Big time WWE superstar Big E Langston makes it big with WWE 2K14

 

Miami Herald Writer

Big E Langston is closing 2013 in a big way with WWE.

The powerhouse superstar recently won the Intercontinental championship and makes his video game debut in WWE 2K14 as part of the downloadable content program.

The Tampa resident was excited when he was given the news he would be a playable character.

“It was kind of surreal being immortalized in a video game,” Langston said. “I’ve been a gamer for longer than I can remember. Actually, being able to play as myself before the game came out was really cool. I was just amazed at how much they nailed me and how the likeness was spot-on. Simple things like the chalk residue that was on my hands throughout the match, it is such a surreal experience to be in a videogame.”

Whether it’s getting his own action figure or being in a WWE video game, Langston sees each benchmark as a reflection of his success along his journey in sports entertainment.

“I think it’s always helpful to have little goals in your career,” Langston said. “It’s another milestone and another accomplishment. It motivates me to continue to do well. A lot of times when I’m tired or bogged down by the travel schedule, it helps motivate me. It becomes, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool. Now I can work toward the next accomplishment.’”

The driven competitor has grown in popularity in recent months after branching on his own from AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler. Langston was rewarded for his hard work and progression when he captured the Intercontinental title from Curtis Axel on Raw. The Nashville crowd stood solidly behind him during the match.

“It’s something I hoped was there, but was so rewarding when I got [that fan reaction],” Langston said. “It was one of those things where I wasn’t sure [it would happen]. After being a bodyguard, there was about a month-and-a-half period where I wasn’t doing a whole lot, and I don’t think I was on Raw very much. So I was a little worried I would lose momentum, but it was really cool. Even before that, getting 75 percent of the fan vote against Miz and Dolph [Ziggler] to get the match with Randy Orton, I’ve been so thankful for their support.”

From his time in WWE’s developmental program FCW/NXT to his promotion to the main roster almost a year ago, Langston is grateful for every opportunity. He has also learned from legends and some of the top names in the business. Among them, John Cena, who shares his passion for weightlifting.

“John’s been great,” Langston said. “I’ve been able to work out of his gym the last few years now and kind of pick his brain at times as well. He has given me advice and little things to make me better throughout the years. One of the things he told me ‘owning the moment.’ When you’re out there, you really do have an opportunity to make a memorable moment. That’s kind of one of the things I learned from him.”

Langston is also grateful for his run with AJ Lee and Dolph Ziggler, serving as the enforcer for the two in their respective matches. Observing the popular diva and former world champion, he developed an appreciation for their work ethic.

“Being with AJ and traveling with her and Dolph was really cool,” Langston said. “One of the things I admired about her is how driven she is. She is focused and aware of her brand and the message she wants to get across to fans as well. So I’ve always respected that about her. She is very cognitive about what she does inside the ring and outside of it. I’ve also been able to learn from Dolph as well when we were together. Even now, he has been helpful. That first six to seven-month period of being a bodyguard was great because it allowed me the opportunity to ease into my time in WWE and to learn. It was a great start.”

Langston is built like a tank, but beneath the tough exterior is an entertainer with a sense of humor. If you need confirmation, look no further than his Twitter page. Even when members of the WWE Universe send him photos comparing him to Carlton Banks from the former TV show “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” he retweets it or has a witty retort ready to go. Considering that, it’s no surprise fans have connected with him.

“It’s kind of my personality and something I hope to do more of,” Langston said. “Twitter has kind of allowed me the avenue to be myself. I don’t take myself very seriously at all. I show that on Twitter. You have to separate yourself and be unique and make things work. So that is what I strive to do.”

Langston showed a glimmer of his softer side when he was presented a “My Little Pony,” customized with his likeness. The moment was documented by WWE, leading to fans assuming he was in fact a Brony, male fan of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” For Langston, it’s less about fandom and more about just having some fun with it.

“It kind of all started when we were in New York for WrestleMania and visited the Marvel offices,” Langston said. “The cool thing is a lot of the guys at Marvel are big wrestling fans. It’s such a cool comic, wrestling, entertainment connection. Cody Rhodes is a big comic book fan, so is Kofi [Kingston] and others. Our work intertwines. One of the guys who works at Marvel, his mom, Jodie Moisan, does work with ‘My Little Pony.’ She is such a big fan. She turns my little ponies into Marvel characters. I kind of jokingly brought up the idea of a ‘My Little Pony’ Big E Langston.

“I think this was like a Monday, figuring there would be no way to finish it in time. Jon, the guy at Marvel, said he would do it for me. I was shocked they were able to do it in time for WrestleMania. I believe it was given to me the morning of WrestleMania during a signing. He was able to bring it to me, and I was genuinely excited to get a ‘My Little Pony’ done of me…She did such a great job. It still sits prominently in my house on my kitchen table. It was a cool feeling to see a ‘My Little Pony’ of me.”

The 27-year-old is living a dream he never thought was possible. Being a WWE superstar wasn’t really on his list of occupations growing up.

“I was a big fan as a kid,” Langston said. “My dad is Jamaican but moved to the United States about 30 years ago, maybe longer. He got me into wrestling. I was into powerlifting at the time. When I got signed, I was working on my Master’s degree. I never really realized or thought I could do this for a living.”

The consummate athlete was a standout as a state amateur wrestling champion at Wharton High School in Tampa, as well as on the gridiron for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Through a few degrees of separation, he got on the radar of Jim Ross. He flew down from Iowa to Tampa for a tryout, and needless to say, officials were impressed. It didn’t take much to come up with his superstar name.

“Big E is something that people have called me for as long as I can remember,” Langston said. “My birth name is Ettore [Ewen], which people have butchered for years for some reason. Everyone seems to mispronounce it for some reason or another. So the name Big E kind of stuck and went into what I do in the ring as well.”

He became a natural in powerlifting, which he did even after he signed with WWE in 2009. He entered the U.S.A. Powerlifting (USAPL) meet in 2010 at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla. He didn’t just place, but broke Florida state raw powerlifitng records for squat, bench press and deadlift. A year later, he broke national records in the deadlift and total in Scranton, Pa. He says powerlifitng helped him transition into WWE because it fit the same powerhouse mold.

“I was able to use my strength and physical attributes in the ring,” Langston said. “It’s something that is important to me, as well as my agility and ability to move. My powerlifting has been a big help in what I do in the ring. In 2010, it was my very first competition and real introduction in the powerlifting world. It was one of those things Rob MacIntyre, who trained me for a while, thought I could do. I took the trip down. I never did any competitive powerlifting until after I was signed to WWE. I was in FCW at the time, now rebranded as NXT. So I took the trip down and things went well.”

Approaching the anniversary of his year in WWE, Langston proudly holds the Intercontinental gold and is a proven force in the tag team ranks with Mark Henry. He takes his role of champion seriously.

“The Intercontinental title has such a great history of champions before me like Pat Patterson and The Rock,” Langston said. “For me, I feel as if I have this sense of responsibility with upholding that prestige and honor. I want the title to be seen as an important title. That is something that is on me with the way I carry myself, the way I perform and every night I make sure people remember it as an important title. I look to be world champion, and it’s a goal that is very important to me, but upholding the prestige of the Intercontinental championship is important to me as well.”

• Get the WWE 2K14 Superstars and Moves DLC Pack to play as the Bella Twins, Fandango and Big E Langston. It also includes more than 30 new moves and taunts. Summer Rae is available to download for free. For more information, visit http://wwe.2k.com/.

• Follow Langston on Twitter @BigELangston and WWE 2K14 @WWEGames.

• 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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