Since his move from NXT to Raw in May 2020, Matt Riddle has emerged as one of WWE's biggest draws.
The former MMA fighter is the current Raw Tag Team Champion together with 14-time World Champion Randy Orton, having won the belts against A.J. Styles and Omos before thousands of fans at SummerSlam last August 21 as the aptly named "RK-Bro."
The venue, the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, itself made the win even more special for Riddle as the city was where he had fought many battles inside the Octagon as a UFC fighter.
"It was a spectacle. There were so many people there. I talked to Triple H and he was like, 'When you're in these moments, it's hard because you got stuff to do and you're working, but try to take it in,'" he recalled in a media availability session organized by Centaur.
"[At] SummerSlam, walking out there with Randy, down that huge ramp with thousands of people on every side, seeing the reaction, seeing all the 'RK-Bro' shirts, getting that love, it was super special and an amazing moment. Then to have to share that with Randy Orton, to be able to strike that 'Viper Pose,' it was awesome," he added.
Being paired with a laidback character in Orton has taught the freewheeling Riddle lessons in the business, especially when it comes to work ethic.
"Just being in the moment, doing the right thing, make sure you don't leave any loose ends. That's something I kind of got away from because I'm wild and I'm like, 'Whatever, dude' and, 'Let's get wild and crazy," he shared.
Being one of the rare few who have fought in both MMA and pro wrestling, the 35-year-old equates the two to bloodsport against performance art.
"They are very similar because you can get hurt doing both. I think the difference is if you work well with somebody in professional wrestling, the match is going to be hard-hitting. It should be," explained Riddle.
"But I'm not going to get brain damage. With my MMA career, it's like a game of tag where you're not trying to get touched while wrestling is where you test each other's might or test each other's will," he added.
Meanwhile, across the pond in the United Kingdom, WALTER's 870-day reign as NXT UK Champion was ended by the hands of Ilja Dragunov at Takeover 36.
The Russian submitted the big Austrian in a sleeper hold, ending a brutal match that has drawn adulation from wrestling pundits.
"It felt great. I've been on such a painful path to get to this point and to get to the point where I finally beat him, this was maybe one of the best moments of my life, which I didn't realize, like it happened so fast," recalled Dragunov in an exclusive interview with ESPN5.com.
"I remembered all of the things that I went through to get to this point, to finally being able to beat him. That was like something that like, changed me forever," he continued.
Unlike the past when American pro wrestling brandished Russians as brute villains, the newly crowned champion is currently being booked as a babyface, or a good guy in wrestling parlance.
Dragunov hopes to become a trailblazer in breaking that age-old stereotype as the fledgling brand extends its reach, with NXT UK programming now being broadcast in the Philippines through TAP GO.
"It's so wonderful to see that everything I feel inside and want to put in the ring and show to the audience make a difference. If you can make a difference like I do, like every single time, you're special and this is something not a lot of people can do because you can create a great performance," remarked the 27-year-old.
"But breaking a huge stereotype and creating different feelings for people, for persons who actually used to be in a different role, that is something that makes me really, really proud," he added.