Felger & Mazz

Felger & Mazz

Felger & Mazz

Dijak, NXT Superstar

James Stewart spoke with NXT Superstar Dijak about his Last Man Standing match at Battleground in Lowell, MA on May 28th at against π™„π™‘π™Ÿπ™– π˜Ώπ™§π™–π™œπ™ͺ𝙣𝙀𝙫. Dijak talked about his relationship with Vince McMahon, his new Justice based character, how Retribution and T-Bar came to be.Β 

NXT Battleground is scheduled to have the following matches:
Carmelo Hayes vs. Bron Breakker – Singles match for the NXT Championship
Wes Lee vs. Tyler Bate vs. Joe Gacy – Triple threat match for the NXT North American Championship
Ilja Dragunov vs. Dijak – Last Man Standing Match
Tiffany Stratton vs. Lyra Valkyria – Tournament final for the vacant NXT Women’s Championship
Noam Doar vs. Dragon Lee – British Rounds Rules match for the NXT Heritage Cup
Gallus vs. Creed Brothers – Tag team match for the NXT Tag Team Championship


Tsongas Center

No Description

  • Dijak with James Stewart

  • Importance of Character in WWE

  • “All I’ve ever wanted out of professional wrestling, especially with WWE, is a story. I mean it’s funny because. Like me as a person and me as a and as a character and as a present presentation. I feel like the focus always becomes the in-ring. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s certainly, you know. A passion of mine. You know, I put all of my thought and all of my energy and all of my focus into the in-ring product because I just I train constantly. To this day, I still train, even though I, you know, I’m, I’m training with younger guys. I’m just constantly most guys, you know, they kind of stop training after a while, certainly consistently. But I just have a consistent need, especially if I’m not wrestling frequently and he doesn’t do a tremendous amount of horse shows. So, I try to be in the ring doing matches, stuff like that. The in-ring is extremely, extremely important to me. I just wish it was more important to the overall product. But the reality is, if you’re being honest with yourself as a performer, it’s not. It just isn’t. It’s the stories and the characters and those things that end up becoming more important and valuable to the consumer, To the fan. And I recognize that as a consumer and as a fan. You know, I used to watch guys back in the day, I, I’d say. Those are the guys I enjoy. Those are the guys I love. Those are the guys I watch and there was a decent separation between character and storyline. And like in ring work, you know, those guys I look back on now and I’m like, Oh, they’re the better workers. But as a kid, I can look back and say, I didn’t care as much about those guys because they weren’t booked a certain way. They weren’t involved in the storyline. They weren’t. So now as a worker myself and being in the WWE and part of the system and stuff, I know how important it is to be a part of those storylines and things like that. And this one specifically, as has been done tremendously well, I’m super proud and excited of all the excited about all the work that we’ve done, the vignettes. The whole thing. So many stories. I’m going to I’m going to I’m going to try to make this as quick as possible because there’s just this huge origin story. Okay. And this is all to culminate with why these vignettes in this backstage stuff is so important. “

  • Wanting More in WWE

  • β€œManifestation of ideas that I had in my head that I put together. And I put together a scene in my basement at my house where I live now. And I fixed all the lighting and stuff. I put a table out. I bought a tape recorder. And this is all before I even knew I was going to annex. Maybe. Maybe I just found out I was going back to annex to sometime about a year ago, and. I had this whole idea, and the reason I had this idea was because of a conversation that I had with Vince McMahon. It was actually sometime around WrestleMania last year and we were doing the T-Bar stuff and I was on main event every week. It wasn’t what I envisioned for myself as a as a as a as a WWE wrestler. I was barely ever on TV. I think in 2022 I was on Raw maybe twice, and I got one more was a battle royale. The other one was getting squashed by Omos. So just it wasn’t it wasn’t what I wanted out of the WWE. I was happy to have a job. I was happy that they kept me employed. I was happy to be in the ring every week. On main event in front of a large crowd. The working guys were great, like Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander Shelton Benjamin. There was this rotation of guys on the show main event. Unfortunately, they’re kind of still as they’re integrating next to you guys a little bit more. But that’s it’s a good spot in some aspects, but it’s not the spot that anybody like covets. Nobody dreams of being on main event for the rest of their life. You know, it’s a good spot to be on a few times. But that’s not everybody wants to have an event to.”

  • Start of Justice Dijak

  • Dijak: “I met with Vince McMahon and we had a great conversation, a 20 minute conversation. He asked me about my background, my life, my all that stuff. And I told him about my legitimate background in criminal justice. I have an undergraduate and a graduate degree from Bridgewater State where I played two sports. But I have graduate degrees in criminal justice. I said my you know; I told my favorite movies are in the movie seven in Sin City. These like crime-based sort of film noir dramas and stuff. And he he collected all this information and and the most kind of feedback I got from him was there’s something about the criminal mind. I drafted this whole character. I gave the notes to the writers, I gave them to him. And honestly, not much ever came of it. I don’t I don’t know if it sat on the back burner, know if they wanted to get to it. I don’t know if whatever happened. And then there was this a bit of a paradigm shift and a transition in terms of creative leadership. And I started having these conversations more so with Hunter instead of, Vince because he was, he was now running the brand that I was on. So, I was trying to integrate that. And that’s kind of how this. An easy transition started to happen, and as soon as I found that out, I said, Great. I had this meeting with. With Sean and Matt and Johnny. I think those were the three in the room.”


    James Stewart: “Shawn Michaels, Matt and Johnny are part of the creative team.”


    Dijak: “Matt Bloom and Johnny Russo. I even filmed an extra vignette that I just talked about where I lighted it and I did the smoke and they looked at it and they said, This is spectacular. And and when you hear this is great, we’re going to run with it in WWE. I’ve heard that before and it doesn’t always happen. I heard them say that and I said, okay, these guys have I’ve worked with these guys before. They’ve never done me wrong. This is still WWE. I’m going to take everything with a grain of salt and to their credit, three or four weeks later. They started the the backstage stuff and we started filming the vignettes and I said, Wow, this is pretty much exactly what I pitched and envisioned. And they were right on board. And we’ve been moving and advancing from that stage ever since. And I, I could not possibly be happier with the presentation.”

  • Moving Thought NXT

  • β€œIt’s late 2019. We get our first USA contract to be live on the USA network. This is a super exciting time for all of us. There’s this huge Survivor Series, The third brand, NXT wins it. All this stuff we’re trying to get off the ground. Hunter keeps telling us Third brand, third brand, third brand. We’re all on board. Everybody’s on board. It’s a super exciting time. The creative direction kind of input that I was given. And again, everything comes with a grain of salt. So, any time I’m told anything, I go, okay, if that happens, that that’ll be a that’ll be nice. I never set my heart to anything. Which I think they know about me by now, because a lot of times they just won’t tell people anything because it changes so often, and everything is so volatile and fluid that you can tell someone your plans and then it just goes haywire. And though like, why didn’t my plans work out? You know, everybody freaks out. But I think I’ve reacted enough times in a proper manner where they know they can trust me to take everything with a grain of salt. So back then, it’s early 2020 and kind of the the plans that are laid out to me involve what actually ended up happening, which was. Myself and Keith Lee at Takeover Portland, which was a great match.”

  • β€œI’m feuding with Gargano for a little bit. This is right around his heel turn. So, he’s starting β€œThe Way”, but it’s not called β€œThe Way” yet, and it’s just whatever. I was his first heel feud. I was the babyface of all things me. So, we finished up with him sometime in that in that process. I was like, what is happening? I don’t know. I don’t know where I am. I’m just kind of floating around this kind of weird area. And then actually, I asked for a phone call with Hunter. He ended up calling me. He told me that I was going to be part of RAW and I should be in touch with Paul Heyman, who was running RAW at that time. It’s a great I reached out to him, and he was excited to get back to me. Next week, Paul Heyman gets released from that position but still works for the company. But he’s no longer the showrunner for Raw. So, I’m like, All right. And I think it kind of got through to me through the grapevine that Bruce was now not only just doing Smackdown, but also doing Raw. Currently. Both of those shows are being run out of the performance center and we’re all kind of half expected to be there. There’s like a list and it’s kind of this muddy sort of area. But anyway, I start going to those and I start kind of floating around the back, just kind of trying to figure out like, hey, do you guys know I’m called up? Is anyone to minute? Because it’s again, it’s a pandemic. Everything’s a mess. Who knows? Who knows what? Somewhere in there, we kind of start to get a feel. I heard through the grapevine that maybe they want to do a tag team with me and Shane Thorne, who’s one of my best friends. I just went to his wedding. Congratulations to Shane and Kimmie. Wonderful. Wonderful day trip to California for me. I don’t know if anyone’s ever done that from Boston, but I did a day trip to California. The. So, I start hearing those rumors amongst all of that. I get a call from Johnny Russo, who says, Hey, we have one more thing for you in the next. Great. Whatever. We go down, Keith wins the championship. I celebrate with him backstage or on the ramp or whatever. We start running this Karrion Kross angle. He we do the whole program. He beats me up a bunch. He chokes me, chokes me out, kills me off TV. That was the last time I ever appeared on Attack Steve before I confronted Wesley as this new character. So then there’s a couple more months off. We’re kind of sitting in purgatory again, still in the PC store or whatever. Eventually I’m like, Whatever, I’m going to go. I’m going to go introduce myself to Vince again. I think I made a pretty bad impression the first time. “

  • Meeting Vince After Being Drafted to RAW

  • β€œI just want to introduce myself to Mr. McMahon, Whatever, eventually. I get to the door where I think they’re having a production meeting behind, but I’m not sure. I talked to his security guard, who’s a great guy. And. And he tells me, Yeah, we’re just waiting for them to say something, right? No one ever knows exactly what’s happening at any point. So you’re you kind of guessing. So I kind of knock on the door, hoping that he’s just kind of sitting right there by himself. I knock on the door, I, I come in. And it’s just a production meeting and there’s everybody kind of like looks over at me and then goes back to the meeting. And so I’m just kind of standing there in this weird purgatory where, like, I feel awkward. They feel awkward. Everyone feels awkward. They’re having a conversation. And I’m like, I don’t know what to do. Do I leave? Do I stay? Do I want out? So, I’m just standing there awkwardly. Eventually, like 15 minutes goes by and then finally everyone gets sick of me standing there. So. So Vince calls me over and I go over and I’m very, like, cordial. And I don’t know if I was too friendly or what, but we had a conversation. I just introduce him, Sir, I’d say I was told that I’m part of RAW. Want to introduce myself? Here’s my name. I just want to know if there’s anything I can do. Anything. Just a normal sort of whatever conversation. I was told through the grapevine that that kind of rubbed him the wrong way or something. I don’t know. Who knows?”

  • β€œLike a month goes by, I never hear anything. I hear all these rumors. I go in to talk to Mr. McMahon again. This time it’s a much more productive conversation. Just one on one. And The Retribution angle had already started the stuff with the people throwing Molotov cocktails and all that stuff wasn’t terribly well-received across the board. I don’t think the office was terribly happy with it. I don’t think the fans were terribly happy. I saw it as an opportunity for me and others to integrate what we were trying to do into the product. Because there was me, there were a few other of us who were kind of in this weird limbo space. So I drafted up this whole concept. I still have the pitch somewhere, but I think ultimately, I end up pitching like seven names and maybe three or four of which ended up actually getting used by drafting the whole thing. I made a video just like I told you about the new character. Similar sort of video. I had this sort of quasi bane Darth Vader mask on, but I took it off. I had these eye things in. I wanted to be kind of like an entrance mask sort of thing. Just a mysterious sort of. Angry at the company, wanted to get retribution, wanted to take down the system sort of thing. But within the context of what had happened to me, you know, I was Dominic Dijakovic. I felt I was this is in character, not like I felt I was misused. I was killed off by Karrion Kross. I feel like the company abandoned me. I have this great with the company. I want to destroy it. Whatever that was, that was my vision. That’s kind of what I presented. And then I picked out three or four of the people who kind of fit into that. Sort of thing. I drafted the whole thing up. I pitched it straight to Mr. McMahon himself. I showed him the video. He watched all of it. He absorbed all of it. We had a five-minute conversation after that about, like, professionalism and stuff like that. So. So in hindsight, I think he liked this approach better than my first approach. A few weeks later, we start getting a little bit of these hints that. Like, Hey, we’re going to start using you as the people in the masks, the people doing the anarchist stuff or whatever. My first appearance in that role, I think, was the first Thunderdome episode where we all jump. Braun Strowman after Vince himself was in the ring, we were all heading into the ring for that. So, it started to kind of whittle its way down to a more core group of people. Ultimately, it ended up being the people that you saw on television myself, Brennan, Shane, Mia. Mercedes, I think, are the five that didn’t miss anyone there. I think that’s everyone. Yeah. So. And presentation wise. We found out that day. That we were getting these new names and that we were going to be wearing these masks and that the masks where we were going to wear them all the time, they weren’t just going to be entrance masks and that we were going to have face paint underneath it. Nothing. Nothing. So I’d say from my initial presentation to what ended up actually happening, I’d say it was about half and half in terms of what actually happened and what was presented to happen. That being said, I think we all agreed that if done properly, it could have worked. I think the talent evolved. “

  • Learning from being T-Bar

  • β€œIt was a great opportunity. We had good time. We opened up RAW, we closed raw. There were lots of positives. It always just ended up being an uphill battle because of forces that were kind of outside of the control of what we were doing internally in WWE. I know there was there was a lot of pressure, we’ll call it. Politically on the networks, and I got some feedback about a lot of that. And I know that that played a role in it, into some of the presentation. Which I get, I get. And I don’t hold like a ton of grudges over this stuff because I really think it was just people doing their best in a real time scenario. Trying to adjust on the fly and make what you could out of You can’t do this anymore. You can’t do that anymore. And I’m not insinuating that that this is this is someone in double duty because it’s not. It was outside forces that I’m not going to talk about because I just heard them as rumors. I believed them to be true, but I don’t know if they’re true. So, I’m not going to speak of them like they are true. But I just heard that there were a lot of outside mitigating factors that were affecting how we were looking creatively. And it just kind of ended up being too much of an uphill battle. And we all kind of slid backwards down this wall.

    I was never told anything. I heard through the grapevine. I heard rumors of like and I think I probably pitched as much like a Retribution versus these guys for the control of the company at WrestleMania or whatever. I think the rumors I heard were that at Survivor Series for something no one in Creative ever told me that, which I wouldn’t expect them toΒ but, like, to get to that bigger audience.”

  • Background of Justice Dijak

  • β€œMy whole goal behind this new presentation of the Crooked Detective just everything that goes into it as a whole amalgamation of different things that I that I talked about between Hartigan from Sin City and just these different things, just to give more depth and mystery and character and presentation to, to what I was doing going forward. And as we’re working with it right now, I’m starting to bring tiny little bits and pieces, not too much of like my real life into it because I know that people are going to eventually want more and more of that, just as they did with the Undertaker. You know, he couldn’t sit up whiteface dead man forever. So eventually he started getting a little more American badass, a little more of his facials, a little more of his personality while still maintaining this, this, this wonderful, multifaceted, intriguing character that he had for so many years. And that’s kind of my goal. You know, he’s the creme de la creme. He’s the benchmark of characters in terms of WWE, especially for, you know, big man, tall characters. So he’s always the guy that I kind of looked up to, not to say that I’m the Undertaker, obviously, because that’s not even close to the case. I got to train with him a few times, which was spectacular. And I got to watch a video with him and break down stuff. And he’s just a tremendous person to be around. He always wants to give back to the business. So. So he’s a massive role model of mine. β€œ

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