Seven days ago, the wrestling world was shocked when former EVOLVE star Leon Ruff surprisingly defeated Johnny Gargano to win the North American Championship on the most recent epiode of NXT TV.
It has since emerged that fans and critics weren’t the only ones surprised by the result, with Ruff himself revealing that he thought officials were joking when they told him that he’d be winning the title.
Speaking with Denise Salcedo, Ruff revealed that he didn’t think Matt Bloom was serious when he told him that he’d be defeating Johnny Gargano on last week’s show to capture his first piece of gold in WWE:
“That moment everything that I did to pursue wrestling, every sacrifice that I made was worth it. I felt validated. It felt good to know that it paid off, I did myself a good job. I was doing a lot of work and I just kept telling myself, ‘if you keep doing this one day it will all pay off.’ So when it all did it was a great moment….I couldn’t believe it because at first I thought it was a joke. I thought somebody was playing a prank on the new guy; ‘ Yo, we’re gonna make him believe this and then we’re gonna see how he looks when we tell him no’ but when I found out it was real, I had to take a second to think because Johnny Gargano is somebody that I admire a lot. When I discovered who he was on the independent scene I started to watch a lot of his matches and his documentaries. I used to write a lot of notes about him, so not only to wrestle him on TV but to take the title from him it was mind blowing, I couldn’t believe I got the opportunity to do it and I felt really fortunate.”
During the interview, Ruff also opened up about which members of the NXT roster he’d like to defend his North American Championship against, even name dropping some of the biggest stars on the black and gold brand:
As champion, I would love to face Timothy Thatcher. I would love to face Adam Cole. I would love to face Tommaso Ciampa again, he’s just a great guy. Cameron Grimes, and Dexter Lumis; love , love to work with Dexter Lumis.