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Who the **** Is That?: Damien Sandow
Ever tune into your favorite WWE program, see a new face on your TV/computer screen and find yourself asking, “who the **** is that?” Are you the kind of person who loves new superstars and want to know more about them? Are curious to see where the future of the WWE might be heading, creative/Vince McMahon pending? Well, if you’re one of those people, this column is just for you.
The WWE continues to add new faces to the roster following Wrestlemania, and none has been more outspoken than Smackdown’s Damien Sandow. The loquacious newcomer has made it a point to address fans at least once a week since his on-screen debut on April 6th, letting them know exactly what he thinks of them: we are inferior, ignorant, lazy and simpleminded creatures. But don’t worry; Mr. Sandow doesn’t hold that fact against us. We are merely a product of today’s society. Damien Sandow has come to the WWE to help pull us out of the darkness; to enlighten us and free our minds. So, just who is this man who claims to be our own personal savior and what can we expect from him when he makes his WWE debut tonight?
Sandow isn’t exactly a newcomer to the WWE roster. More accurately, he isn’t a newcomer to the WWE’s developmental system, as he spent a total of seven years down in OVW and FCW. He was signed to a WWE contract back in 2002 and wrestled in the developmental system as Aaron “Idol” Stevens until 2006 when he was called up to the main roster as one of Michelle McCool’s “Teacher’s Pets”, along with KC James. The team feuded with Paul London and Brian Kendrick, unsuccessfully challenging for the WWE Tag Team titles and that was about all they really did. Stevens and James were sent back to OVW. While James would make a return as jobber James Curtis on ECW, Stevens was released from his WWE contract in August 2007. He would spend the next three years wrestling on the Indy circuit and in Puerto Rico before being resigned by the WWE and rechristened Damien Sandow.
Sandow has a couple of things going for him. First and foremost, he’s pretty solid in the ring. He was trained by the late, great Killer Kowalski and was one of the most talked about talents down in OVW in 2005-2006 along with some guy named CM Punk, but Sandow was never used to his potential. I thought throwing him in a team with James was a waste of a potentially great singles star and I was very disappointed when he was just let go by the WWE. Thankfully, he’s getting a second chance, but in ring ability alone won’t necessarily get someone over in the WWE. They also need a character that makes them stand out and that is where Sandow really shines. When it comes to playing a different character, he is extremely adaptable and able to pull off just about any gimmick given to him. He started out as “The Maharaja of the Ménage-a-Trois-Jah” in OVW, an arrogant ladies man who was accompanied both in and out of the ring by Shelly “Ariel” Martinez and Beth Phoenix, playing the Sugar and Spice to his Two-Face (the Tommy Lee Jones one…). When he resigned with the WWE, he dropped the ladies’ man gimmick and became “Colonel” Damien Sandow; a right wing militant politico, complete with beret and trench coat. He teamed with Titus O’Neil and won the FCW tag titles. When O’Neil was called up to be on NXT, Sandow dropped the “Colonel” and the political nature of his character and began developing the character we’re being introduced to on Smackdown.
His current character can be summed up in the following words: Genius 2.0. If you watch him in FCW and are at all familiar with Lanny Poffo’s run as “The Genius” in the early ‘90s, it’s hard to ignore the parallels between the two characters. Sandow even plays this up by busting out cartwheels at random points in the match, and by occasionally reading poetry to the audience. He even wears very flamboyant pastel colored ring attire. He does tweak the character with his own personal touches as well. He wears a robe and towel, giving off an air of academia and athleticism, enters the ring to Handel’s “Hallelujah” while cutting promos, and demands the lights be dimmed and a spotlight be shone on him at all times. Due to his contempt for social media, he refuses to personally use his own Twitter account and has his assistant “Ignatius” handle all of his social media needs in his stead. Try to boo him and he’ll just respond with a curt “Thank you for your irrelevant opinion.” He ends his promos with a smarmy “You’re welcome.” He’s a know it all, he’s better than you and he wants you to know it. Or at least, he wants you to think he is.
Take a look at his first two WWE promos where he rails against reality television and social media. He quotes sociologist Marshall McLuhan, name drops Shakespeare and Mozart and uses a lot of big words. He makes himself sound like an intellectual but there’s something about these promos that makes it sound like he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, that makes you question just how smart this guy really is. In his second promo, he pulls a major academic no-no, using the phrase “Webster’s Dictionary defines…” Most colleges and high schools teach that starting out an essay or speech with these words signifies a lack of originality and shows you’re not as smart as you think you are. I know, that’s a nitpick coming from an English major, but I think it reveals a chink in Sandow’s armor, as do his delivery of the promos. Watch his body language and the way he speaks. He’ll occasionally divert his eyes from the camera, almost like he’s trying to remember something, trying to come up with his next point on the spot. Again, not something you’d see someone with a lot of conviction about something do; they’d have a passionate argument at the ready. He delivers his promos as though he’s reading off of a cue card. Basically, he’s trying to pass himself off as way smarter than he really is. Combine this with all of the stuff I mentioned in the previous paragraph, and the fact that he’s going to try and enlighten/save us all from ourselves. Yeah, this guy could be a major heat magnet. And when I say that, I mean that in the very best sense of the term. His in ring antics are extremely entertaining. Think Kurt Angle during his Three-I’s period. You’ll hate him and at the same time, you’ll find yourself laughing at him. And most importantly, you’re going to want to see him get what’s coming to him every time he steps in the ring.
Damien Sandow has a ton of potential to be a major player in the WWE. He’s good in the ring, has a solid character and is viewed highly by WWE management. The sky’s the limit for Sandow, as long as he can connect with the audience. I don’t think that should be much of a problem. He’s the kind of guy you’re going to love to hate.