Daniel Vidot isn't gone - but it's time for Xyon Quinn to shine in WWE - Sporting News

Daniel Vidot had a fantastic career in the NRL, playing over 120 games in the top grade and representing Samoa on 10 occasions.

But in the past three years, he's taken a leap that nobody could have dreamt of - that is, except for Vidot himself.

The 31-year-old admitted he was 'getting comfortable' playing professional rugby league and thought it was time for a change, and ended up landing himself a developmental contract in WWE

After years of hard work training at the company's Performance Center in Orlando, Vidot has made huge progress in the past few months under the ring name of Xyon Quinn, and has become a prominent fixture on the NXT brand. 

Speaking to Sporting News, Quinn opened up on his journey from the footy field to the squared circle, and what prompted him to make the leap to move across the world to pursue a dream. 

“It was never frustrating – I’ve only been here for three years and that’s how long it is meant to take before you get your first match," he said.

"To be able to be at SmackDown, Axxess matches – everything I have done I have been happy for and grateful. You can’t just come from a rugby field and get straight into a ring, it’s just not how it works.

"There are so many things to the craft that you have got to learn – I’m pretty happy with where things are and I think this is an exciting stage for WWE as a whole.

“I watch footy a lot more now that I don’t play it. Previously to my debut in NRL, I was very deep into footy. Being such a young age and debuting and living that life straight out of school, being asked the same questions in different places, you can’t look like a douche so you have to talk to every single person.

"Going through stuff like that and learning, but now changing and getting into the WWE scene, the transition has been quite smooth to be honest. I was pretty comfortable in the NRL and that’s why I got driven away.

"I felt like I was on a rotating wheel and constantly doing the same things every single day, and being comfortable for me is a curse and a weakness. I needed to get out and do something else, and I’ve always had a passion for acting since school and getting into stuff like that.

"If you put that with rugby league, you kind of get wrestling – WWE is perfect for me. Everything has naturally and organically happened for me – learning out who I am as a character and not only in the ring, but outside of it as well.

"I’m looking forward to many more years."

The naming process in WWE has long fascinated fans, with plenty of pro wrestlers coming from other promotions having to undergo a name change when they arrive.

And while in recent years the likes of AJ Styles and Samoa Joe were allowed to keep their monikers from previous companies, Quinn explained the decision to change his name and land on something that 'nobody expected' from him.

“I actually came up with the name myself," he said.

"I wanted to come up with a name with the four least-used letters in the alphabet. There was Z, X and Q and they are all in it and I thought what could I come up with?

"Xyon has never been spelt with an X or a Y, so it was pretty unique and that came into play. I’m a big fan of Harley Quinn and my personality is a bit more like her than The Joker, and I always liked that.

"That’s how we came up with the idea of Xyon Quinn and that’s how it was born. Some people didn’t understand at the start what it was, but now it is definitely getting a name so I’m pretty happy.

“To be honest, I have just been finding myself as the character of Xyon Quinn and who Xyon Quinn is. I’m still a bit mysterious, so it’s really cool the way we are doing things layer by layer, where people don’t expect this – it’s to keep people guessing.

"I’m having fun – I got to be me and show a bit more of my side and what I love to do. Everyone had fun and that’s just how it goes sometimes, you get put on the spot and you either deliver of you don’t."

A perfect example of Quinn's layer-by-layer approach to his personality came on a recent episode of NXT, where the former Raider, Dragon and Bronco performed a rendition of Shawn Michaels' theme song before competing in a match. 

It's the kind of entertainment aspect of pro wrestling that perhaps nobody expected to see from Quinn this early in his journey, but he revealed the positive response following the segement. 

"I got a bit of a standing ovation when I came back through the curtain, so that was pretty cool," he said.

“It was a group effort, we all came together and had a meeting about it and talked about it. It’s trying to ignite that spark and bring something different to the table.

"I feel like things have been repetitive a bit lately, so I’ve been trying to bring in my own thing and do whatever I can come up with. That was a bit interesting, Shawn Michaels was happy with it.

"He said he forgot how good his song was, so it was pretty cool to hear that from a legend such as himself."

Quinn, as well as the rest of the NXT locker-room, are lucky enough to be trained by Michaels on a daily basis, as well as a host of other veterans of the business.

Regarded by many as the greatest pro wrestler of all time, Quinn said he still has to 'pinch himself' at times when he is working with Michaels or Triple H. 

“It’s crazy – you still have to pinch yourself sometimes," he said.

"You don’t really get used to it, but you do – seeing him and you’re like damn, I was a kid watching you. Living legends walking around you, I got to meet The Rock, John Cena and all these people – it is breathtaking.

"I got to get a photo with him in his famous pose, I got to sing ‘Sexy Boy’ which was cool. It’s a surreal kind of feeling and I am blessed and happy to be here and do my thing.

"I have gotten a lot of help from coaches and have been doing my own thing. Creativity and stuff like that has always been my strength, it’s something I couldn’t really display on a footy field.

"Certain ideas I get in my head and stuff like that and certain moves, you can’t just randomly do stuff on a footy field but in the ring you can do anything. You have to use all these little ideas you have and turn nothing into something, and that’s what I like to do.

"It’s a crazy experience, just being in the ring with legends and having Shawn Michaels and Triple H sitting around the ring while you are training – you still have to pinch yourself sometimes.

"I’m just enjoying the ride and if I keep doing what I’m doing, I am going in this direction and hopefully I keep getting better. That’s where all my focus is right now – baby steps."

One moment in Quinn's early career that certainly wasn't a baby step was getting into the ring with Sheamus last year on SmackDown

A multi-time world champion in WWE and one of the most respected men in the company, Quinn likened the opportunity to face the Irishman to finding out about his NRL debut with Canberra as a 19-year-old.

“It was definitely left-field, I had only been wrestling for about a year-and-a-half at the time," he said.

"To be pushed into that position, it was the same feeling I got when I got a call from Dave Furner telling me I was going to play for the Raiders in my debut match in the NRL.

"It’s just one of those things where you get put in these situations with amazing athletes, these legends and people you have seen growing up, and you’ve just got to do it and do what they ask of you.

"To be able to be in the same ring as a legend like Sheamus was just incredible for me – standing across the ring I was just like holy crap, what am I doing? It was crazy but to be honest, it felt so right and I felt like I was in the right spot and I am in the right spot right now.

"All the hard yards and everything I have been learning, I have put into one and now it is starting to come out and show on the screens. The sky is the limit and hopefully it branches off into many other opportunities.

"I’m just happy with where things are right now. I can’t wait for the rematch – Xyon Quinn is undefeated (in NXT). It is going to be great and I can’t wait for it."

Quinn's journey to WWE and his rise in recent months were a long time coming for anyone following his career, and it was always going to be a slow burn.

He admitted that he had plenty of doubters in his early days with WWE and admitted it was tough being away from home, but credited many of the fellow Australians in WWE for sticking with him and having each other's backs.

“I had a lot of doubters to start off with, and now a lot of those doubters have been messaging me the opposite and saying congratulations," he said.

"My whole thing was to do my own thing and not worry about what people say. I’ve learned and grown as a man, my maturity has gone through the roof since I was playing footy.

"Every aspect of my life has grown, so being who I am now and portraying my own personality through Xyon Quinn, is something I really enjoy.

"It’s pretty cool that I can connect with the audience on an individual level, rather than be part of a team and people not knowing too much about you, and judging you on a run you did or a fight you got in.

"It’s pretty cool to show that no, hold up, this is me and I’m loving this job. I’ve always been a person that if I want something, I will go for it and it’s paying off.

"Obviously being on the other side of the planet you miss home a lot. You miss hearing a familiar voice or an accent, and you always forget over here that every day, someone will say ‘oh you’re from somewhere else’.

"I’ve been here for three years…it’s nice to hear a familiar voice or a familiar accent, and we’ve always got each other’s backs. We look out for each other and it’s a great little base we’ve got here of Aussie talent.

"Sticking together is what we do and that’s how we all get along. If someone is missing someone or something is wrong, we tend to help each other and that’s the cool thing about it."

Quinn's recent performances in the ring on NXT and 205 Live have impressed wrestling fans across the globe, while his personality continues to shine through in a variety of ways.

But asked what his goal is with WWE, there was only one thing on Quinn's mind.

“Definitely to hold a championship belt and I can’t wait for that moment, it’s a long time coming," he said.

"Ever since I started pursuing this, I felt it and I’m a big believer in the law of attraction.

"I’ve just been trying to do the best I can in every single aspect of the wrestling industry. I’ve just tried to improve my craft in every single way possible, so hopefully all the sacrifices of not being home and all the countless hours I’ve been putting into everything (pays off).

"I’m in the best shape of my life – I’ll tell you right now, if I came back it would be interesting to see how I would go on the rugby field. I’m weighing 119kg right now and I’m pretty lean, so I’m happy body-wise and I’m happy with my mental state.

"I’m only getting stronger so I am really happy with how things are going, so hopefully that shows on the screens."

Quinn's career trajectory is looking very promising right now and he's only destined to get better in the next few years.

So while it might be difficult for many fans in Australia to shake the Daniel Vidot name and refer to him as a pro wrestler instead of an ex-footballer, it's time we all put some respect on Xyon Quinn's name and enjoy the ride he is about to embark on. 

You can catch Xyon Quinn every Wednesday as part of WWE NXT on FOX8. 

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