By absolutely demolishing Dolph Ziggler on RAW, Bronson Reed punched his ticket to the 2023 WWE Elimination Chamber. While his inclusion in the match may not have been the most obvious choice for WWE-only fans, those who watched Reed run the show in Impact and New Japan Pro Wrestling know that there’s more to the man formerly known as Jonah than his size.

Speaking with Corey Graves and Kevin Patrick on the After the Bell podcast, Reed explained how his excursion away from WWE has helped to forge one heck of a chip on his shoulder.

“I think now more than ever I have a big chip on my shoulder,” Reed said. “I did spend that little time away, and if anything, it’s just hardened me as a competitor more than ever. You know, I got to spend a lot of time in Japan and really test not only my wrestling skills but also my will and how much I wanna still pursue and chase this. And it kept me grounded in that I love professional wrestling, and I always wanna be that, and I wound up back here with the WWE. So I’m not gonna let any opportunity pass me by.”

When asked about the prospects of facing off against massive WWE names like Seth Rollins, Reed firmly declared that he’s not only ready for the match but is also looking forward to test his mettle against one of the “biggest names in the business.”

“Yeah, I love always again, testing myself against the biggest names in the business,” Reed said. “You know, I’m 340 pounds, I’m a bit dude. I’m someone that gets in there and destroys people, but somehow, I feel like sometimes I’m still the underdog in people’s eyes. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t done certain things or I do come from Australia, sometimes it gets a little bit of a bad rep, but I’m no underdog.”

Considering Reed secured a win over Kazuchika Okada during his New Japan Pro Wrestling run during the G1 Climax, leading some to believe that the man then known as Jonah was in line to become one of the next great pillars of NJPW, facing off against Rollins is a treat but not an undeserving one for the former NXT standout. After a strange mini-run as The Miz’s heater for about three weeks on RAW, it’s clear Paul “Triple H” Levesque is open to giving the “Top Dog” a chance to get over in one of the biggest matches of the year, with in-ring opportunities against the likes of Rollins, Johnny Gargano, Montez Ford, Damian Priest, and the current United States Champion, Austin Theory. Though a win may not be in the cards, a strong showing could spell big things for his future.

Bronson Reed explains how his WWE return came into being.

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Elsewhere in his appearance on After the Bell, Reed explained how being released from his WWE contract put a chip on his shoulder and how that eventually led to his return.

“To me, I was just angry that I didn’t get to do more with the WWE, which then like I said, put a chip on my shoulder,” Reed said via F4W. “I went out there and did whatever I could to be the best that I could be, which obviously got me seen to come back. So, in the end, I think it was a little gut-wrenching at the time, but it might have been beneficial for my career.”

Working with NJPW at the time, Reed actually reached out Triple H to see if there was a place for him back in WWE, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I was actually here at home and it was Triple H that called me,” Reed said. “I always had a great relationship with him. At the time, I was working with New Japan Pro Wrestling and it looked like I could do one of two things: I could have signed on with them to stay longer or I could have came back to WWE. I sent a text to Hunter just to see if he was interested and he was. So, he set up a time to call me, he called me and we had a great chat about everything, not just coming back to WWE but wrestling in general, what I’ve been doing. It just felt right, it felt like ‘okay, this is the move that I need to make.'”

“I had said to Hunter, ‘I didn’t get to do those things like Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, or an Elimination Chamber.’ These are things that I wanted to be able to do, so I’m very happy that I’m back to be able to do those things.”

Could Reed have had a prolific run in NJPW? Most definitely, but it’s clear WWE is where he wanted to be, and now he’ll have a chance to prove why he belongs long-term.