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WWE Superstar David Otunga will captain "Team Johnny" against "Team Teddy" Sunday at WrestleMania 28 from Miami to determine who will gain control of both Raw and Smackdown: John Laurinaitis or Teddy Long. In a phone interview from his hometown in Chicago March 22, Otunga talked to the Times about WrestleMania, as well as his background, his relationship with singer-actress Jennifer Hudson, NXT and the Nexus, and his current gimmick as the legal adviser to Laurinaitis.

Q: You've got a really interesting background before coming to WWE, but before we get to that, at what point did you become a fan of WWE and then at what point did you decide you wanted to be a WWE Superstar?

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A:

I was a fan since I was a kid. I remember being really little, getting up Saturday mornings, watching it every Monday night, begging my parents to get every pay-per-view. One of my fondest memories was when my dad took my whole family to Survivor Series when it was in Chicago, and it was awesome.

So I've been a fan all along. I went to law school at Harvard, became a lawyer and was working at a law firm in downtown Chicago and I ended up getting on a reality show ("I Love New York 2"); it wasn't something I planned, it just happened. And then, it gave me a taste of entertainment. After that it was, well I can go back to the law firm or I can pursue my dream and my dream was to become a WWE Superstar. 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.

Q: So when did you decide to get your law degree?

A:

Probably during high school or college, in high school I was still trying to figure stuff out, I took an intro to law course and I loved it. Also, the OJ Simpson case was going on and I was just enthralled with it. I loved the attorneys, Bob Shapiro and Johnny Cochran. When I went to Harvard, one of my professors was Alan Dershowitz, who was also part of the OJ defense team. That's probably what drew me to criminal law as well. I was pre-med doing undergrad at University of Illinois, I was also considering being a doctor. ER was big at the time too, and I really liked that too. Also, I had really good grades. Ultimately, I decided on law.

Q: It doesn't get better than Harvard I guess, right?

A:

No it does not!

Q: So after doing "I Love New York," did you reach out to WWE or did they seek you out to join FCW?

A:

I reached out to them. I was doing my best to get noticed. What happened was, I wanted to find a school first to go train, and I was looking around at different places and having a hard time. This guy actually noticed me and asked me if I would do one of those wrestling reality shows, and I was like 'Yeah, if it'll get my foot in the door.' He called me back the next day and said the last spot was filled, and I was so disappointed. But, he was like "have you ever considered trying out for WWE?" I said 'Are you kidding me? That's the whole point.' And he said I know some people who think you'd be great, that you have some potential, so maybe we can set that up. Luckily, it all worked out for me.

Q: Obviously, you get quite a bit of notoriety for being Jennifer Hudson's fiancé. Do you feel like, at least with WWE, that helped you get your foot in the door?

A:

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No, actually, we were together, but it wasn't public knowledge. We did everything we could to keep it under wraps and to keep it quiet and nobody knew we were dating until after I was signed to WWE actually. I wasn't in it yet. When we met it was when I was trying to get into WWE, so she knew from the time she met me that was something very big that I was trying to do; so she was very supportive of that, and was obviously super excited when I finally did get a contract. But it wasn't until after that people found out we were together.

Q: How did you and Ms. Hudson meet? I know you are both from the Chicago area.

A:

We did meet in Chicago. What happened was, after I did "I Love New York," I did a whole bunch of media and interviews and stuff, and I made some friends. And this one guy I did an interview with him, and he was telling me "Oh, I've got this friend who just loves you and she watches the show and she's your biggest fan." I didn't know who it was. He was like; you should meet this girl Jennifer. And he gave her my number, and she text or called me or something, and I was kind of upset, I was like: This is so inappropriate I just did an interview with this guy and he's got someone calling me. It turned out to be her and we just ended up talking and it was cool. We started talking one day and talked every day after that. And we ended up meeting up and started dating. The cool thing was too, we were living in the same neighborhood at the same time. We were just a couple blocks apart and didn't even know it.

Q: I've read you had a pretty elaborate proposal for her when you asked to marry her?

A:

She had a performance in San Francisco, and the next day she had an awards show in L.A. So I told her I had to go home, but I actually flew to L.A. before her and so I prepared everything, I had this scavenger hunt all laid out and I had these different cards planted all over the city that led to the beach, and one card would lead to the next. Finally, she got to the last card and it said, 'think about all these things,' - and I had all her favorite things around her, her favorite music playing, all her favorite foods and we had a little picnic - and the last card said think about all this, look out into the ocean and just think about the future, and then take a moment, turn around, and I have your gift, because it was her birthday as well. Then she turned around and I was on one knee proposing.

Q: Between your schedule with WWE and her schedule, do you really get to see each other very much?

A:

Actually, quite a bit. People are surprised by that. Its like any relationship, you have to put in the effort. One of our main things is we try to see each other whenever we can, we understand we have to work in different cities, but whoever has off will either go to where the other person is or vice versa. So my off days, if we're at home, we'll usually meet up in Chicago, but if she has to be in L.A. or something, I'll fly to L.A. and see her and the baby there and we'll spend the time there until we have to leave again.

Q: I know it's a difficult subject, but can you talk a little bit about the incident in which her mother, brother and nephew were killed? I know she has credited you with saving her life.

A:

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It's not something we normally talk about too much, but since she recently brought it up ... . She was actually in Tampa with me at the time, I had just gotten to WWE developmental, so instead of being at home she was with me in Tampa.

Q: How proud of here were you after that tribute to Whitney Houston at the Grammy's last month?

A:

Super proud. I'm always proud of her with everything she does, but this was one time where she couldn't have been more perfect. She really was just amazing.

Q: You were part of a pretty revolutionary storyline with the Nexus. How was that to come in and immediately start working with top guys like John Cena?

A:

It was a bit of a shock. We started on NXT it was just us, the rookies competing against each other, then all of a sudden, we're in the Nexus and we're in the main event. We main evented SummerSlam; that was our first pay-per-view, and it was all just hard to believe, it was such a whirlwind, and it was so fast. Just a few months ago we were watching these guys on TV and then we were competing with them in the ring. It's was hard to wrap my head around.

Q: Did you guys get a lot of heat backstage because you were pushed to the top so quickly?

A:

Not that I noticed. We were just so focused. It was all just kind of surreal. Not that I remember.

Q: How much did the NXT show help you individually?

A:

It helped a lot. It was all on the fly, I don't think people realized that, but a lot of that we made up as we went along. We didn't know what was going to happen. We were constantly surprised by something. We'd be in the ring and not know what was going to happen next, and all of a sudden, we'd have to cut promos right off the top of our head, you know? It made us prepared for everything.

Q: I feel like the original NXT cast will always be compared to each other. Obviously Wade had his big push right away, and Daniel Bryan is the current World Champion. What makes you different than those guys, and why do you think you'll be the biggest star of them all when all is said and done?

A:

Quite frankly, I don't think there is anybody like me. 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.

Q: So was it your idea to do the legal adviser gimmick last fall with John Laurinaitis?

A:

Actually it was. It was really just trying to incorporate more of myself and who I am into my persona on TV. It's really just me being me. I think people are people are shocked all the time when they see me out and I 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.

Q: So how do you take your coffee?

A:

Black. Black, a little bit of sweetener depending on the coffee, if it's flavored or not.

Q: What states are you licensed to practice in?

A:

Illinois.

Q: This is going to be your first WrestleMania, how excited are you for that and your role as captain of Team Johnny?

A:

I'm super excited. All my life, I've been waiting for my WrestleMania moment and now I'm finally gonna get it. The first two years I went from not being in WrestleMania just watching it to now, I'm in one of the biggest matches, and not only that, but I'm team captain of Team Johnny. And, I mean it's huge, and the implications of it are big. Whichever team wins, they are going to have control of both Raw and Smackdown.

Q: You're leading a team that features five former world champions, what does it say about you that you were chosen to be the captain?

A

: Exactly, it says a lot. It shows I'm the right guy for the job.

Q: Why would John Laurinaitis make a better general manager for Raw and Smackdown than Teddy Long?

A:

(Laughs) I mean, he's Mr. Excitement, c'mon! When John Laurinaitis is in charge, things just go better. And he happens to be my boss, so ...

Q: So if Team Johnny doesn't win at WrestleMania, as his legal adviser and team captain, what do you think happens to you?

A:

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

Q: I'd be remiss if I talked to you about WrestleMania and didn't get your opinion on The Rock vs. John Cena. What do you think of how this feud has played out so far and who do you think wins?

A:

I'm actually enjoying it, I really like how's it played out. I love the promos and the battling back and forth. It's really interesting and the fan in me is really enjoying it. 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's going to be a very memorable match.

Q: That's kind of a WrestleMania dream match, which begs the question who is your ideal WrestleMania opponent?

A:

Man, that's hard. It probably would've been the Rock or Stone Cold, one of those two.

Q: Those were among your favorites growing up and watching it?

A:

Yeah, well also Bret Hart, and when I was really, really little, Hulk Hogan too. You know what, maybe Bret Hart. Ah, but then I want to say Shawn Michaels, too. This is tough. Oh no, let's say the Undertaker. I have to say that. I want to end the Streak.

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