NWA tag champion and former WWE star Aron Stevens (Damien Sandow) was a recent guest on the Sports VIBEtalks” segment on VIBE 105.5FM in Toronto to discuss a variety of topics, including his time in WWE and what it’s like working for Billy Corgan and the NWA. Highlights are below.
Gives details of his first day training with Killer Kowalsk:
“I was 16 at the time and I remember Killer Kowalski or Walter as he was known to his students and people that knew him. He taught me how to lock up – it was outside the ring in front of a mirror – I’ll never forget that. He taught me how to lock up and taught me a hammerlock and all that. First day, I got to go into the ring which was pretty cool and that was a big deal. And then of course some of the older guys they thought “who’s this kid going into the ring the first day?” cause I guess that wasn’t a thing back then. And you know, it was interesting – I took my bumps and bruises and I wasn’t in any danger, but the older students, they roughed me up a little bit, but it was you know, it made you tougher and I don’t know if wrestling is like that nowadays. I can say I don’t think it is but I haven’t seen you know as far as on the ground floor when people are breaking in and things like that cause I don’t hang around wrestlers that much. That was my personal experience with it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Let me just clarify, there was no like hazing or anything like that… no, it was just okay, this kid wants to be in a man’s world and you know what it is, they didn’t want to make any exceptions for me. It wasn’t like that. It was just like “okay, you’re with us, let’s make sure you know how to be here” and this and that.”
On WWE’s hectic travel schedule:
“You have a day-and-a-half home. Your plane lands at 11:30 on a Wednesday. You know, you’ve been up since 5am, you catch your flight, you do your laundry. Then Friday, you get up six in the morning, catching a flight, three house shows, then you do two TVs (tapings), then you do it again. Yeah, it was no time at home. It’s funny cause I hear now how the schedule is and I’m like “oh my God”…well this is pre-pandemic too…yeah, like that schedule is nothing (laughs) you know, for what they did and what they expected from us.”
Whether wrestlers received any time off for the holidays:
“Day after Christmas we’d leave and we’d get home New Years, which was a very lucrative loop which was cool. And people getting time off like “oh, I need some time off.” We would never think about doing that…ever think about doing that. I think you know what with some guys, I think they’re just for some reason they’re more lenient, but I never ever ever got any special treatment from the office or anything like that. Like I never….nobody ever made an exception in my case and they would with some guys, but that’s what they do and it’s like that in any business. This isn’t just ‘oh, evil WWE.’ No, it’s just sometimes some people get breaks, sometimes other people don’t, that’s it. They compensated me for it and life goes on.”
His thoughts on working for Billy Corgan and the NWA:
“Amazing. I think Billy is somebody who is very much in tune with the public and at the same time, he is an artist first and foremost and I’ve always approached wrestling like that. You know, a lot of guys would be like “oh, let me just go out there and do my match” like no, this is performance art. This is one hundred percent performance art and it’s funny him and I we’re very much on the same page in terms of character development. It’s been a very very positive experience and an honor to work with him.”
On NWA Powerrr’s success and the NWA’s long prestigious history:
“In my opinion, WWE has only been around 20 years something like that right? But okay you had the WWF you can trace the lineage of the WWF and this and that but before that, the NWA…like there is no three letters in pro wrestling active today that have a tradition like those three letters. I mean this in my opinion is not for debate. Even if you back far enough to WWWF, that was part of the NWA, so like roots run deep there. You know, the presentation of NWA Powerrr and just how everything was kind of presented, you take that traditional template and you take the template of matches that are fun to watch with distinct characters, promos that help the characters get over, to be it was an easy show to watch, it was a fun show to watch – it left people wanting more. But you’re also to think outside the box a little bit and that to me keeps the product relevant today in 2020…2019 when it first came out too. It keeps it relevant, it keeps it cutting edge so you’re not watching essentially a carbon copy of 1985 because if you did that, that wouldn’t work. You know, the wrestling style is different, just everything is different – the society is different. But at the same time, it’s like you’re rooted in tradition yet kind of carving your own path and I think that’s just a wonderful thing that NWA does.”
Full interview is below.