May 6, may end up being remembered as “Black Friday” as it pertains to the WWE and the massive cuts they’ve made to their talent roster. The company’s official website began notifying the public of the purge just after 11 a.m. eastern and names continue to be added to the list. Very few of those issued their pink slips (Hornswoggle, El Torito, Zeb Colter, Cameron, Alex Riley, King Barrett, Santino Marella) should have come as a surprise. However, the release of Damien Sandow might raise some eyebrows.
Sandow was one of WWE’s most popular superstars despite never being pushed higher than the mid-card. Real name Aaron Steven Haddad, Sandow originally debuted for the WWE in 2002, performing under the name Aaron Stevens, primarily on WWE Heat. 2016 isn’t the first time Sandow has been released, as he was actually let go in 2007 after making the main roster under the name Idol Stevens. It wasn’t until 2012 that the Damien Sandow character debuted with WWE, this time as an arrogant intellectual heel.
The “Intellectual Savior of the Masses” had several memorable runs while with the WWE, including his initial Sandow journey where his intellect seemed natural and never forced. Fans bought in even when he was demeaning them. Sandow got over in two different tag teams as well. First, he teamed with Cody Rhodes to form the aptly named Team Rhodes Scholars, but tag team gold eluded the pair. Then, he was paired with The Miz.
The Miz said the original plan was for Sandow to come in and be his stunt double for a one-off performance and that would be that. Miz had just returned from filming a movie and adopted a snobby Hollywood gimmick upon his return to WWE. Sandow was to fill-in for The Miz in a match that Miz felt was beneath him. What was supposed to a be a throw-away, Sandow made memorable by creating the Damien Mizdow character and mimicking everything The Miz did, in or out of the ring. They’d eventually become WWE Tag Team Champions before a WrestleMania split. Their subsequent break-up was deemed a letdown with Sandow once again being relegated to an afterthought.
“I think it’s just a case of someone in the company seeing [Sandow] as a comedy guy and nothing more. The audience tried to tell them that they wanted to see him in a better role but were ignored.”
Sandow never seemed to “mail it in,” despite often being relegated to comedy-jobber. He and Curtis Axel made the most of their Mega Powers parody, and even that had to be cut short once WWE severed ties with Hulk Hogan.
Sandow might go down in WWE record books as the first winner of the Money in the Bank contract to unsuccessfully cash in the contract, but most fans will remember him as someone who was never given an ample opportunity despite consistent backing from the crowds. His final match in WWE came on last week’s episode of Smackdown, where he was defeated by newcomer Baron Corbin.
[Image via WWE]