Exclusive Interview – Sami Callihan: “I’ve Held Impact Wrestling On My Back For The Last 2-And-A-Half Years”

Before I was able to ask him any question, Sami Callihan was kind enough to tell me he was always on bad guy mode. However, I shared seven media calls with him, and he has never had any bad words towards me. The fact is Callihan is doing things his way. He’s wrestling all styles, all genders. He will hug you if he appreciates you, and he will smash you when he doesn’t like you. That’s the way he is.

The leader of oVe was a part of a revolution last July when he main-evented Slammiversary XVII against Tessa Blanchard. For the first time ever, an intergender wrestling match was main-eventing an Impact Wrestling PPV. The whole wrestling world praised both the match and the wrestlers for doing something at the same time brilliant, different, and unique.

In 2018, Sami Callihan was named Impact Wrestling Wrestler of Year. One of his matches won the Match of The Year, and he also earned The Moment of The Year. He is ‘The Draw’, an unapologetic and hardcore force in a company he has helped become strong again. He and his brothers of oVe have put the company on their shoulders and led the charge in order to make Impact one of the best wrestling shows on TV today.

SteelChair Mag had the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with Sami Callihan about his path with the company and being the no.1 contender for the Impact World Championship, Bound For Glory PPV, and what Impact Wrestling means to him.

 

You made your debut 2 years ago at Bound For Glory. Last year, at the same PPV, you were defeating Brian Cage, it was his first-ever loss on Impact. This year, you will have the chance to compete against Cage again, this time for the Impact World Championship. What does this PPV mean to you, and do you think this Bound For Glory is the moment you have been waiting for, becoming the World Champion?

100%. I am undefeated at Bound for Glory. For one, it seems like every time I’m on a Bound for Glory pay-per-view, I go above and beyond what people expect of me. Bound for Glory is a very special pay-per-view for me because, like you said, it is the PPV that I debuted on, also the PPV that I first beat Brian Cage. I think this Bound For Glory is going to be a big pivotal point in my career because of the time where I actually get the ball with a company and become a face of a company like I should have been years ago. If Impact is going to AXS TV, I think I’m a big part of that. I think I’m one of the people that has helped put this company back on the map. I held this company on my back for the last two-and-a-half years. I have lived, eaten, breathed, and slept this company, and I’ve been one of the people who have waved the flag and helped make Impact Wrestling one of the wrestling booms again.

What are you the most proud of since your debut with the company?

I did things my way. I had eaten a shit sandwich for years and years and years of my career. I was never given the opportunity by other people because of the way I look or my height. But I busted my ass, I continue to be one of the hardest-working people in this business, and now I’m getting my time to shine on one of the grandest stages in wrestling and become the face of a company. I should have been the face of the NXT, but they never gave me the opportunity. What did I do?  I left. I quit that company. I went out and busted my ass and became one of the hottest wrestlers on the planet today.

The wrestling landscape is currently more than crowded and you chose Impact Wrestling. When you look at what is happening right now, do you feel like you made a good choice? 

100%. It doesn’t matter what company I would have worked for it, my entire career matters. It could have been Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate, EVOLVE, NXT, Impact Wrestling, Lucha Underground, NJPW. Anywhere that I’ve wrestled in my career, I would have, above and beyond, busted my ass. There’s no second half-ass for me. Like any company that I work for, that I’m under contract with or getting an opportunity with, I’m going to give my all each and every time. There’s no 90 %. There’s only 150 % Sami Callihan anywhere I go. It was just a matter of time before a company actually gave me the chance to go 150% and be who I am. I could have gone back to other places, but I chose Impact Wrestling because I wanted to be one of the people to help save Impact Wrestling, and I wanted that on my resume.

Let’s go behind the scenes. At Slammiversary XVII, you wrestled Tessa Blanchard in an intergender match. Is it something you wanted to do or Impact Wrestling wanted you to do?

I’ve never had a problem with intergender wrestling. If you look at my wrestling company, the Wrestling Revolver, which runs shows all over the USA, I’ve never really booked female versus female matches, always the intergender because I’ve never looked at the female division being given
the male division. It’s not intergender wrestling for me. It’s just professional wrestling. At Impact Wrestling, I’m not going to name names, but you saw people over the last year turn down a match with Tessa Blanchard, because they thought they were too good to wrestle intergender or they didn’t believe in intergender. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I took it upon myself to get that opportunity because I knew what I could do with Tessa Blanchard. I knew that if I went out there, I could change the business at my wonder. That’s another thing I want to add to my resumé. That match we had at Slammiversary changed the wrestling business forever. Tessa is a bad b**ch, I may not agree with everything she says or does, but at the end the day Tessa Blanchard is, pound for pound, one of the best professional wrestlers walking the planet, male or female.

That match led to other intergender matches. Do you feel like it can become a component of the Impact weekly show?

100%. I think if Impact pulls the trigger on, even more, it can be something that differentiates them from every other wrestling company on the planet. So many companies are too afraid to offend people, rock the feathers mess up the status quo. Impact Wrestling right now is carving their own niche on professional wrestling and doing their version of professional wrestling. Now that we have this platform of AXS TV, we’ve had one of the best professional wrestling shows for the last year, but no one has seen it to this aspect. Now being on AXS, the entire world can watch a starter on revolution. And one cool thing about Impact is that it doesn’t matter where we go around the world, we adapt to the area and the market that we’re wrestling at that time.

It seems like you’re on the good road to again be Match of Year and Wrestler of The Year in 2019. 

I’m adaptable, I’m versatile, it doesn’t matter what storyline I’m in or what match I’m put in, I find people’s strengths, and I highlight them. I can have a match with anyone because professional wrestling is pure storytelling when done right.

Jake Crist winning the X-Division title created a little bit of tension in oVe because Jake wanted to be the Golden Draw, and you wanted to make it oVe’s title. What would you say about this brotherhood? 

Brothers fight. In real life, we’re brothers. We’re friends. I think the story we are telling and our chemistry proves that anything we do is something that people can connect with, a situation they dealt with their own family or best friends. Not everything is always good.

Is there a match, a moment or a feud that, for you, was most important than any other? 

I think me and Rick Swann is one of the most important feuds in my life and I wish some more eyes we’ve gotten on to it at the point because I feel like we did a lot of real things and crossed a lot of boundaries in our friendship that really showed off on camera. We brought up a lot of real-life topics that we went through in our life. He was one of my best friends. He’s lived with me pretty much off and on since he was 16 years old, he’s my little brother. I think that storyline was the best piece of business for Impact Wrestling in the last 5 years.
This year, I have worked with Rich Swann, Willie Mack, Tessa Blanchard on PPV. If you look at all my feuds on Impact Wrestling, I’ve never been in a World Title feud, but all my feuds have been one of the most talked-about things on the television show, always. I may not be in the main event, but our matches are the main event with the main storylines in a lot of people’s eyes. It’s about time the company finally pulls the trigger on me and puts me up in the top echelon (where I’ve) belonged for the last two years.

There’s an aspect that is coming back constantly in your feuds. You’ve been friends with people like Rich Swann or Brian Cage. It seems like your feuds will always be against friends. Will there always be a personal aspect every time you come to the ring and start a feud with someone?

100%. I don’t believe there’s a line that you can’t cross in professional wrestling. I will use anything and everything from past situations in my life and put them onto the screen because that makes the best television. With me saying that me going out of my way to bring up personal stuff, I also, along the same lines, don’t get mad when someone brings up something personal about my past.
I (don’t do it) for the recognition, though, there’s a lot of people that I have in my notebook that I’ve helped in their career or help them to get to where they are. I’m not going to go out and just say that about everyone or anyone that I’ve helped because I do that because I saw a person I am. I bust my ass for other people that are good and for people who deserve it.

You said before you wrestled for many companies in the past. Do you still watch all the shows you took part in?

I watch all wrestling, any genre because I like to see what is relevant in professional wrestling right now. I want to use it for my well-being, I like to change it up, and I like to see what people are biting on, I like to see what people are not liking and truly build my career around that.

Aside from your own match, what other matches of the card are you the most excited for at Bound For Glory?

The X-Division Ladder match. That kind of match has built Impact Wrestling, those crazy spot fests or ridiculous car crashes. With the two names that they’ve announced so far, being Jake Crist and Tessa Blanchard, that match has the capability of stealing the show (Note From The Editor: Daga and Ace Austin have since joined the match). Also, Michael Elgin versus Marufuji, that’s a true-life dream match from Japan coming to America, and only Impact Wrestling is the company that could be able to pull that off.

What kind of World Champion do you want to be?

The type of World Champion that puts this company on his back. No matter hurt or injured, I’m going to be there every single time because I’ve been hurt before, and that’s nothing new to me. At the end of the day, Brian Cage is a b**ch, he’s been the champion since April, and he has defended the title twice. That’s a thing that blurs the lines. I’m a professional person. I can work with people I don’t agree with. I’ll sort of say Brian Cage used to be one of my true friends, like one of my best friends, in this business, but somewhere along the last two years, things didn’t click. Brian and I don’t get along anymore. I’m not afraid to put that out there, that’s why this match is going to be that much better because it’s going to be real. I’m a professional, and I’m not afraid to make magic with people I don’t like.

To what extent are you able to be involved in the build-up of your matches, the creative aspects of your matches?

One of the best things about Impact Wrestling is that they’re listening to us. I have a notebook that I’m always writing down ideas on, and I’m not a person now in my career to walk on eggshells. If I believe something should be a certain way or there’s some way I want to do it, I’m going to do it and ask for an apology later.

Follow Sami Callihan on Twitter @TheSamiCallihan. Bound For Glory is airing live this Sunday, October 20, at 1 AM BST on Fite TV.

 

All pics, videos, and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling and Basil Mahmud

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