WRITTEN PODCAST RECAP: The VIP Lounge with MVP – with Shawn Daivari and Ken Anderson on the rigors of opening a wrestling school, the science of applying an armbar, Daivari’s train incident from 2012, who inspired his ring name (Ep. 94)

The VIP Lounge with MVP

Air date: 09/03/17

Recap By: Jeff Rush, Specialist


Noteworthy Items:

– Daivari and Anderson’s experiences as wresting trainers
– Discussion on the Sexy Star/Rosemary incident
– MVP training with Norman Smiley
– Daivari acting Arabic while speaking Farsi
– Discussion about Daivari’s train incident from 2012
– The inspiration for Daivari’s ring name

The show opens with MVP talking about his experience dealing with Hurricane Harvey. He lives in Houston, but hasn’t had it as bad as many others. His house has experienced some roof damage and the houses across the street are beginning to flood, so he may not be out of danger yet, but is doing ok for now.

The guests are Shawn Daivari and Ken Anderson, two former WWE wrestlers who now operate The Academy, a wrestling school in Minneapolis.

Anderson makes a crack about MVP being able to stay at Joel Osteen’s church, should things take a turn for the worse for him. Osteen, of course, had come under fire last week for not agreeing to open his arena-sized megachurch to the public for shelter as the storm began tearing through Houston.

In response, MVP mentions that 21 local mosques are providing shelter to people of all faiths. Daivari asks tongue-in-cheek if they’re even letting Jews in. MVP responds by saying “You’re Iranian, don’t you hate Jews?” Daivari responds that he’s an equal opportunity racist, he hates all races equally. MVP agrees that Daivari hates everybody. Daivari says they assume his self-loathing is self-deprecating, but it’s misunderstood. He hates everyone, including himself.

They continue on this for a bit and it’s clear all three guys (along with co-host, Alex Greenfield) get along well. It’s cool to hear so many mid-00’s guys sitting around BS-ing about current events, politics and themselves.

As a segue, MVP then says “speaking of all that suffering for nothing and s**t being kind of terrible and really stupid things…” This brings us to the topic of Daivari and Anderson’s wrestling school.

Daivari says it’s been a year and they constantly spend all their time dealing with things they never imagined. He expected it to be as simple as teaching people how to wrestle, but so much time is spent on marketing, planning, and repairs on the facility.

He says it’s the least he’s ever had bookings in a year and yet he’s busier than ever in the wrestling business.

Anderson adds that training individuals is also a challenge in that everyone requires different types of instruction.

Greeny then segues into the recent incident between Sexy Star and Rosemary, where Sexy Star intentionally injured Rosemary’s arm at the close of their AAA Triplemania match. Footage has been all over online.

Daivari was not familiar with the situation. He says he knows Sexy Star well, and is surprised she would do such a thing, but that it should never happen in front of a live audience. He says it tells everyone in attendance that everything else they saw was fake, but that move was real. It’s bad for business.

Anderson says that if he gives you his head and you punch it for real, it doesn’t make you a tough guy.

MVP adds that, upon stepping into the ring, you enter into an agreement where you trust one another with your lives. He says people often forget that the holds that are used in wrestling are legitimate holds. If you apply pressure, you will pop something, hurt something.

Daivari interjects again, saying he knows Sexy Star, and speculates what the situation was.

MVP retorts that business is business, but professionals do not try to injure the person they’re working with.

Here, Daivari interjects that he just watched the clip and it’s ridiculous and totally unnecessary. He says it was a booked finish that she changed her mind on.

MVP thinks Sexy Star lost an incredible amount of credibility through all of this. He adds that though the business is constantly changing, some fundamentals will never change. He says outside of AAA, she will not be able to find a locker room that allows her to be there. Further, he says she will not be safe anywhere. Promoters will now book her against wrestlers like Awesome Kong that can put her in her place. He feels no one can trust her now that she’s intentionally hurt someone in a match.

MVP then tells a story about a clip he saw with two green wrestlers fighting one another and the less green one felt that the more green guy had f**ked up and taught him a lesson. MVP felt himself salivating at the opportunity to teach the less green guy a lesson of his own. He says if he’s wrestling a green opponent and they mess up a spot and split his lip, he may give them a receipt, but he isn’t going to beat them up or injure them. They’re green and you know what you’re working with.

MVP adds that while the wrestling industry is a dysfunctional family, they also look out for each other. He thinks it’s fair to say that Sexy Star has a target on her back.

Daivari adds again that we don’t know the full story. He thinks it’s odd that this happened after the match had wound down.

Anderson thinks Sexy Star probably feels awful about the whole thing. MVP then informs him that people in the locker room that night witnessed the aftermath. Vampiro forced Sexy Star to go apologize, but she did a super half-assed job doing so. There was no contrition.

MVP recalls working with Norman Smiley in wrestling school. He says Smiley trained under Yoshiaki Fujiwara.

“When you have a f**king armbar named after you, you’re a pretty bad dude.”

He recalled a time when Smiley taught them not to sell an armbar. The lesson was when you were in an armbar, you were finished. He says Smiley took them through one by one and put them in an armbar and applied just enough pressure to let them know what the real thing felt like. There’s no Hulking up to get out of an armbar, The crowd will not start clapping and pump you up enough to overcome it. When you’re locked in to an armbar, you’re done.

MVP then tells Daivari and Anderson they need to teach their students how easy it is to injure your opponent by applying the armbar incorrectly. It’s a finish, not a rest hold.

Daivari says he spends a lot of time explaining the kinetic chain to his students. He blows himself up trying to explain it. He talked to Terry Taylor recently and asked how he explains this to his students and Taylor told him you have to apply it to them. So he did this in a slightly snug fashion to his students and they now know they have to sell it down and to the left.

MVP then segues this talk into questions about the wrestling school Daivari and Anderson are running.

Anderson says it costs $3,000 to join.

Wait, wasn’t that the same amount that Buzz Sawyer famously ripped the Undertaker off for back in the 1980s? Maybe the length of the training is different now and, sure, calculate for inflation, etc, but what is with the $3,000 figure and wrestling school admission? Does that just never change?

Anderson then runs down how things work at the school. I should also mention here that Anderson sounds so similar to Triple H. It threw me off several times throughout this show.

Daivari says that they recently had their class watch a Hart Foundation-Brain Busters match. It was all about teaching wrestlers how to create a story without a story. Cutting the ring off, hot tags, avoiding blowing up, and many other elements.

Here, MVP interjects that both Anderson and Daivari had excellent mic skills. He notes, too, that Daivari was speaking Farsi, not Arabic, and that had to drive Arabs crazy.

Daivari says Persians were even more pissed because they wanted him to be proud. In the end, though, you are working for one person, Vince McMahon and you do what he wants you to do. I don’t think Daivari meant that in a deeper sense than “while you’re with the WWE,” but you can argue that’s the case for most professional wrestlers. If they’re with WWE, they do what he says, if they’re not, the majority of them are constantly auditioning in one way or another.

In a funny moment, MVP mentions that to make money in wrestling these days, you have to be able to talk. As his example, he says Dean Malenko didn’t make half the money that… the Ultimate Warrior did. The Ultimate Warrior? I mean, I get the point he’s making, but perhaps he should have cited a different wrestling megastar that the Ultimate Warrior as a beacon of verbal eloquence.

Anderson adds that verbal skills are at least 50% of the game. Their school spends every Friday working strictly on promo skills. He mentions that they recently brought in an improv group to go over vocal skills.

Greenfield was called out earlier in the show for not understanding the pains that go into opening a wrestling school, but getting the improv group involved with the school struck a cord with him as a writer. “Brilliant, brilliant!” he exclaims upon hearing this.

Daivari says no matter what you look like, people have to care about you. This is done by giving the audience information about yourself. He says, when he was growing up, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were the same as Superman and Batman. I believe he was going to say that, since he didn’t have that sort of build, he managed to get over in wrestling with his promo skills, but as soon as he mentions superheroes, Greeny interrupts to discuss a physical altercation Daivari was famously involved in on a public train back in 2012, referring to him as a real-life superhero.

Daivari made local, and even a bit of national news for choking a drunk, disruptive passenger unconscious with a rear naked choke on a Minneapolis train after police were slow to respond to another passenger hitting an emergency button.

Daivari says he doesn’t know anyone that he wrestles with that wouldn’t have done the same thing. He brings up Bob Holly’s reputation for getting involved in physical confrontations. He says Holly just has some bad luck getting involved in bad situations in front of a large audience. He says wrestlers have become desensitized to the way they are because they spend so much time around one another, but wrestlers in general are pretty tough people. He says the level of success they achieve comes from people telling them no for a long time and they don’t accept it. It causes them to have thick skin.

Daivari says Anderson and MVP would’ve done the same thing. Anderson agrees and says he lived out their fantasies.

MVP says he wishes he would’ve been on the plane shortly after the election where some lunatic was yelling and calling the women “Hillary b**ches.” He would’ve confronted him.

Daivari then confesses that he lost a very expensive watch while kicking the disruptive drunk person off the train during that famous altercation. Anderson says his favorite part of the video of the incident is watching Daivari execute a working kick after getting him off the train. Daivari says he couldn’t reach him.

MVP asks for more info about the wrestling school, which leads Daivari to tell a funny story about a kid who showed up at the school that didn’t want to talk to anyone, but seemed disappointed. He eventually went outside and was standing around. After confronting him, the guys learned he’d been dropped off there by his friend and was only 15-years-old. They think he showed up because he saw it was a wrestling school and expected to see John Cena and Hulk Hogan hanging out.

They will be having Sean Waltman appear at the school soon and Daivari talks about what an inspiration he was to undersized kids growing up in the Minnesota area. He says he was told by his trainer, Eddie Sharkey, at one point early in his career that he would be the next Sean Waltman. It impacted him so deeply that he chose the ring name Shawn Daivari. Later, he heard that Sharkey had told Austin Aries the same thing.

We then get more details on the upcoming seminars being held at the Academy.

MVP says he hates to talk about wrestling on his show, but he loves talking with Daivari and Anderson and isn’t surprised they managed to spend an hour talking about wrestling. Anderson says no one realizes how deep and philosophical MVP can get. He adds that Chris Masters is extremely intelligent too, but everyone thinks he’s a dumb musclehead.

Daivari says he learned that Kennedy had a great mind for the business while they were working together in TNA. Though they’d travelled together for three years in WWE, they never talked about wrestling at that time.

MVP says he and Anderson used to have heated political conversations while in WWE. He reveals that, back then, Anderson was into watching Fox News and had very conservative views, but that he’s since moved away from those beliefs.

Anderson says he grew up in a very conservative family, which affected his views. He was big into reading up on counterpoints to left-minded thinking, but was turned off by Glen Beck’s counter to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth after seeking the facts on his own. Both wrestlers agree they would love to have a political conversation on the show at some point in the future.

Rating: (8/10) These three guys are good friends in real life and it comes across on the show. It was a treat to listen to them BS about a number of topics for an hour. Towards the end, MVP mentioned that he hates talking about wrestling on this show and was surprised that it went as well as it did. I find that disappointing. MVP is an intelligent guy and I even happen to agree with a lot of his social views, but at the end of the day, I discovered this show and gave it a shot because I am a wrestling fan and am interested in hearing what a veteran wrestler and his co-host, a former WWE writer, have to say about their experiences in the industry and their knowledge of the product in general.

I don’t mind non-wrestling talk mixed in, but I have to assume the anticipation from those who gave the show a shot and agreed to put it up on MLW in the first place was that it would draw a good amount of downloads. That’s most likely to happen because wrestling fans will recognize the name and want something similar out of the show that I do. I listen to political podcasts as well, but I don’t seek out shows hosted by wrestling personalities to get that fix. Raven often laments having to talk about wrestling on his show as well. I’m sorry these guys feel the way they do, but the fact is they have the opportunity and platform they do because they are beloved, respected wrestling figures.

Again, I’m happy to hear them discuss a number of topics, but I have no interest in tuning into any show led by a wrestling personality that has nothing to do with wrestling. This was an excellent episode and it had everything to do with the wrestling-related conversations that were had. More of this, please!


0:45: Events in Houston
13:24: The Academy wrestling school
16:40: Sexy Star/Rosemary
29:54: Working armbars
35:10: The Academy curriculum
37:44: Mic skills
42:21: Daivari’s train incident

About Jeff:

Jeff Rush is a life-long fan of professional wrestling. He’s attended the last match of both Andre the Giant and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s careers and two of the three matches of the Rock-Austin WrestleMania trilogy. As a child, he was once yelled at by John Tenta for sitting too close to him on a bench at Hershey Park. Jeff listens to way too many wrestling podcasts and watches way too much WWE Network. He also catches as much indie wrestling as he can when it comes through his home of New York City. Follow along @jefflikesstuff

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