Leaving your comfort zone for the unknown can be a scary proposition, especially when you’re the one making that decision. But for the now-former NXT superstar, CJ Parker, the prospect of an uncertain future carries a huge sense of excitement, as well.
The 26-year-old Parker’s stint with WWE ended after WrestleMania 31 as he was granted his release from the company. It ended a four-year run with the company’s developmental system, a time that Parker looks back on with no regrets.
“I think everything that I went through there made me who I am today, it’s all a learning experience,” said Parker. “I get to take those memories and everything I learned and all those tools with me onto the next stage of my life. I loved it and I wouldn’t do it any other way.”
With a unique look comprised of dreads you would see on surfer at a Florida beach, to a physique that looks like it belongs in a Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach, Parker’s youth and ability are key tools that will help him continue his lifelong dream. Although he currently doesn’t have a specific direction, the former NXT tag team champion is looking forward to his next destination.
“I think everywhere I work I want to do as good as I can,” Parker explains. “I just want to work all over the world and work everybody as much I can and get better, better and better. Obviously, there’s Ring of Honor, TNA, PWG, CZW, AAW, New Japan. There are places all over the world I would love to hopefully be able to work at.”
Signing with WWE in 2011, Parker spent his entire time with at the developmental level, first beginning with the now-defunct Florida Championship Wrestling, a promotion in which he held the FCW Tag Team championships on two different occasions.
Despite the initial success, he was ultimately relegated to a role of losing many of his matches while making his opponents look good in the process.
In wrestling, the role of the losing competitor is just as important as the winner. If the competitor taking the loss doesn’t make their opponent look strong, it hinders both men in the process. Therefore, Parker was happy to play the role of pioneers such as Johnny Rodz while being with NXT, and help the company with their intended direction.
“No, I don’t want to pick up victories, that’s not the business we’re in,” said Parker. “I definitely took pride in it because it’s a compliment. The office counts on you to go out there and make the guy they’re trying to get over look awesome. It means they have faith in you and they believe you, so that’s awesome. Everybody wants to be the star and the guy that’s being pushed. But sometimes in this business you’re not that guy, so you’ve got to do your best with everything you’re given in those situations. I did my best and I wasn’t frustrated at all.”
One of Parker’s more noted losses came against one of NXT’s newest superstars, Kevin Owens, F.K.A. Kevin Steen. During Owens first match in NXT, he wrestled Parker and, much like many before him, he defeated Parker.
However, it was Parker’s signature palm strike move that not only cut his own hand open, but also broke Owens’ nose during the match. Parker claims that he didn’t get in any trouble for the incident and actually begun selling t-shirts that say “I Broke Kevin’s Nose.”
“Obviously it was an accident, I felt bad but it made the match better. So, no, no trouble at all,” said Parker.
Owens purchased one of those t-shirts, and Parker will be selling them at all of his stops on the independent circuit. While on the circuit under his new name of CJP, the “Moonchild” is looking to gain the experience he feels he might have missed out on since he signed with WWE so early in his career.
It was reported that the split between Parker and WWE was an amicable one, and that the door will be open for a potential return in the future. But before Parker makes that commitment again, he knows what he has to do first.
“I’ll know. It’ll be a feeling that I feel that I want or I’m ready to go back,” said Parker. “Right now, I want to get experience all over the world, you know. Start at the ground level and hit the reset button and get into all those experiences that all my friends that are with the company did. I maybe got signed a little young and didn’t quite get to experience that. Right now, I want to hit the ground running and if I ever want to go back I’ll just know.”
For audio of the interview, you can listen to it here. Parker also discusses Bill DeMott, future NXT superstars, the origins of the “Moonchild” gimmick, and so much more.
[Photos by Sulaiman Larokko]