The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana
Episode 311 – Sabu
Release Date: July 28, 2016
Report by Chris Davidson
– Sabu offers a look back at his career, including almost signing with WWF and WCW in the 1990s.
– Colt Cabana talks about the Gathering of the Juggalos.
0:00 – Introduction
7:21 – Song of the week
10:55 – Sabu interview
12:21 – Sabu talks WWE
14:00 – Sabu talks growing up
19:54 – Sabu talks starting in wrestling
26:16 – Sabu talks Japan and hardcore matches
34:30 – Sabu talks tours and independent shows
36:18 – Sabu talks ECW
41:49 – Sabu talks try-outs with WWF and WCW
45:30 – Sabu talks drug use and the future
52:02 – Colt wraps up the show
0:00 – Introduction – Colt opened the show calling himself a juggalo, after his recent appearance at the Gathering of the Juggalos. Colt talked a little about Sabu’s ring entrance when the lights go down, and about Sabu not being a big talker. Colt brought up the first time he met Sabu, wrestling in Detroit, and talked about how Sabu represents the old school while also paving the way for the new school. Colt credited the Gathering of the Juggalos for being where he and Sabu really hit it off. Colt mentioned AAW in Chicago as becoming Chicago’s “home promotion” and segued into the Gathering of the Juggalos being one of his home promotions. Colt told a story of being offered cocaine at this year’s Gathering of the Juggalos. Colt teased last week that he may have a special guest for his opening, but his guest, Shigehiro Irie, was training and would not be able to appear on the episode. Irie is staying in Colt’s apartment for the month, and Colt laughed that Irie’s first American show was the Gathering.
7:21 – Song of the week – The song of the week this week is “Owen Hart” by Manhattan Murder Mystery.
10:55 – Sabu interview – Colt opened the interview telling Sabu that he thinks he talks amazing. Sabu said he just doesn’t have very good answers because he spaces out most of the time. Colt thanked Sabu for coming on his podcast, and Sabu said he has only agreed to be on podcasts for Chris Jericho, Taz, and Colt. Sabu said his stomach is turning because he has to talk in front of someone.
12:21 – Sabu talks WWE – Colt mentioned Sabu signing with WWE, calling Vince McMahon one of the most intimidating men. Sabu said he was intimidated by McMahon, who thought Sabu would make a great babyface if he could talk. Sabu didn’t want to be a babyface, but a wrestler, and wasn’t comfortable with management picking his standing rather than the fans. Sabu said he puked knowing he was going to have to talk to McMahon in a meeting. During his run on WWECW, McMahon told Sabu he would have to talk to be a top superstar. Sabu disagreed with McMahon at the time, but now thinks McMahon was right.
14:00 – Sabu talks growing up – Colt asked why Sabu had trouble talking, which Sabu credited to shyness. Sabu isn’t nervous performing physically in front of people, but if he’s reading something in public “the lines get all blurred and the words move.” Colt brought up Sabu’s childhood in Lansing, Michigan as part of a “wrestling family.” Sabu said it was his uncle (The Sheik) who lived 30 miles away who was in wrestling, but he wasn’t in it fully because of the distance. Sabu grew up without a father, and called his uncle his father for helping to raise him. Sabu joked that he is the only wrestler his family can name. Sabu said that his uncle knew from when Sabu was young that he would be a wrestler because of the way Sabu stared at him when Sabu was a child. Sabu followed up by saying that his siblings were scared of his uncle, but he thought his uncle was funny. Sabu wrestled in junior high school and high school to prepare to be a pro wrestler. Sabu ended up living with his uncle at age 14 or 15 because he was stealing and doing petty crimes. Sabu credited his uncle and the TV show “Scared Straight” for helping him stop committing crimes. When Sabu graduated, he started working with his uncle. Sabu mentioned getting shot in the teeth when he was 19, and ending up in the hospital for four days.
19:54 – Sabu talks starting in wrestling – Once Sabu got out of the hospital, he started setting up the ring and chopping wood for his uncle, waiting one year before he was allowed to train. Sabu wasn’t traveling with him either, and the ring he set up was being taken around. Colt asked if Sabu asked to start training, and Sabu mentioned that he didn’t ask, and was told when he was going to start training. Sabu mentioned a lot of the wrestlers in the territory his uncle ran, including Bobo Brazil and Abdullah the Butcher.
Colt asked about the movie “I Like to Hurt People.” Sabu talked about the creation of that film, but mentioned that no one knew about it because it was direct-to-video. Sabu’s first match was as Terry S.R. in Hamtramck, near Detroit. Colt asked about Sabu’s heritage. Sabu is Lebanese, but his father was German and Irish. Sabu’s mother was the last of 11 kids, and was born in America. Colt circled back to Sabu’s ring names. Sabu mentioned wrestling under the names “Super Fly” and “Terry Snuka.”
26:16 – Sabu talks Japan and hardcore matches – Colt called Sabu the “Kind of the Independents” and asked if Sabu understood what that meant. Sabu joked that that was basically like being “king of the broke guys.” Sabu said there weren’t a lot of shows to work in Michigan, so it was hard to get his name out and there was nowhere to go. Sabu started in 1985, and WWF was just beginning to shut down territories around the country. After seven years, Sabu went to Japan to tag team with his uncle for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) and got over quickly. Sabu said that the Japanese didn’t believe he was really the Sheik’s nephew because their styles were very different. Sabu talked about doing different moves from anyone else, and using that to his advantage.
Colt asked about his scars and how he felt about those. Sabu said that he never wanted to do barbed wire matches, but they were given to him and he gave them his all. Sabu didn’t wrestle his first barbed wire match until he had been in Japan for a while, and Colt was impressed that he went over as filler but was embraced by the fans. Sabu joked that the promoters were happy because he wasn’t making a lot of money, but he was making enough that he was actually making a living. Sabu said that when he left FMW for New Japan, we was paid the most money he’d ever been paid. Sabu talked about the specifics of working for New Japan, and joked that New Japan drew 90,000 people to shows, while FMW drew only about 55,000. Sabu talked more about being nervous, and said he was nervous doing WrestleMania, but he was just as nervous the night before the interview in front of a much smaller crowd.
34:30 – Sabu talks tours and independent shows – Colt said that Sabu was known for working random tours, and Sabu said that he didn’t have a list of them because he was making it up as he was going along. Sabu also said he makes it a practice to never turn down a booking if he can help it, which contributes to doing a variety of things in wrestling. Sabu singled out ladder matches as something that were just kind of made up. Sabu ran down a list of some of the places he wrestled.
36:18 – Sabu talks ECW – Colt again mentioned the variety of shows Sabu appeared on, and asked if he noticed ECW rising up. Sabu joked that, to him, ECW was a bunch of wrestlers that sucked who covered it up by killing each other. Sabu called Japan his big break, and said that he brought his style to ECW, rather than adapting to ECW’s style. Sabu got in contact with Tod Gordon and was able to get started in ECW, on the same day Paul Heyman started. Sabu was trying to work with Heyman before he started in ECW, and developed a relationship with Heyman once they both started. Sabu credited Heyman for pushing him, but said that he was the most over guy in the company so it was the obvious thing to do. Colt asked if Sabu went into his first show doing extra things to kill it. Sabu said that he always tries to give more than 100 percent. Sabu used the early empty crowds to help him prepare for when there were large audiences. Colt asked if anyone told him to slow down in the ring, and Sabu said that everyone did, and he’s telling people to slow down now, but if he wasn’t injured, he’d still be going fast. Sabu’s only regret is that he didn’t make more money.
41:49 – Sabu talks try-outs with WWF and WCW – Colt asked if Sabu thinks there would have been more money in WWE. Sabu mentioned a tryout with WWF after he’d been in ECW for a few months, but he turned down a job offer. Sabu said he was able to do his out of the ring moves, and Owen Hart was able to work well with him. When Sabu turned down the job, McMahon told him that WWF would be there when ECW closed. Sabu told a story about being offered a million-dollar contract by WCW, but due to his mother having a heart attack and someone ratting him out to Paul Heyman, WCW had to rescind the offer. Sabu said that he wasn’t under contract to Heyman, but he couldn’t prove it and WCW didn’t want to risk Heyman suing them.
45:30 – Sabu talks drug use and the future – Colt asked about drug use. Sabu said he didn’t know anything about drugs, except for marijuana, until he started taking pain pills after being in wrestling for 10 years. Sabu claimed that his drug use was overblown. Sabu said he would be interested in promoting, if someone gave him the money. Sabu said he’d loved to be a booker, and thinks he’d do a good job. Colt asked about Sabu’s creativity, and Sabu joked that he sings when no one is around. Colt asked if Sabu could see anything else in the future, aside from wrestling. Sabu said that he can’t see him doing anything else, and he’s still on the road. Sabu talked about driving a motorhome because he could bring his girlfriend and his dog.
Sabu said that he likes teaching other wrestlers, and if they are willing to learn he’s willing to help them, specifically mentioning Rhyno and Rob Van Dam as wrestlers he has mentored. Sabu told some stories about being on the road with RVD. Sabu said he can be booked through his agent of people can call him directly. Colt said he appreciated Sabu talking to him, and ended the interview.
52:02 – Colt wraps up the show – Colt spoke fondly of Sabu telling it like it is, and said that he enjoyed being on indy shows with Sabu. Colt plugged his upcoming events, thanked his fans, Sabu, his tech help and sponsors. Colt noted that this was the last podcast he was recording in America, because he is going to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival over the next month.
Score: 8.5 – Sabu talked a lot in this episode of the Art of Wrestling about being shy and not being a very good talker. This didn’t really come through in the interview, and Sabu seemed very comfortable speaking with Colt. Sabu has a unique story about getting into wrestling, and it was good to hear that he is doing well. Sabu had a lot of interesting stories, and a brought a fresh perspective to the podcast. There were some minor audio issues, which seemed to be Sabu backing off of the microphone, but overall this was an enjoyable listen.