Tonight's edition of WWE NXT will have two powerhouses clashing when Karrion Kross and Dominik Dijakovic lock horns in the ring, a feud that started after Dijakovic was defeated by Keith Lee. After the loss, Kross had some words for Dijakovic and didn't take too kindly to being told he couldn't beat Lee. Kross dished out some pain and left Dijakovic reeling, and tonight he will look to finish the job and take one more step towards the NXT Championship. ComicBook.com had the chance to talk to Kross all about tonight's anticipated match-up, as well as wheat goes into crafting a compelling villain for different types of fans, that killer entrance, and even some comics.
First up though we had to talk about the match with Dijakovic, and despite the insults that have been aimed his way, Kross still thinks very highly of his opponent as a wrestler. "As a wrestler, I think he's outstanding," Kross said. "I think that there are things that he is able to do at his height and weight that very, very, very few people in sports entertainment are able to do, which is exactly why he's a part of WWE and a part of NXT. He has been with the company for, in comparison to other people, a very short period of time, but has done a lot, really extraordinary things and very much looking forward to getting in a ring with him."
While Kross doesn't know much about him personally, he does find it special that his match with Dijakovic will feature a pretty cool first for the company.
"As a person, I don't know him as a person, I only know that he's Croatian, Croatian American, I should say, and that is something that we both bring," Kross said. "My family is very diverse. I have a lot of different people from all over the world, different continents and countries, all of my family lineage and heritage, and I'm very proud of that, but a part of me feels very prideful that two people that are Croatian American are going to be in the main event. I think the first time I've seen it, I think that's pretty cool. Anyone from Yugoslavia, Croatia can kind of have a little bit of pride when they tune in for this."
Now, Scarlett did have a pretty fantastic comeback when she compared Dijakovic to a refrigerator, but Kross seems to stay out of most of the social media back and forth, even if someone is calling him out.
"Well, social media is a funny thing," Kross said. "It can be absolutely wonderful, and it can absolutely work against you. And what I'm about to say is not unfound on people, especially in these times, but if anyone writes anything negative on Twitter, that will be echoed a million times. Attention is very, very easy to create and receive on Twitter when it's rooted in something really negative."
"I prefer to create a larger than life feel and a big fight feel for this Wednesday.," Kross said. "That's the lane I try to stay in. Some people are comfortable being larger than a really tall 12-year-old. I don't want to navigate my career like that. I've worked really hard to get here and I have a very strong philosophy on how things should be promoted. I don't try to force that on anyone else. I'm going to do the best job I can for the company that hired me and give the fans the best show they can and try to keep a strong continuity in the presentation. What other people do, I am not concerned or whatsoever."
Kross and Scarlett made one hell of a first impression on NXT fans, debuting with an entrance that had fans buzzing on social media and subsequent matches and vignettes that have only kept up the momentum. That wasn't an accident either, as Kross and Scarlett built their characters to be adaptable to fans of all ages, though when things call for a more a bit more violence and intensity, they know how to kick things into another gear.
"I am still very much rooted in what I really fell in love with, with sports entertainment and pro wrestling," Kross said. "And I try to be mindful of that. There are a lot of kids that watch this all over the world. We have different age demographics that watch this, and we have a little bit of everything for everyone in the entire company. I try my best on a week-to-week basis to cover all of those basis. Some weeks are going to be really violent and it's going to be scary, and it's going to be for a certain type of fan who's watching deliberately."
Kross had a perfect comparison for it, comparing the duo's more intense work to Marvel's Magneto while other times it's got more of a Wolverine flavor.
"There might be people that, for instance, were really into Magneto from X-Men," Kross said. "We're talking comics now. Magneto is not super child-friendly and is not meant to be, but then perhaps maybe some rings will go in the direction of Wolverine. Wolverine throughout the X-Men films was pretty child-friendly, perhaps not Old Man Logan, but we do our best to change gears, to keep things interesting."
Their characters and entrance pulled from several mediums and genres, with Kross citing both Clive Barker's Hellraiser and the cult classic Repo! The Genetic Opera as two major inspirations.
"We stay in the lane of what we know people are enjoying and seeing, but we're ready to change into the other gears of what people are doing," Kross said. When we put these characters together, Scarlett and I, we were discussing presentations, a lot of the things that we were interested in attempting to bring to life were inspirations from film, television, comics, novels, and theatrical plays too, as both of us love theater. Repo! The Genetic Opera was a huge inspiration for a lot of stuff we did. and obviously, Hellraiser, if you can get those vibes, Clive Barker is a genius."
Speaking of that entrance, we had to ask if there was any influence from Watchmen, specifically from that quick cut of yellow and red, or if that was just a happy coincidence.
"So, it wasn't deliberate, but subconsciously, there may have been something there," Kross said. "I was very much into Watchmen. I watched the television series. I read the books, the graphic novels after I watched the film, but the Tick-Tock and the Doomsday Clock, really for me, I was just fascinated by the Nixon administration era and how all of the propaganda that was surrounding the cold war is very fascinating. When you go back and watch the documentaries and read the books like to this day, there's a lot of people that aren't really sure how much of that was worked up or was legitimate."
"And just, if you think about it, the general idea that we're all sitting in our homes, and we're watching this guy on TV, watching to clock go up and down and tell us that doomsday is coming, that's a crazy concept," Kross said. "I think that set a precedent in human history from, perhaps, a cultural or a socioeconomic standpoint of just seeing something like that on your TV before you go to bed. It was just crazy."
"So, I really wanted to take aspects from that time and see if I could tie it into the character stuff, because that time period really created a lot of art moving forward for anything and everything," Kross said. "Clocks were looked at completely differently after that happened. So I wanted to kind of play in that realm."0comments
"If it's someone who's my age, I would probably tell them to read Venom: Lethal Protector," Kross said. "I'm a sucker for the classics, because that's what I grew up on, and that story was kind of based on mystery, which is, I think, what always kind of led me back to reading that type of stuff. I needed to not know what was going on, so, I would be interested in continuing to read and most of them are very graphic and geared towards perhaps you could say an older fan."
You can catch Kross taking on Dijakovic on tonight's NXT on USA Network at 8 PM EST, and as always you can talk all things WWE and NXT with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.