INTERACTIVE WRESTLING RADIO INTERVIEW - 'Cyrus the Virus' Don Callis

In my mind and for my money, this man is one of the best heel talkers in the history of professional wrestling. Playing the key role in the

long forgotten WWF angle "The Truth Commission" and the infamous "Network" angle in Extreme Championship Wrestling, Don has

been around the block a time or two. And, in this exclusive interview, Don "Cyrus" Callis takes you throughout his carreer in pro

wrestling from start to finish.


 

"CYRUS THE VIRUS" DON CALLIS

 

-- Don was a big wrestling fan. He grew up in Winnipeg They had the AWA there. Nick Bockwinkel and Jim Bronzel were his favorites.

-- When Don went to the WWE in 1997, he had wrestled for 8 years. He went there to wrestle but they put him in a wrestling/talker role. Vince felt talking was his strong suit. Don resisted at first but eventually he realized Vince was right because he wasn't as bang up as he had become used to. So, that is why he is more a talker now than wrestler.

-- He still hosts No Holds Barred the radio show in Canada. He has no college broadcasting training in that field. He learned his talking through wrestling.

-- Tony Condello (who also trained Roddy Piper) trained him for in ring wrestling. Tony had a few television shows in Canada and Don was involved in all aspects of the company and learned a lot about both on and off camera wrestling.

-- Bad News Allan also helped train him.

-- Bret Hart was partially responsible for him entering the WWE.

-- The Truth Commission did not work in that era because it was too "black and white cartoonish." He said it probably would have worked in the late 80's or 90's. He says most people didn't even know what Truth Commission meant in terms of South Africa. He says that was not their best idea and they realized it quickly and put an end to it.

-- We talk about our interview with Bull Buchaman where he discussed Kurgan's in ring style. Don said Kurgan is a great worker and is a great killer but in the WWE there were too many guys his size or bigger so the size difference and the fact that he is a monster didn't show as well as it does on the independent circuit He says he also was not the best working big man of all time.

-- The Human Oddities was a fun gimmick but the problem was lack of direction. They weren't sure if they were to be heels or faces but ultimately they ended up in confusion. He would have liked to have seen them stay heel and use guys like they did with the Howard Stern characters.

-- The WWE didn't renew his contract. Vince didn't like male managers because he didn't think they could draw money. He was supposed to be the color commentator on Heat. That never came to be. Jim Ross wanted him to work in the office but he refused, perhaps foolishly. He wanted him to be an on air performer. They all told him he had an open door there but he was not going to be renewed. He went home, soaked for a few days, then called ECW.

-- He liked ECW better. The differences were money wise in terms of the size of the companies. He liked it better because he was given a bigger opportunity to do more. He feels he arrived at a good time because he came in just prior to them going on national TV so he had enough time to prove to Paul (Heyman) that he had a place on the roster.

-- Working with Joel Gertner was fun but wrestling him was not. He hated the match he had with Joel because he wanted to have a great match with him and prove something. Tommy Dreamer told him that nobody could have a great match out of Gertner. He couldn't bump for Joel like Ric Flair does because he had a neck injury plus ECW didn't want him to feeling that Joel could not pull it off anyway. So, Tommy laid out the match and Don tweaked it and they did it. Tommy said he got a good match out of Gertner but he doesn't feel it was very good at all. He feels the match, also, was a few months to late. He says it would have been received better for the Heatwave pay per view instead of the Anarchy Rulz pay per view.

-- When he first beat up Paul Heyman on TV, people were amazed. Nobody knew he was a trained wrestler.

-- He doesn't have a lot of respect for a lot of the Internet critics. He occasionally is sent stuff from Joey Styles. He says people saying the Network a rip off of the NWO is proof that some wrestling fans just don't get anything subtle. He says it was the total opposite. He said if you wanted to be accurate, it was closer to a Mr. McMahon gimmick and not a rip off of the NWO but it wasn't a rip off of either to be honest. He said his dad told him that if you want to get what you want, walk into a place and act like you own it. He said it was great. But anybody that compared it to the NWO is "a complete moron."

-- He isn't sure how much of the TNN against ECW behind the scenes was starred up by Paul because he knew TNN was dealing with Vince. He feels TNN was a very "folksy" organization at that point, which it isn't anymore, and ECW was just too cutting edge for them at the time. He talks about being pitted between Roller Jam and Rock 'n' Bowl saying how ridiculous it was.

-- In regard to mic skills, he and Jericho learned a lot the same way. They learned by talking in their cars and in the mirror at home. You have to figure out your character and how you can relate that to who you really are.

-- His work in ECW improved after he was there for six months because he understood his character better and had feuds to deal with. He isn't overly ecstatic about what he's done in TNA yet because he hasn't done as well as he knows he can do. He says the key is to put the guy over without killing him. You can insult him but at least compliment him first this way if you beat him, you're beating a great wrestler and not "a piece of crap."

-- A lot of guys were in denial of ECW closing because nobody wanted it to end. It didn't sink in until January of 2001.

-- After ECW closed, he called Lance Storm. Dave Meltzer talked to him about going to WCW as well and Dave had talked to Eric Bischoff. who was interested. Bischoff talked to Lance about him, as well. Lance tried to talk Eric into getting him into color commentary. Also, Joey Styles was negotiating with Eric and Joey also wanted Don to do color on Nitro with Joey doing play by play on Nitro. When the Bischoff/Fusient deal fell through with WCW and the industry became what it became today, he realized he had to find something to make sure he'll be protected after wrestling.

-- He went to college for two years and got his MBA at that point. He says that's his security.

-- TNA had been contacting him heavily before he showed up and it was nice to be wanted.

-- TNA is a lot like ECW in that it has the upstart spirit. He says also there are a lot of the guys including Jerry Lynn, who has been once of his best friends for years, and Shane Douglas who has been his mentor in a lot of ways.

-- It's tough to say where TNA will lead without a TV deal. From a business perspective, he sees it as a high growth company. He feels that although the business is down, it is still a big market. He feels having the deal with Panda is a big deal and they're doing a lot of good things with the business aspect plus you have Jerry and Jeff Jarrett who both know the business incredibly well. He also talks about Russo and Gilberti both being very creative as well. He says that before he worked there, he got hooked on the product so he knows fans can, will, and have.

-- AJ Styles is like Rob Van Dam in 2000 in that they are great athletes that are like nobody else.

-- He likes that he is working with Jerry Lynn. He stresses that he isn't about himself anymore but now is about getting guys over saying that he hopes that he can make people want to see Jerry more than they do now. He says Jerry Lynn is their Bret Hart because he's their best pure wrestler that everyone respects.

-- Don says to stay tuned to TNA for more big things from him. He also says that he doesn't know if there are any fans out there of his. If he reads this, Dan and James both are so there are at least 2 out there!

Plus WORD ASSOCIATIONS with names like Dawn Marie, Francine, Joey Styles, Lance Storm, Owen Hart, Bret Hart, and more!