EJ Nduka really made an impression on a rowdy Philadelphia crowd last July when MLW came into town for Battle Riot III. “The Judge” laid the hammer down on his opponents during the Battle Riot event and even set the new record for eliminations in the match. All of this was done at the 2300 Arena at the corner of Swanson & Ritner, the original battlegrounds for ECW.
Typically, that’s a fanbase with a taste for a certain type of wrestling and a penchant for violence. Out of the ring, Nduka is as thoughtful and considerate as they come, but when The Judge steps between those ropes, it’s a whole new ballgame for the big man. The 2300 Arena erupted for Nduka, who got to see his first bit of action since being released by WWE on May 19, 2021, and for many, it was the first time they could truly see what the former Ezra Judge was all about.
“A lot of people were commenting on my ability in the ring and my presence,” EJ told WrestleZone’s Dominic DeAngelo. “I don’t fault them because when I got released by WWE, no one saw me on TV so they didn’t know what to expect and so being able to go out there and exceeding their expectations was awesome.”
As a former pro football player in the CFL and a professional bodybuilder, Nduka knows all the effort it takes in being the best at your craft and he brought that same mindset when entering the WWE Performance Center.
“I’ve been an athlete all my life and one of the things that helped me get this far is being able to self-evaluate, look at myself on the other side of the spectrum,” he said. “Whatever profession you’re in, when you stop learning, you stop growing and I realized that that wasn’t going to be me” EJ wanted to be certain to dismiss any negative connotation to the term, ‘learn.’
“I’m gonna keep learning until the day I die. So just because you say you learn doesn’t mean that you’re new, doesn’t mean that you’re a rookie, doesn’t mean you’re green,” he pointed out. “It means that you’re hungry. You always learn, no matter what. I wasn’t just sitting around with my thumb up my butt at the PC, I was grinding. I was working with some of the best, try to learn as much as I could just cause like I said, learning is imperative.”
Nduka had too many to mention but still listed some of the coaches at the PC who really helped to sharpen his skills and psychology.
“Some of the ones that come to mind — Scott Garland (Scotty 2 Hotty), [Steve] Corino, [Norman] Smiley, [Robbie] Brookside. There’s so many,” he said. “We just had so many guest coaches come in and help out. Right now, D-Von [Dudley] at D-Von’s Academy, learning a lot from him. Just the in-between stuff and just how to be basically a star.”
ITS JUDGEMENT DAY for some of your favorites…
Who do YOU want see The Judge wrestle this summer? ?
— EJ Nduka “The Judge” (@EjTheJudge) May 20, 2021
Nduka’s openness to learning didn’t just stop with mentors, but also continued with colleagues he met while with WWE. He lists names like Reginald and Ricochet as friends he bounces ideas off of, but also made a connection with another recently released talent in “The Alternative” Anthony Greene.
“Anthony’s another one. He’s a real good friend of mine. We became friends at the PC and he’s just a wrestling encyclopedia, so I run things off of him to see what he thinks about the psychology,” Nduka said. “There’s just been a plethora of guys that I’ve been around that’s been really beneficial. I talked to him the day he got released and just chopped it up with him and let him know like, ‘This doesn’t define you. At the end of the day, you are still Anthony Greene, just like I’m still EJ Nduka.’ Like, I’m not going anywhere. I know who I am, I know what I can bring to the table,” he explained, “and whoever bit the bullet and brought me in, you about to get the best version of me every single night.”
EJ knows all about the frustration that came when getting let go, but he had some sound advice for all his other colleagues that received the same stinging news earlier this year.
“Keep your head up, keep going, don’t spend too much time about ‘what I coulda, shoulda did.’ Don’t worry about all that. Just worry about you and moving forward, how to provide for you, your family and people like us, we’re professional athletes. We’re at the highest level. If you do what you’re supposed to do and you worry about what you can control, you will land on your feet. I literally know what you’re going through. I know that it’s tough times right now. COVID messed a lot of things up,” he stated. “COVID came in and got some people in the kidney and she’s still hitting and brought her cousin Delta and now she’s fighting too! They don’t want to let go, they don’t want to let go, but in the end there’s always sunshine at the end of the trials and tribulations. So just keep going, keep your head up and don’t stress.”
Plenty more to come from this interview with “The Judge” as he talks about his aspirations to meet The Rock and the meaning behind his signature moniker. Check out the full interview at the top of this post. You can also check out EJ Nduka’s store on Pro Wrestling Tees, subscribe to his YouTube Channel for some exclusive workout videos & follow him on Twitter.