If Saturday night's Royal Rumble is the official starting point on the road to WrestleMania, then WWE United States Champion Austin Theory will be looking to make a history-making finale.
Muscle & Fitness sat down with the 25-year-old to find out why he started his professional wrestling journey as a competitive bodybuilder, his thoughts on a dream match with John Cena and why winning the Royal Rumble could set a WWE precedent.
A childhood WWE fan, Theory understood that his square-circle heroes had great physiques, so he set about building his own.
"One of the greatest things about being a WWE Superstar is seeing someone you don't see every day," Theory says. "So this is a guy who trains a lot and for me at the age of 12 I was looking for what could 'now' prepare me for WWE and it's a crazy attitude I had as a kid but I was like, 'Man, I could start working out to prepare for this.' So it's been a steady progression from 12 to now, at 25. I worked out almost every day and it was just to prepare for WWE. There was a bodybuilding show along the way, but the bodybuilding show was just hoping to get a tryout with WWE.”
t only did Theory compete in his first bodybuilding show at age 17, he also finished first and took home the award in the NPC Mr. Teenage Georgia contest. The theory is now laughable that when he won that show, his phone from WWE didn't ring as expected, so instead he got himself on the company's radar by wrestling in the independent scene until they finally took notice .
Austin Theory trains almost every day
Theory may no longer compete for the bodybuilding stage, but he still looks ready for the stage, wowing fans every week on WWE television with his defined abs and bulging biceps. His love for the gym really is stronger than ever. "I honestly take a rest day when I really feel like I need it, because for me, daily exercise keeps my body alive, alert, and good," he says.
Many WWE fans have also noted that Theory shares a lot in common with the legendary John Cena. t only did they both compete in bodybuilding prior to pro wrestling, their in-ring skills and boyish looks make these guys look like they were cut from the same cloth. So it's no surprise to learn that Theory grew up with the influence of Super Cena.
"That got my attention, and that's what triggered everything for me," says Theory. When asked about the possibility of one day facing his hero, a match that millions of pro wrestling fans hope could someday happen, Theory understands how epic that would be. “That would be one hell of a match,” he says. "How would it go? I mean, we're in the now, you know? And John Cena is in the past, man. It is what it is. I have a lot of respect for this man but we are in the 'now' so we all know how that would go.”
Never lacking in confidence, Theory appreciates that he needs to differentiate himself from icons like Cena to make a name for himself, and as a US Champion he's doing just that. He also competed at the Royal Rumble on Saturday night, where, should he win, he will earn a world title match at WrestleMania 39. Still, winning this marathon, over-the-top battle royale will require more than brawn. "Look at me last year, I was in there for over 20 minutes. I came in at number three. You need to make sure your lungs are ready to take in a lot of air, and most importantly; you must outlast 29 other WWE Superstars,” says the voice of experience.
But should Theory make it and outlast the other 29 competitors to win this thirty-sixth annual Royal Rumble in front of thousands of fans at the Alamodome in San Antonio, TX (broadcast live on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network international). ), then he could “theoretically” write history. By winning the Rumble and retaining the US Championship, Theory could enter World and US Championship matches at WrestleMania in April. This would be an unprecedented situation. "I think that would be great," Theory says. “Especially when you can be someone doing something for the first time. Who knows? I could win the Royal Rumble, go to WrestleMania and walk out with the championships. That would be pretty sweet.”