Ever since making his professional wrestling debut in 2007, the only company that Samuel Shaw was able to call home was Total Nonstop Action (TNA). After years of broken promises, a lack of communication, and missed opportunities, Shaw’s stint with TNA concluded in late-June as he was released from the company, via PWInsider.
At 31 years old, Shaw is still young and feels he can contribute to any wrestling organization. But currently on the independent circuit, Shaw describes it as “slow” and believes the way his character was presented in TNA may be a reason why.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think that my style is really what the independent circuit is craving right now,” said Shaw. “Which is funny to me because I actually think that I am fully capable of doing all the athletic maneuvers and moves and things like that. I just don’t think the mass audience knows that I can do it. I was just sort of presented more of a character instead of a wrestler, per se.”
Shaw’s career with TNA began in 2010, debuting under the name of an autoimmune disease, Lupus. His career didn’t take off until 2012 when he was a contestant on TNA Gutcheck – a tryout program on television in which the company tried finding new talent. Despite outside interference from the since disbanded faction Aces & Eights, Shaw prevailed and was signed to a contract.
Before he was repackaged in 2013, Shaw described his original character – going by the shortened Sam Shaw – as “an extreme sports, action-packed, surfer/skater type of guy who wore the board shorts and the skater shoes [and was] full of energy and always ready to risk his life to get that ultimate rush.” That character floundered, and Shaw mostly spent his first few years in TNA’s developmental system, Ohio Valley Wrestling.
That character was dropped in late-2013 as Shaw debuted a new gimmick – under the longer Samuel Shaw name. Dressed like Dexter Morgan from Dexter and portraying a character similar to Patrick Bateman from the popular book/movie American Psycho, Shaw was back on TNA television.
Shaw’s new character entailed him stalking several of TNA’s Knockouts, starting with Christy Hemme. It also led to storylines and matches with the likes of Mr. Anderson, Gunner, Abyss, and more. But there were several points where Shaw was off television, sitting at home, and merely collecting a paycheck. Shaw admitted he was e-mailing the office “once a week” at times, pitching ideas and trying to be a staple for the company.
“Some unfortunate circumstances occurred and everybody sort of knows I was sort heavy in a storyline with Santana Garrett – who was Brittany. We were in between TV deals, going from Spike TV to Destination America and we had some contracts coming up and I think she chose not to re-sign with TNA. That puts a damper on some future plans going forward [because] you gotta hit the reset button and while you’re hitting the reset button, you have 10 other talents they have plans for and look here, they have two-or-three new talents coming in. So my stuff got put on the back burner.”
With his real-life interest in drawing and artistry, Shaw even pitched ideas that would incorporate that into his on-screen persona. Perhaps as an evil, pro wrestling version of Bob Ross, Shaw could have parlayed his drawing ability to illustrate his opponents’ grim futures. That was one of the reasons that Shaw was involved in several college movies and other projects when he was younger, so he could be a more versatile entertainer.
So when Shaw examined “The Monster” Abyss’ character, he saw an opportunity to have an artistic yet physically brutal match with him.
“I always thought the world of Abyss and his character and people can say whatever they want, ‘oh it wouldn’t have worked,’ but as an artist, I find the presentation of the Abyss character compelling. The guy has been a staple in TNA so long, so how much longer can put himself through these Monster’s Ball matches and things like that. As an artist, I find all those matches compelling and very artistic in nature. So why can Samuel Shaw and Abyss get in there and mix it up in a Monster’s Ball match and that could add to my art collection. I want Abyss’ mask as a trophy for my art collection.”
A Monster’s Ball match with Abyss never happened, and neither did a match with TNA mainstay Bobby Roode, whom Shaw calls a “leader in the locker room.”
But there were matches that Shaw had with TNA on non-televised live events – specifically with The American Wolves, Davey Richards, and Eddie Edwards – that Shaw would love to revisit someday.
“I want to wrestle Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards on TV because we wrestled each other on a house show loop. We did three nights on the road with TNA and I don’t even remember what cities or towns we were in. I think the first night I wrestled Davey, the second night I wrestled Eddie, and then I wrestled Davey again the third night. The first night was a little shaky, I think we had all just gotten off the plane and we were running late to the building. The other two nights with Davey and Eddie were amazing, we just clicked and it was working and I wish people could see that.”
Ultimately, Shaw’s stint with TNA was more beneficial than harmful to his career. He says that he’s “grateful” to the company for giving him his first real opportunity in the business. Shaw also added that he’s “thrilled” for TNA’s new television deal with POP TV and can envision returning to the company.
However, Shaw isn’t hoping for that opportunity to come. His goal is to create a highlight reel around the world, showcasing his talents.
“I welcome the opportunity to come back. Anywhere you go, it’s just a commercial for yourself and the more places you go and get respect, the more notoriety you’re gonna have. I wanna make a commercial for myself – I’m 31 – the next nine years. Everybody always sort of looks at 40 years old as ‘wow, this guy is 40 years old, he’s still doing it?’
Shaw is currently a free agent in wrestling, which gives him the freedom to wrestle all around the world without a so-called “contractual stamp” on him. ECW legend Tommy Dreamer has shown that being a free agent in the pro wrestling world does not limit, but can give you the chance to shine on multiple stages.
— Samuel Shaw (@TheSamuelShaw) August 28, 2014
Prior to signing full-time with TNA, Shaw attended several Ring of Honor tryout camps, including the same camp in which Tommaso Ciampa and Michael Elgin were signed. He also wrestled The Briscoe Brothers in his lone ROH match. But right now, the former “creepy stalker” for TNA has his eyes set on one specific promotion – Lucha Underground.
“I have not made it a secret that I was blown away by their product. To me, it was the most compelling wrestling on TV that I saw this past year. I loved the backstage vignettes, it was shot more like a movie and had a different vibe to it. Definitely more edgy and immediately felt like, this is somewhere I could thrive.”
Wherever Shaw ends up in 2016, he feels he has a solid foundation. Trained by the Dudley Boyz, Bubba Ray, and Devon Dudley, Shaw explained that it was their mentorship that allowed him to understand the business in a way he’d never seen before.
“They taught me the psychology and that’s what I was sort of lacking before. I just didn’t know why I was doing certain things, but I guess the old school way was to sort of, after a while, the more you do it, the more you’ll get it. But I was hungry to understand it sooner and I guess it’s the microwave generation, which I’m a part of. But at least, I had Bubba and Devon to tell me why I was doing something at a certain time during a match or before a match. A promo, a character development scenario, these were all things Bubba and Devon taught us and [I] couldn’t be happier with that education, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
As mentioned, Shaw is an artist and recently started a new website to showcase that. Whenever he has an idea, Shaw says that he just sits down and lets his imagination fill the blank canvas – much like he would do in wrestling match – instead using his body to do so.
There are no set plans in Shaw’s future as he continues taking independent bookings, creating artwork and being an all-around entertainer. All Shaw can do is continue being himself and follow the advice given to him by the legends of the industry, which is: timing is everything.
“I don’t know, I’m sort of just weighing my options. I think there’s opportunities but do the WWE’s or the other companies actually want to pull the trigger on it? It’s sort of like, let’s take a look at him but it’s just sort of a wait game. This business has been that way since I started, it’s sorta been ‘we’re doing some restructuring, or we’re doing this or doing that and we don’t necessarily have a spot for you right now or we don’t necessarily think you fit in somewhere at this moment, but at a later date.’ It’s never been a complete no, you just keep bringing it back, bringing it back and looking at him. I gotta fill my time and my schedule with things in the meantime. I’m not upset about it or threatened about it, but I was taught that timing is everything. So in due time, good things will happen.”
You can listen to the audio of this interview here.
[Featured Image via Impact Wrestling]