Damien Sandow was among the eight Superstars released from WWE last week. According to PWInsider, Sandow’s release from WWE was done large in part to make room on the active talent roster. Vince McMahon noted during the latest WWE earnings call that the roster will be larger than ever in the very near future.
Following his WWE release, Sandow spoke with RollingStone about parting ways with the company after so many years.
On his last week with WWE and receiving the phone call about his release
“First of all, I know a lot of people within the wrestling community were a little surprised. With me, I was more grateful for my time there. Looking back, I had a great four years there. The truth of it is, as a performer, the goal is to get the audience to feel something, to evoke some kind of emotion. In the WWE, from the second I debuted, there was an extreme feeling of dislike towards me. They really did not like me from the second I came on. Which was huge. A lot of guys spend years and years trying to get that kind of a reaction. They gave me the platform to do that character. Then, as time went on, especially with the Mizdow thing, the fans went from hating me to loving me. The crowd invested as me as a person. I never thought that I’d get that level of popularity as far as being cheered. As a performer, in that genre, the only thing we can ask for is fan response, especially genuine fan response. It’s the most satisfying thing. In reviewing my WWE career, which I did instantly when the call came, I was just grateful, and excited for the future.”
On if he was surprised that WWE decided to release him
“Not really. I had some conversations with them before, where I had said that I think, as a character, we had gone through the gamut. What more could I do with that character? Some people say, “This company should have done this, or that.” No, the company gave me a platform, and I maximized my opportunity. That’s all I can ask for. In maximizing it to the point that I did, as a character, sometimes all you can do is get a new coat of paint. As a television show, the WWE, they have so many talented performers there. There is so much talent in the WWE. I have no problem with them needing time to let the other guys show their craft. I am not selfish in that respect. When I was on TV, they knew they’d get a reaction. When you look at it, if you know you can plug me in any spot, and you don’t have to invest the TV time, then it makes sense to give TV time to guys who need to build their reactions. Just look back at the Royal Rumble in January, when I was on the preshow. I was in the ring for the first time in months, and fans were chanting my name, when I was just standing on the apron. That, to me, means more than any title I could have won in WWE. That means the world to me.”
On the reaction on social media to his release from WWE
“The funny thing about that is, the first thing I did when I got off the phone was clean my shed out. I had been meaning to do that for years. With my schedule in WWE, I really hadn’t been able to do that. My girlfriend was ecstatic. I hadn’t been able to do anything around the house in years. So I thought I’d use the time positively. I cleaned the shed out, I played with the dogs and then just relaxed. That night, my phone was ringing a lot. I checked in with my family, who were wondering if I was OK. I was fine, I told them not to worry about it. Then I turned my Twitter on. I was amazed. I was shocked that people cared that much. In the entertainment world, it’s always about, “What’s the next big thing?” It meant the world to me that people cared. It meant more than winning titles, to see the outpouring of emotions. And the feeling is mutual. It’s clichéd to say that without the fans, there’s no WWE. But it’s true. Without the fans, I wouldn’t be the performer I am.
“I have always listened to them, the fans. I viewed my boss as whoever paid for a ticket. They always dictated my performance, in whatever genre I’m in. There’s a lot of opportunities that have been opening to me. Due to my commitments in WWE, I couldn’tpursue them like I wanted to. As I go and pursue these opportunities, the fans will always dictate to me what’s the best thing to do as a character. That’s who I am. That’s who Aaron Stevens is.”
On if WWE told him why they were releasing him
“No, not really, and they didn’t need to. Parting ways is never a pleasant thing. It’s funny, because we took some test one time, and my empathy was measured on some ridiculous level. When I was being called, I was thinking about the other guy – the guy who has to give a guy this news. I was just more like, “Oh, cool. Thank you for everything. It was awesome.” It was somewhat mutual. I had expressed to them that maybe, if they didn’t have anything for me, then yeah, there are other guys who need a chance. I had already run that spectrum with the fans. A lot of times, in pro sports, you have egos involved. My ego was solely about getting the fans to react one way or another.”