Curt Hawkins recently spoke with Justin Barrasso of SI.com about his career. Here are the highlights.
You also worked in NXT during parts of 2014. What were your highlights from that experience, and were you able to develop a relationship with the late, great Dusty Rhodes?
“When I was at the Performance Center and NXT, I got to have some awesome matches with Sami Zayn and Neville where we could really put in some time. I was in FCW so I also worked with Dusty Rhodes every week for a year. He was a vital part and he, along with Edge, were the two people who saved my career. I’d already been on TV, had the tag titles, then I went back down to FCW. Dusty saw in me that I was a star, and he gave me confidence in cutting promos and helped me out immensely. I’ll forever be grateful to him. It’s a little known fact, but I actually had his last match ever. He wanted to tag with Dustin and Cody. So in the summer of 2010, me, Trent Barreta, and Caylen Croft as the Dude Busters main-evented an FCW show against the Rhodes. It was the only time the Rhodes boys ever tagged, and it was Dusty’s last match ever. The match ended with me taking an elbow from Dusty. It was very, very cool, and I was very, very honored.”
In addition to winning the tag titles at the ’08 Great American Bash, there were a couple of other memorable moments before and during that pay per view. Do you recall any memories of the talent meeting with Vince McMahon where he announced that the WWE product was moving to PG, and wasn’t there a laugh-out-loud moment later that night backstage with Mark Henry?
“We were at the Great American Bash pay per view in 2008 in a talent meeting, and Vince explained it everybody. I don’t think anyone thought too much about it at the time or knew what it would entail. So Vince McMahon is speaking and everyone is listening. No one would interrupt him. It would have to be really worth speaking if you had something to say. Michael Tarver, who wasn’t even on the roster at the time and was just doing dark matches, raised his hand and said something. Vince responded by saying, ‘Excellent question, Shelton!’ [Author’s note: Shelton Benjamin] and the place just erupted in laughter. That’s really the only thing I remember about the whole meeting. During the John Cena and JBL match, I remember sitting at the monitor watching, and it was a pretty violent match in some kind of street fight [a New YorkCity Parking Lot Brawl]. They were fighting backstage and by the cars, and squished each other’s heads in a car, and it was very violent. And all you could hear was Mark Henry say, ‘So murder is PG?’ and that comment cracked us up.”