If there is anyone who has mastered the art of "acting like you belong" at each step in his rise toward becoming a WWE superstar, it's Enzo Amore -- the self-proclaimed "Skywalker Smacktalker" and "Michael Jordan of Jargon" who has taken sports entertainment captive with his wild look and entertaining delivery.
"I would say that my forte is cutting the line," Amore told ESPN.com. "My entire life's work is me having zero patience and not waiting in a line. Any time I see an opportunity to get ahead, I take it. You put a microphone in my hand on live TV and that's just an opportunity for me to get ahead in life. That's the way I look at it."
Amore, 29, whose real name is Eric Arndt, has a backstory as unique as his signature haircut. After a football career at Division III Salisbury University in Maryland, the native of Waldwick, New Jersey, cut corners and bounced around until a chance meeting with Triple H, through their mutual personal trainer, improbably led to a WWE developmental contract.
Not bad for a guy with no prior wrestling experience and a diverse résumé that included managing a Hooters restaurant, moving pianos and working as a disc jockey for the New York Jets. But four years after making his NXT debut, Amore has developed a cult following alongside his tag team partner Big Cass, whom he first met as a teenager playing basketball in New York City.
Along with his talents on the microphone, a major part of the success of Amore's gimmick has been his flashy and ever-changing attire, which has roots dating back to his youth.
"My affinity for fashion has always been there. When it comes to looking cool for the first day of school, I was always in it," Amore said. "And now week in and week out, from the J's on my feet to the outfits on my body, I just have a hellacious opportunity to go out there and make myself noticeable and different."
Amore recently signed a partnership with Champs Sports to help make outfitting his character even easier.
Along with keeping him "laced, locked and loaded" by supplying him with a new pair of Nike Jordan Brand sneakers each week, Champs Sports has also given Amore free rein on its Snapchat account in a 12-episode series called #MondayNightSneakerWatch. The series launches before Raw each week and coincides with the latest pair of Jordan retro shoes being released.
Amore sees the partnership as a natural one, not just because he began what he calls "a movement" of wearing Jordans in the ring back in his NXT days, but because of the international exposure provided to him as a WWE superstar.
"We are globally watched by millions of people on a weekly basis," Amore said. "If that's not a platform for sneakers, I haven't seen one in my life."
Some weeks the pair he receives is a surprise. Other times he works in concert with Champs Sports to match the sneakers with a particular outfit Amore has selected. For example, on the Oct. 17 episode of Raw, Amore donned the Air Jordan 12 GS in pink and white to match a pair of pink overalls he was wearing for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Having been infatuated with "kicks" since he was a child, Amore takes pride in the fact that he has yet to wear the same pair of shoes twice on television. It's a luxury he never would've imagined as a basketball-obsessed youth who always wanted Jordans but could never really afford them. That changed when he finally convinced his father to buy him his first pair -- "the black-toed 14s" -- for AAU basketball as a teenager, and he admits to having been hooked ever since.
Recently, Amore was able to acquire the one pair of sneakers he most coveted -- the Air Jordan Derek Jeter 1 -- which perfectly combined his sports idols as a die-hard fan of Jordan, Jeter and the New York Yankees.
"I think Jordan is the G.O.A.T., man, just that competitiveness that he brought to the arena every time that he got on the court, to the big shots that he made and the championships that he won," Amore said. "To me, he's the greatest athlete of all time, and his shoes became such a movement that so many people of my generation became infatuated with."
Attention to detail is supreme when it comes to the constant evolution of his character, which Amore says he learned by watching his childhood wrestling heroes. From Shawn Michaels, it was wearing a new outfit every week and making it a spectacle with sunglasses, sparkles and "the buttless chaps." From The Rock, he learned how the clothes can help make the man, loving the attitude he would display while wearing "$800 shirts and Aviator shades."
"If you really put together 'Stone Cold' [Steve Austin], The Rock and Shawn Michaels, you can see a little bit of their influence on me, by all means," Amore said. "But at the end of the day we have an opportunity to create our brand, and the Enzo Amore brand is really an extension of who I am as a person. I think [with WWE] you have an opportunity of a lifetime to literally put on a fashion show every week."
That fashion show is made complete by his often outrageous hairstyle, which demands constant upkeep for his braids, frequent visits to the barber to update his fade and monthly appointments to dye black and brown leopard prints on the side of his head.
But Amore wouldn't stand out this much in the often carnival world of pro wrestling if the substance of his character was limited to fashion and flamboyance. It's the boundaries he pushes on the microphone and the instantly iconic catchphrases he delivers that have made him so valuable to WWE as the rare superstar who can command an audience for long stretches of time without getting physical.
"A lot of what we do is built on trust, because basically you go out there with a live mic on live television, and the WWE is putting their brand in your hands," Amore said. "Basically, they are entrusting you to go out there and to be a role model for children and keep everything that you are doing within the PG confines of this great brand."
It's clear that Amore is provided more freedom in the delivery of his message than the average superstar, including the ability to ad-lib. He also admits to occasionally scaring the people who have provided him such freedom. "There is definitely times when I toe the line, I straddle it and people are probably wincing in the back," he said.
Amore looks back on his early days in WWE developmental, when he attended a weekly promo class taught by the late Dusty Rhodes -- a guy who "will literally talk people into a building" -- as the foundation for the talker he is today. But Amore ultimately credits his success on the microphone to his preparation. What that entails is long hours spent in front of a mirror talking to himself and making faces. Like actor and comedian Jim Carrey, Amore believes that if he can make himself laugh, he can do the same to others.
But when it comes to the content of the words he delivers, Amore is on another level than his peers, saying he has written more promo material in the four years since he joined WWE than most people will come up with in their careers.
Since his first day in NXT, Amore has lived in a constant state of acquiring the same "back-pocket material" that he appears to so effortlessly ad-lib on live television. If he hears or thinks of something he finds even remotely funny -- whether he's watching TV, talking with friends or walking through a mall -- he'll stop what he's doing to drown out the world and write it in his phone.
"You're talking to me and I'm not even answering you because I'm constantly thinking towards ways in which words play," Amore said. "Just things that are funny to make people interact and to keep the audience participating. My mind is always going in that direction." The result is a notebook that he estimates is well over 1,000 pages of written promo material. Everywhere Amore goes, the book comes with him.
"I have it backed up on the internet up in a cloud somewhere [too]," he said. "There is no question about that."
Amore believes the process of writing it down helps to imprint the material on his brain. When a fellow superstar says something to him on live TV and it sparks something he wrote down two years ago and forgot about, he is able to deliver an instant comeback. "That's the way my mind works," he said. "All of a sudden it's flying out."
Amore is unique and a rare talent, something he prides himself on each time he steps in front of a camera and a live audience.
True to his catchphrase, you can't teach that.
"When you walk into an arena, you may never know who I am, but when I pick up a microphone, hopefully the people come along with me and I introduce myself," Amore said. "You don't know who I am, but just don't forget me when I leave because I was so different than anyone else."