Rob Naylor is a former creative assistant for WWE and NXT and a lifelong wrestling fan. In his role with WWE, he worked closely with Dusty Rhodes and was there for the inception of NXT.
Rob joined Chris and Steph on the podcast to discuss Piledriver: The Wrestling Album and in between talking about the hits such as Girls in Cars, Rob shared stories from his time working at WWE and NXT, sharing lunch with Dusty Rhodes, hearing old NXT themes in car commercials, and the one gimmick Dusty hated.
On Meeting and Working with Dusty Rhodes:
As a creative assistant with WWE, Rob went from being a fan of Dusty Rhodes to working with him every day in developmental. At first Naylor was imitated upon meeting his hero:
“When I got interviewed for [the creative assistant position at WWE]. After I did everything and it was like a week’s worth of a tryout, [Dusty] was in a little room.
His office had a glass partition. You could see him, he could see out at you.
Oh god, he was intimidating. He was very jovial and fun, but you have to get to know him. He can be very intimidating because you knew how important he was, and he was going to let you know how important he was and I had to win him over.
It took a couple of months, but eventually, I ended up doing things right that we were cool and in the end, we were close […] legitimately my hero as a kid.
I’d watch him get beat up on Saturday mornings as a kid and cheer for him to do good.”
Eventually, he became friendly enough with Dusty that the American Dream would occasionally share his lunch with Naylor:
“[Dusty] was out on the stoops at our little office, on the steps eating a sandwich out of a brown bag.
Like he goes ‘Robby, you want a piece of this sandwich?’ and I’m like ‘Yeah, sure’ and I just sat on a stoop eating a sandwich with Dusty Rhodes.”
On Helping Talent Choose Music:
In WWE development at the time, the music wasn’t tailored to each wrestler.
There was no Jim Johnston or CFO$ developing songs. Instead, Naylor would go through a shared library of music WWE had the rights to with talent:
“Part of my job was to sit with every single talent that came through [NXT] and select a theme song.
So, we had everything they owned which is like a thousand cuts of different music and we would go—like me and Bray Wyatt sat for like two days and we found this broken out of love song which was originally the guy from The Jesus and Mary Chain so I enjoyed that aspect of sitting with talent and coming up with something that matched the way they would walk to the ring.
I thought that was an enjoyable process.”
The one problem with this method was that it wasn’t always clear if a song had been used before:
“Oh, that was a huge thing…Because what would happen is if someone went through FCW, it was 5 years of FCW, there was only the same amount of songs so sometimes the girls we called the divas at the time-women wrestlers, they would get really catty about ‘someone else had that song, I want my own song.’
It happened numerous times were like they had to pick a song that someone else debuted. Like sometimes I didn’t know who had that theme from 2007 to 2010 in FCW.
I would be called by different people to go back and listen to make sure they weren’t repeating a theme.”
In addition, these songs weren’t just exclusive to WWE:
“We had a database of songs that they owned. And I hear them a lot on commercials because I guess that they’re just free-range songs.
They’ll be like a Mitsubishi commercial and I’ll be like ‘Oh, that was the Ascension’s first theme.’”
On the Gimmick Dusty Absolutely Hated:
Most wrestler’s gimmicks change from their time in WWE developmental.
There’s a tweak here, an adjustment there, the usual inexplicable loss of a first name, etc. It’s part of the process of adapting characters for a larger audience.
One of these main roster changes, however, sent Dusty Rhodes absolutely apoplectic, regardless of how well-received it was:
“I remember that Dusty was furious when they gave Bray Wyatt the lantern.
‘I don’t want no fuckin’ lantern. This shit is bullshit. That wasn’t my vision.’
The lantern was great, but Dusty didn’t like it when they gave him the lantern.”
For more stories about Dusty, his time working for WWE, and Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II check out Chris and Steph’s interview with Rob Naylor.