POST NEWS UPDATE: Robbie McAllister reflects on being shown on TNA Impact while under contract to WWE

Robbie McAllister reflects on TNA appearance, Sami Zayn-Gunther story, Great-O-Khan's run-in with Tony Khan, Hiroshi Tanahashi note

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

** In 2008, Derek Graham-Couch a.k.a. Robbie McAllister was shown on-screen at a TNA Wrestling event while he was under contract to WWE. McAllister appeared on ‘JOFO in the RING’ and reflected on that situation. He does not look back fondly on it but explained that he was in a bad place mentally and things escalated after he was pinned by Hornswoggle in a match several months prior. After the TNA appearance, he went back to the hotel that WWE talents were staying at and was confronted by The Undertaker and Fit Finlay.

You know, I was at Universal [Studios] that day [of the TNA show] and technically, I never really thought about it but I went and said hi to some friends and then they’re like, ‘Oh, you wanna come in and –’ technically, I believe at that time — I can’t really think of how I felt now but I was in a real bad spot and I knew that I did not want to be in WWE at all anymore. We got into a situation — I’m sorry, but getting pinned by a midget [Hornswoggle] just — where do you go from there? Seriously. You have no stock when you’re getting pinned by a midget. So I guess it was just my basically big ‘ole F you and a lot of people got pissed off and I’m not… you know, we all do dumb things and I was drinking back then. I wasn’t drunk then but we do dumb things. It was probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. But, in a way, I think it was a bit of a F you because you know, I was starting to look stupid and I was tired of looking dumb.

No, no [nobody from TNA asked me if I was okay with being shown on TV]. Jeff Jarrett just put me on there and they pulled up what name they could find on the internet and who I was and I’ve talked to Jeff Jarrett about it and at that time, like I said, I was in a really sh*tty spot mentally, not wanting to be there and you know, it still took six months to get fired from there so I had to stick around, I had to hang out for another six months and do the job every week on dark matches.

But technically, I should have never been there because I was stupid. We can look at it any way we want but the real blame is me, because I was in a bad spot and I didn’t wanna be in WWE… and you’re gonna have repercussions when you do something that… at that time, it’s almost like it was immature but at the same time, I was lashing out. I’m not the type of person that’s confrontational. I don’t like to get in fights with people but when your back’s to the wall and you’re treated like a piece of sh*t — I’m kind of getting a little emotional here — but, I’ve been in other relationships where you’re a nice guy and nice guys finish last and people start to take advantage of you and when you get your back to the wall, you lash out and do anything you can to say F you, this is over, we’re done. I’m done being your b*tch, technically [Robbie laughed].

John Laurinaitis had called me within a minute after I walked out of that building and said — I got a phone call and it was a secretary saying, ‘Hold for John Laurinaitis. You got a call from John Laurinaitis.’ He’s like, ‘What’s one of my talent doing at TNA!?’ And then I went back to the… and because I’m man enough to be able to face my own bullsh*t, I walked right back into the WrestleMania hotel and I faced it like a man from everybody that wanted to give me sh*t. Undertaker tore a strip off me, Fit Finlay tore a strip off me and at that time, I didn’t really care, because what happened at WWE was not what I thought was gonna happen. I thought it was gonna be — and when you look at it, you create your own destiny, you guide your own ship. I obviously didn’t guide my own ship the right way. But when you do your work and you’re man enough to look at it all, it wasn’t WWE that did me wrong, I did WWE wrong — I didn’t do them wrong, I did myself wrong because I didn’t do anything to keep myself there, didn’t do anything to secure my ship. You have to be in the pocket, telling ideas constantly. I never had that in mind. I have a wrestling ability, I’m a good wrestler. But I’ve never really been the storyteller; want to get into the storyline sh*t if you know what I mean.

McAllister was released from WWE in August of 2008. He shared that there were many times when he tried to get back into the good graces of the company and was able to get backstage at shows. John Laurinaitis eventually told him to stop showing up to events.

I did try to get back in [WWE] myself but I think I got myself enough heat from what I did that they were never gonna look at me for a long, long time but I got myself backstage a lot after and then John Laurinaitis had to tell me one time in Buffalo, he said, ‘Don’t come back.’ He says, ‘You’re sneaking into the building. Don’t come back.’ I tried so many times, you know? And I was in Louisville, Florida, all over the place and I just — I guess I created enough heat from that incident that — but then again, I wasn’t in anyone’s pocket either so… [Robbie laughed]

Despite the TNA on-screen appearance, McAllister doesn’t believe that was the reason for he and Rory McAllister (Russell Murray’s) ‘demise’ in WWE. He chalks that up to them not knowing how to play the political game.

The demise of The Highlanders at WWE was not Robbie going to TNA. The demise of WWE was that we didn’t have that game in our back pocket. We didn’t have that political game where, you know, Stephanie [McMahon] and Vince liked us but, what did we do to keep it? You know what I mean?… It’s a politic game because people are always stabbing you in the back and it’s always — and it’s even the same thing with the producers, you know? Everybody’s conniving against everybody back there because you wanna keep your spot. That’s just how it is. Didn’t know how to play the game that well at that time.

Before Robbie and Rory were signed to WWE, they would do extra work for the company on a consistent basis but their hopes of getting signed wavered after John Laurinaitis told them they would never be hired. It was those words that led to them changing up their look.

But we did do a lot of tryouts [with WWE]. It was almost like we were going every other week and you know, pulling in the 500 bucks every two weeks for being there Monday and Tuesday and you know, finally, it would have been about a year and we finally asked can we get jobs and they basically — well John Laurinaitis basically, he basically crushed us and said we’d never have jobs there [Robbie laughed]. Yeah, pretty much [Laurinaitis was that blunt about it]. He says, ‘I can take any of the guys in OVW and put them in kilts and call them The Highlanders.’ He goes, ‘What makes you different?’ And that’s when The Highlanders evolved, just out of that conversation. ‘What makes you different?’ And that’s where — you know, we were just — I had short hair, I looked like every other guy on the indies with a decent physique, with the gas at about 240 and Rory looked huge, he was about 260 and you know, no big beards or nothing fancy to make us stand out in a crowd, you know? And when they told us we wouldn’t get jobs, we actually drove about two or three hours on the highway before I realized that we were going the wrong way. All of a sudden, we were almost in Providence, Rhode Island and then I realized that, oh, we gotta go back the other way to get to Canada because we were just so… I don’t know. We were almost floored because it felt like they liked us. We were getting dark matches on this and that and then to be totally blindsided like, ‘Yeah, we’re not gonna hire guys like you’ is just — so, then we evolved. We became hairy, disgusting looking highlanders from the 13th century.

** The most recent guest to join WWE’s After The Bell podcast is Sami Zayn. He was asked for his thoughts about Gunther’s transition to the main roster and Zayn recounted a conversation he had with one of the individuals in charge of hiring when he first started in NXT. That person asked for Sami’s thoughts on the then-Walter and Zayn said they should bring him in.

He then shared that he talked with Gunther on a WWE overseas tour and Gunther expressed that he’s excited about this new phase in his career.

I think I wrestled him [Gunther] in 2011 or something like that, 2010 and met him ages ago in Germany and he was really good and I actually, you know, I had a pretty good relationship with one of the guys who did the hiring back in NXT when I first got here and he asked me about him — WALTER at the time — said, ‘What about this WALTER? Big Van Walter.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, great. You should get him. He’s really good’ and I don’t know why they passed. I think at the time, he had a real babyface. I don’t mean he was a good guy. I mean he looked like a child, he looked like an overgrown child. He had a very childish face which I thought was a part of his appeal personally but whatever. But now, he has this really like, his face is… exactly [Sami agrees with Corey Graves calling Gunther’s facial expression a perma-scowl], what a great way to put it. He has this permanent scowl on this big jaw and chin that sticks out and now he’s gotten himself into crazy shape too. So I’m really looking forward to watching his rise and you know, I had a little talk with him, where was it? We did another tour recently in Europe, England I think it was and he was actually telling me he was kind of excited about this new phase in his career because of much of what we talked about earlier on this podcast here, that just about going from being a guy who’s just a good match guy and you know, you do those good matches long enough, you can — I don’t wanna say they are easy but you can kind of do ‘em in your sleep and you know you’re good at it and it’s just comfortable. But being taken out of his comfort zone and learning to just entertain, to be able to go on a live event and have an entertaining match, and an entertaining match, I don’t wanna — going back to the [Johnny] Knoxville thing here, I don’t wanna put them in two separate categories. An entertaining match and a great match doesn’t — they are the same thing, okay? I’m just talking about when we talk about ‘great matches’, sometimes we have this very epic, dramatic sort of structure to it, but an entertaining match is a great match if you do it right and just learning to work a new style and diving into a new set of skills that are required to do well in WWE on SmackDown. He’s excited about it which makes me think he’s gonna do really well.

Earlier in the podcast, Zayn weighed in on the Cody Rhodes versus Seth Rollins Hell in a Cell match. He thinks it will be a match that people talk about for years to come.

Well, so I’m inclined to agree to an extent here about that’s gonna be a match [Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins at Hell in a Cell] that people will talk about for many years to come and one of the things that makes it so special and this is not something you can plan, it’s just circumstance. Some of these matches, you can never recreate them. You know, I was actually having a conversation with someone backstage last week. Someone new to the company was asking, ‘What matches should I watch?’ They were new to WWE, they work here now, they wanted to know what matches — ‘I’m really starting to like the in-ring aspect of wrestling, not just the storytelling. What should I watch?’ And a few matches came up but then I realized as we were talking about these different matches, some of these matches are so special only because of the exact time and the exact place in which they took place. So, for example, this might not be the best example but if you watch Shawn [Michaels] versus Undertaker from WrestleMania 25, probably, maybe the greatest WrestleMania match of all-time, but if you watch it now, not knowing at the time that those kind of matches didn’t really happen because matches like that had been imitated… attempted, yes, yes [attempted to recreate]. You see a lot of that now, but, you know, that was what? 13 years ago and that just didn’t happen especially with guys like Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. You never saw anybody kick out of any of their stuff like that, their finishes. So, it was very special because of the time and place when it took place and I think what’s gonna make this match special, even though it’s an unfortunate circumstance, is Cody’s injury. Him braving that injury which was so visual, like you can see there’s no way around that.

Looking back on his on-screen program with Johnny Knoxville, Zayn says there was more on the table that he wanted to do on the lead up to their WrestleMania match.

The build-up to that match [Zayn vs. Johnny Knoxville at WrestleMania 38] is also not a build-up you could have done with anyone else. I can’t build my Hell in a Cell match with Seth Rollins for example by flying his phone number over Los Angeles. That’s just not — that’s not how you do, you know… that’s just not how you build programs.

Exactly [it was a unique thing]. We got to go so far out of the box and I got kind of addicted to it. I was like, ‘Oh man! Here’s all these things we can do next’ and there was just so much awesome stuff that we could do that I think is — like him giving out my phone number and me taking all those calls and I think that’s gonna be very, very memorable. It was very exciting and there was so much other stuff that was on the table to do that for one reason or another, we didn’t get to do.

** During Tokyo Sports’ new interview with Great-O-Khan, he told the publication about his run-in with AEW President Tony Khan. O-Khan stated that Tony respects him as a fellow ‘Khan’ and jokingly said he will be changing his name to ‘Great T. Khan’.

He [Tony Khan] came to see me. He seems to respect me as a fellow ‘Khan,’ and said he will soon change his name to Great T. Khan.

O-Khan and Jeff Cobb appeared on the 5/25 AEW Dynamite to interrupt the ROH Tag Title match between FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) and Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent). O-Khan and Trent’s mistiming on the chokeslam through the table was brought up and here is what O-Khan had to say in response to that being mentioned:

Yo, I don’t know what you’re talking about. It was Beretta who was afraid of being slammed into the table by my mighty power, who chose to mitigate the damage by jumping off the apron himself. It’s a self-inflicted eliminator if you will. That proves that I am feared throughout the United States. It was not a failure by any means. But I had to play it safe in Vegas one night because I felt so bad about it.

** AEW Women’s World Champion Thunder Rosa was interviewed by PWInsider and she looked back on her on-screen program with Serena Deeb that culminated at Double or Nothing. She mentioned criticisms of the build up and felt that by the end of the match, people wanted to see more.

I felt really, really well through the match. When we were done, I hugged Serena and I said, ‘We did it,’ you know, like, you don’t get to see women like us performing for 17 minutes in such a hot crowd and like, people were so invested when you don’t have super high spots and flips and everything was just like pure wrestling and good storytelling. I really feel it went really well. It was that way for both of us, I think it was a great accomplishment. During the buildup, there were criticisms of what [we were] trying to say and show, and when we went out there and wrestled, everybody was like, ‘Wow, this looks great, I wish they would have wrestled one more time.’

Rosa is auctioning off her 2022 Double or Nothing gear and the proceeds are going to the relatives of those who lost loved ones in the Robb Elementary School shooting.

** Edition #95 of Hiroshi Tanahashi’s Ace’s HIGH series is up on Tanahashi expressed that he wishes he got to have an excursion. Other than Kazuchika Okada, Tanahashi feels the only talent that has come back from excursion as a complete package is Great-O-Khan.

I’m always envious when guys get that. Always really jealous! That return match is always a real blooming moment. As tough as those excursions must be, I think I would have enjoyed that experience. And there’s always that anticipation from the fans, the rumors about how they might come back. I think Okada really set the bar for best return though.

I think it’s much more than having the body, or the moves. You really need the conviction, the self-belief that you’re going to be the guy. I’m not sure there’s ever been someone that had that complete package after Okada. O-Khan has been the closest in my opinion.

Usually, you see a guy come back from excursion with this new persona. Great-O-Khan was Great-O-Khan all the way through his excursion, which is really cool, and perfect for him. He’s able to express himself so effectively, and he’s been able to cultivate this hardcore fandom while still being a complete heel out there. He’s THE guy for this generation, I feel.    

** As Eric Young was telling WhatCulture about some of his favorite career opponents, he highlighted Robert Roode and thinks Roode is the most underrated wrestler right now.

Bobby Roode would probably be my favorite [opponent]. I think he’s one of — right now is probably the most underrated guy in the world. I think he’s the perfect pro wrestler. He’s a friend of mine and it’s gonna sound biased but, I’ve wrestled everybody, you know? I mean, you name it, I’ve shared a ring with ‘em and it’s nothing against other people. We talked about that three-way between Bobby and Austin [Aries] and me is one of my favorite matches of all-time. Me and Bobby versus A.M.W. at Victory Road from years and years ago was unbelievable for a bunch of reasons. Me and Bobby, Last Man Standing in Wembley is probably my favorite TNA match, IMPACT match of all-time.

** Renée Paquette pushed out her interview with Nyla Rose for the latest episode of The Sessions podcast. Nyla recounted how upset and fired up Malakai Black was on her behalf when an individual brought a transphobic sign to AEW Dynamite last year.

So yes, a lot of people, super amazing, incredible family support vibe backstage [after a person brought the transphobic sign to Dynamite]. Everybody top to bottom. I don’t know if he wants this out there but, let’s say a founding member of the House of Black was very, very supportive in the most gangster way possible and I did not see that coming. I totally saw that coming from his personality, like if you really know him but the way he did it, he was stretching, getting ready for his match and I had just come back from mine and he walks up to me like real intense, he’s like, ‘Hey! What was that sign out there!?’ And I was, ‘Oh…’ [Nyla told him what was on the sign]… this is when he goes, ‘F*ck that guy!’ And he’s going hard and I’m like, okay, [Malakai] Black’s a ride or die, like okay. If I need somebody on the squad, I know who to hit up, all right. So God bless him. That made me — immediately switched the vibe for me and just lifted me so high.

** On the 4/20 edition of AEW Dynamite, Danielle Kamela f.k.a. Vanessa Borne made her AEW TV debut against Britt Baker. She reflected on that experience while on the ‘Turnbuckles’ podcast. Kamela said it is her favorite experience from her career.

Every interaction I’ve had with him [Tony Khan], he’s just smiling, he’s happy, just upbeat and he — I guess I would say when I look at him, he’s not as scary or intimidating because I feel like in WWE, everyone who was above me, I was intimidated by and even growing up, I was more of a fearful child so being in that type of environment where I felt like, oh my gosh, I can’t approach this person or that person or I don’t wanna say the wrong thing. Tony was just very approachable because he just was laid back. You could tell he was just so excited about everything that happened within his show and I had so much fun working for him and working with him and being on Dynamite, that was honestly probably one of my favorite experiences that I’ve had in my wrestling [career].

She wrestled on AEW Dark on several occasions. Kamela would love to do more with AEW.

[I’ve been in contact with AEW] a little bit but like, you know, they do a lot of stuff. They do Dark in Florida and I don’t live in Florida so that’s kind of… I thought about, well maybe I’ll just go back to Florida for a little bit to potentially have more opportunities to do that which I can always do. Right now, I’m kind of flexible but yeah, I would love to work with AEW and with Tony [Khan] again. Being on Dynamite was just so fun, especially because I am a huge football fan and [Arizona] Cardinals fan and we did play the Steelers in Super Bowl 43 so the fact that Britt [Baker] had two players out with her just added a whole other element to that match.

So that was fun to even — even though that was kind of a one-off at the time, to be able to tell that story in my own way, you know what I mean? Through tweets and then even the promo I did was cool.

While Danielle was still with WWE, one of the pitches she made to the powers that be was for her to be an actress character. She was trained by Gangrel and was interested in doing a vampire-esque character as well.

Honestly, like most of it, I wouldn’t say I got too much character direction when it came to NXT, because I would pitch a lot of ideas and I think when you’re trying to create something unique and different, it’s tough sometimes because you can have all of these different ideas and it’s like, well how do I bring these together and make something that, one, the audience can understand and two, is realistic? So, over the time in NXT, I pitched tons of ideas. Kind of like Gangrel, I love vampires so I kind of wanted to have that type of persona one time. You know, another time I had pitched an actress character.

It was so fun. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I get to practice my acting and it could potentially be my character?’ It was awesome.

Continuing on the topic of the actress character, Danielle was brought to Monday Night Raw and asked to record herself doing a Shakespeare monologue. She said she was collaborating with the writers to hash out a character.

When I did get called up to Raw and I was working with Julie [Harrison, former WWE writer], they had this idea for me where they wanted me to be this actress, so they started out by, you know, I reported to Raw and they were like, ‘Okay, your assignment for tonight –’ since I wasn’t on TV yet, they were trying to figure out what they wanted to do and kind of present this actress character. So they’re like, ‘There’s this Shakespeare monologue. You’re assignment for tonight is to record this monologue’ and it was long and it was wordy and I’m like, ‘Oh sh*t. Okay…’ so I was just walking around the arena trying to find an empty space where I could set up my phone and try to get this script down and I think I found like an empty hallway by a staircase and I just — it was where they were also having pictures in the background so I was like, okay, I don’t wanna be too loud but I need to make sure it’s decent.

** To promote NWA Alwayz Ready, Trevor Murdoch appeared on the Pro Wrestling Boom podcast with Jason Powell. Murdoch stated that he has a lot left in the tank, but if he is on the backend of his time as a performer, he wants to be remembered for moments such as winning the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title.

You know, I’m not — I’m knocking on wood here, nothing’s hurting too bad [on my body]. You know, the difference between Trevor now and Trevor 15 years ago is about 30 pounds [he laughed], and that’s the constant struggle and fight as anybody who gets older knows. But yeah, I feel good man. I feel like I’m doing some of my best work I’ve done in my career right now, and I’m also with the mentality that, you know, there’s not too many more matches — as you get to a certain age as a wrestler, you start realizing that you’re on — you only got so many matches left, do you know what I mean? You can’t beat time. That’s the one thing no wrestler can beat is time. So I am in the mindset that if I am on the backend of my career, I wanna go out with a bang, you know what I mean? I wanna go out with people remembering me doing something amazing and part of that was winning the title at [NWA] 73 but I still have a lot of gas left in the tank and I think I still have a lot of things to offer the fans and a lot of matches to give the fans that they haven’t seen before.

** While speaking to Sports Guys Talking Wrestling, Chelsea Green talked about the variety of opportunities that IMPACT Wrestling puts in front of their Knockouts division. Green feels that IMPACT has provided more opportunities for their women’s division than other companies have. She also touched on the upcoming Queen of the Mountain match she’ll be a part of at Slammiversary.

I mean, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I think that IMPACT has always been so underrated in the opportunities that they’ve given the Knockouts. From the beginning, they have given the Knockouts so much more than any other company and they continue to do that. We just, in Dallas, in the new year, had the first-ever Ultimate X match for the Knockouts. Now we’re having kind of another barrier-breaking match if you will [Queen of the Mountain] and I’m so excited that I’ve — now I get to be a part of a second first-ever. This is something that now will go, you know, on my resume for the rest of my life. It’ll be something you can never take away from any of us and I think we’re all really excited to just once again prove that the women can do everything that the men can do. I mean, we’ve been proving that over and over again. Sasha [Banks] and Bianca [Belair] proved that in their amazing WrestleMania match. Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa proved it in their badass Hardcore match. We proved it in the Ultimate X match, we’re gonna prove it again in this Queen of the Mountain match and we’ll continue to prove it as IMPACT continues to give us opportunities. I mean you really have to remember that in every other company, they don’t want to do intergender. We have been doing intergender over and over again at IMPACT for years, and we just don’t put it out there and don’t ask for, you know, a pat on the back for it. We just do it, because really, at IMPACT, they think of us like equals and I love that.

** caught up with Jay White ahead of his IWGP World Heavyweight Title match at Dominion.

** June 10th birthdays: Deonna Purrazzo.

If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

About Andrew Thompson 6783 Articles
A Maryland native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.