One year into Paul "Triple H" Levesque's tenure as head of WWE Creative, many familiar faces are gracing the WWE stage once more. Among them is former "WWE NXT" Champion, Karrion Kross, whose return is marked by an evolved look but a persona bearing a close resemblance to his original "NXT" run.
Kross recently appeared on "The Undisputed Podcast" to delve into the muses of his career and his journey to the current WWE persona. Kross grew up in a family deeply immersed in amateur wrestling and boxing. He fostered an affinity for the art of pro wrestling, particularly the blend of theatrics with the realistic elements of combat sports.
"When I saw my idols in WWE on TV, and later ECW, AJPW, King's Road, it was nothing short of amazing," he admitted. Drawing on his experiences, Kross confessed, "When I began training, I wanted to use elements that not only resonated with me but would also connect with other athletes and people with legitimate backgrounds.
That was my preferred style of performance." On the independent circuit, Kross cultivated a hitman-like persona. Operating within the constraints of indie wrestling's modest budget, he relied more on mic time than presentation to attract his audience.
He cites wrestlers like Taz, Toshiaki Kawada, Gary Albright, and Steve Williams as inspirations.
Embracing Theatrics in WWE
Interestingly, Kross found further inspiration in the theatricality of Rick Rude and Gangrel. This duality became more pertinent in his transition to WWE.
"I understood that a 'shoot fighter' persona wouldn't fly in WWE's story-driven environment," he explained, "so I embraced their process of crafting larger-than-life characters." Kross worked closely with Triple H to adapt his persona for WWE.
"I presented my concepts to him," Kross revealed, "I wanted his insights because they're the billionaires, and I'm the indie wrestler. I hoped to maintain my ring style, aiming to satisfy fans seeking the authenticity of combat sports as well as those who crave the spectacle of classic larger-than-life characters." It's clear that Kross's in-ring persona is a carefully cultivated blend of the genuine and the theatrical, guided by a deep appreciation of wrestling's past and an ambitious vision for its future.