by Lee Hazell
The Uso’s are well on their way to becoming one of the greatest tag teams of all time and if their bout with the New Day at tonight’s Fast Lane PPV lives up to the quality of their previous fights, it will be undeniable that they belong in the ranks of teams like The Hardys, The Dudley Boyz, The Legion of Doom and The Rock ‘n Roll Express. Jimmy Uso talks to us about their influences, their rivalries and, of course, if after nine years loyal service, they will finally make the main card at WrestleMania.
In fact, that is the first topic of conversation. “I dunno, man. Never getting on the main card? It’s been nine years already. Never getting on the main card; it’s kind of discouraging but I get it. You’ve got to grind to get on there. That’s the spot. That’s the Super Bowl. That’s the Grandest Stage of Them All. At this point, if I’m not on there and I know I had a hell of a year, I don’t know what I can do. All I got to do is keep my head down in 2018 and make it better than 2018. That’s the mentality we’ve got. I’ll just keep grinding. This year? Yeah, I’m walking on eggshells, but I’ve got a good feeling.”
If you’re going to be on the main show at WrestleMania, you need to have a career-defining match. We asked him who would be best placed to provide such a fight. “That’s a hard one man, but if I had to pick, if it came down to just one team for The Uso’s to fight, it would probably be The Hardy Boyz. That’s just from me growing up and watching tag-team wrestling. They made me and my brother go, “Holy cow, man! That’s pretty cool.” They’re brothers. They’re doing their thing. They’re WWE Tag Team Champions.”
Was your high-flying style influenced by The Hardys? “I think it was. Also, watching my family as well. Those guys were big and they were jumping off of the top ropes. Remember Yokozuna? Agile and over 600lbs. Umaga, the Samoan Bulldozer. He was my favourite. The way he moved in the ring. The way he snapped and carried himself. His demeanour. Being over 300lbs and considered a high-flyer to me is cool. I think our style is a little Samoan style and a little high-flying. Put them together? You got the Uso style.”
Speaking of family, with WrestleMania looming large, their father and WWE Hall of Famer, Rikishi, was certainly no stranger to The Grandest Stage of them All. We asked if he had any particular memory of his Dad working wrestling’s biggest show. “Crazy thing is, I do. My dad and Samu (The Headshrinkers) had a tag-team match at Ceaser’s Palace (WrestleMania IX). They wrestled the Steiner Brothers which was also the same PPV where my uncle Yoko beat Bret Hart. So, to see all of them; my day, both my uncles on one of the biggest stages of them all was really surreal for us, and it would really be cool to do that again. Me and my brother and my cousin; just my whole family at WrestleMania, representing.”
Hearing of their family in tag-team action at Mania reminds us of the last time they were on the pre-show against the Hall of Fame’s newest tag team, The Dudley Boyz. We asked Jimmy what he thought of this inclusion. “I think the Dudley’s getting into the Hall of Fame this year is really cool for me because they were one of the tag teams I grew up watching. The feud between the Dudley’s, the Hardys and Edge and Christian was my whole deal growing up. We would mimic everything those tag teams ever did. But, to see those guys growing up, and then actually be in the ring with them? I learned so much from them. I learned psychology. I thought I knew tag-team wrestling but I learned more from guys who had been in the game for 15 plus years. Being in the ring with them was an honour. Maybe they could pass the 3D down to the Usos. Who knows?”
Moving on to the present, it is mentioned that The Uso’s and their current rivals, The New Day are the tag-team equivalents of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Every match is a classic. We asked Jimmy what is it about those guys that bring out the best in The Usos. “Working with those guys has been the best so far. Those four months were the best in my career. Working with those guys was insane. We were always trying to top each other every night. We were always trying to beat the hell out of each other every night. But our chemistry in there was just brutal. I had no idea.
From Money in the Bank to Battleground, SmackDown Street Fights to Hell in a Cell, the matches got insane. Every match just got better and better. We didn’t even know how to top it after a while but we kept going. My hat goes off to them. One of the best tag teams in WWE, hands down. Longest reigning WWE champions. Probably the most merch selling team in WWE. I haven’t counted us out though. Don’t count us out. I’m actually getting excited for round two. I’m reading to get back in the ring with those guys.”
Infamously, their match at SummerSlam was on the preshow. It’s also universally agreed upon as the match of the night. We asked if being left of the main show motivated them to bring the goods. “It did, man. Before SummerSlam – and you all know because you saw – we were killing it. We were just killing it. Both teams. So to walk up and be told your match is on the pre-show? Of course it was disappointing, man. But we turned that disappointment into a positive and got our minds together. So if they want to put us on first, we are going to make ourselves very, very, very hard to follow. And we knocked it out the park.”
This has been a theme throughout their WWE careers. We wanted to know what Jimmy thinks they can do to be considered as one of the all-time great tag teams. “I think we’re doing it, man. Tag-team wrestling has been in the shadows for a while now and once me and my brother debuted in the WWE, we knew we wouldn’t be able to stray away from the tag division. We knew if we were going to make a mark in WWE, we would have to run the tag division. Last year, we finally got a chance to really open up. To really be us. To let everyone know who the Usos were. Kicking ass and kicking ass on the microphone, then we’ll mark our spot in the WWE.”
Their heel turn and the creation of The Uso Penitentiary reinvigorated a stagnating team. We asked how that change came about. “It was actually the people’s call. The WWE Universe called that. Did you notice when we had that angle with Roman Reigns against Bullet Club, after that angle when we split ways the boos never left us? When we were with Roman, we were getting booed and the boos stayed with us. So we were like, “Why are we even going up here when they don’t like us? Why am I out here showing my heritage, trying to do our dance and high-five everybody if they don’t like us?” Because I’m feeling like, “We don’t like you either,” which helps us. Once the people started booing and they gave us the turn, say, “It’s alright Uso’s it’s your time. What you want to do?” And when we said what we wanted to do, we had better deliver.”
Specifically, where did the idea for The Uso Penitentiary come from? “All the things you hear, the penitentiary, being on lockdown – it came from a stubborn place of not caring anymore and saying, “You know what, we’re just going to go out there and start caring about the Usos.” If we say we don’t like someone? Who cares? If we do something somebody doesn’t like? Who cares? That’s where it developed and that’s where we got our attitude. That’s what people caught on to when it was real. As opposed to the painted up Usos in the colours and stuff. I enjoyed it and it was fun – I loved the energy – but this side here? You can really see who we are. So, welcome to the Uso Penitentiary.”
Obviously, one of the key things they have utilised to get this huge push has been their incendiary mic skills. We asked how come we haven’t seen that side of the brothers before. “Have you ever noticed that throughout my whole career since I’ve been here, we’ve never ever talked on the microphone? If you go back to the times when we were with Roman and Dean, the times we were the Usos with the paint, we never talked. It was mindboggling to me. We knew that to be successful in this business, you’ve got to do your thing in the ring and you’ve got to do your thing on the microphone. Even when we turned heel, for the first six months we weren’t talking. It wasn’t until we let go. We asked them. We got something to say. Finally, they gave us something to say after a match. Then the next week we got a promo. Then the next week we got a promo. And the week after that. So I’m like, “They like what we say and they like how we’re saying it because it’s real, so we’re going to keep doing this.” So, that’s funny man. We didn’t get better on the mic. We just never had the chance to talk.”
See The Uso’s tonight at WWE Fastlane, on the WWE Network.