Buddy Murphy reached for the brass ring.
Two years ago, Buddy Murphy was a non-factor in NXT, only appearing on live events. In 2018, he pushed to be on 205 Live to help revitalize his career. By the end of the year, Murphy had won the WWE Cruiserweight Title and was regularly stealing the show after SmackDown went off the air or prior to WWE pay-per-view events.
Speaking to CBS Sports, Murphy revealed that a switch flipped within him near the end of his NXT run when he decided to go all-out in live event matches against Aleister Black.
"I was like, 'I'm going to die on my sword. I'm going to do what I do, and it's going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, but you might as well go out on your own sword,'" Murphy said. "I rubbed people the wrong way because they wanted it a set way, but I felt like I had to do what I loved and I wanted to bring back what I loved. That was the starting point for what you see today. The love for wrestling is back in me, and I think you can see that by the quality that I want to produce. I want to be the best I can be and be known as one of the best in the world and for people to realize that I was always this from the beginning."
After regaining his passion for wrestling, Murphy pitched the idea of moving to 205 Live, feeling the the move would be mutually beneficial for himself and the brand.
"They kind of like laughed in my face like, 'No, don't worry about it. That's not happening.' I asked so many times that I decided to just get in a little bit of trouble because I kept asking the same question over and over again and the answer was already, No,'" said Murphy. But when a Cruiserweight Tournament was announced, Murphy continued to push for a spot on the brand. "If you have some open spots, I would love to be part of it. And if weight is an issue, weight is not an issue anymore because I'm down to 205. It was a crazy, crazy little story, but you just have to take initiative yourself and create your own opportunities. We prided ourselves a lot, all the boys, that if we held that standard than the overall product was going to be that much better."
Murphy continued, "The weigh-ins were real, and I was actually getting down to 205. And to keep it in a real realistic manner, the day before of TV when I had to do a weigh-in, I would hit the sauna for like 30 minutes and really take all the water out of me and look sunken in for the dehydration of these weigh-ins.
"It wouldn't be fair to the other guys for me just to come in and not be 205. It was a pride thing, and I think that me coming into 205 a little bit bigger, I think that helped us all. All the boys were like, 'Well this guy looks like this, I'm going to have to pick up my game.' You look at Lince Dorado, Ali and even Cedric [Alexander], they have all transformed their bodies because we kept a standard and wanted to be the most athletic looking division."
Following a successful run as the Crusierweight Champion, Murphy was moved to SmackDown. Though he didn't get an opportunity immediately following the Superstar Shake-Up, he made the most of his opportunity when it called. Murphy was thrown into the "Who attacked Roman Reigns?" storyline and given the chance to work with Reigns and Daniel Bryan on recent episodes of SmackDown.
"Just being in there with Roman, it's crazy. He's the Hulk Hogan and John Cena of today, he's the [Steve] Austin and The Rock," Murphy said. "To just stand in the ring with him, when his music went off, it gave me goosebumps. I got a little bit nervous but then I just said, 'I belong here. This is all happening for a reason.' For him to want to step into the ring with me is awesome, and it's an honor. It felt like magic happening. And Bryan truly loves wrestling. To do what he did for me and has done for others, it just tells you what kind of person he is in real life, and I can't thank him enough."
Though Murphy came up short against Reigns, he did manage to defeat Bryan on the Aug. 20 epsiode of SmackDown. It's unclear if Murphy will remain part of the storyline after a Rowan doppleganger was "revealed" as Roman's attacker.
Murphy will get a chance to keep the momentum going on Tuesday's episode when he faces Ali in the first-round of the King of the Ring.