He's been called Punk, Dawson Alexander and more recently David Otunga. WWE wrestler David Otunga (ironically his birth name) was kind enough to talk to me about his wrestling career, seeing his wife and the challenges that he faced on a movie set, among other things. With WWE Raw invading Allstate Arena this Labor Day, Otunga is ready to come back to where he was born and raised and show he loves returning home.
You live in Chicago along with your wife (Jennifer Hudson) and you are back this Monday for WWE Raw. What is it like for you to return to your hometown?
It’s unbelievable. I love coming back here. It’s fun for me because most of the fans don’t know I’m from here. For my character he is billed from Hollywood, California so it’s always fun to be back without the majority knowing I’m coming home. I was born and raised here and the law firm I worked at was in downtown Chicago.
Coming back to where you were born and raised, does the excitement of the crowd give you that little bit of extra motivation to your character?
Oh definitely. I always want to put on a great show and being back where I grew up I want to do something a little different. I want to preform to the best of my ability, and with all my friends and family coming, I definitely have to kick it up a notch.
You have been part of a reality show, the WWE and now a movie with Halle Berry. What has been the toughest on you in terms of learning your role?
I guess it had to be the reality show (I Love New York). There was a lot more information that I could process at one time. The film was unbelievably fun because it came to me second nature. With the WWE, the acting classes, and the improv I do it was very easy to blend in. The only major difference was me having to shave. I haven’t shaved in many, many years but it had to be done and it helped me get into character.
A few wrestlers have done movies in the past and some have said that it was a challenge to get into the acting role. How did the movie creators and actors accept you when you were asked to play this role?
They were really excited. When I arrived on set a lot people started asking me questions about workouts, diets and the WWE. Then before you know I have a big crowd around me and a lot of people would be wondering what’s going on. They enjoyed having me though and it was different.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan has a 2X4, Triple H has a sledgehammer, but you have a coffee mug. How did that prop develop as a part of your character?
Funny you should mention that because I’m drinking out of it right now. The thing about the coffee mug, is that it’s really me. One day I started using it on camera and people are led to believe it’s a part of my character. But it’s really me and not just my character's role.
The gateway to the WWE for you was being a part of the group called "Nexus". Then slowly you branched out to becoming a legal counsel for many WWE wrestlers and executives. Was the lawyer role something that was always on the back burner or did you pitch this idea to the creative department?
That was something that I did definitely. I was kind of turning into the A-lister and Hollywood star person but I’m more of a different character. I really am a lawyer and no one else is which sets me apart from everybody else. One day I went out to cut a promo and I was supposed to talk about something else but did the lawyer thing and they loved it. So we stuck with and it felt pretty good.
You have been more of a manager per say, instead of a wrestler in your career in the WWE. Recently, you have been getting a lot more singles matches. How has that transformation been from being a manager to the ring on a more permanent basis?
Well you know it’s something I’ve been I’m waiting for. It hasn’t been that difficult but I’ve been looking forward to it for a very long time. I enjoy being in the ring and it was more excitement than anything to be back in that wrestling role.
I am very goal oriented and want to see my character go to the top. I am hoping to have the creative freedom to do that and let it pan out the way I would like. It’s exciting for sure and hopefully in the next few weeks my character continues to grow.
Jennifer Hudson is your wife and both of you have very busy schedules. What are her thoughts on you being a professional wrestler and the difficulties of seeing each other on a weekly basis?
She knows that I love it and really enjoy it. That right there is what makes her special. She likes to see me happy. It depends on often we see each other because like you said we have crazy schedules. When I was filming the movie in Los Angeles , she was doing the same in New York so that made it a little more difficult.
But we work it out the best we can.