Sami Callihan has been hacking for years. Before it was revealed that Callihan was behind the hacks in IMPACT, he did a hacker gimmick in NXT in 2013 under the name Solomon Crowe. The gimmick never really took off and Callihan and NXT parted ways in 2015.
After losing the IMPACT World Title to Tessa Blanchard, Callihan disappeared for weeks to play up the hacker gimmick and eventual reveal. Speaking to Chris Van Vliet, Callihan discussed the original idea behind leaving television and why he needed more time away.
"I was originally only supposed to be gone for two shows. Then I was supposed to come back, attack someone, and do the same shit I've been doing for two years. I was like, 'No.' I begged them that I had this idea that I've been wanting to do for years. I thought it could be something special, but if we're going to do it, I had to be off TV for six to eight weeks. They were like, 'How can we justify to the office and investors, taking one of our top guys off television when he's not injured for up to eight shows?' It was something I had to meticulously beg and write down. I had a lot of the right people behind me on it that we were able to talk people into what the character was going to be and I think it's already going to blow up more than it has already," he said.
When Van Vliet brought up the similarities between the gimmick in IMPACT and NXT, Callihan noted that it wasn't the right time for the gimmick in NXT.
"Yeah, but done the correct way," said Callihan when asked if the two gimmicks were similar. "That's not shitting on WWE. It's just, they didn't understand it at all and I think it was a little before its time. We really didn't even get to pull the trigger on the hacker/cyberpunk character at all. It was something me and Dusty Rhodes had really written out and came up with ideas. It was something I came up with for being a video game nerd and watching the movie Hackers. I was thinking of ideas for NXT and I wanted to be a different style of creepy. I didn't want to be like the Bray Wyatt or Undertaker style, I wanted to be something that was new age. I remember, 'what scares my dad?' He used to say, 'Everyone thinks Freddy and Jason are scary. You know what's scary? That movie Hackers. They can just wipe your whole bank account.' That always clicked in my brain. Now, I think this is the perfect time to do it seeing how big Black Mirror and Mr. Robot are. This is something that can transcend an entire generation of wrestling."
Callihan continued, "I had this idea right before NXT and I wanted to do it in EVOLVE. Gabe [Sapolsky] was like, 'This character is dope, you should wait and save it for NXT.' I went to NXT, I pulled it out, and someone in the office goes, 'Why would a hacker wrestle?' I was like, 'Why would The Undertaker wrestle? He strikes people with lightning bolts.' It just didn't click. I didn't click."
The reveal that Callihan was behind the hacks was supposed to lead to a match between Callihan and Ken Shamrock. The match was announced for IMPACT Rebellion, but it is unknown if the event will still take place. It was announced the event would no longer take place at New York City’s Terminal 5, but that IMPACT was still monitoring the situation and looking for alternative ways to produce the event.
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