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The Curious Case of Damien Sandow: WWE’s Latest Mistake

I wasn’t surprised at the fact WWE once again had its annual roster purge following WrestleMania. What I am surprised at is the company that continually looks for top talent parted ways with Damien Sandow.

The jobber who was solid on the mic, solid in the ring and charismatic as any other star on the roster, never found his niche in a company of brooding competition and one-upmanship. Aaron Haddad got his start in the company in 2001, and for the better part of the last 15 years, he never found an identity which fit him or his ability.

It’s another one of those mysteries which will go unsolved. Sandow could have been a top guy, a main event star and a growing part of this traveling show. He finally was released, allowed to spread his wings and fly, hopefully to another promotion like TNA or Global Force where he could shine as brightly as the company will allow him.

My first impressions of the Sandow character were a little bit of Nick Bockwinkle, a touch of Lanny Poffo and a dash of Randy Savage. His “Intellectual Savior of the Masses” shtick fell right in line with Bockwinkle’s persona from his days in the AWA. While Sandow was never as accomplished as the former world champion, he could have been a star. He could have been a contender.

There is a growing feeling I have that WWE is letting its talent erode, only to be released – which leads to success in other promotions. In the same way Steve Austin was released by WCW and because a box office attraction with the McMahon family. TNA has found gold with Drew Galloway, who could not make it as the “Chosen One” up north and with Ethan Carter, who was a developmental player in WWE before he was released. Could a reunion of sorts lead to a solid run for Sandow, who could find gold in the fledgling promotion.

I often wonder out loud why is it one wrestler is given a stay of execution many times over (David Otunga, Heath Slater) and others are released or given up on (Wade Barrett). Professional wrestling isn’t meant to be explained or understood. Fans aren’t supposed to vote to save someone on the island. You are only as good as your last match and your gimmick in most cases.

But in the case of Sandow, he really wasn’t given the chance and when he was afforded some amount of stardom (with and against Cody Rhodes) it was abruptly ended for another road to travel.

When we look back on the business in five years, we all may be talking about the “mistakes” this company made with talent. Of course, it’s a topic of conversation fans have every day. But Sandow, and Barrett for that matter, could have been ring leaders and staples of Monday night television. Barrett was referred to many times as a future WWE World Champion by JBL. I assume his prediction will never come to fruition. Sandow could have been a major player in the tag team division or in mid card. He and Rhodes could have been joined at the hip once more and fans would have loved it. As the outsider looking in, it’s easy to make these kinds of predictions and play armchair general manager. But if Sandow was so egregiously awful and did not have a place in WWE, why did it take this long to figure all that out? Contracts can be broken, dead weight can be shoveled away and wrestlers’ characters can be repackaged.

Sandow will go down as one of those talents this company failed to promote. We don’t know all the details behind the release or how he interacted with management. All I know as a writer and fan, he was too talented to be wasted and not talented enough to get the push he deserved. Yet another waste of what could have been, and a question for the future of what he really was.

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