Bo Dallas is a lifelong WWE fan who wanted to become a superstar like his father Mike Rotunda (I.R.S.) and grandfather Blackjack Mulligan.
He “bo-lieved,” and the 24-year-old Floridian was rewarded for his hard work by becoming a sports entertainer known worldwide.
Dallas, whose persona is a cross between motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and athletes such as Tim Tebow, considers his inclusion in the “WWE 2K15” video game a dream come true.
“I played these games since I was a little kid,” he said. “It has always been something I wanted to do in my career. Today I get to see myself as a WWE superstar on a WWE game, and I don’t think I’m able to describe what that means in words. Make it to WrestleMania, get an action figure and make it on a video game. Today that happened to me. It’s an unreal experience.”
The third generation performer began his journey into WWE through the developmental system. He began teaming with his brother, known to fans as Bray Wyatt. Dallas polished his skills and got a taste of what it would be like on the main roster, working non-televised matches at WWE live events.
In January, 2013 it was the up-and-comer who won the first ever NXT tournament for a coveted slot in the Royal Rumble. Dallas made a big first impression entering the beloved battle royal and lasting more than 20 minutes. He even eliminated Intercontinental champion Wade Barrett in the process. The budding superstar got the best of his new rival the next night on Raw, but couldn’t wrestle the gold away from him. With a short stint on WWE television under his belt, he went back to NXT. This was not a step back, but a blessing in disguise. It allowed him to tweak his character while becoming the longest reigning NXT champion in history.
“The NXT today is a developmental system unlike anything that has ever been done before,” Dallas said. “It’s a great platform for someone to grow. I had the opportunity to do that and live through it. I wouldn’t be the same performer if I didn’t get the chance to go down to NXT and perform in front of a crowd like that. It really helped me hone my craft and character unlike I ever thought possible.”
Motivational vignettes began to air on Raw and SmackDown to usher in Dallas’ upcoming reintroduction to the WWE Universe in May. The emerging talent says everything including his pompous smile and over-the-top victory celebration was plucked from various places.
“It’s constantly thinking and trying to evolve,” he said. “There’s not one place where I got this and that. It’s trying things and seeing what works and doing it. That’s what I got to do at NXT. It just kind of all fit and is still working. It’s not stopping.
“…It just kind of morphed to what it is. Bouncing off my original debut in the Royal Rumble, it just kind of morphed into this in NXT. I saw something, and we just kept on adding to it. There was no moment where I was like, ‘This is what it’s going to be. It’s going to be inspirational.’ My persona is forever changing and being what it is today comes out of sheer just trying different things.”
The leader of the “bo-lievers” takes pride in the fact he has become his own WWE superstar and isn’t resting on his lineage.
“Obviously, you have the big shoes to fill and having people wondering if you will ever compare up to your family members,” Dallas said. “I got into this business to make it as myself, whatever that was. I don’t think you look at me and say, ‘Wow, he took a lot from his father or grandfather or uncles.’ I think I’m a completely different entity. I think I do a good job distancing myself from that.”
Dallas knew about the rigorous schedule and sacrifices that would await him if he wanted to break into pro wrestling. However, the youngster didn’t let this dissuade him.
“I saw that as a child, how much my dad was away,” he said “I was a fan since I was a little kid, and he knew there was no way getting me away from this business. He knew this is what I wanted to do and the only thing that really interested me. You can’t keep someone away from what you love.”
The superstar recalls his first appearance against Sin Cara after weeks of build-up as a night he will never forget.
“My debut in London,” Dallas said. “The London crowd was unbelievable and loud. To do that in a country I’ve never been to, was great. I had never been to Europe. So I got to go to Europe and debut in WWE. How unreal?”
Momentum carried on for months with Dallas racking up an undefeated streak. The wins came to a screeching halt after he finally lost to R-Truth on a July edition of Raw. Despite the setback, he remains undaunted.
“The undefeated streak was great, but you are forever changing to keep yourself relevant and driven,” Dallas said. “No matter what happens, you’re going to come out okay…You never know where the character is going to go. I never knew I was going to get to this point. If I can say anything, I have my eyes set on the Intercontinental championship. So whoever is holding that at any point, that is where I’m going now…Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Shawn Michaels, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, the Intercontinental title needs to be put on that pedestal it was when I was growing up. Hopefully, I can strive to do that one day.”
▪ “WWE 2K15” will be available Oct. 28 in North America and Oct. 31 internationally for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Those with next-generation systems will have to wait until Nov. 18 in North America and Nov. 21internationally.
▪ Follow Bo Dallas on Twitter @TheBoDallas.
▪ Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.
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