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Don Callis on comparisons to Paul Heyman, why WWE didn't work out for him, Cyrus the Virus in ECW

All Elite Wrestling

All Elite Wrestling

Chris Van Vliet interviewed Don Callis over the weekend to talk about AEW and the working relationship with Impact Wrestling, Kenny Omega, Tony Khan, comparisons to Paul Heyman, ECW, his run in WWE, and much more.

Here are some highlights:

Don Callis talked about his time in WWE: “I was offered a job being a part of creative. I was, as I recall, I was one of the first people ever to write six weeks of television, for Kurrgan, to try to get him to a different level. I wrote it out in a week by week format. That would be fairly common now, In 1997 it was pretty unheard of for a wrestler to write out a creative in the way of the kind of formatting that we do now today when we write episodic TV. That was new and different and they said maybe I should be on creative. I did not want to be boxed into working in a cubicle for anyone in any office anywhere, doing anything. I kind of pushed back and said that’s not why I signed here. I signed here to be a wrestler. Ultimately, that didn’t work out, but we are all a product of our time in the business. I think all those things grow us as people.”

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Callis was asked who has been the most influential person in his career: “I would say probably there have been three, I would say. Kenny’s (Omega) Uncle, The Golden Sheik, for sure. Bad News Allen who took on my training after the Sheik moved on. Then Paul Heyman in ECW. I’ve been happy for Paul that he’s had the success that he’s had because he is a very intelligent, hard working guy. He did a lot for me. There’s been people that have now been comparing us. I think it’s an unfair comparison for Paul because Paul is a tremendous wrestling performer, a character on a television show and does a wonderful job. I’m not a character. I am the essence of who I am and what I do is done at a much higher level than what characters like Paul, with all due respect can do.”

Callis talked about his Cyrus the Virus character in ECW: “There is an interesting backstory to that. I came up with the idea of doing something different that leveraged a real-life difficult situation with the network. At the same time, I had made friends with a couple of the executives there. I had pitched a few ideas. There used to be a show called Dallas that was a very famous show in the ‘80s. TNN used to run the reruns. I had successfully pitched a Dallas with Callis monthly marathon of Dallas, a 24-hour loop where myself and one of the stars of Dallas would talk about the show because I was a subject matter expert because I always looked at Dallas as a wrestling show in the way that they wrote it, heels, babyfaces. It was germane to what we were thinking in the ‘90s. I pitched this idea which brought me even closer to the network legitimately. That caused some problems internally for me because I think that Paul and others did not have a great relationship with the network but I did on a legitimate basis outside the storyline. It caused some issues, but ultimately I think that the portrayal of that character was, I think, Paul had a lot to do with it. Once he saw there was something here to this office thing, Paul then looked and said, ok, how can we really turn the volume up on this character to get maximum heat because we know the fans don’t like the network. So it was a joint collaboration where Paul and I worked together creatively in a nonformal setting.”

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to for the transcription. Also, be sure to subscribe to "Insight with Chris Van Vliet" on your mobile device by clicking here if you have an iOS device or here on your Android device.