Seeing how amateur greats turned pro wrestlers like Brock Lesnar and Jake Hager have successfully transitioned into MMA, most mat-based grapplers that find themselves in a squared circle are often asked about potentially moving into an octagon one day.
As an amateur standout and member of Team Angle in the early 2000s, Charlie Haas fit the bill, but said MMA was not for him.
“Kurt and Shelton and I had talked about it,” Haas said in an interview with Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman on the Wrestling Inc. Daily. “Brock’s a little bit younger than us. But we were about ten years too late for that. When we started pro wrestling, that’s when UFC 1, with Gracie and Shamrock, the rounds were ten minutes long. There was no entertainment. It was dying a slow death, and it did die. And WWF at the time was taking off.”
Speaking further on WWE’s popularity, Haas revealed the NFL had talks with Vince McMahon about moving RAW to another night.
“It was so popular that the NFL was going to pay WWF money just to move Monday Night RAW away so the ratings for the NFL and Monday Night Football would go back up,” Haas said. “This is before Nitro got launched. The NFL was plummeting in the ratings because RAW was hot, really. They offered them a couple million to move it to another night, and they said no.”
Haas would continue to compete in WWE for the rest of the 2000s before moving to Ring of Honor for a brief run in the early 2010s. While he’s currently a heavyweight champion at SWE, Haas had long believed his time in the squared circle was in the rear view.
“I really thought professional wrestling was over in my life,” Haas said. “Especially after my divorce, I was just done with it, but my kids are just really into it. They wanted me to get back into pro wrestling somehow, whether it be I help write for tag teams or instruct, because I got two boys that want to be pro wrestlers, and I got a 14-year-old daughter that now wants to be a pro wrestler as well. So why not? Now they’re trying to talk me into buying a ring.”
In efforts to support his kids’ dreams, Haas brought them to an SWE show. One backstage visit and conversation later, and Haas found himself lacing up the boots once again.
“I went out just trying to support local wrestling,” Haas said. “SWE was in town, they were up in Canton, so I brought the kids to a show and brought them backstage to meet Teddy (Long), Road Warrior, Jazz, and a lot of the other people I used to work with. There was a lot of new faces as well. I introduced my kids to them all, but I was really impressed with the production of how SWE was. It’s not just a local indie, it’s not just a bingo parlor or anything like that. They really scout the venues they put the show on, and make sure the venues aren’t just great for the wrestlers, but for the fans as well. Access to concessions, bathrooms, parking, things like that. Makes it easier for the family to come see.
“But the wrestling was great. They had all different types of styles. They had guys that were coming down that were helping to pay back for the guys that were going forward and helped teach them. It was just a good atmosphere. It was a great atmosphere. They asked me if I’d be interested, I said I wasn’t in shape, but they said, ‘Come just do a dark match, or try something.’ I said I’ll try it, and that was in El Paso about two months later, and it worked. It clicked.”
Charlie Haas defended his SWE Heavyweight Championship at SWE Sprang Stampede. The show is now available to stream on FITE. You can find the full audio and video from Charlie’s interview below: