Earlier this year, WWE began to play out an interesting story on SmackDown with Otis of Heavy Machinery becoming infatuated with Mandy Rose. What was a playful angle eventually paid off for Otis with a signature WrestleMania moment as he defeated rival Dolph Ziggler in singles action at WrestleMania 36 before finally sharing a kiss with Rose.
Otis' momentum has not slowed as the character's continued growth has landed him in the Money in the Bank ladder match at this Sunday's Monday in the Bank pay-per-view, which will emanate live from Orlando, Florida, and Stamford, Connecticut, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on WWE Network.
The wild ride can be chalked up to a combination of luck and backstage faith in an idea Otis and Rose brought to the writers, he told CBS Sports.
"We decided to just kind of present this to the writers and the people behind the scenes," Otis said. "They were like, 'Well, what's the main focus here?' The main focus is the lonely loner in high school or some nerd kid trying to get the most beautiful girl in the classroom. That was basically my thought of it.
"We had no idea Dolph was going to be involved at all; it just happened naturally and that was awesome. The more ideas that were flowing through and the more that was going on, the more fun we were having.
"My favorite moments will always be teasing it with me talking to Mandy or Mandy talking to me. Those were my favorite moments because there's so much suspense with trying to figure out, 'Are they having Mandy go with Otis or what's going on here?' That was my favorite thing with the storyline, having the crowd always be thinking. That was the funnest part for me.
"And obviously the fun part of kissing Mandy. Luck has everything to do with the business. We were lucky enough to think about this and lucky enough to have the company get behind it. Luck plays a huge factor, man."
With Otis' singles success and an angle running for months that saw tag partner Tucker shifted to the background, rumors have swirled that Otis was now officially a "singles" wrestler. But according to Otis, Heavy Machinery is still moving forward "full tilt" as a team.
"We're going as strong as ever, baby, oh yeah," Otis said. "He's always going to be my big brother and be my protector. The character of Otis is really like a loose cannon, I need someone to control me because my emotions get so high even I can't control them as a human being. ...
"Heavy Machinery is full tilt. Just because there's a little bit of absence here and there, I'm sure everyone is stirring up conversation and putting their opinions out there. But that's a part of it. That's a part of the mystique of what's going on right now in WWE. I talk to my brother every day; I call him every night."
This year's Money in the Bank match is unlike any since the concept was introduced in 2005. Rather than being an in-ring match, the competitors will battle through WWE Headquarters in Stamford before attempting to retrieve the briefcase suspended above the roof of the building. Also, both the men's and women's match will take place simultaneously.
Similar to the Boneyard and Firefly Fun House matches at WrestleMania 36, the match is an attempt to deal with the various challenges presented by the global coronavirus pandemic. With the unique circumstances, wrestlers have less history to draw on while approaching the match, something Otis said changed his mindset heading into the event.
"I'm not a big heights guy at all," Otis said. "I'm not big on ladders. My safe zone is always on my own two feet or maybe as high as the second rope, but this is definitely a strategy of like, I'm the rookie of this match. There's always been a big man in these type of matches.
"I've been in the headquarters, but I don't know where we're going to start this darn thing. Is it going to be in the lobby? Will we be in the cafeteria? It would be awesome to be in the cafeteria, so I could grab a quick sandwich and get some energy before the match.
"It's going to be very surreal to witness history as a fan watching and also as a performer because anything can happen. Man, with five other studs in there plus the girls going at the same time as us, what if we run into the girls? There's a lot of possibilities, and I don't know what's going to happen good or bad for me."
If the "good" includes winning the Money in the Bank contract, Otis implied it wouldn't take long for him to cash in for his opportunity to win the WWE universal title.
"With my personality, the sooner the better is always the best way to go."