This interview with Shawn Daivari was originally published on The Wrestling Voice on August 12, 2004.
Shawn Daivari is arguably one of the most popular and underrated wrestler on the indy scene, and by the news that he will announce later, you will see it is justified. His innovation is what captivates the fans so much such as his idea to use a magic carpet to accentuate his Middle Eastern gimmick, and his exciting performance is what keeps them enthralled from beginning to end. Surely one of the most humble people ever in pro wrestling, Shawn has dedicated his life to wrestling, and it seems like it is finally paying off.
A new chapter in the book of Daivari is starting, and if the past chapter is any indication, we better not blink or we shall miss something great. We will miss the Shawn Daivari impact of the world, and trust me, that is not something you want to miss.
Douglas Nunnally: First of all, thank you for joining me here today.
Shawn Daivari: No problem, Doug.
Douglas Nunnally: Well as I understand it, you have some big news you would like to announce. Want to go ahead and say it?
Shawn Daivari: Well it’s not anything I’d like to brag about or announce, but I’ve been offered a contract to work for the WWE.
Douglas Nunnally: How exactly did this come about?
Shawn Daivari: Well, I’ve been in touch with them for about 2 years now and they kept telling me that I was doing everything right, but just had to hang in there until something came up. Something has apparently come up and they felt now is the time for me to be under contract.
Douglas Nunnally: How stoked are you for this now?
Shawn Daivari: I really can’t put to words how I feel because it’s almost surreal. Like, this is the only thing I’ve wanted to do with my life and now I have it. I don’t want a regular job. I don’t want a wife. I don’t want kids. I just want to wrestle, and right now the WWE is really the only place that can let you regularly do that. I’ve achieved all my goals I have had planned, so now I set a new set of goals and haven’t completed one yet.
Douglas Nunnally: Well, I know for one that the fans know you are ready, but the important thing is, do you think you are?
Shawn Daivari: No, I don’t. I feel that I am ready to learn, and that as of right now, I am capable of learning everything I need to know to be ready.
Douglas Nunnally: How long did it take for it to actually sink in that you are now on the same path that Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Randy Orton all followed?
Shawn Daivari: Like I said, it’s surreal. I can’t even really put to words how I feel. Sometimes I don’t think about it and I sorta forget, but then when I remember or it’s brought up, I just smile and get this feeling of unconditional happiness.
Douglas Nunnally: While it may be a shock to you, your signing comes of no shock to most fans and this interviewer. After the incredible response you got in your dark matches when other people got nothing, we all knew you would get there soon. What do you think?
Shawn Daivari: I think I’ve been really lucky as far as my dark matches went. There are typically two people involved in a match, but with the WWE there is a bunch. There are the two wrestlers, the ref, the road agent, the camera men, and so many people involved in making you look good. I’ve been so lucky that every time I got a chance to wrestle for the WWE, I got to work with people that had no problem in making me look good. I was always treated as if I was a part of the company even when I wasn’t.
Douglas Nunnally: I know you leave for OVW in less than a week. How anxious are you to appear on OVW television?
Shawn Daivari: I’m excited. I’ve never got to work in a regular TV environment. I’ve done some Indy promotions where they try and do TV and make stuff make sense from week to week, but none of it ever does. Over here, you can put thought into something and know that it’ll be carried out over time and finally completed instead of just TV for the sake of TV.
Douglas Nunnally: Got butterflies yet?
Shawn Daivari: Oh, of course. Some people have told me the hard part is over, but I disagree. Now my progress is under constant surveillance. Now it’s time for me to step up my game and deliver. I don’t want, and I’m sure they don’t want, to be a developmental talent. I want to DEVELOP and become a regular talent. The point of the developmental system isn’t to send Indy guys to OVW. The point of it is to train wrestlers to become WWE superstars.
Douglas Nunnally: Who in OVW are you most excited to start working with?
Shawn Daivari: I’m excited to work with everyone. I really couldn’t put one person over more then the other. If I was to say maybe leaning towards one person more then the other, it would have to be Jim Cornett. Man is he a wealth of knowledge. Again not saying anyone else isn’t, but every time I talk to him, I learn something knew that can be applied to wrestling some how.
Douglas Nunnally: What about WWE?
Shawn Daivari: Same as above. I’m psyched to work with everyone. But again if I was leaning towards anyone, it’s Fit Finlay and Arn Anderson and it’s for the same reason. Just listening to it is amazing the things you learn, and on top of it they get in the ring and teach you personally.
Douglas Nunnally: Is there anything going to change in terms of your style now that you are in WWE?
Shawn Daivari: Oh yeah, probably almost everything. It’s an entirely different beast compared to Indy wrestling. That’s why I’m so excited to learn. I need to relearn everything I know, and an endless number of things on top of it I didn’t.
Douglas Nunnally: I know you get asked this a lot, but seriously now, what’s next for Shawn Daivari?
Shawn Daivari: My immediate goals are to go to OVW and absorb and learn as much as I possibly can and when I’m ready to be moved up to the main roster.
Douglas Nunnally: How long before you raise the number of Middle Eastern WWE Champions to two?
Shawn Daivari: Wow. I have not the wildest idea. You know my paper work isn’t even totally complete yet right?
Douglas Nunnally: Well yeah, but still. Anyway, if you had a chance, would you keep your gimmick in WWE?
Shawn Daivari: I don’t really have a gimmick. It’s me. With Shawn Daivari, the volume is usually at a three outta ten. When I work in front of a crowd or camera, it’s an eleven out of ten. But sometimes when I get mad enough or excited enough in my regular life, I can be an eleven out of ten also. It’s all me, just at different levels.
Douglas Nunnally: Is the carpet coming with you?
Shawn Daivari: I couldn’t tell ya. That’s not my decision.
Douglas Nunnally: Is there any fear of WWE putting you in any kind of “stereotypical” gimmick?
Shawn Daivari: No, not really. The most successful people in wrestling are those that can adapt. If you’re able to run with whatever anyone gives you, you’ll be successful. Read Ric Flair’s book. In WCW no matter how hard they tried to bury him, he would run with whatever they gave him and make it successful.
Douglas Nunnally: If you had to pick one guy on the Indy circuit to bring up with you to WWE, who would it be?
Shawn Daivari: That’s a tough question.
Douglas Nunnally: How so?
Shawn Daivari: There are so many different people that could make it to the WWE for so many different reasons. I really don’t want to give any names, but if the WWE asked me “Who would be good for this,” or “Who would be good for that,” I think I could have someone for every question, and it would be someone who could run with the ball.
Douglas Nunnally: 5 years ago, you were starting out on the Indy scene. Did you think you would be here by now, or did you expect it earlier?
Shawn Daivari: No, I thought it would be way later, but I knew it would come. I always knew I would make it here cause if you don’t believe in yourself, why should Vince McMahon believe in you? But also, I was told by people in the office that if you want it bad enough, you can’t be denied. I knew if I would put all my eggs in one basket and give it everything I had 24/7, that I would get there. I was just lucky and fortunate enough to have it happen in 5 years instead of 10 or 20. But if it didn’t come in 5 years, there’s no way I would have given up. No way.
Douglas Nunnally: Who was the first person you told about the news, and why?
Shawn Daivari: My little brother. He’s probably the only person outside of the business that would know how much this means to me.
Douglas Nunnally: What exactly did you expect when you got the call?
Shawn Daivari: Well, I had heard from different people that the WWE was interested in me, but I really didn’t know to what extent. Dr. Tom Prichard is the guy I keep in touch with, and he’s probably the number one reason I was offered a contract. So he called me and I thought he was gonna say that they were interested for a while, but decided now’s not my time. But instead he kinda reminded me of all the things I’ve done to get here, and said they’re interested in getting me signed up.
Douglas Nunnally: What are you doing exactly to prepare yourself for OVW?
Shawn Daivari: I don’t know. I haven’t started yet.
Douglas Nunnally: How long do you want to stay there?
Shawn Daivari: Until I’m ready. Sometimes people make it to the full time roster before they’re ready, and sometimes people are overly prepared. I would rather be overly prepared.
Douglas Nunnally: What do you want the first WWE national memory of you to be?
Shawn Daivari: I just want them to be entertained. If it’s boring and uninteresting, chances are it’ll be forgotten. I just want it to be entertaining.
Douglas Nunnally: Got anything thoughts to which brand you want to go to?
Shawn Daivari: I’ll be plenty happy on either.
Douglas Nunnally: With the WWE product in a slight decline as of late, do you feel like you could be the answer in any way?
Shawn Daivari: Not necessarily me, but definitely new talent, in my opinion, is the answer. What made WWE so great in the mid to late 90’s were new faces. Ken Shamrock, X-Pac, Val Venis, D-Lo, Edge, Christian, The Hardyz, The Dudleyz, and Jericho; and then evolving talent like The Rock, Stone Cold, Undertaker, HHH, and Foley. New in wrestling is always good.
Douglas Nunnally: What do you feel about the level of censorship that may fall on you as a WWE wrestler now?
Shawn Daivari: The guidelines in professional wrestling that are in good taste IN MY OPINION are about the same as the WWE’s so I don’t even see it as an issue.
Douglas Nunnally: Now this is a question that most people tend to avoid after making it to the “big time.” Now that your Indy career is over, are you going to miss it at all?
Shawn Daivari: Oh, of course! Some of the most unforgettable moments of my life will come from Indy wrestling. Traveling thousands of miles around the country on such a low budget makes an unbelievable bond between people. I feel almost closer to some wrestlers then family. It’s definitely something I’m going to miss, but that chapter has already been written. I’m DEFINETLY looking forward to writing the next chapter.
Douglas Nunnally: Besides the long trips and naps in the car, what aren’t you going to miss?
Shawn Daivari: I’m not gonna miss the shady promoters that take something that people love to do and make it unenjoyable. To take something that wrestlers are literally killing themselves; just because they love it, just because they want to make a name for themselves, just because they want to entertain the fans; and make it unenjoyable is just pathetic on their part.
Douglas Nunnally: Now that your Indy career is over at least for now, are there any regrets?
Shawn Daivari: I just wished I could have had some international experience. I would have loved to gone to Japan, Europe, Mexico, et cetera, but the WWE was always my number one choice, and I was just lucky enough for that to come first.
Douglas Nunnally: You seem to have worked with loads of promotions. Is there any promotion you never got a chance to work with yet would have liked to?
Shawn Daivari: Not in the States, but like I said internationally, yeah there is.
Douglas Nunnally: Is there any promotion you wished you hadn’t worked for?
Shawn Daivari: I don’t want to give names, but like I said, the promotions that took something I loved and made it not fun for me.
Douglas Nunnally: Well, you have been doing this for 5 years now. Was there any fear for your gimmick after 9/11?
Shawn Daivari: No because after 9/11, I saw a market was created. We saw it with anti-bin laden bumper stickers, US Flags sold, and Taliban playing cards. A market was created that people didn’t mind being a part of and that’s what I feel I did. I really didn’t’ do anything different. It’s amazing what appearance can do. But no, I wasn’t and am not afraid.
Douglas Nunnally: You seem to be split on babyface and heel appearances. Which do you like better?
Shawn Daivari: I like both for different reasons. I guess it ultimately depends on who I’m wrestling.
Douglas Nunnally: Which do you want to play in WWE?
Shawn Daivari: We’ll have to wait and see I guess.
Douglas Nunnally: Which did you feel most comfortable doing on the Indy scene?
Shawn Daivari: I just love wrestling. Doesn’t matter.
Douglas Nunnally: Out of all the promotions you worked for over the past 5 years, which was your favorite?
Shawn Daivari: You know, my favorite was ROH, and sadly I only got to do four shows for them. It really looks like a bright future for that company and I just wish I could work with them more.
Douglas Nunnally: You have had so many accomplishments, but besides WWE, which has stood out the most?
Shawn Daivari: Staying healthy and never hurting anyone. I don’t know if there’s anyone out there that loves wrestling as much or more then I do, but if that’s the case I would HATE to hurt them and take it away. The worst thing that can happen to me is for wrestling to be taken away, so I’m happy I’ve never been seriously hurt, and am even happier I have never seriously hurt anyone else.
Douglas Nunnally: What has got to be the lowest part of your career?
Shawn Daivari: I haven’t hit one yet. Everyday is better then the one before as far as wrestling is considered.
Douglas Nunnally: How many times did you doubt your career over the past 5 years?
Shawn Daivari: Maybe twice.
Douglas Nunnally: How long did these doubts last?
Shawn Daivari: Maybe a week or two.
Douglas Nunnally: So it’s safe to assume all the doubts are gone then?
Shawn Daivari: Yeah. Now for sure, but they never lasted anyways.
Douglas Nunnally: Besides yourself, who do you think was your greatest help on your path so far?
Shawn Daivari: Dr. Tom Prichard, all the ECW guys (Stevie Richards, Tommy Dreamer, Rhyno, the Dudleyz, and Guido) Jim Cornette, Ken Anderson, Austin Aries, Colt Cabana, CM Punk, Eddie Sharkey, and ODB just off the top of my head. A lot of people have been influential. They would be the most I think.
Douglas Nunnally: What do you feel about the comments that Arik Cannon said about you in a recent interview?
Shawn Daivari: As far as the “he’s doing what he has to do,” Cannon is right as far as there is more then one way to do things. Chris Benoit went to Japan, Europe, Mexico, ECW, and WCW before he went to the WWE. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact that’s probably the best way to go. I just set the WWE as my number one priority, and everything else was below that. I still tried to get to Japan, Mexico, et cetera, but an offer from the WWE came first. I also see how he said it was hurting me, because there were certain opportunities I declined because I felt it would hurt my chances with the WWE. Those opportunities were some that some Indy wrestlers would die for, so I can see how he would view it as hurting me by declining.
Douglas Nunnally: A lot of people are now saying there is some heat between you and Arik. Would you say there is or is this all a big misunderstanding?
Shawn Daivari: No, I wouldn’t say so at all. I talk to him on a semi-daily basis. We’re the kinda friends that will always be friends regardless of wrestling. We have different points of views on wrestling and disagree A LOT about the biz. Some people see our disagreements on wrestling as if we’re not friends, but those are just our opinions. Friendships have nothing to do with your line of work.
Douglas Nunnally: Prior to your signing, what was the biggest sign that you had indeed “made it” as a wrestler?
Shawn Daivari: I didn’t feel like I had made it and still don’t. This is a huge hill I’ve come over, but it ain’t the top of the mountain by any means. I still got a lot of work before I’ve made it.
Douglas Nunnally: So now that you have a pay increase, are there any plans to get a new carpet?
Shawn Daivari: This is money I’m being paid to be a developmental talent so it’s going to go back into me developing as a wrestler, and if that means a new carpet, then yeah maybe.
Douglas Nunnally: Finally, is there anything else you want to say to all the readers out there?
Shawn Daivari: Yeah, just thanks a lot for all the emails and stuff; and coming to shows; and just check out my site at www.shawndaivari.com.
Douglas Nunnally: Thank you again, Shawn.
Shawn Daivari: My pleasure.