Recently released WWE NXT Star Brady Booker (fka Bodhi Hayward) joined PWMania.com’s Scott Mitchell (@ScottsScoop44) for an exclusive interview. WWE released five NXT Superstars this week, including former Chase University member Hayward, now going by his real name again Brady Booker.
Booker opened up about his time in WWE NXT, his release, and more. Below is PWMania.com’s complete interview with Booker:
What was it like signing with the WWE and coming into the world of professional wrestling being a D1 Athlete?
“It was awesome signing there and a great opportunity. It all just kind of happened. When they canceled our football season for Covid, I was finishing up my bachelor’s in pre-law and my minor in economics. I loved football. I loved being the guy who popped his helmet off and wanted to run through a brick wall. I’m the energy guy. I would always watch Monday Night Raw, and Monday Night Football at the same time, and always talked about being a pro football player, and a pro wrestler. I googled a WWE application and just filled it out. Funny story, I put on there that I can hit anything off my forehead and not feel it. Maybe they saw something personality wise off of that. The opportunity was awesome. My tryout was Bron Breakker, Trick Williams, Brooks Jensen, Brutus Creed, and Tony D’Angelo. It was a great experience and great opportunity.”
How was it like to make your debut on NXT and work with Chase U?
“When I got in there the first day I was just getting to work. I was always used to being the underdog. I’m used to adversity and being the guy counted out. That’s where I thrive the best. I saw Chase and I was telling him how I just got out of college, and I have all this energy and can be whatever rah-rah guy that they need. My dad was a Hall of Fame coach growing up. I’m always around a team atmosphere. I always loved the crowd and entertaining them to the best of my ability. I knew I could be the perfect fit, and they loved it and it took off from there. It was a real bond. I would do anything for that man. He gave me my start and he taught me a lot. Thea is an incredibly talented young girl as well. So full of joy and excitement. It’s a blast to work with people who really care about their job. I wish a camera followed us around at all times. We didn’t need a script; it was so good.”
Do you feel like you should have done more in WWE?
“When I came in there were talks that there would be an evolution. It was meant to evolve as I evolved. As we got more people, I always felt like I would be taken care of as well. I got injured but got cleared and felt safe and thought they wanted to protect me. Every opportunity I thought was passed over wrestling-wise, we were on television entertainment-wise. I thought the wrestling opportunities were coming. Maybe I wasn’t there wrestling-wise for television, but that’s just how TV is. That’s the part I was really confused about. It was a 45-second phone call to let me know I wasn’t maximizing my potential and let go. I thought that there would have been me graduating from Chase U, maybe having issues with Mr. Chase, and turmoil starting. Maybe Duke would have been a match for me as well, to show that I can wrestle with a good opportunity. I felt that the Trick Williams and Carmelo Hayes vs. Me and Mr. Chase match was great. When I did wrestle, I felt like it was good. With the reaction we were getting, I didn’t think I had to go to the top rope to do a moonsault. But if that’s what I have to prove, so be it.”
What was it like working with Shawn Michaels?
“The first time I ever saw, I was like holy sh*t there’s Shawn Michaels, the Heartbreak Kid,” says Booker. “I never really got to spend that much time building a relationship with him. I was always so nervous to talk to him. I wish I would have gotten the opportunity to have a better relationship with him for sure.”
How was it like when you found out you were getting released from the WWE?
“My first initial thought was, I was in shock. It was 100% out of the left field. I was upset too. I felt the relationships I had there that were being built were good. I was shocked, and it was a big blow to my confidence. I was thinking Chase U main roster, but I was shocked and hurt. It showed me that there is a lot more to this business that maybe I do have to learn about. In some way shape or form, you are always in control. I look at this as a great opportunity. I feel that I’m made for this. Physically, and mentally. The one thing I always wanted was to cut an in-ring promo. I love being in front of crowds. I never feel more comfortable than being in front of them. That’s what will make me successful in this business. I love the Brodies and they’re loving me back. I want to love everyone for who they are as well.”
What’s Next for Brady Booker?
“I have a whole new world now. I’m connected with a bunch of great people. Matt Riddle, Liv Morgan, Karrion Kross, and Shinsuke Nakamura, those guys are my rolling partners. There are so many more too who are looking out for me. People know I got it and they don’t want to see me fail. I’m looking forward to Japan, and UK opportunities as well. I got to spend 10 days in the UK with Trent Seven. Talking to Parker Boudreaux, see what’s going on in his neck of the woods. MLW too with EJ “The Judge” talking to him as well. I hope to continue evolving as a wrestler and finding my style.”
We saw who Bodhi Hayward was, but looking ahead, who is Brady Booker?
“Bodhi Hayward was a small extension of Brady Booker. Brady Booker is a complex individual. Like I said before, I am a good guy and I’m going to be the best guy I can be and accept all those coming forward. If the line gets crossed, I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to win. Every person who stepped up to the line next to me in football was going to feel me. If you’re going to roll with me, you’re going to feel me. Just like in Football. You’re going to know who hit you. I’m all about physicality, and I’m all about hitting people, but I will do it with a smile on my face. I’ll do it for the good guys as well. But when you push, you don’t know what will happen. The thing that I thought always kept me safe was I could be almost anything, all I need is a little push. I always felt one of the special natural talents that I have was giving pre-game speeches. If I feel some type of way and I want you to feel it, I can make you feel it.”