Otis on bulldozing his way to new heights after winning WWE Money in the Bank

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One of WWE’s biggest guys is doing some really big things.

That would be Otis, one-half of Heavy Machinery who is now Mr. Money in the Bank after winning the recent MITB ladder match. It was a historic match, being the first one ever taped at WWE  headquarters in Stamford, CT. Otis along with five other WWE superstars — AJ Styles, Rey Mysterio, Daniel Bryan, Baron Corbin, and Aleister Black — having to fight from the ground floor of the building to the roof where the case hung over a ring.

The former amateur wrestling star is becoming the breakout star of SmackDown on Fox airing Friday nights from 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET. Otis – along with his tag-team partner Tucker – see themselves as hard-working, blue-collar guys who aren’t afraid of putting in the hard work to get the job done. But the barrel-shaped Otis has also utilized his massive 335-pound body to not only power through opponents but as a tool along with his comedic timing to entertain and he sings the praised of “steaks and weights” while he happily grunts “oh yeah”.

After several years in NXT, Otis and Tucker made their way to SmackDown last October and began feuding with a variety of different teams. But along the way, Otis ran into the blonde bombshell Mandy Rose and the storyline fell into WWE’s lap with the pot-belly lover hoping to get the girl of his dreams.

That finally happened at WrestleMania 36 after he beat Dolph Ziggler. It’s just the start for Otis who now holds the Money in the Bank briefcase and with it, he can cash it at ay any time for any WWE championship of his choosing.

Otis recently spoke with Between The Ropes about his big Money in the Bank win, his instant chemistry with Mandy, their one missed moment, and more.

BRIAN FRITZ: Have you checked on Paul Heyman and how his face is after you clobbered him with that plate of sandwiches at Money in the Bank? That was pretty vicious.

OTIS: He still has a bit of rye bread in his eyelid, for sure. There’s nothing I love more than having a massive plate and shoving into Paul because he started this whole thing in that match. You put a massive, very very full mayonnaise sandwich in my face and I think Paul loves mayonnaise. So yeah, I must have lost my temper a little bit. That’s how he got the whole load in his face, brother.

BF: Going into Money in the Bank, a lot of fans were looking at that match thinking it would be fun if Otis won but didn’t expect it. What was it like for you going through that process and finding out that you were going to be winning Money in the Bank?

OTIS: Oh, man, it’s like, as a lot of people said in the interviews that the risk is worth the award. It’s a big risk in this kind of match. You’ve got me and five other studs in this match, you’ve got veterans and anything can happen, man. So, as WWE says, you never know what’s gonna happen ’til it happens. I was even shocked as I caught it. It was like NFL possession. “I got it, baby! I got the touchdown! Yes. First down.”

So, it’s like very, like, surreal and still hasn’t sit in with me still yet. that up because a lot of people in this profession, it’s like, we’re on the go so it doesn’t sit in until like you start going, wow, this is real. I got this bad boy. All right. In the game plan for me, it’s just like my personality – the sooner the better, baby so you never know where I’m going to cash it in but baby, I promise it’s gonna be sooner than later baby. Yeah.

BF: It was such a unique match and everybody was coming up with so many different ideas for it. What ideas didn’t we get to see play out for whatever reason that or others came up with?

OTIS: Let me see… There was not really much. There’s probably a few things like do you run through this wall? Do we break this mirror? The little stuff like that but I mean we’re super happy with it. I’ve been to the headquarters before but I never went to the whole building. They have so many buildings over there but that building itself is massive. My instinct in my strategy for the match was just keep finding an exit door because I know being the big sexy, hairy man that I am, I don’t think speed is going to be the strategy. I think speed is going to go with AJ, then Aleister Black. They’re gonna have the speed there but my favorite is probably the weight room because (laughs), like dropping the heavy bar of 425 pounds on AJ’s chest. That’s personally my favorite along with the pie to the face of Johnny Ace, John Laurinaitis.

There was probably more planning for the food fight because there was so much wet food. And it was nothing but fun, man. But yeah, I like what we created with the weight room because it’s like, this is legit weights and machines so you can’t just pick something up and just chuck it at a brother. It was definitely interesting, man with Corbin and the big swing of that plate at Daniel, that 45-pound plate with the mirror. That sounded so loud and it was intense.

BF: Was there any legit concern about breaking anything, especially in Vince’s office?

OTIS: I think we all have an understanding of whatever could happen could happen. So that was again, back to the risk and the award. We’ll deal with the broken stuff later, I guess. I personally didn’t break anything expensive I believe. The elevator button wasn’t working a lot so I had to basically keep kicking that darn thing to get up. Maybe it was because all you know of the ladies and the men were trying to use the elevator maybe. My only game plan – strategy for my whole life; just keep attacking. I think I’m pretty clean on the material list of the WWE headquarters.

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BF: Because of the circumstances that are going on in the world right now, WWE has done several taped cinematic matches recently. We saw the Boneyard batch and the Firefly funhouse match at WrestleMania and, of course, the Money in the Bank match. When the world does get back to normal and there are fans back at shows, do you think we’ll continue to see these types of matches?

OTIS: Yeah. I think everything happens for a reason. That’s a very strong quote that I live by. That Boneyard match, I mean, I just felt like I was watching a cool thriller action movie, like big thumbs up to everybody that worked on that. The Firefly match, our Money the Bank match. So if this pandemic which is unfortunate, super sad, we’re losing lives and we’ve got to be careful if you go out in public and you have to wear those masks you can barely breathe in. We’ve got to be careful but if that didn’t happen, would these ideas spark with our creative team, our writers and producers? If this pandemic didn’t, unfortunately, pan out, I don’t know if you would have thought of that Boneyard match or thought of that awesome Firefly Funhouse match. I think we could definitely be in the norm here though.

Yes, we’ll have our matches in front of the crowd but I think that, for sure, we’ll continue these awesome idea matches that are not exactly with the people but just some to keep the fans going and interested. so yeah, It’s really cool and again, I can’t tell how awesome the guys with the cameras are and they catch some good stuff, man. Like, he’s just like, “whoa, there’s my belly. There’s my face. Oh, yeah.”

BF: So many of the WWE superstars have talked about how strange it is to perform in front of no fans in the building. What have you learned during this time that you can actually learn from and take with you and use once there are live audiences at WWE shows?

OTIS: I look at the camera longer. There’s a saying, you know, that the camera is gonna find you but I’ve never really worked really hard to be on the camera. I’ve always been looking at the fans. I look over there to the left, I look to the right. They’re giving me the energy and I love that. That stuff’s like jazz to me, man. Like, to do something and get a great reaction off of it, it’s priceless. You can’t put a price on it. It’s a great feeling but now, what I’ve learned is like keep your focus on the camera and just make sure that what you’re selling to the people is something where, you know, they’re gonna feel that across that camera.

An audience, they could feel it because like I said, nothing’s better live. I mean, hockey is cool to watch on TV but I love watching it live, man. I love that stuff like football games. Same thing with people live you feel it naturally but to feel to the screen is the hardest part and that’s something where I’m always going to be learning. It’s definitely something new for me but every day you learn something new and this has been awesome, man. As much as we miss the fans, these are reps we can do with talking to people through the camera and making sure they’re entertained at home.

BF: That being said, lay out the picture of what it would have been like at WrestleMania if it was in Raymond James Stadium in front of 70,000 fans for the moment with you and Mandy.

OTIS: Oh, oh, oh. That is the only thing I’m sad about, brother. This story just reminds me when the drama is happening, people are circling everybody, you know, and they’re like, Oh, yeah, you know, they’re picking, picking their favorites. That definitely, I hear from my co-workers that are veterans, they’ll be like you never forget your first WrestleMania experience with the crowd. That first time, it’s something that it’s crazy and I was very excited of course. That vision is still in my head of hopefully someday. In life, there’s only one guarantee and that’s there are no guarantees and that’s life. So you gotta basically take what you can when you get the opportunities. But yeah, it was great to have the reactions on my phone when it happened because a lot of people are like “oh, yeah, kiss Mandy, she’s like a beautiful peach”. I think it was trending number one on Twitter at the time when we connected lips. But yeah, it’s somewhere. I was like, dang, man, this is awesome but that crowd. I mean, oh. The vision of this, imagine the closer and closer I got to Mandy and picked her up to my arms. Then we get that look like do you guys think we’re going to do it? Oh yeah and then connect the lips, you know, tasty lips of Mandy’s.

Man, the crowd absolutely would have been crazy. The crowd at the Royal Rumble, when she was getting eliminated and I was on the ground sneaking around the ring and she landed on me and she wasn’t eliminated. That was a nuts reaction itself, man. If you watch it back when Mandy falls out of the ring and she lands on my 335-pound sexy body you know what I mean? It was like the first three rows noticed it and then the whole arena noticed it in that baseball stadium. It was nuts, man. I could have imagined WrestleMania but we’re with these times during a pandemic and you have to keep it safe but as long you can still see it through the camera, baby.

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BF: When you and Mandy met behind the scenes and became friends, did you feel instant chemistry in what we now see on television?

OTIS: Oh, absolutely. You can tell she was raised with brothers because it’s just awesome now. Everybody asks how’s Mandy behind the curtain. She’s awesome, man. Some may be surprised being but being that beautiful and being that humble at the same time, it’s awesome, man. The hardest part of the storyline is making sure she doesn’t laugh or I don’t laugh at certain things in the backstage segments but it’s fun. We’ve always been cool and when we started doing the storylines it was just like what can we fine-tune, what are we trying to tell the people but it’s been crazy how accepting like the (WWE) universe is about it.

Even outside of the (WWE) universe. A lot of my old buddies from Olympic wrestling are like, oh my gosh, she’s so beautiful. I said, yeah, I know. Heavy Machinery baby. She’s with us. Yes, blue-collar solid now. It’s been nothing but awesome and just love and respect forever for working with Mandy, Sonya, Dolph. It’s been nothing but fun doing these matches, doing these characters, getting in there and entertaining people because having me locked in a house isn’t going to work so well. I’ll start going crazy and hitting walls. I’m kidding, I don’t do none of that.

BF: Over the years in wrestling, we’ve always seen the blue-collar guys, somebody that can relate to the common person and you’re the latest in that line. What’s it like to be able to be that persona, to be somebody that people at home say I can relate to this guy on television?

OTIS: When people see my parents, for example, I saw I get my good looks from my mother, for sure. I think the only thing I got from my father was a fingernail clipping. You look at my parents and see how these people grew up as hardworking people and then they raised a son where the son knew the same values and how to earn an honest dollar and treat everybody the same as you want to be treated. I treat them with pride, man. This is who I am in life, and it could be very scary to show people who you really are and, at the same time it’s like, I have nothing but fun doing it. I’m representing what I’ve always represented with this run.

At WrestleMania, that was my first singles contest at WrestleMania and that was the same for Dolph, too. I didn’t know that was the case so that was special for us. Then to get the Money in the Bank briefcase. Just pour your heart and soul out there, baby, and as me and Tucker always say we’re two hearts one soul and what that means is our beliefs are the same and we always have each other’s back. We’re always working towards getting to the top and now with Mandy, it’s been great, man. And I think that people will feel that because you can’t fool the people. I’ve been very fortunate for them to accept me and it’s just random fun man.

BF: Everyone sees that you have a funny, comedic entertaining side of you. Going forward, do you think there will be a balance of that along with a more serious side, especially with the responsibility that comes with you having the Money in the Bank case?

OTIS: Oh yeah, man. I don’t really qualify myself as a comedy wrestler but it just kind of comes natural to me in the way I use my body, the swagger about myself. It comes out very funny and very loving but at the same time, it’s like I could turn it … we call it the switch in amateur wrestling. You see your opponent listening to music you wrestling them. You know he’s not for real because when you turn that switch on, it’s time to go, to battle and get that win and to me, it’s the same thing. If you want to see a serious Otis, you’re getting him, man. It’s easy to go back and forth in my eyes to, OK, we’re having fun but when it’s time to go, it’s time to go. That’s what we preach a lot with Heavy Machinery. We’re those fun guys that barbecue but if someone’s acting up, they’re gonna get theirs. (laughs)

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Brian Fritz

Brian Fritz is the owner and editor-in-chief of Between The Ropes. He has also covered wrestling and MMA for The Orlando Sentinel, AOL Fanhouse, and Sporting News. You can email Brian at btrfritz@gmail.com.

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