re not too familiar with, or was it something that came naturally?
I don’t think it is easy to adapt. I don’t think it is easy for any performance right now because, unfortunately, it’s not very common. So I’ve had the chance to wrestle under those rules maybe two times in my career before this tournament. But I used to love watching World of Sport. I love the style and I studied so much that I just I just felt blessed with the opportunity that I could wrestle under those rules – let alone win the whole tournament and represent that style. That’s something I’m very proud of and I obviously worked very, very hard to take care of it.
Well, I don’t think anyone can argue that you definitely take care of it! However, I want to ask, something happened on NXT UK’s weekly show recently that may have added some pressure. Just a few weeks before, there was a match that was rated five stars by Dave Meltzer on NXT UK. Now, I know that you’re no stranger to getting the five-star rating as A-Kid was the youngest talent ever to do so for your match with Zack Sabre Jr! However, WALTER versus Ilja Dragunov – did that add any pressure? Were you watching that match back going, “Oh, man, we have a high standard to live up to,” or did you just know that you could go out there and put on a great performance?
Of course there’s pressure but I think, as a whole roster, that’s something wonderful because obviously I remember watching that match and thinking, “Wow, this is unbelievable wrestling!” But then my next thought was, “Wow, I would love to top that. I would love to try to create that again here in NXT UK.” So, if all of us have that mentality, it just pushes the brand and I think that’s what we’re doing now. Like, we just push each other and we appreciate others’ work. Like, I absolutely love that match and it taught me a lot to go into that final and deliver. So, yeah, I think Trent also had that mentality and it was really special in that ring.
Yeah, definitely – and the reason I mention that match is because it was for the NXT UK Championship. I want to ask what the Heritage Cup is to. Is it the kind of thing where it’s like, “Well, it’s a trophy” so it’s gold that you can have on the mantle, did you see it as like a secondary championship, or did you see it as a vehicle to a title shot for the NXT UK Championship? What do you see that trophy as representing for you?
I don’t really think it is a secondary championship. I think it’s different, it’s a whole new world. Like, we haven’t seen this style in WWE in our life. There’s no match in WWE under those rules. So anything can really happen. It’s just a whole different world I really, really want to explore. So, yeah, I mean, obviously, as a performer, you want that title, you want the NXT UK Title – but I feel like you also want the Heritage Club.
The reason this is such a good interview timing-wise is because you did speak to Inside the Ropes at the start of the Heritage Cup before it kicked off and you named Trent Seven as someone you wanted to face. Then I had the pleasure of speaking to Trent Seven just before your match. I want to just say a couple of things that Trent Seven said about you and then ask for your thoughts on Trent Seven, if that’s OK.
I asked Trent, “Who is catching your eye in NXT UK?” He named you, and said you’ve come on leaps and bounds physically, mentally, and in the way you perform. He mentioned you’ve got that new hybrid style of MMA and being a high flyer, and really exciting to watch. He said you were one to watch – which is a bit of an understatement now that you’re the winner of the Heritage Cup. What do you think of Trent Seven now that you’ve been wondering where the men’s singles competition?
He is unbelievable. When I signed with NXT UK, he was one of a few names that I always mentioned that I wanted to wrestle. I think he’s an unbelievable wrestler and it is so special as well, because my first match in the UK was against British Strong Style – it was against Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate and him – and him being the person that was in that final with me, it means so much, not only like obviously because of the match, but more like a personal background, like. Within three, three years, maybe I’ve changed so much from looking so up to this person to actually share the ring with them, it’s surreal.
Yeah, it was a really nice way to bookend the journey because that was your first match in the UK but he’s one of the founding fathers of the UK – so it’s essentially a passing of the torch! I have one final question that’s split into two short questions. One of the other things mentioned on commentary that a lot of people may not have known is you once played for Real Madrid! Is there anyone that you would have played with or against that people would know the name of?
Oh, no, no, I don’t think so. Well, I mean, maybe – because I don’t really follow football anymore so I don’t know who has made it big, but, yeah, I used to play with with Real Madrid when I was like six, seven years old. Yeah. I don’t really like talking about it because I don’t like football anymore, so I have no clue about anything related to it.
Well, that leads on to the second part of that question. Spain is obviously a very famous country for football, but not so much wrestling. Unless we count Kane – who was born in Spain, but in a US military base – you are undoubtedly THE most famous and most successful wrestler to come from Spain!
How difficult was it for you to leave football, and everything else, behind and try forge a career in wrestling – which is unheard of in Spain – and is that decision justified now that you’re going to be an inspiration to a lot of wrestling fans and Spain who have once thought impossible? Now people can follow their dreams, like you – and also, what is A-Kid’s journey looking like? Are you planning for a future appearance at the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, or is it like, “Well, I guess I’ve made history already. I’ll just see how it goes.”?
That last line has been my mentality my whole life, to be honest, so I think that’s what I’m going to do.
But yeah, as you mentioned, I’ve been following wrestling pretty much my whole life, but I’ve also done other things. We mentioned football, I studied math – I was a math teacher – so I also dropped that. As you said, you need that. You need that to know that the path you chose was the right one, because I think that’s the most difficult thing in our lives – like especially in a world where everything is kind of set in a certain rule set.
To go off that path and to choose to follow your dreams, it’s so hard because you need someone to tell you what you do. And right now I feel like what I did was right because of how it has been so far, and I really hope that, someday, it can inspire someone from Spain to follow that dream because they they might think it’s easier to do because someone has done it before. So that’s the only reason I do it.
From looking at Twitter last week, I’m pretty sure you’ve already inspired some people from Spain to follow their dreams, which is absolutely brilliant. And I hope we see A-Kid versus Eddie Dennis in a teacher-off because you guys both have that background as a teacher!
No matter where the journey takes you, I can’t wait to see it – and I’ll be watching NXT UK at 8pm on the WWE Network to see what’s next for A-Kid. Thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate it.
Thank you very much, Gary.
Thanks to A-Kid for taking the time and to WWE United Kingdom for facilitating the chat. You can follow A-Kid on Twitter here.
You can watch A-Kid every week on NXT UK, which is available via the WWE Network at 8pm every Thursday, then on BT Sport every Friday.