Otis Talks WWE Money in the Bank Match, Mandy Rose Relationship, More with B/R

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2020

With Otis' WrestleMania moment behind him, the coveted Money in the Bank briefcase just may be within his grasp.
With Otis' WrestleMania moment behind him, the coveted Money in the Bank briefcase just may be within his grasp.Credit: WWE.com

When looking at the field for the men's Money in the Bank ladder match at WWE's namesake pay-per-view event Sunday night, it's hard to bet on anyone but the uber-popular Otis given the wave of momentum he's riding at the moment.

From defeating former world champion Dolph Ziggler at WrestleMania 36 to getting the girl in Mandy Rose that same night, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind for the blue-collar-solid Superstar. However, the best may be yet to come if he can somehow reign supreme in the most unique Money in the Bank bout of all-time.

Otis qualified for the contest by beating Ziggler last week on SmackDown and is now headed to WWE Headquarters to compete for the opportunistic briefcase. While it won't be his first time stepping inside the world-renowned building, he realizes the stakes will be much higher when he heads back to Stamford, Connecticut, for Money in the Bank—both literally and figuratively.

"I don't know where we're starting, if it's at the cafeteria—which would be awesome—or if we're starting in the lobby area to check-in before we start getting down and getting dirty. We can go to Vince's office, we can go anywhere," Otis joked to B/R. "I just don't know what's going to happen to me personally, but I can bet it's going to be history-making, and just the thought of getting to the top of that roof kind of freaks me out a bit because I'm not a big heights guy at all. My biggest concerns are if the ladder will stay, and getting knocked off that ladder trying to get that briefcase, but it's a prize that can be cashed in at any time for a world championship."

Credit: WWE.com

In his rookie year on SmackDown alone, Otis (alongside his Heavy Machinery tag team partner Tucker) competed in Triple Threats, Fatal 4-Ways and even a Miracle on 34th Street Fight. But nothing will compare to what lies ahead for him at Money in the Bank.

This highly anticipated pay-per-view main event will be extra personal for Otis as it will fall on both Mother's Day and his mom's birthday weekend. As he's told Corey Graves on WWE's After the Bell podcast, he's incredibly close with "ma" and would love nothing more than to win the biggest match of his career on a weekend all about her.

"I've got full support from ma, she made that fruitcake for Mandy, she has all the best intentions, and she's been nervous throughout this whole thing with Dolph and Sonya. Now, my mom will be watching from home with my father, and I hope to make them super proud and hopefully, no matter what the outcome is," he said. "If we get it, we get it, it's going to be completely awesome, but if we don't get it, blue collar solid does not stop. We don't keep our heads down, we keep on coming."

Otis had spent a majority of his WWE career in the tag team ranks with Tucker. The two continue to team on occasion, but for now, his sights are fully set on making the most of the opportunities he's been afforded lately as a singles star.

That isn't to say he doesn't have experience competing on his own. Between his time in NXT and on SmackDown, he's had his fair share of one-on-one wars with the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Drew Gulak and former NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa, all of which helped prepare him for where he is now.

"I'd be a lying man if I told you I didn't have my big brother for a reason, man," Otis said about his tag partner. "He guides me around, he always knows where to go, he always knows the strategy. Without Tucky there, some have called me a loose cannon because with my emotions being so high, I can't control them as good and I need Tucky by my side.

"I'm worried for their safety for the Money in the Bank match. For that transition, when you're in there alone, that's a whole different ballgame. When you have your partner, he's in your corner, you can tag him at any time, but this isn't about tagging here. It's one big battle, and those battles before were big learning experiences. I came up short with those, but as I said before, it's nothing to hang my hat on because I wasn't raised that way, I wasn't born that way. They may have more singles competitor experience than I do, but they'll know they went through hell with me for sure."

Credit: WWE.com

Last month, Otis got something few in WWE doa WrestleMania moment. He had been chasing Mandy for months, and following his hard-fought win over Ziggler, he was finally able to lock lips with his longtime crush.

There can be no doubt that the moment would have gone over huge had it happened in front of a sold-out audience in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, the original site of WrestleMania 36 before the coronavirus pandemic forced the show to be moved to an empty Performance Center. Despite the less-than-ideal circumstances, Otis cherished that victory kiss all the same and realizes that his time in front of rabid crowds will come again.

"It holds a very special place in my heart," he said. "It was my very first WrestleMania match on the card because the year before Tucky and I were in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, and this is a huge step from that. When I heard the crowd at Royal Rumble when I saved Mandy from that first elimination, that reaction was like jazz to my ears. If things had just carried on, if it wasn't for the pandemic, if we had a crowd full there in Tampa, you know?

"I still remember as if it was yesterday, my first time with the girl, with the kiss, good guys over the bad guys, 100 percent, but we just miss the fans. I can just imagine if we had just kissed in front of a live crowd what they would've thought of us. The support's been awesome, and yeah, man, the grass always grows and there's always another opportunity around the corner."

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🥰🥰🥰 @otiswwe @WWE_MandyRose #WWERideAlong https://t.co/dllPWFrfVG

Fans rejoiced when Otis and Mandy became an official item coming out of the Show of Shows, and it wasn't long after that they made their debut on WWE Ride Along on the WWE Network. The duo could be seen traveling together on a horse and buggy at the end of the episode with a shirtless Otis sporting a tux and holding a rose for his precious "peach."

When asked about whether he'll be arriving at WWE Headquarters in similar style for his major Money in the Bank Ladder match, Otis confirmed that he'll be playing it straight on Sunday night and intends on saving the shenanigans for afterward.

"I felt very bad for that horse as a side note there, that poor baby. He rode us around downtown. You should've seen the faces of people who don't follow wrestling with my belly out. To say that was my enjoyable moment with Mandy, because they're just looking at us like, 'What the hell? Who's that big fat guy on the wagon?'

"On a serious note, when it comes to Sunday, it's probably going to be shakedown-town, it's going to be showtime, and to show up in style, that's for other things. My mind's focused on [Money in the Bank]. I'll probably just show up focused down there, nothing flashy. Get out the car, park it, throw the keys to the valet man, get in that building, put my gear on and get ready for a show."

Otis has never before come close to clinching singles gold, let alone sniffing the main event scene. Heavy Machinery have contended for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship and NXT Tag Team Championship in the past but have been unsuccessful in every attempt thus far.

As huge of an opportunity as he'll have at Money in the Bank to break through the proverbial glass ceiling, he hasn't forgotten about his tag team roots whatsoever. In fact, he admits that capturing the twin titles with "Tucky" would mean more to him than becoming Mr. Money in the Bank after everything they've been through.

"Winning a tag team championship in WWE [is more important] because we've been so close before through NXT, through Raw and SmackDown. We've been so close to just getting opportunities trying to get those tag team titles and we just fall short," he said. "Every time it happens, it hurts just a little bit more, a little bit extra. It hurts our soul more actually because you a leave a little part of you out there. I put 100 percent effort out there to get those tag team titles and you come up short.

"When you ask me to compare the briefcase to the tag team titles, I'm going to say the tag team titles because that's been my whole career beside Tucky trying to get those tag team titles. We haven't had them, but right now, we're not in the tag team picture. The focus is on the Money in the Bank briefcase, so as of right now, that is my focus: that Money in the Bank contract."

With the right people involved and the angle compelling enough, long-term storytelling can be a thing of beauty in wrestling. That's exactly why the love saga between Otis and Mandy was as well-received by the masses as it was.

The two have history as far back as their NXT days years ago when Otis would holler "Mandy candy!" at her from afar and follow her everywhere she went. That running gag turned into the best thing going on SmackDown for many months.

"We put a ton of work in with Dolph, Sonya and Mandy," Otis said. "When you work hard and you play by the book, you just hope the reward is what you expect, and it's been everything we've expected, and it's great to work with a bunch of great people. We're going to continue this storyline and see where we can take it. We're just having too much fun right now with it."

Otis also revealed that his nickname for Mandy was inspired by Chris Farley's Haru character calling Nicollette Sheridan's Alison Page "ninja" in Beverly Hills Ninja. On the subject of the esteemed actor he has often compared to for his eccentric mannerisms, the Minnesota native broke down three of his other favorite Farley films when asked which one he would keep, improve and erase among Tommy Boy, Black Sheep and Billy Madison.

"Absolutely Black Sheep's my top," he said. "I would erase Billy Madison. No disrespect, but I would keep my Tommy Boy. So yeah, Black Sheep is my top movie. I love Billy Madison, don't get me wrong, that's not knocking it there, but if you gave me those choices, Tommy Boy and Black Sheep would definitely be my top two picks."

Regardless of whether he walks out of Money in the Bank with the briefcase in his grasp, Otis still has his first date with Mandy to look forward. Once the pandemic dies down and restaurants start the process of reopening, he already has the perfect place in mind for the couple to dine at.

"We're going to go to her dad's restaurant and I'm going to meet the whole Italian family," he said. "I have met the mother, the mom is in good graces with me, but I think the dad is a little worried about me. So I'm going to meet the dad and have a nice, gentleman conversation together.

"I'm going to try all of his food because I love Italian food and that's going to be the first thing we're going to do when this pandemic slows down and everyone's doing what they want to do again and not stuck in their houses driving their loved ones crazy. We're definitely going to do that first at her dad's restaurant, and then after that, it's going to be a surprise as the horse and buggy was a surprise."

Otis' involvement in such a high-profile pay-per-view main event at Money in the Bank will get him one step closer to the superstardom he has always been destined for. Victory for the tag team specialist isn't guaranteed, but as long as Mandy Rose is by his side, it's almost impossible for him to be considered a loser in any sense of the word.


Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.