When crafting a wrestling character, inspirations can come from many sources - from childhood heroes to iconic athletes and even elements of superhero personas. However, giving credit to others for his success might be a rare sight for the unabashedly confident Grayson Waller.
During an appearance on "The MMA Hour," the Australian sensation surprisingly revealed the secret formula that shapes his captivating WWE persona. Debuting in the grandeur of Madison Square Garden against none other than WWE Hall of Famer Edge on "WWE Smackdown," Waller acknowledged the significant role played by the legendary Fit Finlay in honing his character.
The Irish brawler had invaluable advice for the up-and-coming superstar: to emulate the greatness of one of the all-time sports legends, Muhammad Ali. Finlay urged Waller to believe in himself, exemplifying Ali's iconic photograph where he stood tall, towering over his opponents with supreme confidence.
Embracing Muhammad Ali's Essence
Recalling the pivotal conversation with Finlay, Waller shared, "He goes, 'You need to go in there with these people and act like you're Muhammad Ali. You need to believe in yourself.' And he gave me this photo.
I've seen it. He said, 'You need to stand above them and show that you're better than them.' So as soon as he told me that, I took that to heart. I went and bought it and put it up in my house so every day I think about the fact that I need to act like Muhammad Ali.
When I go in there, I need to feel like I'm the best, not just say it." While the essence of Muhammad Ali fuels Waller's unyielding attitude, his character also draws inspiration from two other legendary athletes. British boxer Naseem Hamed plays a pivotal role in influencing Waller's in-ring appearance.
The WWE superstar explained that the choice of boxing trunks is to stand out and look different, but the true persona draws from Prince Naseem's flamboyance and trash-talking antics. Waller sees Prince Naseem as the original trailblazer for the likes of Conor McGregor and Chael Sonnen, a true master of flashy charisma.
Waller also pays tribute to another athlete, the renowned Chris Hero, formerly Kassius Ohno in "NXT." As a fervent fan of "The Knockout Artist" during his spectator days, Waller incorporated Hero's signature lunges into his entrance, acknowledging the Ring of Honor legend's impact on him.
With inspirations spanning from the incomparable Muhammad Ali's self-belief to the glitz of Prince Naseem and the technical prowess of Chris Hero, Grayson Waller has ingeniously combined these elements to craft a mesmerizing WWE persona.
His charismatic presence, coupled with a newfound aura of invincibility, has certainly earned him a prominent spot in the WWE universe, promising fans a thrilling journey ahead as he continues to showcase his dynamic talent on the grandest stage of them all.