The WWE released several superstars last week as eight individuals were future endeavored. Alex Riley, Wade Barrett, El Torito, Hornswoggle, Zeb Coulter, Cameron, and Santino Marella were all released from the company as of Friday, May 6th, 2016. And while the worth of some of these wrestlers is pretty much up for debate no matter who they are, the firing that got fans the most upset was the release of Damien Sandow.
Having been in the company since 2010, and a bit earlier in 2002 as the wrestler Idol Stevens, Sandow has been a fairly entertaining wrestler. He’s pretty much been able to thrive no matter what gimmick or storyline he’s been given and has proven himself as both a wrestler and as a talker. Sandow wasn’t the best wrestler in the company, but he was still relatively good in the ring and his mic work superseded his abilities in the ring and made him the memorable wrestler that he is. His exchanges with Randy Orton, D-Generation-X, and others were just some of the examples of how good Sandow was and the potential he could have reached within the company.
However, Vince neglected to capitalize on this potential and instead proceeded to rob him of his momentum at every turn. When he was getting over on TV, the WWE would do something to make him lose a step and be seen as less that what he was before. A perfect example that comes to mind would be how he won the Money in the Bank Briefcase, just to lose it to a handicapped John Cena on Monday Night RAW. He’s gone from prominent midcarder to a jobber in the span of five years and it’s nobody’s fault but the WWE’s; unless of course Sandow is an evil person backstage, though that’s highly doubtful.
Vince has messed up time and time again with Sandow and this article will be looking back at some of the biggest instances where McMahon and the WWE blatantly buried Sandow until he was out the door. Here are 12 blatant examples.
12 Not Winning the Tag Team Championships
During 2012, there was a lot of things people could criticize about the WWE product. The company was still overly PG, CM Punk and John Cena were the only legitimate main eventers on a full time basis and tag team wrestling was at an all-time low. Despite Team Hell No adding some form of comedy to the show, the division was thoroughly lacking in competitive tag teams. Daniel Bryan and Kane were basically the kings of the tag division and the only team that seemed like legit contenders were team Rhodes Scholars.
Sandow and Cody Rhodes and their antics against Team Hell No was probably the best thing going for the tag team division at the time. They seemed somewhat evenly matched with Sandow picking up wins against both Kane and Daniel Bryan. Everything seemed to be pointing to a back and forth feud with Rhodes Scholars winning the championships at least once, but it never happened.
Now this was mostly due to Cody Rhodes being injured, but the fact remains that the team was formed just to be cannon fodder for Team Hell No. Not the worst use, but still a bit underwhelming.
11 Breaking up Rhodes Scholars
As stated previously, the duo of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow were the only tag team that felt legit enough to be taken seriously as contenders for the Tag Team Championships. Whether the team should’ve held the titles at least once or not is debatable, but what isn’t debatable is how dissolving the team when Cody Rhodes returned from injury was a bit problematic.
Instead of being completely done with each other, the team broke up and remained on good terms as best friends; a move that makes no sense even to this day. If this was done to add drama to their WrestleMania match, then perhaps it would just be a footnote in Sandow’s career.
However, what they did next would prove just as pointless.
10 Not Getting a Match at WrestleMania XXIX
For those of you who don’t remember, right around WrestleMania XXIX, there was a tag team match announced between Brodus Clay, Sweet T (Tensai), and The Funkadactyls as well as The Bella Twins and Rhodes Scholars.
In hindsight a match like this should’ve been placed on the pre-show while the Intercontinental Championship was moved to the main card, but that’s not what would take place. Instead, the WWE bumped the match from the show altogether in what seemed like a move to spark interest in the WWE’s reality TV show, Total Divas.
While very few people were really looking forward to this match, the fact remains that Sandow was denied a WrestleMania payday all for the advancement of show that most wrestling fans didn’t even watch. That probably sucked for him.
9 Winning the Money In the Bank Briefcase
In 2012, when the WWE announced the competitors for the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank match, very few fans were expecting Damien Sandow to win the match. Most predictions probably would be leaning towards Dean Ambrose, Cody Rhodes, or Wade Barrett. When Sandow won the briefcase, it just felt odd.
While Sandow was doing well in all the roles he was given with the WWE, most people never felt as if he should be a World Champion. Many felt he would be a midcard-level superstar who would focus his attention on tag team wrestling and the Intercontinental Championship, but winning the World Heavyweight title wasn’t something people weren’t banking on.
And it’s perhaps because people weren’t banking on it, that Vince did what they did when he eventually cashed in.
8 Losing his Money in the Bank Cash-In Match
You knew it was coming people.
When John Cena won the World Heavyweight Championship for the third time against Alberto Del Rio, many fans were wondering what the next step was. Everyone assumed that Del Rio would get his rematch at the next PPV, but Damien Sandow cashing in and winning the World Heavyweight Championship against an injured Cena was something nobody saw coming.
And that’s exactly why it didn’t happen. The WWE had the perfect excuse to make Sandow a bigger star that night and they decided to kill his momentum by having him lose to a one-armed man. Though he didn’t seem like a World Champion level wrestler, only a fool wouldn’t cash-in on a storyline that good and practically gift-wrapped for them. And considering the World Title was unified later on, it would only make sense to hold onto the other MITB and make another interesting storyline along with it later. Why they made him lose the match was beyond me. But what they did afterwards was even worse.
7 Losing Streak After Money in The Bank Cash-in Fail
Though it was a big hit after Sandow lost his Money in the Bank cash-in match against John Cena, it was at the very least an excuse to get Sandow into the title picture if nothing else.
If WWE decided to have Sandow participate in the Survivor Series match between Cena and Alberto Del Rio, then it would’ve been a great follow-up and an interesting way to have Sandow recover some of his momentum by being involved in another match with the face that runs the place.
Instead, the WWE decided that Sandow should begin a losing streak along with fellow loser Ziggler and that the two should trade wins back and forth that did nothing for neither wrestler.
This takes the cake as one of the worst ways to follow a big loss, as Sandow barely recovered with his Mizdow gimmick.
The gimmick in between that, however was very disappointing.
6 The Impersonation Gimmick
In continuation with his losing streak, McMahon didn’t seem to have anything for Sandow to do. So rather than becoming a manager or finding another tag team partner and returning to the tag team division, the WWE decided Sandow should become a low-rent version of Charlie Haas.
He would go out and impersonate various celebrities and comic book characters as he continued to lose more and more matches. He impersonated Sherlock Holmes, Bruce Springsteen, Abraham Lincoln, Paul Revere, and who couldn’t forget the big one; the infamous Magneto incident.
Of all the roles to put a talented guy like Sandow in, this was perhaps one of the worst.
At the very least this gimmick lead to the entertaining duo of The Miz and Mizdow.
Speaking of which.
5 Losing the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Although the fans had only one winner to base their opinion on, the WWE’s booking of Cesaro all but confirmed that the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal meant nothing. Cesaro was at his at the peak of his popularity when he won at WrestleMania and the WWE never capitalized on it; see my previous article for a refresher.
So with a match that means nothing other than getting a trophy, it would seem like the only people that WWE would let win the match would be Ryback, Damien Sandow, and Hideo Itami; the NXT superstar who qualified for the Battle Royal. After all, these three wrestlers all were in need of the win, so surely one of them would win right? Unfortunately, that’s was not the case.
Instead, Big Show won the match just so he could be pictured next to the Andre the Giant Trophy. Not the newly debuting NXT superstar, not the big powerhouse in need of momentum, and not the babyface that people were rallying behind. It was Big Show who won the match.
But at least Vince had enough wherewithal to have him split from The Miz and do something more important afterwards right?
4 Macho Mandow
Nope, not even close.
When Damien Sandow split from The Miz, everyone was wondering what he would be doing next. Many where hoping for a return of The Intellectual Savior gimmick or hoping he would do something even better than that. Instead, Sandow seemed to permanently revert to his impersonator gimmick by impersonating the late great Macho Man Randy Savage.
There’s not much to say about this, people. The only funny thing about this was the forming of The Mega Powers team with Mandow and Curtis Axel continuing his impersonation of Hulk Hogan. Unfortunately, Hogan would be fired and almost erased from WWE history because of his racism controversy, so that ended that tag team.
And in typical WWE fashion, his next step wasn’t better by any means.
3 Being Taken Off TV
Following the end of The Mega Powers team, Damien Sandow would be removed from the WWE audience as he would be taken off television and would remain unseen for as recent as this year, when he had his matches at WrestleMania, Monday Night RAW, and Thursday Night SmackDown. It’s one thing to be a wrestler who is used in a jobber role or even as a side act like he was in The Miz and Mizdow team, but for a guy that entertaining to be taken off of television and almost never seen again until his termination was a sad turn of events.
2 Not Being a Manager
If Vince wanted nothing to do with Damien Sandow from an in-ring standpoint, it would be somewhat understandable. After all, Sandow wasn’t the best in-ring worker and there were plenty of more well-rounded and talented in-ring performers who needed more of a spotlight than Sandow, so that could be excusable. What is inexcusable was the fact that no one in the WWE thought that Sandow could be a manager.
Though he wasn’t the best wrestler in the company, his mic skills were up there with some of the better talents like Dean Ambrose. His delivery was always strong, he sounded good, and he seemed to be comfortable in a talking role. With so many wrestlers devoid of mic skills within the WWE, it seems like a telling sign of the WWE’s creative team that a good talker like Sandow couldn’t find his way to television somehow by means of managing wrestlers like Cesaro or The Vaudevillians.
1 Being Released
Of all the things Vince has done with Damien Sandow, from taking him off of TV to robbing him of his momentum at almost every turn, the fact remains that Sandow was an asset to the company and could’ve been used by the company a lot better.
But to fire the guy while holding onto unentertaining performers like Adam Rose and Curtis Axel shows either that McMahon doesn’t recognize talent when he sees it, somebody within the WWE had it out for Sandow, or both. There are very few people in WWE who thrive in just about every role you give them and Sandow was one of those people. He was always entertaining and the fans really liked him. Of all the WWE personnel to have been released last week, Sandow’s firing was the most unwarranted.
Whenever Sandow does his shoot interview, it will be interesting to see what his perspective of events will be and what stories or reasons for his constant de-pushes will come to light.
But as fans, all we can do is hope that Sandow works well somewhere else and that the next place he works for uses him to his potential. At the end of the day, Vince really made a mess of this Superstar.