RADICAN'S TAKE RADICAN'S DVD REVIEW SERIES: "Callihan Death Machine: The Sami Callihan (Solomon Crowe) Story Vol. 2 - in-depth look at Callihan's personality, road stories, thoughts on signing with WWE
Dec 29, 2013 - 12:18:20 PM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
RADICAN’S DVD REVIEW SERIES
“CALLIHAN DEATH MACHINE: THE SAMI CALLIHAN STORY VOL.2”
BY SEAN RADICAN, TORCH COLUMNIST
Sami Callihan’s story is an interesting one. He started out wrestling as a 325 pound teenager, made his way to ROH, CZW, and eventually made his name in DGUSA/EVOLVE before signing with WWE earlier this year. Callihan’s journey is remarkable and inspirational. Callihan transformed himself from a what being what I perceived to be a below average wrestler that cut annoying promos when I first saw him on ROH’s HDNet TV series to one of my favorite wrestlers to watch with a knack for cutting money promos in DGUSA and EVOLVE.
“Callihan Death Machine: The Sami Callihan Story Vol. 2” picks up in 2011, but Callihan addresses a lot of his career in this lengthy interview and match collection, which is the second he’s done in Smart Mark Video’s “Best on the Indies” series. Throughout the interview Callihan discusses how he’s always wanted to be a wrestler with the dream of making it big in Japan or making it to WWE and being in the main event at WrestleMania.
The interview begins with a long discussion about Callihan’s time in CZW, which Callihan considers his home. Callihan talks in-depth about several independent companies he has worked for during the interview and the only frustrating aspect of the interview besides some minor sound issues during the early going is that time frames and specific show names aren’t mentioned, so when he’s talking about the different companies he’s worked for, you don’t get a sense of the specific time period.
The CZW discussion is fascinating because Callihan talks about a number of wrestlers that got their first big break in CZW in recent years like Rich Swann, A.R. Fox, and Adam Cole. Callihan’s discussion about his feud with Adam Cole in CZW in 2011 is particularly interesting because they did a storyline where they didn’t touch for 8 months. They finally had a match at “Night of Infamy 2011” with Callihan defending the CZW Jr. Hvt. Title against Cole where they drew a much larger crowd than normal than they would for “Night of Infamy,” which traditionally is one of CZW’s lowest drawing shows. Callihan clearly has a good mind for the business and his discussion of building a long-term feud with Cole and making the CZW Jr. Hvt. Title mean something will make you want to check out their feud if you haven’t seen it already.
Callihan talks about doing Death matches and says he has no regrets doing them because they helped him make a name for himself. It’s interesting to hear Callihan talk about a lot of the talent in CZW that wrestle in Death matches and how much potential they would have if they could get away from that. Callihan talks about the toll the Death matches had on his body and his discussion of Matt Tremont in will make you see Tremont in a different light. Callihan says Tremont is only 24 and a lot of people have talked to him and Callihan thinks they’ve finally gotten through to him. He says Tremont has suffered some heath scares recently in addition to the toll the Death matches have taken on his body.
It was good to hear that Tremont is going to the gym and starting to realize he can be a good wrestler and not just get over based on Death matches. Tremont is a heck of a promo guy and if he can get in shape and get away from the Death matches, he could be a star on the independent scene. Not many wrestlers on the independent scene have the level of charisma that Tremont has.
When Callihan began wrestling in DGUSA and EVOLVE, it wasn’t long before he began to improve rapidly on his promos and in the ring. Callihan talks about how he’s been lucky in his wrestling career getting breaks that other wrestlers haven’t got. Another theme throughout the interview is that Callihan has simply kicked down doors, so when ROH and CHIKARA didn’t work out for him, he managed to get his foot in the door in DGUSA.
Callihan talked about how DGUSA/EVOLVE booker Gabe Sapolsky had never seen anything in him, but other wrestlers kept bugging Sapolsky until he finally gave Callihan a shot. One of the most noticeable things about Callihan’s time in DGUSA/EVOLVE was his improvement on promos and Callihan talked about Sapolsky being instrumental in helping him improve his promos.
Callihan discusses how Sapolsky gained confidence in him and chose him as Finlay’s opponent for their match at EVOLVE 9 because he knew Callihan could take a legit beating and give it right back, which is something Callihan has a reputation for no matter who his opponent is. The match with Finlay put Callihan on the map and got him noticed on a larger scale, as many influential people in wrestling saw Callihan’s match, which was the first domino to tip on the road to him getting signed with WWE.
Later in the interview, Callihan talks about his show-closing promo at the last ECW Arena show for EVOLVE, which was very polarizing when the lights simply went off after he had beaten down Sabu and when they came back on, nobody was in the ring and the show was over. This made a lot of fans angry, but it also got a lot of people talking about Callihan’s feud with Sabu and in my mind it turned out to be one of Callihan’s defining moments on the independent scene even if his eventual match with Sabu during WrestleMania weekend in 2012 didn’t turn out as well as he had hoped it would. Callihan’s closing promo at the last ECW Arena show demonstrated his growth on the mic.
One thing that is evident during the interview is that Callihan has the correct frame of mind to make it in WWE. Callihan rarely buries talent or promotions during the interview unless it’s called for and discusses how he’s gotten away from drama. Callihan comes across as a humble and hard-working talent, which will be a key to him having a shot to make get called up from NXT to the main roster.
Another aspect of Callihan that will work in his favor in WWE is that he makes his own opportunities. Throughout the interview, Callihan talks about how luck has been in his favor, but he’s always worked hard and when one door closed, he kicked down another door. Callihan goes out of his way to put over a lot of wrestlers on the independent scene in this interview, as he feels a number of wrestlers just need the right break to make it big. It seems absurd at times for Callihan to feel that so many wrestlers could be stars, but it’s understandable that Callihan wants to pay it forward before he goes to WWE in the sense that many people helped him get breaks on the independent scene.
Callihan tells a lot of good stories about his time in wrestling during the course of the shoot, but the multiple stories he tells about DGUSA/EVOVLE manager Larry Dallas are hilarious. Before telling the stories about Dallas, Callihan sets the record straight and says Dallas gets a bad rap from a lot of people that say Dallas paid his way to get into DGUSA/EVOLVE. He says Dallas got in because he took advantage of an opportunity and stuck around because he was a hard worker, which is something I’ve known for a long time. It’s amazing the way some people on social media and blog sites attack Dallas, as Callihan says he has the respect of the locker room and the Japanese talent, which is why Dallas was offered a tour in Japan.
The story Callihan tells about Dallas driving a car full of wrestlers to a DGUSA event in Massachusetts is priceless. Dallas was driving in a lot of traffic and trying to get them to the show. In the meantime, Sapolsky was calling Callihan on the phone and freaking out about them being late. Dallas ended up having to go to the bathroom, but they didn’t have time to stop, so Dallas used a bottle. He ended up trying to throw the bottle out of the window, but the contents ended up going all over Tony Nese, who was sitting behind Dallas. It’s a priceless story.
The interview covers Callihan’s time travelling international as well. Callihan’s reputation grew as he wrestled all over the world and eventually landed in Big Japan, which he feels ultimately doomed his chances for a tour in Dragon Gate. It is eye opening to listen to Callihan talk about his international tours and as his reputation grew, Callihan tells a great story about going overseas for a tour, coming home for a two day tryout with WWE on Raw and Smackdown, and then going overseas again right away. It’s no shock when Callihan says at one point during the interview that the road trips and plane flights can take more of a toll on his body than actually getting into the ring to wrestle.
The interview closes with a full-circle moment that is touching. Callihan is shown a clip of himself wrestling as a 325 pound teenager in HWA. Interestingly enough, one of his good friends in wrestling, John Moxley, accompanies him to the ring. Listening to Callihan talk about starting out the way he did and ending up getting signed by WWE is truly an amazing and inspirational moment at the end of the interview.
Overall thoughts: (8.5) – This is a great look at Sami Callihan’s career on the independents. The only difficulty I encountered while trying to watch the interview was keeping track of the timeline during certain portions of the interview. Callihan is currently gaining some buzz as Solomon Crowe in NXT with his hacker gimmick.
The interview lasts over four hours, but in addition to that, there’s a great selection of matches included in this set as well, including his match against Cole at “Night of Infamy 2011,” his AAW Match of the Year against Davey Richards, his CZW Best of the Best win against A.R. Fox, and his match against Finlay in wXw. The matches are well-worth adding to your DVD collection.
Listening to Callihan tell stories about his time on the independents in companies like CZW, CHIKARA, DGUSA/EVOLVE, ROH, and a number of other companies is fascinating. It’s clear that Callihan has a great attitude and the drive to succeed in WWE. Listening to Callihan talking about knocking down doors and creating opportunities for himself is inspirational and it will be hard not to root for Callihan to make a big splash in WWE after watching this interview. Callihan lacks the size WWE looks for in a main event wrestler, but with the right breaks, perhaps he will achieve his dream and main event WrestleMania. Nothing Callihan does will surprise me given what he’s already achieved.
You can purchase “Callihan Death Machine: The Sami Callihan Story Vol. 2” by clicking HERE or by visiting SmartMarkVideo.com. For a VOD version of this release, Visit SMVOD.com.
Please click HERE and click “like” to join the Radican’s Wrestling Community Facebook fan page.
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**