Over the last several weeks, a couple of familiar faces have turned up in the major promotions. One of them I’ll talk about next time, but the other is someone who is making his return to TV after being released from his WWE contract (which explains why his action figure was on clearance when I saw it at Target).
The wrestler known as Daivari, who I knew from Eddie Sharkey’s training camp, is now being called Sheik Abdul Bashir and can be seen on TNA wrestling’s Thursday night program on SpikeTV.
Given thatÂ he has madeÂ his return toÂ TV, I thoughtÂ I would post an interview he did back in 2001.
The following interview was conducted by Tim Larson, who used to publish the Upper Midwest Wrestling Newsletter. Other issues of the newsletter can be found at the UMWN Archives page. I cleaned up a little of the language since he went a little overboard.
December 18, 2001
1. How and when did you get in the wrestling business?
I started in April of 2000 with Eddie Sharkey and Terry Fox.Â I remember Bill Wasserman’s WWA was the only wrestling school in the Twin Cities listed in the yellow pages. I called them a couple times and the second they heard I wasn’t 18, they hung up.Â Then it was actually City Slicker Jake Ricker that said he had talked to Eddie and that he gave him the green light to train. So I got Ed’s number, called him up and he got me started at his and Terry’s camp.
2. Describe Shawn Daivari, the wrestler, to us.
Well, when I first started I was just a generic baby face. It sucked major balls. I’d come out, shake hands and not cheat. The fans hated it. That was Shawn Daivari.Â In May of 2001, I was at X-fest with MPW and it was like 3 days of non-stop cards.Â It was a revolving door because we had a revolving crowd.Â So there I got to test out heeling and I thought it went pretty well so I stuck with it.Â The heel persona is based on me not really being over the first year because I listened to the fans.Â So now I’m pissed off at them.
3. What are your strengths in the wrestling business?
Probably the fact that I know I’m just a jabroni.Â There are a lot of guys that have been in the biz shorter or longer, or the same that I have, that think they’re superstars.Â No need to go to camp and train, no need to stay in shape, no need to listen, no need to work on what you do.Â Once people get that superstar attitude, it goes down hill.Â I’m at camp open to close every day it’s open.When I’m not there, I’m in the gym. When I’m not there, I’m watching tapes.Â I know I’m not anyone big, and I don’t put myself above anyone.
4. What have been your top athletic accomplishments other than professional wrestling?
Lifting the toilet seat without getting a hernia
5. Who is your favorite all-time wrestler?
That’s tough. I have like different rankings.Â Like my favorite wrestler (their work) is Benoit, my favorite “spotty” wrestler is RVD, my favorite little guy is Dean Malenko, my favorite entertainer is Steve Austin.Â I really couldn’t give an overall.
6. What is the best match you’ve ever had?
My best match I think was against Shifty at the 11/24/01 MPW Burned Bridges show at the Bloomington Armory.Â Although I’ve been told my intergender match with Shawna at the 9/29/01 ACW Kickoff Karnage 2K1 was the most entertaining.
7. What is the first card you ever saw live?
It was actually a WCW Nitro not that long ago. Like 97 or 98.Â I’ve never really enjoyed seeing live shows.Â I’m a huge mark for good camera work and facial expressions.Â You don’t see those at live shows.
8. What is the best match you ever saw live?
The most entertaining match was Shane McMahon vs. Test at SummerSlam 99. The work wasn’t there, but what they did impressed the crowd. As far as actually working, I thought Kid Kash vs. EZ Money was real good as was Jerry Lynn vs. Justin Credible, both at ECW Anarchy Rulz.
9. Quick comments
a) Sheriff Johnny Emerald
Sheriff was the only person that took me seriously when I first started. Like at Eddie and Fox’s camp after everyone would leave at around 7-8 o’clock, Sheriff would stay after with like City Slicker Jake Ricker, Helmut Von Strauss and myself and would just show us/tell us more stuff some nights until 10-11 at night.Â He showed us all kinds of stuff that we needed to get ready for the next step of wrestling. Dr. Darin Davis stayed too and taught us stuff with Sheriff. Sheriff was the first person to treat me as a wrestler that he booked for the show.Â Not somebody no showed and they threw Daivari in there.Â I got my first pay off from him too.Â As far as work goes, way too many high spots. Someone should tell him to stay off the top rope.
Shifty was the first person to really teach me match order.Â I always had decent matches, but all the stuff was out of place.Â He told where to do what, and what to do afterwards. That gave my matches a better flow.Â I think I really got better working him because every time I’d learn something that I didn’t know going into the match.Â And I think he’s noticeably gotten a lot better since he moved to MN (not because of me, but just since he came here) and has gotten noticeably bigger. Good Chewbacca impression.
c) Ed Sharkey
Ed’s a real funny guy. Just having him around is great.Â Hearing all his road stories, or just his day-to-day life is great.Â When I started training, Terry Fox was on a fishing trip up north.Â Usually he starts the guys off and trains them on running the ropes and bumping.Â When I got to their camp, Eddie actually got into the ring and showed me how to hit the ropes, take bumps.Â He squatted down in the ring and slowly rolled backwards and slapped his hands.Â Lenny (Lane)Â was there showing Alexis how to do kip ups in the corner and came to me and said “How the **ck did you do that?” And I said, “do what?” And he goes, “Get Eddie’s ass in the ring.” I didn’t know it at the time, but what I just witnessed was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.Â I haven’t seen it since.
d) Terry Fox
The first camp I went to was Eddie’s and Terry’s.Â That’s where I learned all my basics about running, bumping and some basic things.Â He was also the first person to book me.Â My first two matches were against City Slicker for MIW.Â I have one of the two matches on tape (They were the same.) and we were way too new to be having a match.Â Right now, I’m apologizing in this newsletter to anyone that had to witness that.Â It was a mess.Â But it was real cool that Terry had enough faith in me and City Slicker to book the match. Twice.
e) Austin Aries
Austin is so damn fluid.Â He looks like water in the ring. Everything he does just flows, one thing to another to another.Â For being in the biz for a little more than a year, I think he’s incredible.Â It sucked that he lost all that time with his knee injury.Â But now he’s back and I’m sure that time off just made him more hungry to do better.Â His tornado plancha is mind boggling.Â How fast he spins and how many times is just something you can’t comprehend.
In my opinion, ODB is the best female wrestler in MN.Â And what some people might not know is that it’s not all just natural ability and just comes to her, she’s worked hard for everything she’s got.Â I’ve seen 4 females train from the very beginning and she’s worked the hardest.Â She trains like one of the boys, and has the mentality of one of the boys.Â That’s why she’s cool to have around in the locker room.Â She should tag with Red Lightning as his little sister.
g) Mitch Paradise
Mitch is my big brother.Â He watches out for me.Â I remember one time in ACW I was talking with the guy I was working that night and left for a second to do something.Â And when I left, the person I was working with was saying how much it sucked to work me and this and that, just not generally nice things.Â And Paradise over heard and said something along the lines of even though I haven’t worked as long as that guy, I’ve picked up a lot more than he has. It was cool to have someone stick up for me. We also have a blast chopping Shifty when he’s least expecting it.
h) Ian Xavier
I don’t think me and Ian have ever had a serious conversation in my entire life.Â Whenever we start talking, it ends up in a joke or a punchline or a quote from a movie or TV show.Â We just constantly rib each other and just kid around.Â I’m also the only person in the world to witness him do a spring board corkscrew moonsault.
I) Adrian Lynch
I met Adrian for the first time like Aug. of 2000.Â We were both working on the MPW show at Bloomington.Â Then it wasn’t until I started working for ACW that I really got to know him.Â He was part of MPW in the MPW/ACW invasion angle and I think the first time we started actually talking was when he was doing guest commentary for a match that was Sheriff, Black Stallion and me vs. Dino and Sam Hayne. In the locker room he was like, “I’m gonna put Sheriff over as the brains behind the operation.Â Stallion is going to be the power of MPW.Â And Daivari your gonna be the most well hung man in the entire midwest.Â I’m gonna tell ’em you really only have one leg.” It was good for a laugh.Â He has a really good mind about what to do in a match when to do it, and underwhat circumstances.
j) Anarchist Arik Cannon
Talk about your fat pieces of sh*t!Â No, I’m kidding. I remember talking to Cannon a few times before he started training.Â He was a tape trader I met through one of my friends. The whole time I was thinking, “Great just another guy that’s gonna come to camp for a few weeks. Once he realizes the ring isn’t a trampoline he’s gonna quit.”Â But I was wrong and I’m glad I was.Â I see him as another Austin Aries.Â He picked up on things so fast it was unbelievable.Â He was running circles around the guys that started training with at the same time.Â If you need to chop someone, he’s your guy!
k) Justin Lee
Helmut Von Strauss was my first friend I made in wrestling.Â When I started training, he was about ready for his first match.Â We’re both huge video game marks and can talk about that forever.Â He helped me with my training a lot. We kinda have this ring chemistry that just clicks.Â He’s real beneficial to have around.Â He pays attention to stuff no one else does.Â I hope we can tie up soon again.Â I don’t know about this Justin Lee thing, I’m a huge Helmut mark!
l) City Slicker Jake Ricker
Jake has been my friend for a while.Â I was his wide receiver and he was my quarterback in 7th grade.Â I’ve known him for a long while.Â We started training together, and I was kinda pissed off when I heard wrestling was taking a back seat in his life.Â Something that not many people know about City Slicker is that he’s real smart.Â I mean real f’n smart, like Harvard or Yale smart.Â He’s a real funny guy and is real quick witted. He would make one hell of a color commentator.Â He and I had each other’s timing DOWN. Like we could have a match with nothing decided and not call a thing and would do just fine off just feeling each other out.Â The cracker special is going to be the Worm of the new millennium.
m) Playboy Pete Huge
Pete’s a real cool guy.Â I had one of my very first matches with him.Â I feel real dumb now when I look back on it, cause I had our match written out on like paper and I remember showing it to him and he was like, “What the **ck is that? I’m not going off any f’ paper” and I was like oh man what are we gonna do!Â Ha ha!Â I like to think my first match that I was ready for was with him.Â I had like 5 match before I wrestled Pete, but those matches were 5 too early.Â I was too new to be working.Â When I worked Pete, I was then ready for my first match.Â I thought it was real good for what I knew and was capable of doing at that time.Â I still don’t know what the hell that thing on his arm is.
n) Black Stallion
[…]Â seeing Stallion drunk is the best thing you could ever want from him!Â The guy is honestly a real buff Chris Rock.Â […]Â I honestly couldn’t stop laughing for 5 minutes.Â As far as in the ring, Stallion impresses me all the time.Â I remember it took me like about 3 hours to learn a moonsault. Stallion’s all like “let me try.” First try, he hits a beautiful moonsault. He gets up and is all like, “I’m gonna try it the other way.” He climbs to the top rope and does a picture perfect shooting star press.Â My jaw hit the ground.
o) Ashley Xavier
Ashley has impressed me with her physical drive.Â I get real upset when I see people that don’t have enough respect for themselves or the biz to try to get into decent shape.Â I’m not saying you have to be Scott Steiner, anyone that looks at me knows I have no body.Â But I do try as hard as I can, and Ashley busted her ass and lost like 65-70 pounds I think.Â That’s amazing. It was all like in 5-6 months too.Â I’m very impressed.
p) Eric Hammers
Eric is real cool to talk to. He knows his sh*t. Don’t get him started on religion or politics unless you know what your talking about.Â If you kinda have an idea, keep it to yourself or he’ll rip you six new @ssholes. He’s so well educated on it.Â His theory is down pretty solid.Â I like talking to him when I can. We just shoot the shit and have a good time. One of my best matches for ACW was against him.Â Hope to work him soon again.
Kujo’s so fun to have around.Â I remember the first time I met him he was at a Bloomington show and he was spraying hot stuff all over his face to make it all red like he was pissed off.Â I was honestly scared of him.Â I didn’t know who he was or what to expect.Â Once I got to know him, I realized what a cool guy he is and how beneficial he is to shows.Â Brother has a nice head.
r) Sheik Adnon Al-Kassey
Sheik persuaded me to do the Arab thing.Â At first, I was against it cause it didn’t really give me any room for creativity.Â It was just like your an Arab, and you hate Americans. Then this whole thing on Sept 11th happened. And I was like okay, whatever, don’t do the gimmick anymore. I never really liked it anyway. But now that it’s all cooled down, I look at it as new creative opportunity. There’s a top rope splash, or you can do it holding on to a carpet and it’s the magic carpet ride.Â There’s throwing powder in someone’s face, now instead of pulling it out of baggie, you pull it out of an envelope and it’s anthrax. It just gives me so much opportunity to be creative.Â Who was I talking about again?Â Oh yeah, Sheik.Â I love Sheik’s road stories. They always crack me up.Â Cool guy to work for.
s) Sam Hayne
Hayne’s a real cool guy.Â It’s so fun to watch wrestling tapes with him. His commentary is funny.Â All he does is rip on whatever is going on. […]Â I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard watching wrestling.Â Best entrance in the midwest hands down.Â Coolest merchandise too.
t) Dino Bambino
I mark out for Dino’s matches.Â Every time I’ve seen him wrestle, he’s impressed the heck out of me.Â And I’ve seen him do things that make me wonder how he’s walking.Â He’s inhuman.Â I enjoy his style of hardcore, not the barb wire thumbtacks stuff.Â I’ve also seen this picture of him as Nature where he’s about my size when I started.Â He gives me hope that I’ll be able to put on weight.
u) Kamikaze Ken
Ken is so intense the way he does everything — runs the ropes, gets in the ring, gets out of it, bumps, all his stuff is with so much energy and intensity it’s unbelievable.Â He’s also real down to earth.Â He’s another great worker that doesn’t have the “I’m a superstar” attitude.Â He’s humble and is always learning.Â He’s worked for the WWF on numerous occasions, but he’s still the first at camp and the last to leave, always watching tapes, always willing to learn.Â He’s gonna let me live in his closet and let me out whenever he’s bored, for his personal entertainment.
v) Mike Mercury
Merc and I see eye to eye on a lot of things.Â When we talk or exchange ideas, we’re always agreeing.Â I don’t think we’ve ever had a disagreement as far as wrestling is concerned. We think a lot a like.Â He’s real nice guy and provides the MPW boys with a place to stay when we’re working in Wisconsin.Â I enjoy talking to him, and the amount of work he puts into his product shouldn’t go unnoticed.
w) Kevin Krueger
Kevin is another one of the guys I mentioned that doesn’t have a superstar attitude.Â He was working regularly for the WWF in the mid 90’s, is a heck of a talent, great body, in high demand for bookings, yet he’s as down to earth as a Sheriff drop kick.Â He’s paid more than his dues, yet he helps out with everyone and everything as if he was just starting in the biz. He’s just the nicest guy in any locker room you’ll ever meet.
x) Big Daddy Hoofer
Hoofer was always a real cool person.Â When I started training, Ian gave me a lot of crap.Â He does that with all the new guys.Â So I just assumed his tag partner would be the same, but Hoof was real helpful and took his time to show me a lot of things.Â He’s another guy that’s just great at one liners.Â If he ever decides to retire from wrestling, he would make a hell of a color guy.Â He also knows A LOT about wrestling.Â A real student of the game.Â I don’t think I’ve ever seen to matches out of him that looked similar.
Lacey is one of the better female workers in MN.Â She’s real old school in her work.Â We started training at about the same time with Eddie and Terry. She’s real fun to give shit too cause she takes everything real seriously. She and Rayne usually are together and it’s real fun to give them both hell cause they get all pissed off about it.
z) Lenny Lane
City Slicker, Lacey and I got to work Lenny when we were both brand spankin new.Â I wish I got to do it knowing as much as I do now.Â The whole thing started as a rib on Sharkey cause he was hell bent on no ref bumps on that card.Â So when we were in the locker room, we were the only refs and he said, “after my match I’m gonna bump all of you!”Â The crowd popped and he decided to make the match the next show.Â None of us could work a tick at that time, so he just taught us all like three high spots. We hit them in succession tagged out and won the match.Â At the time, it was cool, but now when I think about it, I wonder if the crowd thought “these wrestlers are nothing special. All the refs can do all the cool moves, too.”Â But regardless, it was fun to do and cool of Lenny to put over these really new kids.
10. What has been the high point of your wrestling?
Probably being booked so much I’ve had to turn down offers. That’s always nice. Just I’m so happy with everything right now.Â I’m booked every weekend, and have a decent spot with everyone I work for.
11. What has been the low point of your career?
The protein sh*ts!Â They suck.Â I drink three shakes a day at 45 grams of protein per shake and 680 calories.Â […]Â Other than that, I really haven’t had one. I have been through some things people may have called a low point, but it really didn’t upset me.Â I enjoy being around wrestling anyway I can. I’m just happy to be here. So if I had to pick a “low point,” it was either when I got a concussion and couldn’t get in the ring for 2 months or in Green Bay when I tatered Eric Hammers with a stomp right in his gut.Â From lying on the canvas, he shifted to his side and kicked me in the leg as hard as he could […]
12. Who would you really want to work with locally and nationally that you haven’t?
Locally, I really want to work Helmut again.Â And I want to work Paradise. Nationally, I want to work Dean Malenko and Tajiri.Â I also want to work Tony Mamaluke, EZ Money, Mikey Whipreck and Little Guido, but I don’t know what category those guys fall into.
13. Who has been the biggest influence on you in the business?
No one specifically.Â Everyone I’ve ever worked with, or talked to have influenced me in one way or another, all though these people have helped the most: Dr. Darin Davis, Shifty, Sheriff, Helmut Von Strauss, Arik Cannon, City Slicker Jake Ricker and Mitch Paradise.
14. What do you “mark out” for?
I mark out for new stuff.Â I watch so much wrestling that I don’t see new stuff.Â So when I do see something new, I mark out huge.Â While we’re on the subject, something I don’t mark out for and can’t find out why people mark out for is stiff stuff.Â People mark out huge for stiff sh*t.Â Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is.Â There is NO talent in being stiff.Â Anyone can be stiff.Â Joe Shmoe off the street can be stiff.Â It takes talent to not be stiff.Â I mark out huge for stuff that looks good and tight but was as light as a feather.Â Not being stiff is the art of wrestling.
15. How much time do you spend on wrestling each week?
A lot!Â I’d say if I’m awake for 14 hours a day.Â No b.s. aside I kid you not, people that know me can confirm this, about 12 of them I’m thinking doing something wrestling related. So whatever 12 X 7 is your answer.
16. What is the one thing that surprised you most about the wrestling business?
How out of shape people are.Â When started, I thought “man, I’m gonna be screwed cause I’m so damn skinny.” Well once I started training, I felt that wouldn’t be such a problem.Â I never thought that in independent wrestling there would be so many out of shape people.
17. Give us a brief summary of your career.
Started training in April 2000, worked here and there until Feb. 2001. Since Feb. 2001 I’ve been working regularly all over MN and parts of WI with other bookings here and there around the midwest.
18. What is the one thing you would most like to improve on?
Getting bigger.Â I try so hard and it just doesn’t happen.Â I think it’s because I’m young though.Â I’ve been told that at about 24-28 is when you can put on decent size, so I guess I just have to wait.Â I’m happy with the way everything is going in wrestling except for how skinny I am.
19. If you could book one match, what would it be?
Probably Shawn Michaels 1996 vs. HHH 2001.Â I think they’re both just great to watch.Â Michaels does all the little stuff right that you can’t teach people, and HHH is real tight as far as work goes.Â Everything he does looks good.
20. What is your goal in wrestling in the next 12 months?
Get a sex change and a boob job and try to get a job with New York. They can always use chicks that can work!Â Probably just gain weight and stay healthy. That’s all I really want to do for the rest of my career in wrestling.
It’s always fun to read those interviews after seeing the wrestler make it to the big time.