Last year, Neville had a major opportunity to appear at his first WrestleMania match. Unfortunately, weeks before, it was shattered during a match on Raw against Chris Jericho. During the match, he injured his ankle during a baseball slide, and it was so severe that it caused him to miss WrestleMania 32.
At the time, WWE doctor Chris Amann confirmed that it would not need surgery, based on a CAT Scan, but it was a fracture. While the timeframe was two to three months, he returned seven months later at Roadblock: End of the Line as a heel and attacked then-champion Rich Swann and TJ Perkins.
In a recent interview with WWE, Neville commented on the heart-shattering news of missing WrestleMania with an ankle injury.
“It was set to be my first WrestleMania, which is obviously a lifetime goal. To have that taken away from me right on the approach — we were something like three weeks out — was devastating. It certainly changed me as a person, that process.
“There was a lot of time to sit and reflect on the previous however many months I’d been on the roster. It’s safe to say I wasn’t satisfied with what I had achieved. I had to recalibrate and think about a different approach.”
Instead, Zack Ryder replaced Neville in the WrestleMania ladder match. On the WWE Network special, WrestleMania Dallas, Ryder explained that while he was not happy that Neville missed the event the way that he did, he aggressively lobbied for his spot. Ryder believed that with all the hard work he has done for the company, he deserved the spot and should get if above anyone else.
Ultimately, not only did Ryder get the spot, but he also won the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Although his reign only lasted one night, Ryder stated that his ladder match victory was a dream come true, and will always be in the history books.
WWE also asked Neville about how he is adjusting to his current heel turn, which is a completely opposite character than his what he has exhibited his entire time in the WWE and NXT. Neville stated that he was reluctant to make the change, and it wasn’t in his nature to misbehave. However, he stated that the “good-guy,” “superhero” persona was not taking him anywhere, and letting people down no longer became something he did not want to avoid.
This turn to the dark side has shown fans a mean, menacing, and malicious side of Neville, that many fans never would have expected coming from him. Fortunately, for him, it has turned out for his benefit, as he defeated Rich Swann at the Royal Rumble to win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship, which is his first title on the main roster.
Going back to full-on kayfabe, Neville stated that the Cruiserweight division was rightfully his to rule over.
“This was taking what was rightfully mine. This was refusing to be overlooked. This was refusing to sit back and watch these competitors, who are not of my caliber, be showcased in front of the world repeatedly. I wasn’t going to allow that to happen anymore. I was going to make a statement to the world, and that’s exactly what happened.”
There is no doubt that, after being one of the most talented babyfaces in NXT, and one of the best champions in NXT history, Neville is now one of the best heels in the entire company. He brings the traditional heel role back that many longtime fans have been longing for. With WrestleMania 33 approaching, there is a good chance that Neville will be involved in a big match come April 2.
[Image By WWE]