Wrestlemania is the sports entertainment event of the year and on March 29th 2015, Wrestlemania 31 will be broadcast to fans around the world, not least to those here in the UK. With the WWE network now available in the UK, fans can watch and relive WM31 and their favourite Wrestlemania moments over and over again. Following Wrestlemania, British fans will get to see the stars of the WWE in person as they tour the country, with Raw and Smackdown due to be filmed in London (tickets for all dates here). We were privileged to sit down with top WWE superstar Jack Swagger to get his views on Wrestlemania and the UK tour. From hair-care advice to humming entrance songs, Swagger is a man of many talents. Intrigued? Read on...
Wrestlemania is around the corner and you're set to be in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. What would it mean to you to win it?
It would mean a lot. Just to be on a Wrestlemania card, I think, means more to the superstars than a pay check or going to work that day. It's such a special thing, such an honour to be on there. So to win the Battle Royal would be very impressive and I'd put it up there with one of the best feats of my career. Anything named after Andre the Giant in our line of work is something very special and should be put on a pedestal.
Did you ever meet Andre and do you have any stories about him?
I never got to meet him, I've just heard thousands of stories about how he commanded so much respect. The best Andre story refers to when he would get on a plane and someone would have their suitcase by his seat. He would just take that suitcase out, leave it right in the aisle, put his case up and sit down. No-one would say a thing to him!
You've faced the 'Hero of the Russian Federation' Rusev a number of times. He's not lost yet so what chance does John Cena have at Wrestlemania?
Rusev is one of those competitors that comes around once in a generation. Everything that you see about him is legit. If anyone were to stand a chance against him it would probably be Jack Swagger! I think I've probably got one more Wrestlemania to get him! Me aside, if anyone wants to take him down in this day and age in the WWE it will be John Cena - and what a moment that will be.
You're used to receiving advice from your manager, Zeb Colter. Brock Lesnar has Paul Heyman. What advice would you give to Roman Reigns before his World Title match against Lesnar?
I think I would tell Roman that he just needs to do everything he has done his entire life. He knows how to win and how to prepare himself. The hay's in the barn at that point, it's just time to believe in himself and go win the biggest match of his life. That, and to stop putting so much conditioner in his hair before he goes out! It's not naturally that shiny! It makes me mad. It's all product! You're all product Roman!
What is your favourite Wrestlemania memory either as a fan or a performer?
One memory that always sticks with me, I think just because it was when I was first in developmental training with WWE, was Wrestlemania 24 when Shawn Michaels faced Ric Flair. The respect that Ric has in our business is unmeasurable. WWE captured that moment between him and Shawn so well. It was such a powerful thing and I remember being, I think I was 26 at the time, and watching that match and seeing him with legit tears when he was hugging his family. That made me want to be a sports entertainer. Telling stories like that.
The Twitter hashtag #GiveDivasAChance has been trending. What do you think of the Divas division and who's your pick to be the next big thing?
I think our divas division is very strong and more competitive than it has been since I've been on the roster. They definitely are underutilised and don't get enough air time - some matches just leave you blown away by what they do. I think Trinity (Naomi) is one of the girls that is going to transcend and change the division. She's so athletic - if she was a guy she'd be a Pro Bowler in the NFL or an All-Star in the NBA, she's that good.
After Wrestlemania, WWE will be in the UK for a tour in April. How do UK fans compare to the US and will we see a WWE Pay-Per-View event in the UK?
That's one of my favourite things about this job. We get to travel the world and see amazing cities and cultures. One thing you see every place you go is that the regions' fans are different. Coming over the UK, you guys are highly energetic and you love to sing the entrance songs! That has become kind of a characteristic and it's made me want to sing entrance songs! I even know my own entrance song and how it would go [...hums his 'Patriot' theme song] but I really enjoy it and we always say our April and November tours are our wrestlers vacation. We get to come over here, eat, sleep and wrestle. As for a pay-per-view event, absolutely. I think we're definitely gearing up towards that. I'd say in the next five years.
It was a hopeful note on which to finish and so far as Jack Swagger is concerned, he gets the thumbs up from we, the people.