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Don Callis Explains How Kurgan Got His Dancing Gimmick

Posted By Caroline Walsh on 08/10/17

Don Callis recently appeared on The Steve Austin Show (via wrestlinginc.com), here are the highlights…

On Managing Kurgan: “I think part of the challenge I had there, I think in my mind and I wasn’t consciously trying to do it because I came from a wrestling background, I’m trying to get myself over because to me, I don’t care if you’re an opening [match] guy, midcard guy, a manager, whatever, if you’re not over, you have no value, so I’m trying to get over, but it’s like, ‘okay, is this guy a manager because he’s sort of his own thing?’ I think it was something that not everybody was all that comfortable with because it was like, ‘okay, do we want this guy to be getting over? He’s not wrestling. What’s the payoff?'”

On Managing The Truth Commission: “I thought I had to come up with something for why these three monsters are doing what I say. And I thought, ‘I need to monetize it. I need to make myself look like a star,’ so I thought, ‘well, okay, I’m a guru, I’m whatever, so I thought, ‘maybe I have this jewel on my head.'” Callis continued, “it was all just me trying to get over and show that I had value. It’s not that I wanted to be a cult leader or a manager, but I thought, ‘if I get over enough, good things are going to happen.'”

On Vince Russo Creating a Character For Him Called The Messiah : “I’m sitting at home one night and I’m off TV because they didn’t know what to do with me, and they had called me up and [Vince] Russo goes, ‘I’ve got a great gimmick for you’ because I think they got cold feet with the cult leader thing. I knew we were screwed with it [when] we were in Waco, Texas. I said, ‘let me go to the [David] Koresh site and let me cause a hubbub and let me not get arrested, but get thrown off and let’s get it on video’ and they wouldn’t do it. I said, ‘we’re in trouble’ and I guess they were worried about the heat. Russo calls me and goes, ‘I’ve got a great gimmick for you. You’re going to be ‘The Messiah’. I’m like, ‘The Messiah?’ He’s like, ‘yeah, like Jesus. You’re going to wear all white. We’re going to lower you from the ceiling like you’re on a cross.’ I’m like, ‘you know this is going to get nuclear heat in the U.S.?’ He’s like, ‘do you care?’ I’m like, ‘nope, I just want to get over.’ So that never happened.”

How Did Kurgan Turn Into a Dancing Oddity?: “How Kurgan turned into an Oddity, after WrestleMania where [Austin] took the [world title] belt from Shawn [Michaels], I’m at the afterparty and Kurrgan’s there with his wife and Kurrgan says, ‘my wife is going to have me dancing. I’m going to get up and dance and I’m sure you’re going to have a laugh.’ And I go, ‘dude, don’t do it.’ He’s like, ‘why?’ I go, ‘don’t let Vince see you up dancing.’ And he’s like, ‘well, my wife wants me to dance, blah, blah, blah.’ I’m like, ‘don’t do it.’ He got up, he’s dancing, disco dancing, he’s pretty good, but I’m not watching him. I’m watching Vince and I saw [him] catch [Vince’s] eye and I’m like, ‘he’s not a giant anymore.’ And within a month, he was in a tuxedo dancing and that’s the night I learned ‘don’t do anything in front of Vince that you don’t want to do in front of millions of people.”