He is the Intellectual Savior of the Masses, formerly one-half of Team Rhodes Scholars and in the rare company of having won the Money in the Bank ladder match (also only the second WWE Superstar to fail to win the title upon cashing in his title match contract). He is Damien Sandow, and with the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and the launch of the WWE Network right on our doorstep, I was able to chat with “The Duke of Decency” and “The Lord of Literacy,” hoping to gain some insight from him on what the company has in store for all of us very soon. Sandow was in hard-sell mode, making it a bit tough to get him to open up on a few subjects, but when we got into what the WWE really is and the frustrations a Superstar may experience at different points in their career, Sandow got much more candid, and gave a peek into what makes his brain tick.
Billy Donnelly – Hey, Damien, how’s it going?
Damien Sandow – Good, how’re you doing?
Billy Donnelly – Good, how are you, man?
Damien Sandow –Excellent, thank you.
Billy Donnelly – The first place I really wanted to start with is the Damien Sandow persona seems to be kind of an amalgamation of some personalities that we’ve seen in the past. Most notably The Genius and Mr. Perfect are the two that come to mind. Do you go back and watch videos of guys that came before you that worked this sort of personality to see what they did and what worked and then also figure out how you can add your own personal flair to it to make it your own?
Damien Sandow – Well, see, it’s funny, there have been so many characters throughout the history of the WWE that I think anyone that comes along can be compared to somebody else. I am a big fan of the history of this company, and I have been influenced by several superstars. You almost take bits… And it is an amalgamation of, actually, several people. As for the development of my character, I’ve gotten away from a lot of the Genius persona and everything like that because I think that’s necessary to stay in the WWE, is that you need to evolve.
Billy Donnelly – From that, though, do you continue to, being a historian of the business, do you study these guys who have come before you as you evolve? To see what they’ve done along the way that may work, and may continue to work, while also kind of…
Damien Sandow – Oh, without a doubt. Without a doubt. I’m a huge fan of Nick Bockwinkel. I’m a huge fan of Harley Race. I think those are two of the best guys to ever lace up a pair of boots, and I do watch a lot of those guys. And pretty much anything else that can make you a better performer.
Billy Donnelly – One of the strengths that Damien Sandow has is a natural grasp of the microphone and of language. Cutting good intros and promos is kind of essential to getting over with the WWE Universe. How much of your material comes straight from you and how much of it is scripted in advance?
Damien Sandow – You know, that has actually evolved throughout time, too. Whenever you get a script… I guess you could call it…It’s up to the performer. Whether you’re in the WWE or you’re an actor, you make it your own. You have to bring those words to life. Now it’s great because I’ve been given the freedom to sort of get a point across my own way, and that’s where the real cool part of our business comes in.
Billy Donnelly – Is that something that can be taught? Because there are some guys that seem to struggle with that, and there are others to whom it seems to come really naturally to them.
Damien Sandow – You know what, everyone is different. I just kind of lucked out in that department, I guess. It’s definitely a strength of mine and I just capitalized on it.
Billy Donnelly – This isn’t your first run in the WWE. You first came up in 2006 with a totally different approach. What did you learn from that time in the company that you then try to apply now night in and night out to try to aid in finding your way, finding your niche, finding success?
Damien Sandow – Essentially it’s taking opportunity as opposed to waiting for it. If I had to sum it up, that would be it.
Billy Donnelly – By the same token, it’s still only about eight years ago, but the industry is always changing. How do you think the industry has changed, for the better or for the worse, that there are things you don’t even recognize anymore from how they had been done just a few years ago?
Damien Sandow – Well again, our product is PG-friendly, our product is family friendly, in that you reach a wider spectrum of people. When you go to a WWE show, you see Grandma and Grandpa and everyone down to the kids. They all have a smile on their face, they’re all having a good time. The WWE Network, which is set to launch February 24th, is going to revolutionize the way people watch television. You’re going to get 300 pay-per-views… every pay-per-view that WWE, WCW and ECW have ever produced. You’re going to get all the WWE pay-per-views starting with WrestleMania, and it’s $9.99 a month with a six month commitment. Plus original programming. You’re going to get a Raw post show. For that low price you’re going to get so, so much, and you just can’t afford to pass up the deal.
Billy Donnelly – Well, I’ve already been sold as soon as it was announced. I think it’s something, as a fan, having access to this incredible library of wrestling that you can watch, going way, way back.
Damien Sandow – Oh yes!
Billy Donnelly – I don’t know how I’m going to have time to watch other things.
Damien Sandow – I know, I know!
Billy Donnelly – Speaking of the WWE Network, because you are the Intellectual Savior of the Masses. Is there one thing on there that you absolutely recommend or command that people must see on day one?
Damien Sandow – Money in the Bank, 2013. My finest moment to date.
Billy Donnelly – Let me ask you about the Money in the Bank. There’s obviously been a lot of attention paid to performer’s frustration as of late for obvious reasons. I don’t want to get into specifics about that because there are lots of people who just don’t know anything, but as someone who has seen their pushes start and then get cut off, and who’s had Money in the Bank title shots that didn’t go further than that, how do you deal with the highs and lows and creative inconsistency, I guess, that can befall someone like yourself and your character?
Damien Sandow – I think your actual language, in my opinion, is what’s wrong with a lot of the Superstars. I don’t mean that as a shot at you… let me explain myself.
Billy Donnelly – Sure.
Damien Sandow – Their frustrations and, I hate this term, but “push.” What is a push? Every time you get a chance on television, that is a chance to win fans. That is a chance to create good content. A lot fo the guys… “I’m not working in the main event.” If they have a problem with that, you get yourself in the main event. If you’re not, you make sure your match is the best match of the night. You can only go forward. I never saw me losing my briefcase to John Cena as a bad thing, it was a chance for my character to evolve. And evolve I did! I think, looking back at my career, when it’s all said and done, that night will go down as one of the most pivotal nights in my career.
Billy Donnelly – Well do you think, then, that there is too much emphasis placed on wins and losses? Not only by fans, but also by performers, as opposed to just going in night after night and trying to entertain?
Damien Sandow – I think there isn’t enough emphasis placed on what the WWE actually is. What the WWE actually is is the greatest show on earth. I’ve actually touched on this previo usly, but when you go to a WWE show, it’s Grandma and Grandpa and everyone in between. When you are given a role on that show, it is completely up to the performer to do the absolute most they can with that role. From there, the sky is the limit.
Billy Donnelly – Obviously, WrestleMania is the hugest thing every single year, and there’s always a jockeying for position to make that show. Are there plans for Damien Sandow to be involved with WrestleMania? Have you gotten any direction as far as where we’re going to see Damien Sandow go in the coming months leading up to and through WrestleMania?
Damien Sandow – Well I plan on having a much bigger 2014 than I had a 2013, and my 2013 wasn’t too shabby. So you’ll just have to stay tuned.
Billy Donnelly – Where would you like to see Damien Sandow at this time next year? What is your goal as far as where you would like to be positioned? Where you’d like to take yourself, whether it’s feuds or opponents or matches?
Damien Sandow – Top of the WWE food chain, plain and simple.
Billy Donnelly – And do we have anything set for Elimination Chamber set yet?
Damien Sandow – No, but again, we’re not at Elimination Chamber yet. Elimination Chamber will be coming live this Sunday the 23rd on pay-per-view. We have the six-person Elimination Chamber match, which is without the most dangerous match in the WWE. In addition to that, we’re going to have the Wyatt family taking on the Shield and the returning Batista squaring off against Alberto Del Rio and there’s going to be a lot more. Anyone that’s familiar with the WWE pay-per-view knows that it’s dollar for dollar the best show you’re going to get. As far as the network goes, for $9.99 a month where you’re going to have access to all of the WWE pay-per-views past and present, that’s another opportunity you’re not going to want to pass up.
Billy Donnelly – Alright, man, thank you very much. I appreciate it today.
Damien Sandow – You’re very welcome.
Famously fired via Facebook, Billy Donnelly ("The Infamous Billy The Kidd") has insisted on staying true to his honest opinions (like Greedo shooting first being BS) in order to build a true geek community that serves its readership with credible commentary.
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