We had the opportunity to talk to Impact Wrestling star Sami Callihan this week. The interview was great as we spoke about where he would like to see Impact go next, what he has in store after the end of oVe, who from WWE he would like to see show up in Impact and how he was supposed to be the leader of Sanity before he left WWE.
We would like to thank Impact Wrestling for the chance to talk with Sami.
Brian: Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us today.
Sami: Thank you, man. Support WrestleTalk! See I know a catchphrase.
Brian: Yes! Thank you very much. Now, first off, we’d like to take it back to when you joined Impact. There were a number of top-level companies in the industry, can you talk a little bit about what made you choose Impact as your initial destination?
Sami: I came to Impact Wrestling because I was always a huge fan of Impact Wrestling when it was TNA, when it became Impact Wrestling. I remember being in high school and every Wednesday we’d always have a big group of me and all of my friends we’d get together either at one of my friend’s houses or my house every Wednesday. We never missed a TNA show. A lot of my biggest influences came from TNA. So, when it came down to choosing either maybe I go to New Japan, go back to WWE-NXT, I chose Impact Wrestling when I left Lucha Underground because I wanted to be part of the solution of fixing that company. I’m a very goal-oriented person and one thing that I wanted on my resume was more important than a Heavyweight Championship, more important than any championship in wrestling is having it on my resume that I was the guy that helped save Impact Wrestling and I think I’ve done just that over the last three years.
Brian: In those last three years we’ve seen a number of other top-level talents like Michael Elgin, Kylie Rae, people like that joining the company. What do you think Impact now, as a brand, has to offer free agents that you won’t find in any other promotion?
Sami: A lot of creative freedom. I feel that Impact Wrestling is one of the only promotions on a nationally televised level- on a worldwide level that they actually offer their talent an opportunity to be creative and actually that idea of being able to do what you want sometimes. There’s a lot of times where Impact Wrestling has pulled the shackles off me and said ‘go be Sami Callihan’ because they know it’s gonna work and they want to give it the opportunity to work. Everyone has a little bit of say-so in their character. Everyone has a little bit of say-so in what they’re doing. Impact Wrestling is one of the only companies I know where the office is at every set of tapings. You don’t have to go through a bunch of channels trying to talk to someone to pitch an idea. You go right up to your boss the day of the show and pitch them something you want to do and they’ll actually listen.
Brian: Absolutely. That kind of brings me to my next point actually because I was about to say we’ve heard Don Callis talk about the thought process behind developing individual characters such as in oVe. Can you talk a little bit about how much of everyone’s characters come from themselves and how much comes from higher-ups?
Sami: I think there are sometimes where there are some ideas if someone literally needs a better character or someone needs an opportunity. Like a young guy, Ace Austin is blowing up right now because he’s a guy who was taken under the wing of Don Callis and like ‘yo you have something but you need to change this. Do a little bit of this, do a little bit of that’. With a guy like me and talent that is a little bit higher up on the card when they come into the company, I feel like they have a little more creative freedom with what their character is going to be because they’ve been that character for a while or if they have an idea for a character they think is going to work, Impact Wrestling will give them the opportunity to do that.
Brian: Along the same kind of line, we spoke to D’Lo Brown about a month ago and he told us he is very into allowing talent to express themselves through their promos and given that you’ve worked somewhere else where they were much more restrictive of that kind of freedom, what kind of freedom do you think you have in your promos in Impact?
Sami: I may have more freedom than anyone on the roster at this point because I think I’ve proven I’m one of the best on the mic in the promotion and one of the best in any promotion right now. I think that has to do with Impact Wrestling letting me be me. Not telling me who I am. They might give me some bullet points, they might give me a point to go across but I have never had one of my promos scripted for me. That’s why our promos are so real because we can go out there and get things off our chest. We can go out there and say what is actually bothering us, what our ideologies are and that’s what makes Impact Wrestling great on that standpoint.
Brian: Now, you’ve been one of the key people in the last few years and you’ve really put Impact on your back recently. Where would you like to see the company go in another five years? I know you just spoke about wanting to be one of the people to help fix the company, but where would you like to see it go next?
Sami: It just has to keep growing and I think the growth over the last three years has been above and beyond what anyone thought Impact Wrestling was gonna become again. Impact Wrestling, for a lack of better terms, was dead in the casket and I think this generation of Impact Wrestling has pumped blood back into its dead heart and truly revitalize this company as being such a true alternative. Now we pretty much have our own television network where we can go out and try stuff. We can experiment on stuff. We’re in millions upon millions upon millions of homes in America. We have amazing international television deals. Every Thursday we’re simulcasting on Twitch so if you don’t have our television station- if you have internet you have Impact. I think the next step is just continuing to show the rest of the world that Impact has one of the best wrestling shows on the planet. I think what can help us get to that next level of Impact being a brand is getting certain kinds of licensing deals. Being in better merchandise shops, getting action figures, getting a video game, getting all the above and being able to really just spam Impact Wrestling on the entire world.
Brian: Is there any one of those things like seeing yourself in a video game or seeing yourself as an action figure that really speaks to you as a fan?
Sami: I think the biggest thing right now- a video game would be great, but what I think would go above a video game and even action figures would be Impact Wrestling finally securing a deal with Funko Pop. I think Funko Pops are the biggest collectible item in the entire world right now. I collect Funko Pops, a lot of our roster collects Funko Pops. I think having Impact branded Funko Pops would be the coolest thing we could do at this point.
Brian: Absolutely, that’s a great answer. I know a lot of people who are going to be very excited to hear that. Switching gears a little bit, one of the most famous moments during your run with Impact has been the bat incident with Eddie Edwards. Can you take us through how you can pivot in wrestling and make an incident that is maybe negative in a lot of people’s minds and turn it into a positive?
Sami: I thought it was rather easy because people don’t know the truth of the situation. People just want to assume its today’s wrestling, they want me to apologize. Well, me being Sami Callihan, I’m not going to do that. I am a full-blown believer in the old-school way of professional wrestling when it comes to that kind of thing. I think this was the best thing that happened to myself and Eddie Edwards’ career. Hell, it was possibly one of the best things to happen to Impact. Impact, you know, no one was really talking about it to being like everyone is talking about it. TMZ did worldwide coverage and it was a s***ty incident but it put eyes back on Impact Wrestling and I think it worked out for the better.
Brian: I would have to agree. After the Hardys left that was the thing that really brought my eye back to Impact and it was only a few months later but it was that kind of jump.
Sami: With Impact it is no secret that we tape a couple weeks at a time. That show had been taped. No one knew what had happened. Impact still played that footage and that goes out to them. I don’t think any other wrestling company would have showed that. They would have cut it out and I think that’s what makes Impact Wrestling special because I’m not afraid to upset some people. People want the Attitude Era back and Impact is the closest thing to it right now.
Brian: Speaking of the Attitude Era, one of the key people in the Attitude Era was Ken Shamrock. Now, having seen a ton of different interactions with you and Ken, what do you think is on the horizon for you and him, and then you and oVe?
Sami: I mean I’m not done with Ken Shamrock. I didn’t tap out, I didn’t submit. It was an unsanctioned match so I don’t know how a referee can stop a match, which I think is absolute bulls*** with it being unsanctioned. So I’m far from being done with Shamrock. As far as oVe goes, that’s done. Because I don’t need anyone’s help anymore and that’s why I try to get this through people’s heads but you need to make an example to make people listen. Sami Callihan is on his own now. Sami Callihan is truly changing the game right now with my character and I’m going to continue to do that on my own.
Brian: When this whole pandemic is over and we can go back to some semblance of normal, what is the first thing you want to do? Who is the first person you want to face or the first show you want to run?
Sami: I would love to get a Wrestling Revolver show back in the books, which is actually my company which has been up and running for the last three years. We run Pancakes & Piledrivers WrestleMania weekend every year. We didn’t do that this year for the first time in four years and our company was blown just before anything happened and it just sucks because its a different kind of gratification running a wrestling show. Especially when you run a good wrestling show with good production and servicing a fanbase that would die for you. Wrestling Revolver is doing just that right now. Cheap plug you can check us out at our website ProWrestlingRevolver.com, you can check us out all social media is @PWRevolver and you can watch our entire catalog of wrestling matches on High Spots Network.
Brian: In the same vein of coming back and looking to the future, how important is it for you to be Impact World Champion again and be the one representing the Impact brand?
Sami: That’s always the goal but with Sami Callihan right now, Sami Callihan doesn’t need the Impact World Championship to be in the main event. I think I’ve proven that since losing the championship I’m still one of if not the most talked-about thing on our entire show. The Impact World Championship needs me more than I need the Impact World Championship.
Brian: Fair enough. You’ve talked in the past about bringing hardcore and deathmatch wrestling to a more national stage and you’ve done that in Impact, but how far do you think you’ll be able to push that envelope.
Sami: I don’t know. I think we’ve pushed it pretty far so far but the thing is I’m not just this deathmatch/hardcore wrestler. People seem to forget at one point I was looked at as one of the top strong style textbook wrestlers on the planet. It’s just all determined by what I’m looking to do in that time and what I’m trying to get across. At certain points in my career, I’d be a hardcore wrestler, at certain points I’s be a technical wrestler, at certain points I’d be a strong style wrestler. Right now, I just like doing hardcore because it’s different. No one else on television is pushing the envelope like Impact Wrestling can.
Brian: Is there anyone in Impact Wrestling right now you would like to have a match like that with? Is there one person you would like to have a deathmatch with and one person you would like to tear it up with in a more traditional sense?
Sami: I think one of the answers to both of that is Jake Crist. We’ve been a team for so long now that people don’t realize that we had amazing matches when we were younger. And Jake Crist is a crazy son of a bitch. He’ll do deathmatches, he’ll do technical wrestling. If you ask our roster who the most underrated guy is, the majority of the people are gonna say Jake Crist because he’s the most versatile wrestler on our roster. He can go from being a crazy man to being one of the best technical wrestlers on our roster.
Brian: Is there anybody outside of Impact that might be a free agent right now that you would like to see come to Impact so you can face them?
Sami: I think there’s a lot of people. Now, what happened with WWE, which is extremely sad and I hate to see people lose their jobs, but this could help out Impact a lot. Impact needs more talent, you need to continue to grow our brand and I would love to see all those guys on the Impact roster and have a match with. One of the main ones being Eric Young. Eric Young pretty much embodied what Impact Wrestling was from the golden days and I think that is a match that the entire wrestling world wants to see. I’ve heard it for years because I was supposed to be the leader of Sanity until I went off on my own and he stepped in and became the leader of Sanity. I think that match, me vs. Eric Young, we both use the same finishing move, we’re both very similar wrestlers. I think that match could do a lot for Impact Wrestling.
Brian: If that match was to come together, how much of that kind of input and that kind of history from another promotion would you feel comfortable bringing to a storyline like that? Or would you go strictly in a more Impact sense?
Sami: With how wrestling is the objective is always going to be Impact Wrestling. But I think we’re in a time in professional wrestling where it’s okay to talk about histories. It’s okay to talk about the past and what built up to that moment and I think there’s so many ways a story with me and Eric Young could go if it was at all possible.
Brian: Is there anyone else from Impact’s past that you would like to see get another big last run with the company? Maybe someone like an Amazing Red, a Petey Williams, someone like that who has kind of left the public eye a little bit.
Sami: Well Amazing Red is amazing. One of the absolute forefathers of the kind of wrestling that is going on right now, the type of wrestling that is famous now. Amazing Red was the start of all that. Seeing Amazing Red back would be amazing. I would love to see a guy like Mr. Kennedy back. I’d love to see Sting come back even though he’s basically retired, I’d love to see him get one more run. Hell, I’d love to see Kurt Angle come back to Impact Wrestling. Maybe not to have a match but just to be a part of Impact once again. Between WWE and Impact, I mean he had a great run in WWE but I think the best run of his entire career was what he did with Impact Wrestling.
Brian: If you were to give a tagline to why fans should be watching Impact right now, what would it be?
Sami: “We’re the Attitude Era of 2020”
Brian: Thank you very much Sami, we hope you make it out of this pandemic A-OK.
Sami: SUPPORT WRESTLETALK
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