WWE Superstar David Otunga will make his WrestleMania debut tonight when he captains Team John Laurinaitis against Team Teddy Long in a battle to determine the general manager of both WWE brands Raw and Smackdown.
WWE Superstar David Otunga will make his WrestleMania debut tonight when he captains Team John Laurinaitis against Team Teddy Long in a battle to determine the general manager of both WWE brands Raw and Smackdown. (AP FILE PHOTO, Carroll County Times)

What happens when you take Johnny Cochran, George Clooney and Hulk Hogan and roll them up into one person? You end up with David Otunga, the Harvard law school graduate and former reality show star turned WWE wrestler.

Otunga, who is perhaps best known for his relationship with singer-actress Jennifer Hudson, will make his first WrestleMania appearance tonight in one of the event's marquee matches.

"I'm super excited," Otunga said in a phone interview from his hometown of Chicago last week. "I'm in one of the biggest matches, and not only that, I'm team captain of Team Johnny. And it's huge, the implications of the match are big. Whichever team wins, they are going to have control of both Raw and Smackdown."

Otunga is the captain of a six-man team representing John Laurinaitis, the WWE's Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and interim General Manager of Raw, the company's flagship television program against a team representing Smackdown general manager Theodore Long.

The match is one of eight announced for WWE's biggest show of the year, which takes place at 7 p.m. tonight in Miami and broadcast on pay-per-view. The featured bout will pit the current face of the WWE, John Cena, against turn-of-the-century wrestling legend and Hollywood movie star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The match is a year in the making, announced the day after last year's WrestleMania.

"The fan in me is really enjoying it," Otunga said of the feud between the two megastars. "How it's going to play out? It's anyone's guess. I don't know who is going to win, but I can guarantee that it's going to be a very memorable match."

One day, Otunga hopes to be in the same boots as Cena and the Rock, headlining a WrestleMania. Like those two, Otunga has plenty of crossover appeal, having gotten his start in entertainment as part of the MTV reality show "I Love New York," and being the fiance of Hudson.

Combine that with his movie-star looks, his chiseled-from-granite physique and his Harvard education, and Otunga is the total package. And he's not afraid to tell you that.

"Quite frankly, I don't think there is anybody like me," he said. "I don't think there's anybody like me in WWE or in the world for that matter. I'm just so unique. Nobody has the combination of brains, brawn and good looks that I do. I think I'm the ultimate superstar.

"It sounds like bragging, but I'm really just being honest."

Bragging might be something Otunga does best in his role on WWE television. As a wrestling "heel," he's supposed to be the bad guy. He's never been afraid to tell fans he hangs out with A-list actors on the red carpet or mention his Harvard law degree.

After being a part of a group of renegade rookies known as the Nexus during 2010 and spending most of 2011 as one-half of the tag team champions with Michael McGillicutty, Otunga was ready to break out on his own.

Barred in his home state of Illinois, Otunga started incorporating his skills as an attorney to his television character as the legal adviser to Laurinaitis. Often seen backstage in a sweater vest and bowtie, sipping on a travel mug of coffee, Otunga dispenses legal advice to his boss and fellow WWE heels who believe they've been wronged by management.

He even has a commercial on WWE TV offering free legal advice (albeit most of it tongue-in-cheek) through his Twitter account.

"It's really just me being me," Otunga said. "I think people are people are shocked all the time when they see me out and I'm really carrying my coffee cup. Matter of fact, it's sitting right here and I'm drinking out of it while we're talking. It's the same one I have on Raw. People are shocked, but that's just me. I always drink coffee, so I brought it into my character on TV."

As a WWE Superstar, Otunga is getting to do what he's wanted ever since his father took him and the rest of his family to a WWE event in Chicago in 1989. He's been a fan of professional wrestling most of his life, but took a chance on making his dream a reality after he finished filming "I Love New York," and quit his job at a downtown Chicago law firm.

"It gave me a taste of entertainment. After that, it was, well, I can go back to he law firm or I can pursue my dream, and my dream was to be a WWE Superstar," said Otunga, who turns 32 on Saturday.

"I was like, well, this is the time to do it. I'm still young and in shape, so I'm just going to go for it, and if all else fails, I can always go back to law."

Now that he's made it to WWE's biggest stage, failure is no longer an option. When asked what might become of him if his team loses tonight and his rivals take control of the both WWE television shows, Otunga brushes off the question and answers like a cocky wrestling heel should.

"Team Johnny is going to win, so that's not even something I would contemplate."

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