WrestleMania excitement mounting for WWE superstar Brodus Clay


Miami Herald Writer

The butterflies are kicking in for WWE superstar Brodus Clay, who will be making his in-ring WrestleMania debut this year.

The fun-loving resident of Planet Funk will team with Sweet T and the Funkadactyls (Naomi and Cameron) to face Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) and the Bella Twins during WrestleMania 29 which starts 7 p.m. EST Sunday, April 7 on pay-per-view from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Clay has emerged as one of the company’s most popular personalities, in spite of taking on a character that may have failed in the wrong hands. The California native was a little apprehensive when he was repackaged from the dominating monster that stood as the muscle for Alberto Del Rio to the funky Funkasaurus.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Clay said, remembering when he first appeared in the new persona on Jan. 9, 2012.

“I was scared to death. I didn’t know how it was going to go down. We did a really good job of tricking the Internet, which is hard these days. We showed the direction we were going but didn’t want to tip it off. The night we came out, which is funny, before I debuted there was a disco ball that said Brodus Clay on the door. It said, ‘Brodus Clay next,’ and my brother called me asking why there was a disco ball on this door with my name on it. I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ I told him I couldn’t tell him. Then I came out, and it was like boom.

“The whole arena was like, what? You could have dropped a pin. I blocked it out and did my thing. At one point there was a guy who was dressed up like evil Brodus. He had his hair done and everything. He yelled at the top of his lungs in a really sad voice, ‘You suck Brodus.’ I yelled back, ‘My bad,’ and the place laughed. The catchphrase was born right there, and people lightened up. They had some fun with it. I remember Triple H saying, ‘The Internet might be a little rough on you.’ It actually wasn’t too bad, and it just kind of went from there. With the addition of Sweet T [Tensai], it’s been an injection of freshness and starting all over again. People are excited, and the kids are having a good time. I’m really enjoying it.”

For the fun-loving superstar, what you see on WWE TV each week is an extension of his personality behind the scenes.

“It kind of came about because that’s more how I am backstage,” Clay said. “They would see me backstage in the locker room joking around and being witty. I like to tease, laugh a lot and tell funny stories. I don’t know where the minds got with the dancing, but somehow they go hand-in-hand. The dancing was the scariest thing because I would say I was an open dancer. I would drive in the car and sing, but I wouldn’t drive in the car and dance. Rarely, would I ever dance, but it was in there. Part of the showmanship of WWE, they will ask you to do things you don’t think you can do, but they know you can do.

“This was one of those situations where Triple H and others saying, ‘I know this is you. You just have to bring it out.’ You have to make it your own and take what they give you and put it together. I was always onboard in being more colorful, especially with the entrance to the ring. I always loved Apollo Creed and Muhammad Ali and some of the other guys who would come out with really cool flash. Everyone likes the flash and all that stuff, so it’s really cool to do that.”

A signature of the superstar’s act is his theme and catchphrase, “Somebody call my momma,” which also attached to WCW and WWE alum Ernest The Cat Miller.

“Honestly, for me it means something different because I know he had a close relationship with his mother,” Clay said. “My background growing up was a little bit different, so when I yell, ‘Somebody call my momma,’ typically it means that you’re telling her that her son is doing well. It’s a little bit different meaning for me but just as strong. It’s just to let her know that I’m doing all right because I’m always gone and always traveling.

“I’ve been doing that with high school in football, then college and after college, then I started traveling and being a bodyguard. So I was always traveling and was never home. So that is really what it means to me.”

The novice dancer says the great thing about his theme music is it’s not a fast song, which is beneficial to him. It also helps Clay has NBA Orlando Magic dancer Naomi in his corner.

“I think it slows the funkadactyls down a bit, but it works for me. Naomi has the background and took the baby steps with me. She came up with a couple of things…Everyone kind of worked together and focused on my strengths. They did all the acrobatic stuff. Cameron was really good at following Naomi’s lead in terms of the dancing. Naomi put all our stuff together, but now over time, it’s become where I added things like the Gangnam Style.

“They were like, ‘No, you’re not going to do Gangnam Style.’ I said, ‘I’m going to do it, and you can’t stop me.’ You know who is really good about adding dance moves all the time is Sweet T. He will come in and say, ‘What if we tried this’, or, ‘We need to practice today.’ He is awesome in being energetic. He is a good one-upper. He is real good when you’ll say something, and he will have something to say back. It’s where you will think it’s a compliment, but it’s not. He is really good at the backhanded compliment. He has that timing. We have a natural back-and-forth chemistry.”

Clay believes he has learned a lot teaming with a veteran like Sweet T.

“Sweet T has done it all, from the upside and the downside,” Clay said. “He has been in there with [John] Cena. He has been in there with [CM] Punk. He has been in there with The Undertaker. He has pretty much has faced everyone in this business at one time or another. So if you can’t learn from him, I don’t know what to tell you.

“He is adamant about hard work overcoming anything. He will say when there is frustration where I wish we had a tag title shot or this or that, he says hard work pays off, whether it’s at the gym or in the ring working on your stuff. You have to learn your craft. He is big on that. His mind is always working…It’s a giant think tank, and I think everyone has been better since we have gotten together.”

Sweet T and Clay or Tons of Funk have gelled well as a tag team. The two study other successful duos in wrestling history.

“I have Haku on speed dial,” Clay said. “He is always in my ear, whether I like it or not. He is a big fan of the dancing and the double-team moves. Sweet T and I have been breaking things out as of late. We have been doing the side slam into a flying elbow. We have some crazy stuff in mind coming up in throwing guys around to show everyone our power and quickness.”

For the man who once was a bodyguard for Snoop Dogg, this year’s WrestleMania is extra special. He will participate in his first ever match on the grand stage.

“To be in a WrestleMania match in pretty much where WWE was born and got its roots established is awesome,” Clay said.

“I was outside the ring with Alberto [Del Rio], which I didn’t know at the time was a historic match because it ended up being Edge’s last match. Then the following year [in Miami] we shocked the world with Momma Clay and the Bridge Club. So I did around the ring, on top of the ring, and this year, I’m all up in it.

“When I did that dance last year I didn’t know how it was going to go. My favorite part of the whole thing was, whenever I do stuff I always look to the crowd, when I said, ‘Reach out for your phone and call your mama,’ a guy literally reached into his pocket and picked up his phone. The camera hit him, and he was like ‘Damn it.’ He got caught, and it was definitely cool.”

Aside from his own match on the card, Clay is interested in The Undertaker putting his WrestleMania undefeated streak on the line against CM Punk.

“Taker versus Punk is interesting to me because I think if anyone can end the streak, Punk could,” Clay said. “I’ve gone on record to say I’m picking Punk for the upset. Last year I went with Cena over the Rock, and I’m going to go with Cena again. I’m a little impartial to those guys because I see them every day, and they work hard every day. They emphasize everything that being a WWE superstar encompasses, 365 days a year. So I really think it’s their time.”

This time of year is like Christmas for WWE fans across the world. Everyone has their favorite WrestleMania match. Clay’s pick is outside the norm.

“As a fan, my favorite match -- and everyone looks at me like I’m crazy -- is the Colossal Connection versus Demolition,” Clay said. “Andre the Giant’s back was killing him, and he still went out there. Haku fought Demolition and took it to them. Nobody noticed Haku had been in the ring almost the whole time. In the end [manager Bobby] Heenan yelled at Andre, which followed with him getting backhanded. Then everyone cheered him on the way out. Demolition was some of the toughest guys on two legs, and Haku is out there with no shoes on handling his business. If you get a chance to see that, check it out. It’s such a great match.”

• John Cena challenges The Rock for the WWE championship in the main event of WWE WrestleMania 29 at 7 p.m. EST Sunday, April 7 from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The pay-per-view is also headlined by The Undertaker putting the streak (20-0) on the line against CM Punk. Triple H (with Shawn Michaels in his corner) puts his career on the line against Brock Lesnar. Look for Paul Heyman to stand behind his clients Punk and/or Lesnar. Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez) defends the World championship against Jack Swagger (with Zeb Colter).

The extravaganza will also feature a performance by P. Diddy, and Living Colour (Cult of Personality) will play CM Punk to the ring.

Also, WWE is hosting a pre-show at 6 p.m. EST featuring Wade Barrett defending the Intercontinental title against The Miz on WWE.com, Yahoo!, facebook.com/wwe, YouTube.com/wwe and the WWE App!

• For the complete card and details on everything during WrestleMania Week, visit www.wrestlemania.com.

• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN, http://twitter.com/#!/smFISHMAN, where I post links and information. Opinions expressed reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows weekly.

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