Lance Anoa'i reflects on facing Shane McMahon on WWE Raw.
Anoa'i, the cousin of Roman Reigns, has appeared on WWE TV multiple times over the years. In 2015, he teamed up with Rhett Titus in a loss against The Ascension (Konnor & Viktor) on WWE SmackDown. In 2019, he appeared on the May 27 episode of WWE Raw, where he faced Shane McMahon as part of Shane's feud with Roman Reigns. McMahon defeated Anoa'i, Reigns made the save when Shane tried to attack his cousin after the match.
Speaking on The Family Business, Anoa'i looked back on his experiece with multiple WWE tryouts and noted that he kept trying to change, but he wasn't quite sure what the company wanted. He stated that, after each tryout, he returned to the independent scene and aimed to make a name for himself any way he could.
"I went to Orlando to the performance center three times. My first tryout was with Bill DeMott. It was his last tryout class before he got let go, and then every two years, around the same time, they invited me back. I was trying to figure out why they keep bringing me back, but I’m not getting that paper [laughs]. Then I talked to William Regal, they wanted me to work on my promos, they wanted me to work on my body. So I just kept trying, trying, trying, and I feel like I put on the weight. My first tryout, I went in there at probably 155, 160 pounds. So then I put on weight, and the next one, I was 200, and then I’m 220. So I don’t know which way they want me to go. So I never got a for-sure answer. I just kept doing the tryouts and coming right back on the indies, trying to keep making a name, changing the way I look, changing to a different work style, changing whatever way possible just to keep getting noticed," Anoa'i said.
Anoa'i continued by describing how the company called him two days before he ultimately appeared on Raw and told him they were flying him out for the show. Once he got there, he learned that he'd be in a segment with Shane McMahon. Anoa'i then joked about how he knew that McMahon was stiff ahead of time.
"Right after my last tryout, which was in 2019, they said, ‘Yeah, we don’t have nothing for you at the moment.’ Then I got the call in May of 2019 saying, ‘Hey,’ two days before Raw, ‘We’re flying you out to Kansas City. Are you available?’ Of course, yes, I’m down. I don’t know anything, what’s going on. I was like alright, maybe this is the deal, I’m gonna get a break. Especially because for extras, they don’t really fly everyone out at all. But they got my rental car, my hotel, my flight, everything. Then I arrived into Kansas City, go to Raw, and they’re like, ‘Hey, it’s you and Shane McMahon tonight.’ I said, ‘Oh, damn.’ No idea, I just found out two days ago I was flying to Kansas City for Raw, and now I’m here getting in the ring with Shane. What an experience, man. I knew he was stiff [laughs]," Anoa'i said.
He then recalled how McMahon helped him feel comfortable before the match by talking it through with him. Anoa'i noted that the time for their match was cut back because Brock Lesnar's "Boombox Brock" segment went long. As a result, Anoa'i's spots were pulled from his math, but he was still excited to be on the show and featured in the prominent spot with Reigns.
“I was like, ‘Alright, what are we gonna do?’ Before we went, I knew Roman was doing a little feud with Shane and Drew and all them at the time. So I knew it might have been something with them, but I didn’t think it was gonna be an actual match. So yeah, once they tell us, and they pull me and Shane to go over everything, they tell us what we’re doing. Shane, man, he was honestly cool. We were sitting in catering together, talking, we were by ringside talking. He was just making me feel very comfortable to get in the ring with him, and just going over spots. He goes, ‘Oh, what do you want to hit? What do you want to do?’ I gave him all my ideas, which we had in. We had planned to go out there, so at first they gave us, I believe it was seven minutes they gave us in the ring, and it ended up being cut down to four because Brock Lesnar’s boombox, it was the day he did the boombox. That went a little too long, so they had to cut our time. It took out my whole shine, so all I got in was a dropkick. But that was cool, man. Just to be even in the ring on Raw and a great time, and then tapping out, and then my cousin Roman coming down to make the save, and just me and him in the ring was awesome," he said.
Anoa'i signed with MLW in 2022. He explained his decision in an interview, and you can check out his comments here.
Several members of The Bloodline were set to appear on the January 23 episode of WWE Raw for a Roman Reigns Acknowledgment Ceremony. Instead, The Bloodline will put Sami Zayn on trial. More information is available here.
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