Before Sam Adonis became "Sam Adonis", he was Samuel Polinsky, the younger brother of WWE commentator Corey Graves. Both had runs in WWE via the NXT system, with Graves becoming a commentator due to injury. Adonis was let go from his contract later on.
The former WWE star currently wrestles all over, from Mexico to Japan. While his time in WWE was cut short, he believes it was the best thing to happen to him. He doesn't really blame anyone outside of himself for his short run.
"I learned that I was too young to have a WWE contract" Adonis reminisced on WINCLY. "I was signed at the end of 2011 and spent nine months there in 2012, and it just wasn't for me. I was a 21-year-old kid and anybody that's worked there will tell you that that environment is not set up for children. I wasn't mature enough to handle the situation and rise to the occasion of a professional environment. Even as a performer I wasn't really ready to be there."
While WWE was the initial goal, Adonis did not end his run on bad terms. He appreciates all the company had to offer him at the time.
"Luckily, I was released on good terms and remained friendly with most of the contacts that I had," Adonis continued. "Since then, I've really flourished and have been lucky enough to be presented with a ton of opportunities inside the wrestling business. I definitely look at my time there as valuable, but while I was there I definitely wasn't ready to be there."
It is not all fun and games when you enter the pro wrestling world. Being so young. Adonis had to learn a few things that might have hindered him in the business.
"I struggled with keeping my mouth shut, being around the right people at the right time," Adonis stated. "The wrestling business kind of attracts freaks and weirdo's like myself. As somebody that can talk a lot, usually, I'm not exactly camera shy, which I believe is my biggest asset as a performer. Sometimes you need to learn how to turn it off. When I was 21 and under contract with WWE, that was something I didn't quite know yet."
Those things that held him back ended up being his biggest motivator.
"In hindsight, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me getting released because it kind of lit the fire under me that I didn't have while I was already there," Adonis continued. "I was too young to really realize and appreciate what I had at the moment."
While in Mexico, Adonis has been able to play his own character. He uses a gimmick utilizing today's political climate in America. While he is playing half him and half a gimmick, there are those today who struggle with that. He believes there is a reason for many wrestlers just being their authentic selves in the ring.
"It is only like that in my opinion due to a general lack of skill," stated Adonis. Professional wrestling is still art. A lot of the wrestlers have to develop themselves and become a character. I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that people that are reality-based don't have a character or a gimmick in a sense because they've never lived a life where they developed into a character. "
For a character to be believable and to get support from the crowd, Adonis has done all he could to entertain the masses. He has that on and off switch that others may not have.
"It is a lot easier for me to turn it on because I have traveled the world and I am "El Rudo de las Chicas". I've traveled the world, I've had fun, been to bars, wined and dined with kings and queen and slept in alleys eating pork and beans, to quote Dusty Rhodes. I think it's easier to create a character and persona when you actually believe and have done these things. Now, it's reality-based because nobody wants to turn it on; they aren't interesting people who live interesting lives."
Adonis has come to the conclusion that you could be a gifted athlete, but miss what it really takes to be a true star.
"A lot of the independent wrestlers, they get hot on the independent scene, locally, and then they get an NXT tryout," Adonis continued. "Next thing you know, they are going to be the next big thing in wrestling but they never had a chance to marinate or develop as a performer."
Adonis is scheduled to compete for All Japan Pro Wrestling at their Champion's Carnival event. While it doesn't get as much attention as New Japan Pro Wrestling outside of Japan, he believes they are just as big.
"Anybody who's really in tune with the wrestling business will tell you, historically, All Japan Pro Wrestling is just about as big as New Japan is," Adonis stated. "They've done business since 1972, this will be their 47th anniversary. This is where Giant Baba came from, where Ric Flair worked, where Stan Hansen and Bruiser Brody worked for."
Since the new blood has taken over NJPW, All Japan appears to have been put on the backburner. Adonis takes those negatives and turns it into a positive.
"Granted, All Japan has had some ups and downs business-wise for the last few years, but now they're on the up again. The name value, the prestige of being a part of something like this, in my opinion, is important. "
New Japan has started an American invasion, and Adonis thinks fans are only focusing on that. Trying something different is what he is preaching when talking about All Japan to an untapped market.
"Right now the American fans aren't really in tune," Adonis stated. "New Japan is kicking butt, they are doing great numbers all over the world. For me, I'm kind of proud to be a part of something that's a little bit different because it is a chance to really shine. It is a lot more difficult to get somebody to watch something completely different from what they are already watching."
Adonis has praised All Japan for their old school approach and believes the talent they have is the best the world has to offer. That is especially true when talking about the heavyweight division.
I leave on April 3rd; it is a tournament of 16 guys. All Japan has probably the best heavyweight division on the planet right now," said Adonis. "Most of their guys average over 6'2", between over 220 to 300 pounds. They are big boys, its classic heavyweight wrestling."
Adonis believes he belongs with these stars, as timing is everything.
"Right now, I'm peaking at the right time, the opportunity is right there. I look at it as almost an honor. Being able to compete with all the names I just listed, it's the oldest heavyweight tournament in history. It's basically All Japan's version of the G1 Climax, but it is two years older."
While he has wrestled all over, Mexico has been a staple for Adonis. Japan is his next stop to take over, something he is very much looking forward to.
"As much as I love working in Mexico, I've done it all. Japan is a little bit uncharted to me. I've done two tours but I still want more. I want to be able to have those 35-minute heavyweight matches that you see on TV. Its all a part of the process of growing into the best version of Sam Adonis I can be."
Besides WWE, New and All Japan, there are various promotions out there in the wrestling world. From Ring of Honor to All Elite Wrestling, there are plenty of places to choose from. Would any organization be interested in picking up Adonis?
"I've had some offers from a couple of people within the last year. Nothing noteworthy."
Being offered deals may not be hard for Adonis to obtain, but accepting them might be.
"The problem is I've had jobs, I've had contracts, and its kind of hard to negotiate while you are in these positions," Adonis went on to say. "I was invited for some discussions that I wasn't able to attend because the wrestling media is so attached to all of this now. If my bosses in Mexico heard I was talking with XYZ, I'd put my position in jeopardy. So until somebody can actually offer me something tangible where its black and white, I'm just lucky that I have the work that I do have."
Remaining a public figure in the wrestling world is hard work. For Sam Adonis, it is just another day at the office. He hopes to continue his momentum, while also gaining new opportunities in the sport that he loves.
"There are no hidden secrets coming anybody's way, but at the same time I'd like to think I'm staying relevant the best way that I can," said Adonis. I'm working hard every single day and I'm happy to be doing what I'm doing."
The full audio of Adonis' interview with Wrestling Inc was included in a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard in the embedded audio player below. During the interview Adonis discusses the public scrutiny of his older brother Corey Graves, mastering his heel persona in CMLL, being tailed by a black escalade in Mexico after Trump fueled heat he was getting, his upcoming participation in All Japan's Champions Carnival, why his time in WWE developmental didn't work out and more.