For the first time in over a decade, WWE brings Monday Night Raw to the Norfolk Scope on Monday May 16th with a live airing of the show all over the world. The main event scheduled bout is of The New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. SmackGown Tag Team Champions The Usos.

Many of RAW’s superstars are scheduled to appear such as: the American Nightmare Cody Rhodes, Theory, Raw Women’s Champion Bianca Belair, Edge, Damian Priest, Seth Freakin Rollins, Big Time Becky Lynch, RAW Tag Team Champions RK-Bro, Bobby Lashley, Rey Mysterio, Omos, MVP and so many more.

For more info and to purchase tickets starting at $20 go to https://www.sevenvenues.com/events/detail/wwe-monday-night-raw

Yiorgo: With us today is WWE Superstar Damian Priest, who will be competing May 16th. Damian, you have such an inspirational story. From poverty and hardship to prosperity and superstardom, you are living the American Dream. Let’s start with, why should people come to the live WWE Raw on May 16th at the Norfolk Scope, what will they experience, do and see at a live TV show? How is it different from watching it at home?

Damian Priest: If you are a fan, you obviously love it and you know but even if you are not, showing up to Monday night Raw is a spectacle that gives you every emotion.

Excitement, pageantry, in owe, on the edge of your seat, fireworks, you can view it all in one night. Live, there is no other show on the entire planet that can deliver what WWE does every single time. Being there live is an experience that you will be talking about every single night. It’s always can’t miss. You know, energy is contagious. I feel like every week there is history being made at the live shows. And when you are there live, you are in the moment and you can say, I was there for this. It’s just not the same as watching it home. So come on down and experience wrestling the way it was meant to be, live!!

Y: With a name like Damian Priest and given the “edge” pun intended your character has, to me it was natural to have you working with Edge. How did that happen, whose idea was it, etc.?

DP: It’s funny, since my time in NXT, Edge and I have had conversations about getting together and doing some business together. We have a lot of similarities and I have been very open about how many people and idols I look up to and Edge is clearly one of them. Everything has to do with timing. I kept pushing through. Every time we speak I would say, hey by the way, if you ever want to do stuff…. I text him all the time for advice or call him and he is very cool for me to throw ideas at him and give me his opinion. Finally we came to a spot where I did not know what direction I was going to go and he was open to new ideas. He said maybe I’II reform another group or team up with somebody and he said to me, what do you think, do you want to pair up? HE asked ME. That’s how it went down. He came up to me and said “would you be interested in this?’’ I said, “Absolutely, why are you asking me, this is totally what we are doing.”

Y: What have been some pinch me moments for you?

DP: There are so many, but like I always think about the little things, the private things, like when Hunter will send me a text, or pull me aside backstage and start talking to me or Shawn Michaels will call and just talk to me. I am like, I can’t believe these guys have my phone number. These are my heroes, like is this real? Undertaker gave me advice at SummerSlam where he literally sat down at the table I was eating and said, hey man do you mind if I give you some advice? I was like, what, I can’t believe you just asked me that. Yes, please give me all of it. That’s one of those moments where I am like, is there anybody else watching this? He is talking to me. If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up.

In the ring, every moment is a pinch me moment. The idea that I have theme music going to the ring, that right there, it’s those little things that I am like, I can’t believe this is my life. I am very grateful, very blessed.

Y: What was it like working with Bad Bunny?

DP: Part of the dream of being a professional wrestler is having a WrestleMania moment. So being a part of WrestleMania is everything. Just as a fan, we know how important that is. How many people in the world are trying to become wrestlers? There is only one company that has WrestleMania. So knowing it was finally going to happen and that I get to do it alongside a celebrity who loves wrestling and put in the time and work because he wanted a performance that he would be proud of and the fans to be proud of. We also became friends throughout that whole process. It was a roller coaster of positive emotions. We were both nervous and we fed off each other.

The experience was everything I wanted it to be especially coming out of the pandemic with no crowds, to now being part of the main roster and in front of such a huge crowd, teaming with Bad Bunny in a high profile match, against former world tag-team champs, I mean you couldn’t write this. For me, it was perfect. And there were so many other things that went into it to make it so special. I know how lucky I am to have that experience as my first WrestleMania.

Y: And you follow up with going to SummerSlam and becoming the United States Champion. Talk about that special day in your life.

DP: I went from WrestleMania into SummerSlam in front of like 50,000 people and won my first championship. What made it even more special was that it was the United States Championship that so many of my idols and heroes have held, including someone like Scott Hall who everybody knows I idolize. He was there that week. There is so much that goes into something like that and that made that championship even more special. I look back at it now, looking at a video or pictures from that day and man, that felt like a dream. And it was so fast that I was like did this just happen? It was one of the greatest nights of my career. And working with Shamus made it even better. He is awesome, a future Hall of Famer, and to beat Shamus for the title, only a handful of us get that privilege. So it’s very meaningful to me.

Y: Can you share some memories with your idol, Scott Hall?

DP: For me to show emotions in public, that is a big deal for me and Scott got me to do that. He is one of those that you idolize and look up to and then you find out, wow, you are that cool. He gave me advice, he was cool and joking around with me from the moment we met, and he had no reason to be. It’s just who he is and the time I got to spend with him I will cherish forever. I was at the PC for instance where we got to watch some of my matches back and critique them. And him gifting me because I asked him, hey do you mind if I use some of your stuff. He was like h*** yeah man, you want to be reminding people about me man, that’s cool. So he is roasting me while saying yes. That’s who he was in the kindest ways. We would always laugh and it’s just so odd that in that small amount of time that I actually spent time with him and we got to know each other was so invaluable. It was special and crazy how much I gained and the little stories that I can tell by our few interactions. What a special human being and I’m just happy that I was privileged enough to know him, pick his brain, have him guide me a little bit, who gets that from their heroes. I was the lucky one.

Y: Let’s talk about you. Where were you born, where did you grow up and what made you fall in love with pro wrestling?

DP: I was born in New York City and raised in Puerto Rico. You know on the island, still to this day, everyone is obsessed with wrestling, sports entertainment. When I moved there, as a child growing up, everybody watched wrestling. All the kids had action figures. So naturally, I had to watch it too, just to be able to hang out with my friends. And then I just got so invested in what I was watching, the emotion I felt watching this. Without knowing it as a kid, this is what I wanted to do with my life. When I got older I said, those emotions I felt, I want to make others feel that.

I am a big superhero fan and comic fan so this is live action superheroes and supervillains. I want to do this, I have to do this with my life. That’s how that love started. It was these over the top characters watching them and being mesmerized by them.

Y: Spanish is your native language. How difficult was it to adjust once you came to NY?

DP: I was a baby when they took me to Puerto Rico and Spanish was my first language.

My parents were split, I was raised with my mom on the island and I moved back to New York to be with my dad in the Bronx. It was a struggle. I could speak it brokenly, and fluently not even close. I also could not read or write. I was taking bi-lingual classes and being New York, everyone is from all over and it made it very easy to fit in.

Y: You went through a lot in order to be where you are today. Talk about the reality of what it takes to become a professional wrestler.

DP: This is not a hobby business. The sacrifices we hear about are real. There is no money to be made unless you make it to the big promotions. I was making little to no money at it. I had a job at the time but doing the job meant you were sacrificing the dream because you are working and can’t take the time off. I quit my job to do my wrestling but now I have no money to pay for food or rent. And then there’s the issue of how do I get to the show? When I get there they are giving me $5 or $10 and it’s 5-6 hours away and now I have no means to get back home. That was my life and a real thing that a lot of us who follow our dreams dealt with. There were days back then when I would say, I got to figure out something else to do with my life. There were a lot of times that I was ready to quit just because you are not living, you are barely surviving, you’re not happy, things are not working. It’s sad and it will get to you. Then I would watch wrestling and I would say no, I have to do that.

Y: Any regrets?

DP: I’II be honest, I’m an extremely positive person and looking back, thinking about the negatives, there’s not one thing I would change because it got me here. It makes me value everything so much more now. My family and friends say, you have not changed and I say, I don’t know how not to be me because of those hardships and growing pains. To this day I’m shocked like I am doing this interview with you and it’s crazy to me. This is nuts that people want to talk to me. I appreciate it, I love it, and I try to do the best that I can with the platform I have right now. I tell people, be me now, not me before.

Y: So what would the Damian of today say to the young you 15 years ago who was struggling to make it?

DP: There is not one person on this planet that will work as hard as you can to follow your dream. For a while I coasted because of bad advice. But I came to the realization that if I want that dream, I have to put in the work now and actually live it. Once I figured that out and really, really looked in the mirror and said ok now you are doing everything you can to achieve your dream, I did achieve it. I always tell people as cheesy as it sounds, I am the example. You can achieve your dreams but you gotta work at it. That’s what I would tell myself, put in the work now and stop wasting your time.

Yiorgo is an arts, entertainment and sports writer. A stage, TV and movie actor, he is also a sports entertainer, educator, motivational speaker, writer, storyteller and columnist.

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