Sam Adonis was on a recent episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast where he discussed his time in WWE developmental as well as his history with wrestling. Adonis can also be found every Wednesday on The Wrestling Inc. Podcast with Justin LaBar and Matt Morgan, and on Talk Is Jericho, he talked about his older brother, WWE commentator, Corey Graves and his father’s love for wrestling that he was brought into at a young age.
“I would be his younger, bigger brother. That’s be the best way to explain that,” Adonis admitted. “My dad is probably, I mean you can probably even go as far to call him a bit of a historian now. My dad would have been considered a ‘smart mark’ before that term ever existed. So back in the ’60s, he had all the magazines and a lot of his friends were into that. So my dad and brother watched wrestling through the ’80s before I was even born, and then I was born on August the 9th of ’89. And I was born into a wrestling culture if you will. Like we had all the videos. We had the big LJN toys.
“Some of my earliest memories is of wrestling that happened ten years before I was born because we had the magazines, and we have the toys. I don’t ever remember being introduced to wrestling. It was just something around the house.”
Adonis then talked about signing a developmental contract with WWE to be brought into FCW. He admitted that he was very young when he signed which surprised Chris Jericho. Adonis also revealed that Graves had told him he was not ready and that he had gotten an offer from WWE before his brother who had been on the indies for over 10 years.
“I was 20 years old when I got the offer. I was 21 when I signed,” Adonis revealed. “I was 21 about three months when I got down to Florida, and at the end of the day, hindsight being 20/20, I was way too young to be there.
“Yeah, I’m surprised that they signed you that young,” Jericho added. “They usually stay away from 20’s and 19’s and that sort of age limit.
“Well, I think I might have been the reason why they started staying away from them,” Adonis said. “I actually did this against my brothers will. I sent in a video, a nice package to the headquarters in Stamford, and I got it a phone call about extra work.
“And they said, ‘hey, we’re doing Baltimore and DC. You want to be an extra?’ And I’m like, ‘of course I do,’ and I said to my brother, ‘hey, I’m going to be an extra.’ And he said, ‘you’re not ready,’ and I’m like ‘well, I mean, I’m sorry, but I gotta go to this.’ Next thing you know, my brother’s been working for you 10-12 years before me, and his little brother, who’s been working a year and a half gets a contract.
“Wow,” Jericho remarked. “How did you get a contract so fast though?
“It must be pure good looks I guess because I don’t know what the hell else I had at that point,” Adonis joked. “I worked my butt off. I really did,” Adonis stated. “I’m not one to ever, put things down to luck. I think you get exactly out of life as you put into it, and I think at that point in time, I wanted it. I was working for it, and I don’t know what I did. Right place right time, I’m sure, had something to do with it, but they gave me an opportunity. I don’t know if they regret that opportunity, but it definitely changed my life for the better.”
Adonis spoke on the confidence that he came to FCW with. He felt that he was very confident in his abilities but admitted that he let the opportunity slip by.
“It might have been an undeserved sense of self-worth, but, at that point in time, I was feeling so good about myself,” Adonis said. “I knew what I was capable of, and I knew, even on these small independent shows in the Northeast, what I can get out of an audience. I knew how to connect with the audience. I was very confident.
“OK, what I’m doing is different than what everyone else is doing. I know that if I got this in the right opportunity and the right light, we can turn it up a little bit and make something out of it. And I think that might have been how I carried myself, whether people could have seen it as over confident or cocky or if it was just confidence, I think that, at the end of the day, is what got me the opportunity, but they threw me the touchdown pass that slip through my fingers.”
Jericho asked how Adonis took his WWE release, and Adonis called it bittersweet since he had been fighting to come back from a knee injury. He revealed that his release came in tragic timing as Graves had told Adonis that he was signed with WWE, but two days later, Adonis was wished the best in his future endeavors.
“Well, it was a little bit bittersweet because when I was there, I had a knee surgery and that really put me back behind the the card,” Adonis noted. “I was really just fighting from behind, and then when I came back, I was out of shape. I was sad, depressed. I was overwhelmed. I was way in over my head. and I knew something needed to change. And I didn’t know how to make it happen. So honestly, my brother gave me a phone call. It was a Wednesday.
“My brother called me and said, ‘guess what?’ I said, ‘what?’ He goes, ‘I’m coming to, Florida.’ I said, ‘what?’ He goes, ‘they just called me.’ My brother got hired on a Wednesday, and that was the glimmer of hope I needed to become confident and excited to know that this is time to turn things around. Two days later, I got a phone call from Johnny Ace (John Laurinaitis) telling me that he wishes me the best in my future endeavors. For two days I worked in the same place as my brother did, which I guess is kind of cool.”
While Adonis called his WWE release bittersweet, he also said it was a bit of a relief for him. He noted that wrestling has always been a big part of his life, so there would not be anything that would cause him to give up wrestling.
“Honestly at that point, like I said, I was a little bit in over my head. So it kind of was a bit of a relief,” Adonis admitted. “It almost felt like, ‘oh my goodness. It’s over.’ There’s never been a second in my career where I didn’t know I’m going to continue. There’s never been a thought of not doing this. I would just assume work at the counter to 7-Eleven and wrestle every weekend for 20 bucks at a local Pittsburgh show if that is what wrestling was reduced to for me because, you know how it is, it’s in your blood. It’s in your soul.”
Going back to being a big wrestling fan, Adonis talked about learning about the British wrestling scene from the British wrestling talent at FCW and William Regal. Adonis revealed that he was Regal’s driver to FCW TV tapings, and he would ask Regal about the British wrestling scene and the legends from there.
“There’s never been any point giving up, but at this point in time, I was really good friends with a couple of the British guys that were over there Rampage Brown and Tom Latimer, Bram from TNA, and every single day, every Wednesday, we go to the Orlando armory or the Largo Armory. And we would talk about British wrestling,” Adonis revealed. I said, ‘please tell me about British wrestling. What’s Brian Dixon like?’ And they were explaining me and it was almost like an escape just listening about how cool this little territory they work for is.
“And that’s right about the time where I started driving Regal to TV. One Wednesday a month, he would come in FCW, and I’d pick him up and take him to TV tapings. And he actually talked to Dr. Tom Prichard and says, ‘hey, if you don’t mind, just have Sam get me every week, and at that point, I was just picking his brain, but it wasn’t what your average FCW wrestler would ask him. I would say, ‘hey, tell me stories about Johnny Kidd and Giant Haystacks. Tell me about Marty Jones. It was almost like the inner wrestling nerd out of me.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.