In his first public comments since being released by World Wrestling Entertainment last week, popular long time superstar Damien Sandow did an in-depth interview with Rolling Stone. It’s really good because it covers everything from when he found out his release to the high points of his career and everything else along the way. He really comes across as a level headed, calm guy that is probably upset about not being in WWE, but I don’t think he’s that mad about it because after a year of not being used that much, he probably is okay with trying other things.
On if he was surprised about being released:
Not really. I had some conversations with them before, where I had said that I think, as a character, we had gone through the gamut. What more could I do with that character? Some people say, “This company should have done this, or that.” No, the company gave me a platform, and I maximized my opportunity. That’s all I can ask for. In maximizing it to the point that I did, as a character, sometimes all you can do is get a new coat of paint. As a television show, the WWE, they have so many talented performers there. There is so much talent in the WWE. I have no problem with them needing time to let the other guys show their craft. I am not selfish in that respect. When I was on TV, they knew they’d get a reaction. When you look at it, if you know you can plug me in any spot, and you don’t have to invest the TV time, then it makes sense to give TV time to guys who need to build their reactions. Just look back at the Royal Rumble in January, when I was on the preshow. I was in the ring for the first time in months, and fans were chanting my name, when I was just standing on the apron. That, to me, means more than any title I could have won in WWE. That means the world to me.
On his ‘Intellectual Savior of the Masses’ character that really launched his career:
I had been in the developmental territory. I had been talking about different character ideas with people. At the time, NXT had just started to take shape. It was a very exciting time in developmental. As it started to take on a life of its own, there were a lot of people that were watching us down in Florida a lot closer. My one direction at that point was to do anything I could to stand out. It really was like freedom. So I took that freedom, and wondered, “OK, what if I stopped shaving? And then, what if I wore pink trunks?” It just kind of added upon itself. After the pink trunks got a reaction, it was Dusty Rhodes that suggested that I get a bathrobe like Lou Thesz used to wear, and wear it to the ring. And that robe was used to present the pink trunks. I would take the robe off, and people would see the pink trunks for the first time. They were aghast by it. It was so much fun.
It kind of just took on a life of its own. They gave me freedom to execute the character as I saw fit. I had my guidelines and stuff of course. And people were awesome in helping me. Triple H was awesome, Brian James was great. Mike Rotunda, he was very instrumental in helping me out. I’ll always be grateful for his help in that. There were a lot of guys in WWE who helped me. I was also given a lot of freedom. And a lot of times, the way this business is, I needed that freedom to connect to the crowd.
On if he thought he’d be World Champion after winning Money in the Bank briefcase in 2013:
I absolutely did think I was going to take that big step. Of course, circumstances dictated otherwise and there’s so much that goes into decisions, things that go way beyond what we as performers know about. When I had that match on Raw with Cena, I just went into it with the mindset that I was going to do the best I can. I’m going to give the performance of a lifetime. If you go back and you watch that cash-in, if you watch the “conversation” before and what we did in the ring, I did give that performance. I put everything I had into it. As a performer, I’m very proud of that.
On if he was disappointed about not being World Champion:
You always ask “Why?” The one thing I learned, over time, is that there’s a direction that you go, as a company. If the stream is moving one way, then you have to go in that direction. Whether that means you focus on certain characters, or a certain situation, then you have to follow it. If my future success wasn’t foreseen – and I’m being completely honest here – and they had other things to focus on, then I understand it. It was up to me, as a performer, to capitalize on whatever time I had. Thus, the dressing up as someone new every week. Other guys said I should be doing something else. Well, you know what? I’m the only one that’s dressing up as someone new every week, and getting attention. So let’s go with it. I didn’t know where or how it was going to end up, but I just wanted to hit a home run every week, and make them remember.
On the Mizdow character being an imitation of The Miz:
Honestly, my first thought was, “Oh my god, I hope I don’t have to pay for all the clothes that he buys.” Luckily, we had the black coats, and that was the M.O. for a while [laughs]. No, really, I was wondering if this was going to be a one-time thing or if we were really going with this. After about two or three weeks, when they finally decided that we were going to be together, I really got to dig into it. From there, I remember we were on Raw, he fell down in the ring, and I had the notion, “Oh, what if I fell down.” I did it, and then boom, off to the races.
Yeah, that (imitation gimmick) was completely on the whim. I would have never guessed that it would pick up the way it did. Kudos to Mike [Mizanin], because we worked together for a while. We looked at each other, and we didn’t know what we had here, but we knew it was something. We would not rehearse at all. That was not a science. That was complete art. We would just go and see what would happen from week to week. We were just having a lot of fun.
On getting cheered heavily during the battle royal at WrestleMania 31:
The way it was done, and the build to that, was awesome. The whole setup, him walking, me shaking my head, me shaking my head a second time, and then feeling the surge of 83,000 people chanting my name. In that moment, time stood still for me. When they were doing that for me, I really felt that my career was a success. There are guys that are in the main event that don’t get cheers like that. That was a genuine, 100-percent real emotional response on a grand stage. To me, as a performer, there is no award you can win, no accolade, that can beat a genuine response from the fans. That moment is amongst my favorite memories in the WWE.
On any regrets he may have had in WWE:
Look at the reaction I got this week, out of all the guys who were released. Look at the reaction I got from the crowd when I was there. It was because I put everything I had into my performance, and it always showed. I did in four years what it takes some people ten years to do. I took the audience through the whole spectrum of emotions in four years. If that’s my legacy, as far as the WWE is concerned, I’m grateful, and I’m grateful for them for giving me the platform to do that. I had fun. I think the fans had a lot of fun.
WWE fans, they know their stuff. They know what’s good. Do I have regrets? Absolutely not. I’m trying to think if there’s one thing I would have done differently. Not really. I can’t think of one. I maximized my time. I had a great time doing it. And it’s presenting me with new opportunities that I’m going to look to take advantage of now.
That’s just part of the interview. He goes on to talk about how he’s taking acting lessons and even Shakespearean acting, so it sounds like he’s going to do more than just wrestling if the opportunities are there for him. For more of the interview head to Rolling Stone now.