The last time Montez Ford was in Oregon for WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), it was for an Oct. 17 wrestling show in Portland. One half of the tag team Street Profits, Ford and his tag partner, Angelo Dawkins, came out to even the odds at an unfair fight. And the Portland audience blew up with applause and cheer — me included.
Days later, the tag team left the USA Network show NXT — which was once described by WWE as a development branch, but now isn’t — and had its debut match on WWE’s long-running Monday night TV show Raw.
Street Profits returns to the Pacific Northwest and will bring its red Solo cups and excess of charisma to Eugene as part of WWE’s “Road to WrestleMania” tour.
On NXT, the tag team took part in some of the brand’s best matches of the year — like a four-way ladder match (where the winner must climb a ladder and retrieve a championship belt) at TakeOver XXV in June.
There’s a reason for their success. Both Dawkins and Ford are a rare breed of professional wrestlers who have great comedic timing and are also capable of accomplishing great athletic feats inside the ring. With those attributes, they’re on their way joining the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Booker T and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
Was The Rock a big figure for you growing up? Well, first off, did you watch wrestling when you grew up?
Yes, I got really heavily introduced to it around 1999. One of the first people I remember was the Godfather. It was crazy because when he made his entrance, he had all these women around him. [Laughs] I thought, “This is crazy.”
The more I got introduced into it, that’s when The Rock was my profound guy. That’s who I watched in middle school and high school. That’s who I idolized and looked up to. The Rock and Booker T — I feel the same way about him.
I re-watched the NXT Takeover XXV ladder match that you were in, and I saw that you did a frog splash. Was Eddie Guerrero one of those guys, too?
Oh yes, most definitely. Oh gosh, that’s a good point. Man, you’re making me realize stuff I didn’t even realize. Eddie was another part of it. He used to come out with Chavo and the Los Guerreros and have the lowrider. That was some of the stuff I grew up. It shows in shades of what [Street Profits] do today. That’s a good point. Jesus Christ, man.
[Laughs] Sometimes all this wrestling knowledge pays off. Well, 2019 was a huge year for you guys, right? I listened to the “pop,” the reaction, that you got when you won the ladder match, and it was insane. I don’t remember the reaction being that insane. How did it feel climbing the ladder to that reaction?
It’s crazy you say that, because in doing this line of work, you encounter a lot of people that say they experience certain moments. One that I’d hear is that when a crowd reacts to something happening, and the noise is at maximum capacity, and they say there is no better high in the world.
When that happened for us — and we experienced that — it’s completely the truth. Just to generate response from people by just doing something. I can’t physically try and go into detail of how it felt because when it happens to you, you’ll know. And it probably has. Everybody has that different feeling when it happens. That’s one of the crazy things about being here: to generate response from people by you doing something athletic, you tryin’ to win a ladder match, you tryin’ to be champion.
How have you been on the “Main Roster”? It seems like you’ve continued the comedic angle to your characters. How is that going? Did you always imagine yourself being a comedic person in wrestling?
Going back to Survivor Series, with NXT coming out on top so everything now is “Main Roster.” NXT is on USA Network, Raw is on USA Network, SmackDown is on Fox. We’re on an equal playing field.
Being on Raw, a show that I’ve watched since growing up, it’s amazing. You’re living the dream. One of the crazy things is all the things that you know what this show has done to you in the past growing up — like the moments you watched growing up and the stuff we experiencing watching up this show.
Now we have a chance every Monday to create new moments and new memories for everybody. That’s what we look forward to mostly. Like I said, it’s something we watched growing up. And now we’re etching our names in the Raw history books. That’s the way we’re approaching it. This show has given us so much and we’re glad to give so much back to it.
And with the SNL-style skits, all the stuff we do backstage to the matches. We’re trying to add to that Raw resume. It’s the longest-running episodic show in history, and the Street Profits are a part of it.
I’m glad you brought up the SNL skits. It’s pretty funny. For being such a long TV show, it’s hard to have good moments like that. How did that idea come about?
It was something [the writers] wanted to try. And we said, “Let’s try it.” I’m glad they felt the trust in us to carry it out. We want to keep doing it as long as we can and add a layer to the Street Profits. We have our elements of comedy, seriousness and athleticism. We’re just trying to show how well rounded the Street Profits are by showing different layers.
Is there anything you’d like to add about the Road to WrestleMania show in Eugene?
WWE live events are an experience like no other. You know, you go watch a movie that you’re really into — like The Avengers. This is a live action movie where you see the actors — there’s no stunt doubles, nobody is saying “Cut!” and coming in. WWE has been providing that level of entertainment for years and years — and decades.
WWE Road to WrestleMania is 7:30 pm Saturday, Feb. 15, at Matthew Knight Arena. Tickets start at $15. Eugene Weekly’s interview with Ford has been edited and condensed for clarity.