Danhausen: Very Nice, Very Evil Facts About The AEW Star

Danhausen is a really tough wrestler to pin down, both in the ring and as a character. A very nice, very evil native of Detroit, Michigan, Danhausen made his name on the independent scene, both under his real name of Donovan Danhausen and eventually the persona of Danhausen. As he became more comfortable with his character, Danhausen's successes in the ring and with the fans led to an opportunity with Ring of Honor shortly before the company shuttered its doors. Fortunately, even after applying to the wrong company first, Danhausen was able to get his foot in the door with another popular promotion.

Most fans know Danhausen from his work with All Elite Wrestling. He made his debut at "Beach Break" on January 26, 2022, when he appeared from beneath the ring to curse Adam Cole in his "Lights Out" match against Orange Cassidy. Since then, he's mostly been portrayed as a comedy character, much like the early work of his friend Cassidy, teaming up with the Best Friends and having an electric (but short-lived) run with Tazz's son as the tag team HookHausen. However, near the end of 2022, we saw Danhausen evolve, showing flashes of a more evil and less nice side to the character. Let's take a look back at this demonic wrestler, from his origins as a regular guy to the rictus-grinned enigma we have today.

The Danhausen character is a combination of influences, from Max Shreck to Conan O'Brien

While it took some time to get the character to his current form, Danhausen has done a few interviews out of character to discuss the evolution of his current alter ego. Speaking with Paste, he listed a ton of influences that helped him to shape his persona, from horror to late night talk shows. "Definitely just 'The Simpsons' in general. The idea of ... not necessarily 'Nosferatu' itself, but the idea of Max Schreck thinking he was a vampire, that inspired it. 'What We Do in the Shadows,' definitely." He goes on to list "Shaun of the Dead," "Army of Darkness," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," and even the villainous Monarch from the Adult Swim animated series "The Venture Brothers" as influences.

Former late night host and "The Simpsons" writer Conan O'Brien is another strong model for the Danhausen character. As he told Paste, "Conan O'Brien I always cite as one of my main inspirations, just his style of comedy is not vulgar ... it's very digestible for everybody." And Conan knows about this as well — Danhausen actually got the opportunity to talk with O'Brien for the podcast "Conan O'Brien Needs A Fan." After being shown a photo of Danhausen in his full makeup, Conan described him by saying, "You're sort of demonic looking." Donovan Danhausen replied that he is often told that Danhausen is what would happen "if Conan O'Brien was possessed by a demon, that's what it gets described as, 'cause I'm heavily influenced by you rather than other wrestlers." Conan seemed to get a kick out of this, and they had a great conversation about Conan as a wrestling character.

He almost gave up on wrestling before the Danhausen character

In an out-of-character interview with Chris Van Vliet, Donovan Danhausen discussed a low point in his wrestling career. After performing as himself (and, as Kid Gorgeous, a reference to the season eight "The Simpsons" episode "The Homer They Fall") at the beginning of his pro wrestling journey, Danhausen explained that he'd had good opportunities but his persona simply didn't land. He told Van Vliet, "I wrestled Johnny Gargano at, like, right at the beginning of my career, which was awesome, and then that followed with me wrestling Ricochet in Texas, like, almost right after ... but no one cares, because I'm just another dude."

After "four or five years" of performing as himself and moving to Florida to pursue more wrestling opportunities, he returned to Michigan to perform almost weekly but didn't feel he was making any progress. "It got to a point ... maybe 2017, where I was like, I'm gonna quit because this sucks." He made the decision to give wrestling one more chance, but as a character he wanted to be rather than one promoters gave him to play. Fortunately for the "fanhausens" out there, the freedom Danhausen allowed himself solidified into one of the more unique characters in this generation of professional wrestlers.

The supernatural character is technically based in reality

Despite Danhausen's supernatural look and demonic "very nice, very evil" character traits, the wrestler is still rooted in reality. Unlike a certain pair of destructive brothers from the WWE, Danhausen isn't controlling the power in the arena or conjuring flames that erupt from the ring posts. And as for using teeth on his opponents, he considers it a legal way to cheat because there are already teeth in your mouth. Since he's never really had to explain the character's lore, Danhausen is able to use that fluidity to keep fans guessing as to his very nature, whether it be demonic, a sign of instability, or just a cunning ruse to make monies.

He told Chris Van Vliet in their interview that his catchphrase "very nice, very evil" is a reference to cult leaders and how one would have to be very nice to get people to join their cult. His powers of hypnosis are simply crowd energy fueling his excitement. His aversion to swearing is simply him not wanting to be pulled off the air, saying that "as a character, he wants to take over television, he wants to take over the world, he wants to be on as many TVs as possible, if I'm not on TV I can't do that and if someone's swearing we'll probably get taken off the air."

The list of wrestlers who Love That Danhausen is a mile long

"Love That Danhausen" isn't just a website or a catchy phrase. There are dozens of entertainers and professional wrestlers who embody that statement, praising the weird demon character and joining him in his many online adventures. Matt Cardona, formerly WWE's Zack Ryder and more recently a GCW standout, has high praise for the demonic star. During a panel at the C2E2 convention in Chicago, Cardona said, "He has figured it out. At these conventions he is always killing it, he always has a huge line, he appeals to so many different people, and he is unique. I don't know how he came up with this, but he has figured it out." He's also impressed veteran William Regal. Speaking with Chris Mueller of Bleacher Report, Regal also claimed Danhausen "figured it out" and went on to say, "Good for him ... I'm more than happy to put his stuff over."

Aside from appearing with his hero, Conan O'Brien, on his web series, Danhausen has been a guest on podcasts hosted by everyone from Chris Jericho, Matt Hardy, and Renee Paquette – the latter of whom he also guest hosted for. CM Punk and KENTA endorsed Danhausen using the Go To Sleep finisher on Twitter (via Fightful), while also throwing a little shade at one another. He tried authentic tacos for the first time with former AEW champ Thunder Rosa for her Taco Vlog. Finally, Bray Wyatt even proposed a partnership with Danhausen when it was suggested on Twitter (via Fightful) that a match between the two could draw eyes and dollars. Bray simply replied, "We should unite instead. How very evil of us."

The first version of Danhausen was more horror-centric

While the version of Danhausen many fans have fallen in love with is kind of an awkward weirdo bent on world domination, his initial outings were much more eerie. He told GameSpot he dropped his first name at the suggestion of GCW's Effy. "He suggested [my last name]. It stands out but it's just a German last name and goes with the weird aesthetic I have going on."

Going back to his first vignettes he posted to his YouTube channel, Danhausen A.D. was initially the representation of Danhausen After Death — a new creation after the Donovan Danhausen character was ditched. The 8mm film feel and creepy audio definitely amp up these short videos, and Danhausen's look and mannerisms also evoke German silent film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." However, Danhausen felt the character was "too niche" for wrestling fans. "Horror is already niche. Wrestling is already niche. Put them together and it's unsurprising when you find out that people have no idea what you're doing." Danhausen credits working with Effy in their tag team, Gaytanic Panic, for allowing Danhausen the creative freedom to work on and further develop his personality. "I learned that the 30 second videos of me being funny with my friends were doing so much better than the ones I was taking actual time with to be seriously scary."

Danhausen's makeup evolved with the character

Danhausen's look is fairly stable and consistent, a bright white base with black and red highlights. This wasn't always the case — as Danhausen's character evolved, so, too, did his makeup and the inspirations for it. As he told Sean "X-Pac" Waltman on the "Pro Wrestling 4 Life" podcast, it actually started with a Halloween show. "The first one I ever did was for Southern Underground Pro in Tennessee, where they're like 'Hey, it's a Halloween show, do whatever you want' and that's where I kinda tested it. I did a 'They Live' makeup, so I did the blue with the little red spots[.]" He went on to use the cover of the band Converge's album "Jane Doe" as inspiration for the makeup next, but realized he was using other people's ideas and wanted to do his own thing.

He credits an appearance he and his wife made at Detroit's "Theater Bizarre" as inspiration for his current iconic look. "I had done Pazuzu from 'The Exorcist' ... just that creepy face, I had done that makeup, and that's how I went to this Halloween party and I was like oh, this one's kinda cool and also I kinda morph this into my own thing."

Longtime fans have seen this darker Danhausen before

Danhausen's horror-oriented roots aren't limited to his makeup and presentation. After a loss on "Dark: Elevation," Danhausen tweeted an ominous mantra heading into the upcoming pay-per-view. A more brutal and violent version of the character arrived to help the Best Friends on AEW's Full Gear Buy-In, attacking QT Marshall and The Factory with a spike and teeth — the "Danhausen A.D." fans were introduced to early in Danhausen's career. While we haven't seen much of that darker side of the character since his pay-per-view appearance, there are reasons to stay invested in the direction Danhausen may be headed.

highlight package on Danhausen's YouTube page shows a lot of the offense we haven't seen in Danhausen's current AEW run. While the influence of CM Punk is evident in his moveset, quite a few of the maneuvers Danhausen used actually mirror members of the Blackpool Combat Club's brutal style. From the hammer-and-anvil strikes made popular by Jon Moxley and Brian Danielson to Claudio Castagnoli's signature pop-up uppercut, this version of the Danhausen is clearly out to do damage and not just amuse the crowd.

Danhausen has inspired a coffee blend

Danhausen has made it clear that his ultimate goal is world domination. His no-swearing edict is designed to keep him on as many television sets as possible, and his powers of hypnosis require the adoration of the crowd to work properly. He's even gone as far as extorting one of his heroes, CM Punk, in order to get the monies he needs to take over the world. What better place to start this quest than with a product many of us need just to get out of the house without committing horrible crimes against our loved ones?

After Danhausen appeared on Conan O'Brien, Rootless Coffee Co. reached out to their fellow Michigan native with a sample of their coffee. Danhausen made an unboxing video of the product, enjoyed it, and ended up collaborating with Rootless on his own blend of "energy beans" named "Danhausen Coffeehausen." The collaboration went well for Danhausen as well as Rootless, who said on their blog that "Danhausen Coffeehausen surpassed our best month of sales in A SINGLE DAY." Rootless recruited artist Craig Horky to design the bag, and the tag team of Danhausen and Rootless was born. Rootless has gone on to add a second Danhausen blend, "Danhausen Dark," and also have collaborated with wrestling legend Ricky Morton to make "Rock N' Roll Express-o" and with "Hey (EW)" host RJ City on his own blend, "Hi, Anxiety."

The inspiration for his curses is something even more evil

Danhausen's trademark bits are almost too numerous to count. The teeth, the spike, the makeup, the voice, the "Tequila" dance ... the character truly is a culmination of dozens of influences and inspirations. One move that helps Danhausen overcome his foes and win over his fans is his dramatic "curse" — a gesture that almost always leaves them distracted, disoriented, and generally at the mercy of the "very nice, very evil" wrestler. When asked about how his curses work by Simon Miller of WhatCulture Wrestling, a very much in-character Danhausen explained, "Danhausen points at them sometimes, and it seems like bad things happen to them, and I hope it happens, but, you know ... neither here nor there. It seems like it works. It certainly works and it gets into their brain." And while the supernatural aspect of these curses is suspect at best, the origin of these curses is one based in a very real annoyance we have all dealt with.

Speaking with horror website Fangoria, Danhausen was asked to wrap up his interview with what he'd like their readers to know about him. After claiming he would take over the world in 2022, Danhausen said, "you must help by watching and telling people to love that Danhausen. Or be cursed!" He continued, "It's like those old emails that would get sent to you and say, 'Send these to 10 people, otherwise you will have 10 years of bad luck.' That's where Danhausen got the idea of cursing people." Truly, the very evil side of Danhausen has a high bar to clear to get on the level of late '90s email chains.

He's an avid collector of action figures

In many of his interviews, Danhausen speaks in front of a wall of action figures he's collected over the years. He's actually spent a lot of time building that collection, although there was a hiatus. Speaking with referee Aubrey Edwards and commentator Tony Schiavone on their "AEW Unrestricted" podcast, Danhausen blamed fellow AEW star Ethan Page for his return to the habit. "Danhausen used to collect superhero toys ... and then Danhausen got out of it, and then he got back into Marvel Legends which is actually thanks to a one Ethan Page." Danhausen continues to explain that he only got back into collecting for Spider-Man figures, but Page kept showing him new figures from other lines and Danhausen would have to buy those as well. When asked if he has a favorite figure, Danhausen replied, "Danhausen has a Sentinel Marvel Legend that's about three and a half feet tall."

On one of his YouTube videos, he revealed that a "Batman: The Animated Series" Holiday Joker figure was the first he ever bought. "This is the only one Danhausen was gonna get. Lo and behold, Danhausen waited until they all cost a bejeezus amount, and then decided to collect them." Any collector can tell you that's kind of how it goes, whether it's comic books, vinyl, or human monies.

Danhausen's wife is as interesting a character as he is

Danhausen is married to the lovely Lauren Jiles, stage name "Lou Lou la Duchesse de Riere", and he's stepdad to their daughter. Lou Lou is a burlesque dancer by trade, and Danhausen told Renee Paquette the story of their adorable courtship on Renee's podcast "Oral Sessions." Danhausen said she was doing the "Theater Bizarre" show in Detroit and Danhausen was "just rummaging around" when they met. She messaged him on Instagram, but he thought she might be a bot or spam. But they reconnected after Danhausen was driving back to Detroit from Buffalo, although she asked him to drive up to Montreal to meet her there. He declined, and when asked why by Renee he said, "you ever see that movie 'So I Married An Axe Murderer?'" However, good sense prevailed and the pair did end up meeting in Michigan. Their first date consisted of the pair going to "the Detroit Historical Museum ... we looked at bones, there were skeleton bones ... we went to a barbecue place, because that's what Danhausen heard regular humans like to eat." They shared mojitos, or as Danhausen calls them "spicy water," and two began a romance that led up to their marriage in 2018.

On top of her marriage to Danhausen, Lou Lou won the New Orleans Burlesque Festival's title of Queen of Burlesque in 2018 as well, making her the first Canadian to hold that title. While the pandemic didn't allow her to perform in their usual settings, Lou Lou was as creative and resourceful as her husband, setting up online burlesque shows as well as opening Sky Woman Creations, an Instagram shop for her unique clothing and jewelry.

Danhausen hosts a variety of content on his online channels

Self-promotion has been a huge part of Danhausen's success. From the beginning, he has embraced YouTube to get the backstory of his character out there. But even this growth faced some setbacks — notably, his terrible leg injury on Halloween of 2021 (just after he signed with Ring of Honor) and the pandemic. Rather than let those hold him back, Danhausen used this online presence he had established to grow his opportunities. As he told Bleacher Report, "[The internet] is a free tool. Well, it's not free, but pretty much everybody has it ... Why not use it to make money? Why not use it to spread your name? So, Danhausen has used this free tool, or whatever, and followed in the footsteps of Zack Ryder, who really hammered home the use of the internet to get his name out there and make fame and money."

Danhausen created several different series he distributed via his YouTube channel Love That Danhausen and his Patreon – from a cooking show that would add some much-needed demonic diversity to the Food Network, to a talk show that has featured guests ranging from comedian Ron Funches to WWE Superstar Xavier Woods. He's also allowed his toy collection obsession to infiltrate his channel, appearing on his own unboxing videos and toy store visits as well as joining Ethan Page on his "Toy Hunt" YouTube series, and occasionally crashing Matt Cardona's appearances as well.

Danhausen got some great advice from a WWE Superstar

The old saying is "don't meet your heroes," and for a lot of folks that's true. Danhausen, however, took a chance and asked a wrestler he looks up to for some advice, and it just might have saved his professional wrestling career. Danhausen was on Sam Roberts' "Notsam Wrestling Podcast" and Sami Zayn came up in their conversation, as someone Dusty Rhodes helped elevate. "That's probably Danhausen's favorite superstar in the WWE," Danhausen stated.

When talking with Chris Van Vliet, Danhausen talked about an interaction he had with the current Bloodline member. "I met Sami Zayn once at an EVOLVE show ... and I was just like 'Hey, I think you're great ... what advice do you have for, like a wrestler ... trying to do things?' And he goes, honestly, he's like 'do every show you can. Do the bad ones, do the good ones, but the bad ones are kind of as important as the good ones because that's where you're gonna learn the most.' And he's like, 'just do the random ones too' which is why I took the risk on doing Olde Wrestling which, in turn, kind of helped snowball this character into something goofy which worked way better. It's why the 'Tequila' dance came about." Sounds like some pretty ucey advice in general.