Former NXT Superstar Sami Callihan recently appeared with Sean Waltman and his crew on X-Pac 12360. During the show, Callihan discussed what went down after he left WWE and his success since, calling himself "the most booked professional wrestler on the planet." You can check out the show in the video above or on iTunes, they sent us these highlights:
"I'm never going to bash WWE because that's now how I am. But I always wanted to be in WWE, and one day I do believe I'll be back there. All I ever wanted or needed was an opportunity, and I never got that opportunity. It's one thing to be given the ball. It's another thing to be given the ball and have some guys to block for you. I never had those blockers. You're only going to go so far when there's not a lot of direction, not a lot of, 'OK, this is what's needed, this is what's wanted.' I feel like if they would've just let the chains off me and were like, yo go be Sami Callihan, I'd be on Raw right now as one of the top guys."
Success since leaving WWE:
"Like it or not, people can hate me or love me. I'm the most booked professional wrestler on this planet. Every week, I'm an independent wrestler building my own brand—four, five, six shows in a week! Independent wrestlers don't do that. There's only a handful, a group of elite independent talent that do that and I'm one of them. I'll be damned if I go down without swinging. I built my own brand by myself and that's something really cool that nobody can ever take away from me."
Being asked to change his stretch muffler finishing move at NXT:
"Another thing they didn't want me to do originally. A thing that made me me and a move that I had built for ten years all over the world. They were like, no let's make that s***** slingshot splash thing you do your finish. I'm like, whatever you want. I wish I would've been like, no, that's not a finish. That's not my finish."
What happened after Sami left NXT:
"When I left WWE my phone blew up. The first day that I quit I was kind of like, you know what? I'm kind of nervous. They tried to get me to do the thirty day, like hey we'll pay you for thirty days but you can't work anywhere. I took a real risk and I said, I don't want your f****** money. I want to go show up at shows this Saturday. Three days later I showed up at AAW in Chicago and the rest is history. I knew if I waited for thirty days all my buzz, all my mystique would be gone. I had to take a risk and go out there for non-guaranteed money and just hoped it worked out. And trust me when I say it worked out."
The biggest lesson he learned from his time at NXT:
"Follow your gut. The thing is, at the end of the day only you know you. There's going to be all these different people, different coaches, different agents, HHH, people up above that are going to tell you, hey this is how you be Sami Callihan. It's like, well you're not Sami Callihan! You don't know what's going on in my head or how I process things. So you really can't tell me how to be myself. That's one of the things I wish they would do more. You see the guys that they allow to do that are the guys that succeed. Like when Kevin Steen, Kevin Owens, came in there he got super lucky. They let him be Kevin and it works. Don't fix something that's not broken."
How he feels watching his friends on WWE TV:
"I don't like to live in the past on things. I see guys that either A, I've helped out or B, I've shared the ring with or C, I've traveled the world with. Now they're World Champions on Raw, or they're in the cruiserweight division. I'm still in the indies busting my ass. But then I realize that my path is a little different. I'm special. I am going to go down as being legendary, even if it's for all the wrong reasons. Everyone has their own path and my path is a little bit different. But I think that's what's great about me. That's why I'm so endearing to people and that's why I connect so much. I'm a guy that kind of said f*** you to the system. I was like, I'm going to do this my own way and I'm going to prove to you why I am an entity. I love WWE more than anything. I want to be on WrestleMania. But I obviously saw that the position that I was in, that wasn't going to happen. So I had to do what I had to do and take that roll of the dice and bet on myself for once, and that's what I did."
How Sami began working for Lucha Underground and what he likes about it:
"A lot of my friends work for that company and they're like, yo, you need to get Sami Callihan right now. You need to hit the up right now. The next day I got an email and a call and I started talking to them. I could've gone a bunch of different places but I went with Lucha because I like what Lucha's doing. It's different, it's cool, it's fun. They're not insulting people's intelligence, being like, yo this is real. It's put together as a TV show where you can have time travelers, you can have mystical ghosts, you can have anything you want. That's what I love about pro wrestling—anything is possible, and it truly does make you believe. This dude really is a time traveler, this guy really is a dragon. On top of that I like their business model. Their business model is like, sure we're under contract to them, but I can still work on the indies, I can still work around the world, I can still continue to build my brand and do what I want I do and help build other companies."