Solo Sikoa’s whirlwind year in WWE — from NXT to The Bloodline — will end with another all-important first.
The youngest brother of Jimmy and Jey Uso and Roman Reigns’ cousins will represent their family and faction at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 26 (7:30 p.m.) for the company’s annual Holiday Tour live event. It will mark the 29-year-old’s debut at the “World’s Most Famous Arena” along with his first time ever in the building. Before he closes out a big year, Sikoa took time for some Q&A with The Post’s Joseph Staszewski.
(Edited for clarity and length)
Q: What’s it going to mean for you to get the chance to perform at Madison Square Garden?
A: I’ve heard a lot of big things about it. I’ve seen it in movies. I’ve seen it with my dad (Rikishi) and my uncles and my brothers wrestling there. This will be my first time at the Garden, man. I’m really, really excited for it, just the experience of being in the building. It’s kind of like going to Disneyland for the first time. That’s what I’m thinking about when I’m walking into Madison Square Garden. I got this image in my head where I think it’s this big.
Q: So you’ve never been in the building at all?
A: No, man. This will be my first time in the New York area.
Q: What’s this year been like for you? You start in NXT, get a little bit of a North American championship run and now you’re part of the biggest story on the main roster working with your family.
A: It’s been a roller coaster. When I got hurt in August (PCL sprain) I thought things were gonna change and the next thing you know, I got the call to come up for Clash at the Castle. Everything was just happening fast. Making the transition from NXT to the main roster I think personally for me was easy because I had my brothers up there. I had Sami (Zayn) up there and Roman and Paul (Heyman) up there to help me and guide me. It’s been fun. I’m having a blast.
Q: How did they tell you about your call-up?
A: It was actually from Roman and Hunter (Triple H). I just got the call saying my flight is getting booked for Clash at the Castle, but I was still hurt at the time. I got cleared just in time before flying out. I got cleared on a Monday and I flew out on a Friday. When I got there, nobody said anything to me. Everybody was just like quiet, even Roman and Paul. I knew what I was there for but I didn’t know because the mission wasn’t clear.
When we were getting ready to open up doors for Clash at the Castle, Triple H walks in and this is my first time meeting him. Then he goes, “You know this is your call-up?” I was like, “Nah I didn’t know.” “Welcome to the main roster, you’ll be on SmackDown.”
Q: They told you hours before what was going to go on that day?
A: Like an hour before the show started. Nobody knew I was there. I’m watching rehearsals from the back from Roman’s locker room.
Q: You’ve moved into this silent enforcer role. How have you handled sitting back and playing that and do you think it will help you once you do get to talk more and get your own story?
A: I love the character. I’m starting to get more into it. It’s a big change coming from NXT. In NXT I was talking a lot. Moving up with The Bloodline, I’ve switched over to this character that’s just in the corner kind of like a security guard waiting for things to pop off. And when things pop off, I pop off. I’m that kind of guy.
I feel like when the time comes for me to talk, I want it to mean a lot. I let the family talk. I let them do their thing while I just watch and make sure nothing goes down. I feel like when the fans do see me talk, they’re gonna say, “Oh, he can talk. He’s just not quiet.”
Q: You’ve started using Umaga’s Samoan Spike. Where did that idea come from and is that something you want to use either as a finisher or just a post-match, put-a-guy-out-of-commission move?
A: Both. Put him out of commission and as a finisher. It will definitely be one of my finishers now moving forward. The idea came from Hunter. Hunter pulled me aside. I think it was Paul Heyman’s idea, too, so Hunter wanted to run it by me. He goes, “I know your uncle was a big part of your guys’ family. I know what he meant to you guys. I wanted to ask you if you would be OK using the spike?” I was like, I don’t know. I kind of want to stay away from it because that’s his thing. And he was like, “I know he passed away and yesterday was his anniversary,” which was a Sunday and the next day was Raw. He goes, “I think it will be cool if you pay a tribute to him on TV by using the spike.” I was like, “You know what man? Yeah, let’s do it.” Once he said that I kind of got emotional. I was like, wow. For those who don’t remember who Umaga was, now I’m about to refresh their memory. It was a pretty cool moment for me to pay tribute to him.
Q: What was it like growing up as Jimmy’s and Jey’s youngest brother, having Roman around? What were they like as kids?
A: It was always Roman and those two. I was literally always by myself. I was always playing by myself, playing with my toys, playing with my video games. Whenever those three had gotten around each other, it was always those three. They would play with each other, football, basketball, they would go out to eat, and they would play in the yard. I never really go to hang around them how I wanted to because I seen it. Man, they got a cool connection. I want to have that.
Q: Does that make that even more special now to kind of of get to play with them on TV?
A: I think I’m catching up from all these years, especially the age difference. So I’m very, very happy, especially being brought up on the main roster with the family. I can actually get to catch up to them and talk to them how I want to talk to them now since we’re all adults.
Q: What’s the best advice Roman’s given you?
A: Stay out of trouble, you know what I mean? Keep your head down and just work hard. The eyes up, the ears open, the mouth shut.
Q: Is there something you’ve seen or pulled from him just being around him, up close on a daily basis?
A: I think just carrying myself as a superstar, as a top guy. I always watch how he moves, how he carries himself, how he presents himself, how he talks, just his body language. I remember him telling me, “Before show time starts, I carry myself different. It’s different when I’m in the back and I’m talking to you and your brothers. But when the red light comes on, stand up straight, puff your chest out and you walk different.” I remember that now. I’m in the back and I’m kind of slouched over talking with my brothers. Then when our music hits, I’m three inches taller than I was before.
Q: How hard is it to stay straight-faced with all the antics that go on with Sami and your brothers?
A: It’s hard man. We’re sitting in the back and we’re going over our stuff and I need to tell Sami, “Hey, I think you need to warn me before … I need to know what you’re saying, exactly what you’re saying so I can prepare myself because it’s getting harder and harder every week. I feel like you’re just trying to get me to crack on purpose.” One time he told me, “One of these days on live TV I’m gonna get you to crack. I don’t know when it’s gonna be, but it’s gonna be soon.” House shows are even harder because you’re just free out there, right? Man, he’s gotten me a couple of times where I’ve kind of had to put my head down.
Q: Do you have a dream main roster opponent?
A: I always thought Rey Mysterio would be cool. He is a very, very close family friend of ours, especially to my uncle Umaga. I think would be cool. Rey Mysterio is one of those guys I’d like to get in the ring with. He’s a GOAT man.
Q: Yokozuna’s your middle name. There is a reason because of your uncle, but is there a story behind why your parents gave you that name and what does it mean for you to carry it?
A: I think the story behind it was me and all my brothers were named after all my uncles. Then they picked me to Yokozuna. Yokozuna means champion in Japanese and being named after him, he’s one of the greats in our family, too. And it’s a cool middle name. I’m just so happy and I honor it that I’m named after him.
Q: When you walk into the Garden for the first time, is there something that you want to make sure you do even before showtime?
A: I’ll probably go into the stands and just sit there and just look around all the back. I’ll try to see what the history of it is and see if they have any of the old pictures of the celebrities in there on the walls. I got to be in there to feel it.
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