Kayla Braxton on how to be a great interviewer, Paul Heyman, The Rock

Dec 21, 2023 - by Steve Gerweck


On The Rock’s WWE return:

“[I found out] I think 30 minutes prior maybe, because he was with Pat McAfee that day on College GameDay. I don’t even think this was planned. Pat McAfee has this way of making everybody want to be his best friend. In fact, he got The Rock to come to SmackDown. I mean, that’s a very Pat McAfee thing, but I think it was just like that, you know, Rock was in town, so why not swing by Smackdown? But it was like right then, it was a surprise for all of us. Like I freaked and that was the second time I’ve ever met him. The first time was when we premiered on Fox for the first time, however many years ago And I saw him and I was like, I have to say hi to him. And I kept like, talking myself up. It’s now or never Kayla got to do it. And I saw him. And he was like, done socialising. And he was walking back to like his bus and I was like, now’s your time. I went up to him was and I said, Mr. The Rock. I was like, Oh, my God I called him Mr. The Rock. But he turned around, and we had like, a five-minute conversation. And he’s so good about making you feel like you’re the only person in the room. And he looked me in the eye and just asked questions about me. And that was incredible. He’s such a genuinely good human being. And so this time, he remembered me. I was trying to get an interview with him. But he’s a busy man. He promised me next time he sees me, I’ll get my interview with him. The third time’s a charm. But it was so cool. And like you said with Cena there. The fact that fans bought their tickets without knowing that was going to happen was such an incredible, incredible [experience]. Imagine fans who have been fans forever. And that may have been their very first show. And they bought their ticket. I think when they bought tickets, we didn’t even know Cena was going to be there at the time when the tickets went on sale. So people bought their tickets, then they find out Cena is gonna be there, then Pat McAfee’s there and then The Rock comes out, like holy cow.”

On how to be a great interviewer:

“I think one thing we as backstage interviewers have to keep in mind is that it’s not about us at all. Our job is to put the talent over. The moment we make it about us, like being too expressive or whatever, it takes away. And over time, the more you’re on camera. Like with me being here almost eight years, you naturally become a personality that people expect and want to see on camera. But I think the more that you show to talent that you respect them enough to realise this about them. They want to bring you in more as a part of it, but I think yeah, 100% I think it’s just keep yourself small. It’s not about us, but do a great job and it’ll make you rise.”

On Paul Heyman:

“I mean, I give a lot of credit to Paul. I had so much fun doing all that back and forth with him with The Bloodline. But, you know, Paul and I were doing Talking Smack together and we didn’t really know each other at the time. I knew that we didn’t really interact a lot, and getting to know him on that panel and getting to go back and forth and realising we’re both kind of spitfires helped immensely. And then you know, he got me on camera to do those bits with him on SmackDown with The Bloodline and then now I am the sassy backstage interviewer. I’ve been told I can be a little sassy. I think he wanted to help me, he does that with a lot of talent and other interviewers, he wants to see what our strengths are and makes it happen. I don’t even remember how the first one happened. A lot of times like Paul and I, we just go, there’s not really talking about it beforehand. We just said, whatever happens, happens. I think that his freakout happened on one and it just hit big. So we just kind of kept doing it. It got a good reaction, fans loved it.”

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