Highspots Presents Developmentally Speaking with Kevin Matthews, Kenny Omega, and Sami Callihan

This was released in January 2016

It is hosted by Brian Myers (Curt Hawkins)

The interview runs at one hour and forty-eight minutes long

 

 

Myers asks everyone about their time as extras in the WWE. Matthews mentioned how he was one of the extras that carried out Chris Jericho after he got “fired” by the WWE. Matthews said he was an extra along with Dirty Money, Brad Attitude, and Phil Brown. Matthews then talked about doing 26 extra appearances for the WWE in 2006 as Tommy Dreamer got him the gigs and he was always willing to drive to the arenas while living in North Carolina. Matthews talking about how he would travel with his then girlfriend, Krissy Vaine (former WWE Developmental Talent currently married to Konnor of the Ascension) and would travel anywhere in a 10 hour radius. He said they got paid $250 a gig and would do both RAW and Smackdown as they would take home $1,000 combined and only have to spend a couple hundred combined, noting that it was a win-win situation as you got paid and looked at by the WWE.

 

Omega said he did extra work once, while under a Developmental Deal. Sami goes next and talks about how he had a tryout after Ty Bailey (Director of Talent Development at the time) called him up. He had a tryout at a taping in Boston and recalls Sasha Banks being there and she was so nervous she was crying while in line to wait into go into a room to cut promos. Sami said she was only about 19 years old at the time. Sami said for some reason he was in a shitty mood because he flew back from Germany and immediately drove six hours for the tryout and had to go Japan the following day. Sami said they did not want you to cut wrestling promos as Sami talked about how he felt after what he just endured. After that, they wanted him to cut a “character promo” and that got him over to the point that the Brooklyn Brawler was going around saying they needed to sign him. He was told after Japan, he would get signed after Ty Bailey sent him a deal. However, the last day of his Japanese tour, Bailey got fired by the company then Joey Mercury called him up a couple of days later if he could do extra work then after that, Canyon Ceman, who replaced Bailey, called Sami up and mentioned how he kept hearing his name and told him to attend a tryout that was taking place a few weeks down the line.

 

Sami got to the tryout and met Paul Heyman, who said he was a fan of Sami. So, Sami went through the tryout, which was held at FCW. There were 20 guys there that got flown down and paid for the invite while 60 others paid there own way to get there, which Myers joked that those who paid got a FCW T-shirt, which he called the “$1,000 t-shirt” as that was how much the tryout cost to attend. Sami said that Buddy Murphy paid for himself and flew in from Australia and got signed. Those who got signed from the invited group were Wesley Blake (Sami said he was an awesome guy), Simon Gotch (Sami said that no one thought he would get signed but did the strong man gimmick that William Regal thought was hilarious and got signed based off of that. Sami also puts Gotch over for being an good wrestler). Myers adds how Gotch wrestled on the very first PWG show, Roxie Cotton (Matthews was puzzled as to how she got to the tryout, joking that she wound up there after getting lost, as she was in her 30’s and in bad shape),

 

On Sami’s FCW tryout, he is asked if any backyard wrestlers paid to be there as Sami said yes then talks about how the American Idol influence has on some delusional people who think they are great and walk in like they are going to get signed. They then ask him if those who paid are kept separate from the invitees as Sami said they are all thrown in together. When asked if someone else can jeopardize your chances, Sami said that it can and talks about how some guy who had no idea what he was doing nearly blew out his knee during a drill when he fucked up a school boy. After that, Sami said he taped up his knee and went through the drill “like a hardass.” Sami said you wait in line with everyone and have to watch everyone cut a promo for a minute until you wait your turn. There were 75 people in line that day and Sami was #74 in line and talked about almost falling asleep and ended up a generic, boring promo but was confident he was getting signed as Ceman came up to him before and said he would get signed. However, Ceman came up to him and Ali Vaez (An OVW guy looking for a deal who is currently working for GFW) and pulled them aside an hour after telling them they were getting signed to tell them that the office would not let him hire them both as he was too small and Vaez was too old (35 years old). Sami talks about how everyone was measured with boots but after that they made him get measured barefoot. Anyway, they both were told to attend the next week’s TV tapings, as Matthews jokes why would they do that, incase he got taller and Vaez got younger? Matthews goes further into how ridiculous it was for them to not hire someone for certain reasons then give them another tryout. Anyway, Regal came up to Sami to tell him it was bullshit he had to come back and should already be on NXT. After that, he was pulled into a room with Regal, Ryan Ward (NXT head writer), and Road Dogg then had a dark match against Johnny Curtis (Fandango) as Sami believes he was hired after taking a high back body drop. He was told by Ceman after two weeks he would get a call and after that never happened, Sami talked about calling him daily until he reached him. Matthews then wonders if everyone calls him Ceman and how he feels about that has Omega talks about how Ceman has called him up and is a nice guy, which seems to be the consensus among everyone in the room. Sami puts over Ceman for being a straight-shooter, even telling guys who call and inquire the truth about them being too old or whatever the reason is they do not want them for the company.

 

Omega talks about his tryout experience. He went to a tryout at Harley Race’s school in 2005. At the time, it was advertised that the winner would get to go to Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan, which was Omega’s goal at the time. Prior to that, he had a really good match with Petey Williams, who was the TNA X Division at the time, and thought he could hang with anyone and might have a career. The promotion in Winnipeg he wrestled Williams was NWA affiliated and that got him on a mass e-mail chain that stated the winner would go to NOAH. The camp was in Missouri and after the second or third day, Race told them he had a special surprise while doing a hilarious impression of him. They pulled up the garage door and the surprised turned out to be Johnny Ace, who had his suitcoat tossed over his shoulder. At the time, Omega was unaware of Ace’s role in the WWE but didnt care as his goal was to go to Japan. After Ace was revealed, Race told them the ultimate prize would be a WWE contract while the other prize was going to NOAH.

 

Omega talks about how there were about 50 guys at the tryout, split up in two areas. One area was of beginners that were nowhere near as ready while the others contained the more experienced.  At the beginning, Omega talks about how Race sent him to the beginners side, as Omega points out that Race did not like him. However, one of Race’s guys stuck up for him (Omega forgot here but in his RF Video shoot said it was Trevor Murdoch) and told him to tell Race he was sent there (to the main ring) by him. He talked about Race showing Johnny his guys like Keith Walker (Ended up getting a Developmental Deal down the road) as Johnny said he looked like Batista and they already have one, which seemed to fluster Race. Johnny then told Race to calm down as he proceeded to tell all those in attendance to picture everyone chanting for John Cena at RAW or Smackdown, in front of 13,000 people before talking about his experience in Japan in front of 80,000 with those chanting for him, as Johnny told them all how at that time he stopped and thought “this is cool?” After that, Johnny said good luck for those going to Japan but he has to find someone to take back to the WWE. Omega told us that Harley hated him and he got paired up with Walker, who no-sold everything and tossed him around. Johnny made them stop and asked Walker why he was not selling anything and how would that benefit the match. Johnny made them switch out and another guy worked with Omega, who was more like his size. Omega recalls the guy ran into a back elbow smash and tried to do a twisting bump but just ended up smashing his nose. Harley then stopped the match and accused Omega of trying to take his head off. Johnny then stopped Harley and asked him “what the fuck are you talking about” as he pointed out how it was all due to the other guy trying to bump a certain way. Omega then said that Kenta Kobashi was there and wanted to see him again but Johnny joked around with him that he would “Ace Crusher” him if he stole his guy and they joked around while the Japanese press were snapping photos with Johnny jokingly putting his hands around Kobashi. The others cannot believe how this was all happening right out in the opening in front of Omega. At the end of the day, Harley lined them up to talk about guys he liked and did not like. Omega talks about Harley putting over his guys then looking at him and saying “you’re a little reckless, boy” and that he was unsure if he could have him work on his shows. Omega also said Harley was really favoring his guys then Johnny cut him off and talked up Omega as the only guy able to cut a 90 second promo and be entertaining as he called out the rest as “cookie-cutter bullshit.”Race was taken aback again as Omega is just fucking killing me with his Harley impression. Its absolutely hilarious. Omega then said that Ace wrote him down his number, cell phone, secretary, and email then told him to call his secretary and they will set him up with a one-week tryout.

 

After that, Omega calls Johnny’s secretary and has the whole room laughing with his impression of Johnny swooning over him, as he told Omega he looked like his buddy, Brian Pillman. Omega then said Johnny asked if he could talk to him “like a buddy.” Omega talks about how Johnny kept on saying how he looked like Pillman then asked if he was busy next week and told him he would get paid and put up in a hotel. He went to Deep South, as Johnny thought he would be a good fit as they were trying to “build athletes” there and he would be a good fit. After his first day, Tommy Dreamer called him up and offered a contract. Omega said he was thinking about going to Japan but his positive experience with the WWE lead him to signing there.

 

Matthews then talks about how he got signed by the WWE. He jokes about how despite being 6’5 and 265 lbs at the time and all gassed up, he has no idea how he got signed. It was February 2005 and he sent in a VHS tape to the office. After not hearing anything, he went down to a Cyberspace Wrestling show then worked a few matches at a TNA TV taping, saying how it was awful. He didnt get paid and blew money on a hotel to wrestle for a few minutes. Matthews talks about wearing basketball shorts and a jersey while sleeping in the locker room at TNA when a certain someone suggested he “get on the gas” as he did that then sent in his tape. He saw Rob Feinstein, friend of Tommy Dreamer, who mentioned how he sent in a tape to the WWE. Rob called up Dreamer and asked if he got his tape as Matthews talks about how Dreamer wanted him to call a few days later. Matthews said he was extremely nervous and reached Dreamer, who asked him “Philadelphia or Albany” and picked one as he was told to show up in business casual attire and to bring his gear. He arrived with his then girlfriend, Krissy Vaine, and they were both essentially told to “get tits and get on the gas.” Matthews then talked about his first test, which he said you were allowed to fail, showed his testosterone was through the roof and showed deca (type of steroid) in his system. This lead to Myers adding how 2005 was known as the “Year of the Gas” and to look back and watch how everyone was basically exploding until the Wellness Policy came into effect February 2006. Matthews talked about wrestling in Binghamton, NY against Vito, who was not under contract at the time. He was smartened up by someone to not worry about what happened in the ring but rather to find Johnny Ace and get over with him. So, Matthews abandoned Vito in the ring after the match and went for a mission backstage until seeing Johnny. He told him how he was recommended by Afa (he wrestled in his WXW promotion) and Johnny was cool with him.

 

Sami comments about the experiences of the others and how it was very structured when he got the call from the company as Myers explains how it really was the “wild west” back then.

 

Matthews goes back to his story and said his match against Vito was bad and it was his first time being babyface while Myers points out how Vito is not good to begin with. After that, Matthews got more dates with the company as an extra. Matthews talks about being the only one backstage in his business casual attire and was watching the show. There were a bunch of empty chairs set up when Mercury, who was “gimmicked up” according to Matthews, came over and yelled at him for acting like he “owned the fucking place” and how he did not work him as Matthews sat up and walked through a sea of empty chairs to find somewhere else to go. He found Matt Hardy, who told Matthews to “fucking ignore” Mercury, who he ended up wrestling against in an enhancement match a few months later. Matthews then talks about how he would look at the WWE.com live event page and write down venues that were within driving distance and email Dreamer they were available as he would email them back with dates they could work. Matthews then said how you had to politic for enhancement matches and how he was not any good in the ring and even had some brutal tryouts in front of agents. His last match was against Sylvan Grenier and Vince liked something they did and wanted a replay but found out it was just a dark match, despite the “Heat” apron being up as Matthews thought it was weird that Pat Patterson was the agent for that. He got called in by Johnny Ace one day and was asked what he did for a living. Johnny asked if he was able to take a week off for a tryout at Deep South and if head trainer Bill DeMott liked him, he’d get signed. Dreamer warned Matthews about needing to have cardio as Matthews did Hindu squats daily to build up cardio and did the drill as DeMott was nice to him and his girlfriend got signed too a few days later as Dreamer kept that info from the office, as they would not have signed them both.

 

Matthews talks about finally getting signed and how he got fired from his job at Hollywood Video after coming in late once his tryout ended. He said he punched in one day and the manager told him his services were no longer needed. He then fulfilled the rest of his independent dates as the guys all talk about wanting to do crazy matches before getting signed but how its risky to get yourself hurt before going up to the WWE. Shane McMahon showed them around WWE Headquarters in Connecticut then after that Johnny Ace found out they were dating and claimed it would not have effected their signing. Dreamer told them he switched their Developmental signings to OVW as he was originally going there but his girlfriend was heading to Deep South. Matthews then recalled his great week in Deep South and figured if only 20 people were in there and already had a good rapport with DeMott, suggested they both go to Deep South. Matthews also recalls Dreamer really stressing if he was sure he wanted to go there as talents were already complaining at that point. Matthews then talks about what could have happened had he went to OVW before joking how he would have been fired “Teddy Hart style” due to his mouth.

 

Omega talks about how he was told that in Deep South, he’d stand out because of his athleticism and charisma as a lot of bigger guys were in OVW. The others talk about how their Developmental Deals were for $26,000 as Sami talks about now they start at $45,000.

 

The guys in Deep South now talk about that. Omega talks about how it was a physical place and none of the drills centered around wrestling. He then said only three guys were able to complete the drills his first day at the Deep South tryout, which were Mike Taylor, Tommy Suede, and himself. Omega talked about always wanting to come in first in the drills and because there was so little wrestling there, he would stick out. Matthews talked about how Sonny Siaki would cut through the drills halfway and would fuck around and was hilarious the entire time. Hawkins said he was only 20 years old when he started and scared of what DeMott would do to guys that fucked around.

 

Matthews talked about how ridiculous it was for someone like Johnny Swinger, who wrestled in WCW and ECW, to get sent to Deep South and train with kids who barely knew what they were doing. Hawkins adds how one day, Gangrel was there and they all thought he was a guest trainer but it turned out he was there for training as DeMott brow-beat him and blew him up in drills as Hawkins thought “what the fuck is going on here?” They also mention how Flash Funk (2 Cold Scorpio) was there and took one look at the drills and didnt even bother with them.

 

They go into specifics about the Deep South drills. Matthews and Hawkins talk about how DeMott once barged out and posted something from a “dirt sheet” about guys writing letters complaining about him. Matthews said he got blamed for it and thinks it was either Tony Santorelli or Brodus Clay who actually wrote the letter. Omega joked that it was the Great Khali then proceeds to crack everyone up with his impression of him. Sami adds that Khali has a school in India and that Ricardo Rodriguez texted him he was training kids there how to wrestler. Back to the complaint letter story, Omega then says he can add something none of the others know about. He said that when DeMott posted the letter, Ryan O’Reilly (Konnor) tapped him on the shoulder and said that “nobody likes a fucking snitch so don’t post stuff online.” He then accused Omega of spreading rumors to someone at a Chinese restaurant and that he knew where Omega lived. Omega said you could tell DeMott put O’Reilly up to it as he probably thought he was actually spreading rumors. After that, Derrick Neikirk pulled him aside and asked if he was having a tough time while Mike Knox asked what would happen if he wasn’t here before saying he’d be driving his dad’s truck and would rather be here and if he needed someone to call, Omega could talk to them. They both told Omega to find someone to talk to as they argued about who called who crying to each other as Omega once again believes DeMott planned this whole thing out and thought he was complaining online.

 

Matthews then talks about when Johnny Ace came to Deep South and they all thought DeMott would get fired after Chris Rombola wrote a letter addressed to Ace himself. He was sitting with Omega on the bleachers when Neikirk squeezed between them in an attempt to possibly prevent them from complaining to Ace. Anyway, Ace came down and it was the exact opposite of what they thought as he berated everyone for being a bunch of “pussies” and if they didnt want to be there or wanted a transfer to OVW then they should leave.

 

Sami talks about DeMott now. He said Konnor was like a big brother to him in NXT and would drive him to places. Sami then talks about DeMott and how his relationship was weird. He was the first class of the Performance Center but a lot of guys came from FCW as they all talk about how DeMott splits the guys. Sami said you would wait to see his mood that day as Matthews adds he is probably Bipolar and purposely does this to fuck with you. Sami then said that DeMott was a completely different person in his office and almost like a father-figure, especially when his father passed away. However, on the floor, Sami said he had to “play his gimmick” of being a hardass. Sami said DeMott would speak in weird riddles that made zero sense. Sami then talks about how he “got over” with DeMott by refusing to be bullied by him and tells a story. During a training session, DeMott called him the “fattest 200lbs guy he has ever seen” then Sami told DeMott he was just “fucking fat.” Once that happened, DeMott pulled out his fake tooth and played with before putting it back in then said “alright” and walked off.

 

Still on DeMott, Myers talked about how DeMott would buy drinks and have parties at his house at Deep South and would then tell them practice would be at 9am the next day and you could win him over by showing up there hungover. They talk about how he would play games as Sami said on the 4th of July, DeMott sent an email to only about 15 guys that he was holding an “open ring” practice at 8am the next day and to spread the word to everyone else. Sami talks about finding out after he had been drinking all night, because they were never told about this beforehand and told they had a three-day weekend. He did not get the email himself but his roommate Garrett Dylan did while driving as he did not drink. Sami then said now, Matt Bloom (A-Train) includes everyone in a group email like a professional person. Sami told Dylan to not go, because if he did then he had to because DeMott knew they were roommates. The others talk about how DeMott saying it was optional was complete bullshit. Anyway, Sami showed up after drinking a bottle of Jim Beam the night before and was in rough shape.

 

Myers talks about the “make a deal Friday” in Deep South where you could come up with some sort of game to get out of practice. He then talks about how years later, he found out that DeMott was emailing the office about how no one wanted to train and would do anything to get out of practice, despite the fact he created the idea himself. They talk about DeMott having a 150lbs sandbag and how they would toss that around. Sami said that bag has not been used since DeMott left and tells a story of how he saw Kalisto in that class with guys tossing the back at him as they were supposed to sell it like they were taking a crossbody. Sami talked about how ridiculous this was. Matthews talked about how DeMott once yelled at him for slamming the bag incorrectly and made MVP go up and slam Matthews the same way he was with the bag and how it was unsafe and ridiculous. Sami talked about how DeMott hated Enzo Amore, who Myers says is “money,” and he was green as grass and DeMott saw him slam the bag incorrectly and just decided to pick up Enzo and drop him the same way.

 

Still on DeMott, Myers said that he didnt know enough how to teach a guy from scratch so anyone without any experience, like Chris Rombola or Kozlov, he’d just write you off immediately and try to bury them. They recall while in Deep South, Bob Holly was a guest trainer for six weeks and when locking up with Rombola, would just punch him in the mouth to the point that it was all bloody. Sami notes how none of that would happen at the Performance Center because there are cameras everywhere. He then talks about the cameras and how originally, they believed no one was even watching them. However, when Xavier Woods got called up to the main roster, he got a tour of WWE Headquarters and was in HHH’s office. Inside, there was a huge TV with the Performance Center camera showing.

 

Omega ended up quitting, after they refused to bite any of his storyline ideas. He said that guys were getting called up and giving Deep South a bad name because they were not ready and if they were not biting on his ideas, he figured he could go somewhere else, like in Japan. He first went to Johnny Ace, who told him he had connections with All-Japan and they had an open door policy about coming back. So, Omega quit through an email he wrote at Matthews’ apartment as he was apparently the only other guy with a computer. Omega gave his letter to DeMott but after that, Johnny told him that he was not what All-Japan was looking for and had nowhere to go

 

Sami talks about wrestling Xavier Woods at a dark match live event after two weeks in Developmental then had to wait seven months before getting another match. After that, he did all live events but no TV on NXT, occasionally getting dark matches. He got hurt then came back after a broken leg but never understood his hacker gimmick and aired stuff but not as the hacker and got depressed, nearly quitting at the time as others came in and did not have to wait six months before working TV, which was something he got told, but guys like Balor, Owens, Itami, and Crews came in and immediately got on TV. Sami was then told he was “too aggressive” and ended up watering his style down to the point he was broken. He had a match with Crews and afterwards, HHH grabbed Sami and asked him where this character had been the entire time as Sami was his aggressive self in the match. Billy Gunn, who Sami said was a huge supporter of his, told HHH Sami had been killing it at the live events but for some reason was never seen on TV. HHH told Sami they were turning him heel and going to give him a group but it never came to fruition as Sami said he gave himself a deadline and decided to leave. Sami said everyone loved him there and was told there was an open door policy and decided to get some buzz again. Ceman then told Sami there might be a chance he isnt signed as they do not look for “5’8 guys” that often. Sami reminded him they signed him once before and told Ceman he didnt care about being paid for 30 days as he just wanted to wrestle everywhere and “Grab the world by the balls” as the interview ends as they run out of time.

 

 

Final Thoughts: A fantastic shoot. This was incredibly entertaining from start to finish. The guys all had a good rapport with one another and made a lot of funny side comments throughout.

Omega’s story at Harley Race’s school was by far and away one of the most hilarious stories I have ever heard. Omega cracked me up with his Race impression and how Ace was acting, both towards Race and himself. My recap does not do it proper justice and the story needs to be heard. Omega does not even have to try hard to be hilarious.

These guys had great chemistry here and its actually pathetic to hear all of the DeMott stories, knowing the WWE employed him for this long. He was not even good at his training job yet they hired him twice for the gig.

I would love if this same group did a second disc as there was a lot more they could have talked about.

Overall, this is a must-see shoot that entertained from start to finish. Highly recommended for all to see.

 

You can purchase the DVD for $19.99 here or the digital download for $14.99 here.

 

Here is my schedule for the rest of the week:

Friday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 4/9/88 @3pm EST

Saturday: PWG All Star Weekend XI, Night Two @noon EST

Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 4/10/88 @8pm EST

Tuesday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 4/16/88 @ 8pm EST

Wednesday: EVOLVE 53 1/22/16 @ 11am EST

Thursday: Shoot interview TBD by poll @ noon EST

 

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