Ladies and gentleman, Zonawrestling has the pleasure to interview, in the person of Walter Farinella, The Pharaoh Mada, one of the most important and beloved competitors of WWE Tough Enough. He was very kind and talked about a lot of topics: outspoken words on ZZ and The Miz, his thought about Dana White’s recent statements, his plane for the future on NXT, a curios connection between him and Game of Thrones and much more.
W: Ladies and gentleman here we are with the Pharaoh, Mada, one of the most beloved competitors of this Season of WWE Tough Enough. Hi Mada, before to start to talk about Pro Wrestling and Tough Enough, can you introduce yourself to the readers? Who is Mada?
M: Hi Walter and Zonawrestling, thank you for having me! I am a man of many experiences, I have lived all over the world and have experienced many things. I am a guy who chases his dreams and lives life to it's fullest. I try my best to lead by example and always try and help other people. I love to make other happy and to help anyone in need. I am a nice and humble guy but I do have that switch where I turn it on when I need to in the ring or in the gym or whenever I need to!!!
W: Was you born in Egypt, right? How many years did you live there?
M: Yes, I was born in Egypt and lived there until the age of 9. Then I moved to New Zealand and I was there until 18 years old!
W: You were right when you said a life full of experiences. Then did you move to USA? Before Tough Enough did you not have a Pro Wrestling Background? Were you a professional model, bodybuilder or something of similar?
M: Yes, I then moved to the USA on a basketball scholarship and played college basketball for 4 years. Then I played professional basketball overseas in the Middle East, New Zealand and Australia! I then moved to LA about a year and a half ago to focus more on fitness/bodybuilding and acting. I am the trainer of Jason Momoa (game of thrones) who is the new Aquaman. And we just filmed a movie together called "the bad batch" with Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves right before Tough Enough started! I have no previous wrestling experience but I have always loved it! I am a hard worker and learn quick, so I have no doubt that I will be successful on my new journey in life!
W: Amazing. I had no idea you were the trainer of "Khal Drogo" of Game of Thrones, that is obviously so popular here in Italy. It's very interesting to know about you that, even you have so many opportunities you decided to become a Pro Wrestler. It is a signal of true passion. So what is your relationship with Pro Wrestling? Do you have a favorite WWE Superstar?
M: Me and Jason are like brothers, and it's great to have someone like him help and guide me through the business. I believe I was made for the WWE, I was a pro basketball player so I have the physical tools. I am doing acting so I have the personality. WWE will help me show off both sides. I loved the WWE ever since I was a kid. The Rock is my favorite guy, he is simply amazing and a guy I look Up to. Not just of his success but what he has overcome too!! God has blessed me with so many opportunities, and I feel that the WWE is what I was made for. I have a passion for it and all the tools to be a star!!!
W: So, let's start to talk about Tough Enough from the beginning. How were the two days of mini camp? Can you tell us something about the Performance Center in general?
M: The two days of mini camp were brutal, it was insane. No sleep, a ton of training… But it was great because it showed who was tough enough and who was weak! I had no problems because I'm used to a lot of training and performing in any condition. The performance center is amazing. It is a state of the art facility with the best coaches in the world, it was an honor to train there and I can't wait to get back there soon!
W: Each competitor I spoke with said me the same about how hard the mini camp was. I wish you to come back in the Performance Center soon. Now, you quoted the coaches. How was your relationship with Billy Gunn, Lita and Booker T?
M: My relationship was great with all of them! They were our parents, they cared and supported us from day one and showed me everything I know today and I will be forever great full . It was good to spend time with them because after a while they opened up to us and showed their personality. So it was great to know them on a more personal level, not just as coaches!! It was also amazing to be coached by 3 people I watched and looked up to growing up!!
W: I see. Anyway, the Pro Wrestling training it's really so hard? Many people underrated so much our bussiness. About this, the UFC President Dana White in the last days said on Twitter that "Fake Shit should be 9,99$" talking about WWE. Then he said that he respected the Pro wrestlers. What do you think about those controversial statements?
M: Oh wrestling training is very hard!!! Look, I played professional basketball. I did bodybuilding. I have trained with some of the best athletes in the world, but wrestling training is the real deal! You have to have it all. For me I have to keep my size and strength. Training for power. My cardio has to be very high. Agility and flexibility are very important. And the moves and focus you must have are very crucial. You have to train for everything!!! In addition to all of that you must let your personality shine!!! Dana whites statements are very contradictory. I hope he respects pro wrestlers, because they deserve it!!!
W: Continuing to talk about the training: on TV we always saw you competitors did the same things in the ring: Back Bump, Tackle and Body Slam. On Camera Off were you learning the other drills, bumps etc.? And talking about the weekly challenges. Do you think that all of them were necessary to evaluate you competitors about Pro Wrestling? I speak for example about the swimming challenge.
M: We got to learn a lot on and off camera, even though we did a lot of the same "simple" stuff the main thing was to perfect it!! It was great to see how each week we got to add to our moves and see improvements. The challenges were crazy and although most had no relation to actual wrestling, like the swimming one, the main purpose for them was to see how we reacted rather than how we actually did. For example with the swimming challenge, it wasn't just about swimming it was about fear and doing whatever it took to get it done. Sometimes in the WWE your faced with challenges in real life and you just have to get it done. Sometimes you have to over come your fears. Sometimes you have to just try and do something even though you might not be great at it. So I felt that the challenges were more made to test us and how we react. Rather than just winning. You can win all the challenges you want it won't mean you will be good, but how you do personally will show how you will do and react to different situations in life!
W: Two very important challenges were the creation of a character and the Promo one. In both you were the best of men, with Patrick (on promos). You were on top about those. You also met some WWE Superstar during those weeks: Rollins, Reigns, Cesaro, Natalya, Sasha Banks and the Big Show. Did you have the possibility to talk with them on camera off? there is someone of them that impressed you positively? How was the Big Show Chop?
M: Yes, that entrance challenge when I created the Pharaoh character is when I though I started to take over. When I walked through those curtains to the ring I got a huge rush and that's when I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I wish there was 20,000 fans screaming. I loved it. I love doing promos, I know I have great speaking ability and it helps so much as it's very important in the WWE! You can teach moves but can't teach personality or charisma! It was amazing to meet those stars, and we got to meet everyone when we went to Monday night RAW, John Cena, Brock Lesner, Bella twins, everyone was there it was unreal! Big Show stood out to me as his heart is bigger than he is. One of the nicest guys you will ever meet and he was so helpful and supportive of all of us. He did tell me after we got chopped on the show he was a fan of mine and that made my day as he is one guy I have watched since I was a little kid. That chop did hurt, his hand is huge!!! It was an honor to get chopped by Big show!!
W: Yes in the entrance challenge you started to amount in a very important way. Anyway yes, you were on Raw. How was to be in the backstage, watching with your privileged eyes how the show is developed?
M: It was surreal just being there! It was amazing being around all the stars, and seeing them back stage and what It goes on back there and how crazy it is! Such a great experience as many don't why that chance, and it's great training for hopefully one day I'm on RAW! How the show is developed and how hectic it is back stage everyone running everywhere!
W: An Amazing experience. Now let's talk about the living in the barracks. How was to live there, filmed by WWE cameras? How was your relationship with the other competitors?
M: It was a different experience, the barracks had a more military style living and gave it that "toughness" feeling. It was great because all over the place we had WWE memorabilia, championship belts, posters, and even had part of a the cage of a real match in there. It was like a WWE museum! So it gave it a great feeling being there and kept you focused on the task at hand! Relationships with everyone were good, some more than others! I was close to most the guys, Josh was my best friend on there. We both had kids and played professional sports so we have gone through similar things. The girls had a lot of drama which I tried to stay away from!
W: Now let's talk about the judges. Your opinion on Daniel Bryan, Paige? What do you think about Hulk Hogan scandal? and The Miz? His Saving it cost you the elimination.
M: Daniel Bryan is a beast, he is a lot smaller in person and to see the stuff he does in the ring against these monsters is very impressive. Very down to earth guy and amazing soul, made a personal connection with him right away. Paige is just awesome I loved her! She was very supportive and very upset to see me leave!
What happened with Hulk is disappointing, but I stand behind whatever decision the WWE makes as they are a diverse and have people from many back grounds and ethnicities such as myself.
What happened with the Miz still to this day shocks me as well as many others. I was surprised to be in the bottom 3, he didn't have a good reason to out me there. And to also save Amanda "because she is hot" on his first day and it was the first save of the season. I thought he was amazing on Tough Talk but after my experience with him as a judge I'm just in shock and would love to know what his reasoning was behind his actions! Even though I'm very disappointed about being eliminated, the support from fans has been INSANE! Miz's page has 10,000's of #BringMadaBack comments and they also dedicated a fan page called Bring Mada Back with over 15,000 likes already in Facebook. So very humbled by all the support from fans, just amazing. This is just the beginning for me as I promised!!!
W: You had an important discussion with ZZ. What do you think about him? His physical shape it far to the your or the other male competitors. He did not win one challenge and he was often on the bottom three. But he is very popular and he has a particular personality and he is still on the competition. Do you think that is unfair that you and, for example Patrick, were eliminated against him? And about this, should you change anything about the format of the program?
M: The thing with ZZ is that he doesn't want it! He is using the show Tough enough as exposure and to get some game which is working very well. He doesn't want to be a WWE superstar which he has told me personally. You can tell by the way he is, he put zero effort to get in shape. Josh lost 35 pounds since mini camp… ZZ zero! And josh came in decent shape. ZZ now fakes his way through "workouts" and his "diet" on camera… Reality is he stuffs his face with food when cameras aren't in. He doesn't do anything in the gym when we are working hard. He posts videos of him doing crunches and people are like wow he is trying.. Trying??? Like mom works harder than that… We are trying to be WWE super stars. Do people not realize the kind of shape you have to be in to be at that level? Now he is finally being exposed. Wwe tough enough twitter posted 2 videos exposing him and how frustrated coaches are with him. It's not me, it's everyone!!! He puts zero effort and now what's worse is he is lying to WWE universe. People bite for him because he has a personality but also sympathy. No one wants to root for Goliath… They root for under dog. Someone like them, people see him and think they can do it too. It's sad to see him still on the show while guys like me and Patrick get sent home! I just hope people realize the truth before it's too late!
Even though I'm disappointed to get eliminated this show have me great exposure and gave me a chance to show my ability to the WWE and hopefully I will be back with NXT soon! Changing the format or what not is not in my hands so I never think about it. I always focus on what I can do!!
W: But can we really consider him an underdog? I mean, in the Wrestlemania 30 storyline last year Daniel Bryan was the ultimate underdog who beat the Power. But don't you think that an underdog must have the skills, a decent shape etc. in any case, like Bryan? Anyway what are your plans for the future now? I saw that you trained with Patrick in this days and you said before to want to come back in WWE as soon you can. There is a possibility to do a tryout for NXT soon? And someone of the coaches or judges etc told you how you have to move now?
M: Exactly, rooting for under dog is great. But this time the dog isn't even in the fight. He is just there for show. He isn't the under dog as he is not even in the fight! I just hope people realize that. He is a good guy don't get me wrong, just not for this!
Right now main thing is getting better and getting back to performance center for NXT! It was great to go train with Patrick at MCW! The coaches were all very supportive and talked to me about helping me get back there so I will be talking to them very soon!
W: I hope to see you at NXT soon and back to train at the Performance Center soon as possible. We are finishing, according to you, who will win Tough Enough?
M:For the remaining guys I think Josh is the strongest one left. He brings the best over all package! Tanner doesn't have the personality or speaking skills and Zz just doesn't want it as I mentioned. For the girls I think GiGi will win. She has a great over all package. Athletic with great personality! Those are my two picks!
W: Say something to the Italian fans and in general to the worldwide WWE Universe.
M: I want to say to my fans in Italy and the WWE Universe thank you so much for all of your support and I love you guys! This is just the beginning for me and I will be back and better than ever!!!
W: Thank you Mada so much for your kindness. I wish you the best.