At the beginning of his interview on Chasing Glory, the former Damien Sandow started off by saying how amazed he was that so many fans supported him during his 13-year on-again-off-again run in the WWE.
“I was a little shocked at the response I was getting from everyone and everywhere,” Stevens began. “I did a couple of shows before I walked away from wrestling altogether. I remember taking, I think it was four of five months, and I wanted to meet fans on a more intimate level, like, the smaller shows, where I could thank them for their support. I was blown away when I did that. Then there was the media, and I did a lot of interviews and stuff like that, with like Rolling Stone. That was the most read article in Rolling Stone, which I was blown away by that. I was like ‘Woah, ok.’ But in a sense, I was relieved that I could move on to the next chapter.”
When his final curtain call occurred in the WWE, Stevens noted that everything he wanted to do during his time there, he did.
“I look at pro wrestling a little bit differently,” Stevens stated. “I’ve always looked at it as entertainment, but it’s an entertainment business. People have been very complimentary, in terms of the fans’ response. Whether I was a heel, a babyface, or trying to make people laugh, or hate me or whatever, it has been good. I got a lot of positive feedback on that. [I’d hear] ‘They should’ve done more with you.’ Ultimately, all you can do is play the characters that you’re given. It’s no different from television, or live theater or anywhere where you’re cast in a role. You do the best you can with it, you knock it out of the park and you go from there.
“Once I adopted that mentality and put it in my personal velocity, I felt towards my last year there, that I did everything I wanted to do. You know, I had my WrestleMania moment. Yeah, it would’ve been nice to win the world title, but you know, I didn’t need it because I was getting world champion responses all the time. Whether I was getting people to hate me, laugh, cheer for me or whatever.”
Stevens spoke on his character gimmicks throughout his time in the WWE, specifically when he was The Miz’s stunt double, Damien MIZdown. Stevens recalls that after Damien MIZdown was over with, he was willing to follow any input that was given to him from creative, but that option wasn’t in the cards for him.
“It wasn’t the easiest time,” Stevens said on discarding Damien MIZdown. “Like, how do we get out of MIZdown? I explained to them, give me three minutes on TV, and I’ll take care of it. It’s weird, I don’t remember a lot of locations in my career. I remember a couple. We were in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I went out there and just talked to them [WWE Universe] as me. I said, ‘Look, five years ago, I came to the WWE in a blue bathrobe and used a bunch of $5 words.’ It was just a conversation, and it worked. I remember going to the back and Road Dogg was very, very happy with it.
“Then, that next week, I was dressed up like Randy Savage, with no explanation, after I do this promo on Raw about how I was going to start being me. So, I got that over with and I was with Joe Hennig [Curtis Axel], and then we had to stop doing that because I just wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing, in terms of the role, per se. Like, they’d come out and hit Randy Savage’s music or Hulk Hogan’s music, and it was fun. I loved working with Joe Hennig. It was awesome. Joe is one of the best. But, you know again, in terms of logical progression of a character, it wasn’t ideally what I wanted to be doing. But, again, I was with my buddy Joe Hennig, and we were having a blast. Then, one day, that kind of went away, and really after that, I was on a full-time live event schedule, and I didn’t see the light of day. I couldn’t even get the dark matches. I was off of TV completely for 6-9 months, something like that.
“If they would have said, ‘Hey, cut your hair, gain weight, lose weight, go to wearing long tights or give us something, you know, I would’ve done it. My whole thing was I enjoyed being a low maintenance talent. Give me my marching orders. If I want to change something in a promo a little bit, I’ll say what I’ve got to say; let everyone know. I don’t mean to be like knocking on the boss’ office every week, and following him around every two seconds. No, I’m a professional. I’m paid to do my job. Whatever is on the agenda today, go ahead, do the best you can and do it. I do not have a reputation as a politicker…I’m responsible for my performance, and I’ll make it the best performance that I can. I don’t want to be selfish and outshine anybody. I just want to make it the best I can in front of a live audience. And, if someone can’t keep up with me, that’s on them.”
Stevens concludes the discussion on his WWE journey, by saying the most important thing he learned during his time there, was how to adapt to last-minute changes.
“When you can’t control something, there is no sense in stressing over it,” Stevens concluded. “I was in a very stressful place. It was affecting me in all areas. I was like, ‘My God, I need something to sink my teeth into, and no matter what I do, it’ll work, somehow out there.’ But then again, it was the frustration of not being able to perform, like to be in a building for 12 hours a day…Again, a full-time house show schedule, and not spending enough time at home, there was no rest for me. I was doing house shows, then TV shows for Raw and SmackDown, then I’m home for a day and a half. There was never any break from it. There was never any time away from it for me. It was like go home, do your laundry, pay bills, go out there, have fun at house shows, go on TV and act like you don’t exist.
“Was it done personally towards me [on cutting his TV appearances]? I don’t know. There’s a lot of moving parts. We tend to be, rightfully so, egocentric in the entertainment business…It was a very weird time, because that was the only time where I wasn’t given anything. So, who knows why it was done. The life lesson I’ve taken out of it was to just be adaptable. Sometimes, when I’m out there, give me anything, and I’ll adapt to it and we’ll make it a memorable segment on TV. But, ok, you’re not putting me out there kind of goes a step deeper. That’s when I said, ‘You know what? I want to take control of my career more.’ That’s when I had the thoughts about coming out here [to California] and getting into the film business.”
You can view Stevens’ full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chasing Glory- Lilian Garcia with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.