Written Podcast Recap: Why It Ended – Aron Stevens
Release Date: 01/09/19
Running time: 1:14
Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
On today’s show will be Aron Stevens formerly known as Damien Sandow whose departure from the WWE was unexpected
Getting Into The Business
- Aron started training in 1998 as a sophomore in high school after finagling his way into the Killer Kowalski wrestling school.
- He was at an indie show and saw Killer Kowalski, who asked him how old he was. Kowalski said if Aron could get his parents to sign a permission form, he could train at the school. He had to convince his parents especially his mom. He was 16 at the time.
- He trained for six months and had his first match in 1999.
- Aron was always a fan of wrestling and knew it was what he wanted to do.
- Bret Hart and Ricky Steamboat were two of Aron’s favorites however when he got into the business. Adrian Adonis and Roddy Piper stood out to him more when he approached it from a performance aspect. He gravitated towards the pageantry and performance as opposed to the moves.
- When Aron was training, Kowalski was protective of him but he would get roughed up by some of the older wrestlers. When that happened he would shake it off and keep going which is a philosophy he had later on in life.
- At the age of 21 he got some tryouts with the WWE and made his debut at Vengeance in the APA bar room brawl wearing an Easter suit.
- His first dark match was at age 19 against Brutal Bob Evans. Tony Garea was the agent and told them they had 10 minutes without a script. Aron misses this aspect where you had the freedom to call a match. They trusted you enough that you knew your stuff and you could get it done. Now if you call something in the ring people think it’s great but Aron’s attitude is that he’s a professional and you should be able to do that.
- Aron hasn’t been in the business for two years but based on his experience wonders where the pros have gone.
- Aron says there are some people who would not know what to do if variables happened in the ring which to some degree can be attributed to the homogenization of training of WWE.
- Having everyone in one facility is great from a corporate perspective because you can control everything and focus on who you want to focus them but creatively if you only have a certain number of minds, how much freedom can you have?
- You can do drills and small spot shows but nothing can replicate a live crowd. Are today’s performers comfortable enough with their skill set that they can pick up if something messes up? Are they being taught that and are they given the freedom to mess up because that’s how Aron learned.
- In 2003 Aron signs his first contract and goes to OVW.
- Aron was doing 2 RAWs and 2 smackdowns a month on average while he was in college. He was very comfortable in the WWE locker room in thanks to Tom Prichard who he says he owes his career to.
- Aron got to work with Danny Davis and Jim Cornette. They had a strong TV show and it was a blast
- In his OVW run John Morrison, Matt Campitelli and Johnny Jeter and Chris Cage were there.
- When Aron was working a few times a month prior to OVW he never had any issues with anyone in the main locker room. Aron never experienced any hazing from the vets and never had any negative locker room experiences
- In 2007 he became OVW champ but then got released. Aron never put much stock into winning titles because he knows a booker decides that. It’s nice because it’s a sign that you’re doing well and they have faith in you but it’s not the end all be all.
- Aron and Chris Cage were thrown together and told they were going to win the tag titles. They did not have a chance to show personality. This was when they were implementing more restrictions like agents which Aron was not a fan of.
- He always thought the cool part about wrestling is the creative freedom. There’s nothing like being able to collaborate with someone in the ring you have chemistry with. Aron doesn’t appreciate when someone is telling him what to do and is pretty good at gauging how people will react to his stuff.
- He does say in the latter part of his career in WWE he got a lot of creative freedom, especially with promos.
- Aron was up for a loop of house shows and John Laurinaitis took him to the office and let him go and told him to go to Japan or Puerto Rico. They wanted him to get out of the system for awhile
- That ended up being the best thing that happened to him. Going to Puerto Rico for a year and a half was an amazing experience and enriched him as a performer.
- Aron knew he had to go find something different and reinvent himself. It was up to him to keep himself valuable.
- When he returned he came back as Damien Sandow and started working for FCW. Dr. Tom was responsible for bringing him back in.
- Aron thought it was more corporate than OVW but it was still fun.
- He was able to revisit the developmental process from a different perspective and correct mistakes he made in his first run such as not being vocal or speaking up for himself. He has fond memories of FCW and Tampa is a hard city to beat for liveability. He was there for two years before getting called up.
- Aron’s character was developed from him messing around in house shows wearing pink tights and doing cartwheels at FCW.
- There was someone in talent relations who told him he was bland. When Dusty heard that he laughed and told Aron to keep the pink tights and do a ’50s gimmick, which is where the robe and towel came in. It was stoic and old school. When he took the robe off the contrast with the pink tights made it more ridiculous. The initial OG Sandow was an amalgamation of people he threw together and has a special place in his heart.
- Aron says they did not invest a lot of money and time on his vignettes. His were interviews in the pre- tape room just speaking. Low budget and basic. He feels this was the best way to introduce his character to the WWE Universe. People were forced to watch him speak for 30 seconds. This allowed people to know his character and hate him right away. People knew who he was right off the bat. The contrast was that he had this Hannibal lecter type personality where he snapped. He didn’t know he looked ridiculous in pink and purple. He tried to be classy but had a lunatic side to him.
- People can criticize him but his attitude was listen to the people and let them be the judge. He lets his performance speak for itself.
- His first couple of promos were scripted but they asked for his input.
- The mindset of the Sandow character was him acting the way he did because he wanted to help all of you. He was doing this to be a bad guy but because people needed him.
- Aron says Shakespearean acting is similar to pro wrestling and but he studied it later
- Aron debuted in April and eventually qualified for an MITB match but doesn’t remember if that was his first big match. He focuses on current performances then leaves it. He remembers some key performances but for the most part once it’s done he goes on to the next thing and doesn’t look back.
- In September he started working with Cody. Aron is very happy for Cody and they did a lot of good business together. He never saw himself in a tag team but that was the hand he was dealt.
- During one show in Durban he was wrestling with Cody for 45 minutes. They started off in a tag match, lost and ended up wrestling against each other.
- Aron says it would have been nice to win a world title and wasn’t always happy with his creative. But he always removed his personal opinion and did what he had to do to make this the best for the fans.
- Sandow did a MITB, went to NXT then won another MITB which led to some funny stuff where he had a match with John Cena and lost his cash in. For that match, they were up against the World Series and MNF. He wasn’t completely happy with his marching orders but he knew he needed to have the performance of his life. It was one of the few times he was able to showcase what he could do in the ring and was given time and freedom to show what he had.
- What disappointed him more was how he was treated afterwards. He had had a great match but was subsequently booked to be dressed as an astronaut and Daniel Boone. You never got to see him have the types of matches he had with Cena. That was the role he was cast in. The WWE wasn’t his sandbox and wasn’t able to call his shots.
- Aron doesn’t think about it because it would drive him crazy. Workwise he showed he could have multi-segment matches with different people or could make a two minute segment entertaining no matter how ridiculous it was. This is something he is proud of and that’s what he took out of the wrestling business. He feels he had an awesome wrestling career because not too many guys could do the things he did and have the fans buy it.
- Aron says he’s the type of person who will find a way no matter what they give him. When he found out he was going to be with Miz for awhile, it was something that was consistent and after a few weeks he figured out how they could make it work and he decided to fall down on RAW one day. It was something he did on his own because he was bored. He wasn’t afraid to take a risk and what’s the worst that could happen?
- When they did the segment with Hugh Jackman, the WWE had an amazing Magneto costume but Aron suggested getting the worst costume because he would pretend being Magneto and the horrible costume would make it work. To WWE’s credit they did it and it was Aron’s willingness to take risks.
- When Aron fell down on RAW, Vince called him over and said ‘I’ll be the only one to pull you back…you have a green light.’
- When the MizDow character started getting over, it was positive. The reason it was over was because it was something consistent that he could do. Even after the Mizdow character was done and he wasn’t used, he held no ill-feelings and doesn’t dwell on it.
- To get out of the Mizdow angle, he asked them to give them a mic for four minutes on RAW. There was a time he came out in a black t-shirt and did a promo saying he was going to be himself. When he got to the back, they said that was a great promo but the next week, he was dressed as Randy Savage. He says there was nothing he could do but kept going.
- Aron and Curtis Axel (who was playing Hogan) had a lot of fun playing those parts and they had some great house show matches. However, this is when trouble with Hogan started and they had to stop.
- Aron was in the WWE for another year until he was done. He had asked to be let go out of his contract a few times but they would blow that off. They never took him off the road or house shows. He was on every TV and never got a break. It got to a point where he wasn’t happy. They did this with 5 or 6 other guys. That said, he still has nothing bad to say about WWE.
- When Aron got released there was shock with the audience and he was surprised by the reaction. It was very flattering the audience would feel that way about him. The audience appreciated his work and he will always have respect and love for them for how they treated him.
- When he got released it was like a weight had been taken off his shoulder
- Aron wasn’t planning to go to TNA but they reached out to him and he decided to try it. It wasn’t a long term contract but a per appearance basis because he didn’t want to sign anything long term. He has nothing bad to say for TNA and that reignited his love for the business. If things had panned out differently in TNA he might still be in the business today.
- He was able to do the Aron Rex character which is one he had in mind for a long time. However, this also led to him leaving. The character got heat and people did not like him. He wanted to be a heel and create hatred. But there was a way it needed to be presented. It was heavily Liberace inspired but not Liberace.
- When he was doing some of the interviews, some of the people working with him were trying to tell him how to do the character which he didn’t like. It could have been better but he wasn’t being given a chance to explore the full potential of the character.
- His last appearance in TNA was at the wedding where he was crying uncontrollably. Aron Rex and Rockstar Spud vs. Robbie E. and Swaggle was Aron and Robbie’s last match in TNA.
- Now that Aron is outside of the wrestling bubble, he misses performing and the live fan reaction. He also misses the camaraderie between ‘the boys’ (male and female).
- Aron is not opposed to making appearances or autograph signings but has turned down some appearances. He’s also not focusing on anything in-ring. At this point, he’s focusing on his acting and doesn’t want to risk getting injured. That said, never say never.
- He is currently doing a weekly podcast called Ask Me Anything that talks about wrestling and sports. You can also find him on Instagram @thearonfiles.
They thank Aron for being on the show and they sign off.
Rating – 8/10
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show but I ended up really liking it. I liked the Damien Sandow character and wondered what happened to him after he left. Aron has an interesting story and I love his attitude about the business. He doesn’t seem to have any ill-feeling towards the WWE or the business and he doesn’t whine about what happened to him…as he says in the podcast, he may not agree with everything they gave him but he would try to make it work for the fans. It’s also good to see someone who from the sounds of it has gotten completely out of the business unscathed. Overall, excellent podcast and definite recommend.
Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to www.pwpodcasts.com. One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.