Born and raised in North Carolina, NXT tag team champ Scott Dawson knows well Kill Devil Hills.
“The Undertaker has Death Valley, and I have Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina,” Dawson said.
Kill Devil Hills is an actual city in Dare County in the northeast sect of North Carolina.
“There’s a few sticks on the ground and a few rocks, so you can make toys I guess,” he said, “and you can go to the beach. That’s about it.”
It’s not South Beach, but then again, what is?
Actually, the Wright Brothers National Memorial is in Kill Devil Hills as the first controlled, powered airplane flights were there on Dec. 17, 1903 -- making the city the birthplace of aviation.
That’s some history of North Carolina’s Kill Devil Hills. Now some history of North Carolina’s Scott Dawson.
First and foremost, he is a long-time wrestling fan.
“Growing up, my main focus was professional wrestling,” he said. “I loved it. I watched King of the Ring 1993. Bret Hart went through three separate matches that were incredible. I don’t know why at the time, but I loved it. Now looking back, I see this beautiful story being told throughout the whole pay-per-view of Bret Hart overcoming all the odds -- broken fingers, broken ribs -- and then beating 400-pound Bam Bam Bigelow to win the tournament. At the time I didn’t understand, but I knew as soon as that tournament was over I wanted to be a wrestler.
“So all I did was focus my energy on wrestling. I would sit at home, eat and watch wrestling. For a while I was this really short, fat kid, but I had a lot of friends.”
Dawson played basketball and football for the Whiteville High School Wolfpack in Whiteville, N.C.
He said: “By the time I got into high school, I realized athletics had to be a part of my everyday regimen, if I wanted to achieve that goal.”
It was rough physically.
“I actually tore my ACL, MCL and meniscus against one of our high school rivals,” he said. “A year and a half later, I was playing basketball and went up for a jump shot and came down and everything exploded in my right knee.”
Before turning his complete attention to pro wrestling, he also played some college football for the NCAA Division I East Carolina University (ECU) Pirates, before transferring to UNC-Wilmington.
“I was in college, but I felt like I was throwing away money, because all I could ever think about doing was making a living at wrestling. I used to pray every single night as a kid that I could either be the WWE, WCW or ECW world champion. All I ever dreamed about was being a pro wrestler.
“So in college, I couldn’t decide what major I wanted to do. All I thought about was wrestling. I then took some time off from college to figure out what I wanted to do. I did know I wanted to graduate college as a backup plan for some security for my family in the future.”
North Carolina is good wrestling terrain. Finding somewhere to train is better than most states.
That’s when former WCW wrestler The Maestro entered the picture.
“He had a wrestling school about two and a half hours from my house,” Dawson said. “I would drive two and a half hours, four days a week, to train at his school for six months. Then I started traveling around North Carolina. By that time, I got back into college. I figured out what I wanted to do there.”
Struggles existed financially.
“My mom and dad both lost their jobs within a month of each other; so they couldn’t help me with my college tuition or my books or anything like that. So I had to get three different jobs to make sure I paid for college, because I promised my dad that I would finish college.
“That’s why I couldn’t travel [abroad like to Ring of Honor to wrestle] because I was focused on college. I was able to go to these little, small venues in North Carolina and Tennessee to wrestle.”
Dawson, 32, sacrificed to reach a goal, earning a degree in Business Communication with a minor in English from UNC-Wilmington.
“I’m very proud to be able to accomplish that,” he said. “It’s one of my biggest accomplishments in life. I paid for everything myself, and I am in the process of paying off my college loans.”
Add a degree in professional wrestling to his resume as Dawson debuted in the ring in 2004. He worked the indies, paying his dues.
“I got a call from Pro Wrestling Zero1 in Japan in 2011,” he said. “I did a tour over there for about a month, and at the time I wasn’t sure if WWE would ever hire someone like me. I’m only 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds. So I told myself I’m going to go to Japan and see how things go there, and then come back and ask my girlfriend to marry me, who is now my wife, and we’ll decide if I’m going to continue to wrestle.
“I got back from Japan and realized I loved Japan, but I didn’t think WWE would ever call, which was my ultimate goal; so I was going to stop wrestling and get a real job. Literally, a couple of days later, I got a call from William Regal and got the opportunity for a tryout with WWE.
“I had no idea how he heard about me, found out about me. I came to a Monday Night Raw, a SmackDown, had a tryout match, and that’s how I got the job.”
Dawson inked a developmental deal in 2012 with WWE. He was assigned to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando and worked hard to earn a spot in NXT. He formed a tag team in July 2014 with Dash Wilder, known as The Mechanics. The duo evolved into a solid tag team.
They are two-time NXT tag team champs. Now collectively known as The Revival, they regained the titles in early June during NXT TakeOver: The End live on WWE Network from Full Sail Live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, near Orlando.
“I think it was even better the second time than the first time, only because I feel like we got this [second] opportunity, because we deserved it, and we earned it,” he said. “Maybe I’m tooting our own horn here, but I feel like we brought back the tag team division, and I think it was more of a ‘thank you’ and a ‘congratulations’ that we got the championships the second time.
“The first time I think it was, ‘Let’s see what these guys can do,’ and the second time I really believe we earned it.”
Family attended both times The Revival (Dash and Dawson) won tag team gold.
“My wife [Maria], we’ve been together eight years, and she’s maybe been to four wrestling matches total,” he said, “so to have her there watching both championship wins was awesome.”
Dawson’s 2-year-old daughter was excited, too.
“I don’t let her watch too much wrestling, because I don’t want her to see daddy getting beat up, but she did know daddy was playing with his friends, and it was awesome because my wife took video of my 2-year-old daughter chanting, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.’ That was pretty cool. I don’t know if she understands what’s going on, but I know that she knows daddy is happy with what he’s doing.”
5 More Minutes
So just who is NXT Superstar Scott Dawson?
“He’s not too different than my everyday self,” Dawson said. “I take care of myself. I take care of my family. I don’t care too much to please other people. I will please myself, my wife and my 2-year-old daughter, and whatever I have to do to put food on their table, that’s what I’ll do, and that’s what Scott Dawson will do.
“I also boast about being the best wrestler we’ve got and being the best tag team that we’ve got. Whatever I have to do -- whatever means I have to go through -- to make sure that Dash and myself are considered the best tag team, the No.1 tag team, the hottest tag team, that’s what I’m going to do.”
From that mentality, Dawson created the term “No Flips; Just Fists” for their no-nonsense tag team.
“Nothing has been manufactured for Dash and myself,” Dawson noted. “I think that’s the genuineness of our tag team. We’ve been friends for as long as I can remember, and everything you see on television, it’s all us.”
He expanded: “I watch wrestling. I enjoy wrestling. I love wrestling. There’s my wife and my daughter and wrestling -- the three top loves of my life. So watching wrestling, there’s some guys who can do this beautiful ballet of wrestling, and it’s great that they can do that. For me, I’m the down-n-dirty, gritty guy who’s just gonna fight until I can win. So that’s where the moniker ‘No Flips; Just Fists’ came from. It’s not Cirque du Soleil, when you come to see me. It’s just a fight.”
“No Flips; Just Fists” works, connecting with fans and WWE Hall of Famers.
WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley, during a Q&A at Florida Supercon in the Miami Beach Convention Center, said: “I love the stuff that Dawson and Dash are doing with the Alpha Males [Chad Gable and Jason Jordan]. Really great tag team wrestling.”
When asked about a future WrestleMania opponent, if he could have one more 1-on-1 match there, Foley answered: “Bray Wyatt. I’m sure we’d cut some nice promos. Ambrose, or maybe an unexpected guy like Scott Dawson from NXT. He would be good. I know he doesn’t ring a bell with many, but with someone like that, a match properly done could shoot that guy up the ladder fairly quickly.”
The day after the Q&A, Foley discussed Dawson at greater length.
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See first some of the newer faces on the NXT roster as well as progressing talent who are continuing to build a hot NXT brand and working toward joining the ranks of the main roster in WWE.
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Tickets: General Admission $10; Gold Circle (Ringside) $20.
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