Grayson Waller has no problem being called brash, arrogant or rude – but whatever you do, don’t call him a character.
The 32-year-old Australian star has been lighting things up in NXT for the past year, with his loudmouth personality and unique in-ring style setting him apart from anyone else in WWE’s developmental realm.
Waller has been involved in numerous big moments over the past nine months, which is proof that the company has a lot of faith in him.
From starring in the 2021 War Games match, to knocking out NXT icon Johnny Gargano on his last night, to facing future First Ballot Hall of Famer AJ Stice, Waller is truly on a roll.
“I try my best to reflect as much as possible,” he said Sporting News.
“I like to sit back and think about all the incredible things I’ve done, but I don’t rest on my laurels.
“Just because I’ve achieved some of my goals doesn’t mean I’m going to stop – what happens is the goals start getting higher.
“That’s what’s happening right now and I’m still chasing it.”
Waller is clearly destined for bigger things in WWE. After only a few months on TV, he was brought up to the main roster for a cameo appearance, creating a short angle with Styles that would put him on the map.
And Waller admits to being a big fan of the former world champion, but forced himself to change his mindset once he began his pro wrestling journey.
“I can’t lie, I was a wrestling fan growing up and I was a big AJ Styles person… but once I got into the business and wasn’t a fan anymore, I changed my mindset,” he said.
“I’m on the same level as them right now, I didn’t get into the whole thing thinking, ‘Wow, it’s AJ Styles, I used to love him as a kid’ – I’m like, ‘No, that’s it. AJ Styles and that’s where I want to be. are
“Going out there with him, he’s a legitimate Hall of Fame guy. There’s just something about that guy just being in his presence. I’ve seen him for so long and I know what to expect. , but standing across from him was a different feeling and it was Feelings I should have.
“I got to go up there with one of the all-time greats and that match holds a special place in my heart. That’s the time I showed everyone that no matter who it is, I can hang — and not just hang, I can compete.
“I took him to his limit and I’m very thankful that I got there with AJ Styles, but it wasn’t as a fan.”
His appearance on Raw, albeit only briefly, gave Waller a taste of what he could be like on the WWE main roster in the years to come.
After the initial surprise of being given the call, Waller knows he has what it takes to make a permanent move to Raw or SmackDown if the opportunity arises.
“Honestly, I was very shocked… At first I thought it was a joke – but once I realized it was the real thing, I changed my mind,” he said. Sporting News.
“I started looking at it as the biggest opportunity of my life. As big as NXT is and as big an opportunity as there is on NXT, being on Raw is a different level and that’s where you want to be – that’s the ultimate goal.
“When you get to Raw or you get to SmackDown, you wrestle against that roster of the best wrestlers in the world. I was shocked at first, but then I was ready to go and I just focused on making sure I did the best I could while I was there. could do
“If I get a call right now…I’m always ready to go. I am not the type of person who waits until an opportunity presents itself and then prepares. I’m acting like I’m going to big things right now, I want to be ready for those things.
“I think there are a lot of people on NXT that are ready for the main roster now, but that roster is very deep. There are really talented guys and girls on Raw and SmackDown right now, and you have to find a way to fit in.
“If that call comes, I’m ready to go that minute.”
Waller’s style, both in and out of the ring, sets him apart as a performer. Comparisons to guys like The Miz or MJF can’t be ignored, but the Aussie knows he needs to forge his own path.
And part of that is using one’s own persona, rather than playing a character, to find success and open doors in the wrestling industry.
“I wouldn’t say I’m playing a character – I don’t know how I feel about it,” he said.
“I think the one person a lot of people have compared me to, and I can see that, is The Miz. I see elements of my personality that kind of connect with him.
“I remember watching him on The Real World and seeing how passionate he was. He was just a fan even before he got into the business, but you see this passion and he went through these other ways to get into WWE.
“Now he’s been doing this for so long and he’s been at the top for so long. I don’t think anyone can say anything negative about him. I think in some ways, this is my own way to get into WWE. .
“I did the reality TV route and eventually found my way here. He’s definitely someone I can compare myself to.
“But I’m myself – Grayson Waller is Grayson Waller. I don’t think anyone else is like me, I don’t think anyone else is talking like me. I’m a unique person and it’s not just for TV, it’s not just for the cameras – I’m 24 /7 is what it is.
“If you ask my friends and my family, when they see me on TV they’re like ‘yeah we’re not surprised’ because they know what I’m like.
“That’s why I want to say personality instead of character, because I’m not acting and I’m not playing, I’m real.”
Waller’s boisterous personality will naturally rub people the wrong way – especially in the crowd – but he doesn’t mind.
Working in front of a tight-knit, but highly vocal crowd, further prepared Waller for the bright lights of the main roster.
“I’m the kind of person in life where I’m happy to be hated – I have no problem with that,” he said.
“There are probably five people in this world whose opinion I care about.
“I’m not just another guy, I’m the guy in NXT and I’m going to be that way for a long time to come.
“I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it, even when the crowd was telling me horrible things, I enjoyed it.
“My life is good, theirs is not – I’m not surprised they’re jealous.”
Waller’s time on the main roster will come – whether it’s after he claims the gold in NXT or before.
But if he does go to Raw in the coming months, don’t expect him to go head-to-head with fellow style icon Seth Rollins.
“You’ll get me in trouble for that,” he laughed.
“I think we have different styles – Seth is going out with that full suit. He’s the kind of guy at a wedding or a real fancy club, he sits there.
“I’m more of a summer breeze, I’m a cooler type of dress. We both love color – we’re both in our lane. I’m good in my lane, I’m best in mine. Lane and he’s best in his lane.
“That’s the best answer I can give.”
You can catch Waller every week at 10am AEST on NXT FOX8, or at 8 p.m. ET USA Network.