Aaron Stevens (Damien Sandow) is the guest on the most recent episode of Vince Russo’s “The Brand” podcast to talk about his WWE release, his post-WWE future and much more.
Russo said that it is hard to be a nice guy and exist in the wrestling business because he knew guys that were nice guys and they are now on the outside looking in because they didn’t play into the backstage politics. Russo asked if Stevens was a good or bad guy behind the scenes.
Stevens said, “I think that depends on who you ask. I will never ever let a job or an industry have that much power over me that it would compromise my own principles. I went to work [and] all I have control over is when I am out there – how am I entertaining the fans? How are they reacting?” He added that life is a lot bigger than any job. When he got the phone call on the day of his release he said that he was cool with it and he looked at it like there were other opportunities on the horizon. He said that he’s been booked for some signings but he will be spending some more time in Los Angeles but he is not closed to the idea of going to another wrestling company if the circumstances are right.
Russo said that he saw people (during the Attitude era) getting in Vince McMahon’s ear when guys got big crowd reactions when they were not expected to get over. Russo said that he saw the same thing in WCW so it’s not just a WWE thing and it’s something that happens in the wrestling business in general.
Stevens says that he never concerned himself with being someone’s boy or being on someone’s team. He was just concerned with doing his best and to get the crowd reaction and to hope that the reaction sustains. He noted that the crowd reactions were overwhelming even after he was off TV for an extended period of time. He said, “If people want to go and take active steps to try to cut someone’s legs out politically to try to make their life less profitable [and] take food off their table for no other reason than just to do it – that stuff comes back to you. I have more people reaching out to me right now. Financially I’m going to be ok. I really don’t care about having five homes and three cars.”
Stevens lives a modest life on 35 acres in the middle of nowhere so he is doing just fine post-WWE. Stevens talked about his grandmother being very sick and he wasn’t being used much on TV so he asked WWE if he could be with his family. He said that he was given a lot by WWE but he also realized that family was more important than work. He thanked WWE for being so gracious to allow him time to be with his family. Regarding the writers and whether he would pitch ideas to them, he said, “I am not going to compromise my principles and
Regarding the writers and whether he would pitch ideas to them, he said, “I am not going to compromise my principles and pester these writers [with ideas] and do it every week. Yes, I would send ideas in and would talk to them but after about 10 or 12 times there is really nothing coming to fruition and if no one in that company could see the reaction I was getting – and I have a hard time believing that – and they still don’t want to forward with the character, what more could I have done? Go out there, get over and grab the brass ring… I think I’ve done that about 3 or 4 times. Maybe it’s just the timing too.”
Russo wanted to make it clear that this is a wrestling thing, not just a WWE thing but when he sees a wrestling show and sees someone with the “it” factor then he sees it right away and he saw “it” with Damien Sandow.
Russo asked if they had ideas for him when he got the call to go back to WWE for the second time. “No. I thought they needed bodies for NXT and that’s why.”
Russo then talked about Stevens winning the Money In The Bank match only to have the story go nowhere. Stevens said that all he could do is keep his heat even though he was not winning as much as, perhaps, he could have. He said that, despite everything, he was able to keep his heat during that time. Stevens said that he questioned things but he reached a point that he felt that he should just go out and overcome by being good and keep getting the reaction from the fans.
Russo asked if Stevens ever went to Vince McMahon to ask what he could do. “Yeah, he said ‘very entertaining…you get good reactions’ and he was happy with everything and I just keep on trucking then the next thing I know I’m dressed as an astronaut and Abraham Lincoln and all that stuff.” Russo asked if there was a level of frustration at this point. Stevens said, “oh yea. To me…everyone at some point is gonna get frustrated and this is whether you are working for WWE, working in an office, whatever it is…now, you have two choices and this is Aaron talking….you can give into that frustration and continue to go to work and be miserable [go] deeper in that hole or you can say ‘well, in the poker game of life, I was dealt a hand that most people would think is not the best hand…how do I play it?'” He added, “giving into it is letting it win. So that was when I was like ‘hey, whatever you give me so long as I’m on TV, I’m going to give something and it’s going to be memorable.'”
Russo asked if leaving WWE on his own was an option. Stevens said it was an option and the last couple of months he got opportunities in film and TV and he wanted to branch out as a performer. He said that he was pretty close to doing something pretty cool but he was on an overseas tour with WWE but he realizes that it’s what he signed up for but now that he is no longer with WWE, he has some opportunities available to him.
He also talked about dressing up as Macho Mandow, teaming up with Curtis Axel, working with The Miz, the fan reaction he got at WrestleMania in Dallas and much more.
To the shock of no one, Stevens comes off really well in this interview and he was smart to not bury anyone while still being honest about his time in WWE. You can listen to the interview by clicking below. Follow Aaron Stevens on Twitter at @TheDamienSandow and you can also listen to Russo’s podcast by subscribing on iTunes or you can watch the video version of the podcast at russosbrand.com (first month of VIP is free).