Transcribe your podcast

Adande, the Shahn coroner with a cardigan welcome to The Blind by podcast. There's a good chance that you are a brand new listener because of my guest this week and if you are a brand new listener. Listen to some earlier episodes of this podcast. All right, check out Quantize Spotify type in the Best of the Blind Buy podcast. And I've put all my favorite episodes there. Welcome to all the new listeners. You're very welcome. For regular listeners, you might be aware my voice sounds slightly different this week.


This is because I have triggered a strategy in the most strange way. I have a two foot puppet of the actor Gabriel Byrne that I was using at the weekend on a twitch stream, and I'd been storing this Gabriel Byrne puppet in my attic. For like a month, and basically he'd gotten dusty and he's operating this Gabriel Byrne puppet on Twitch for an hour, triggered my door strategy and now I have the sniffers. My voice is slightly sniffily don't be worrying for my health.


It's just a dust allergy. So a few weeks back, I did a podcast, the name of which was Cleanseas Pancake. And this podcast was about professional wrestling. I looked specifically at the phenomenon of kayfabe within professional wrestling, which is a word that's used to describe the cognitive trade off that an audience member must engage in in order to enjoy professional wrestling with professional wrestling. The audience knows that it's fake. They know that these characters aren't real. They know that sometimes the match is even predetermined.


Who's going to win? The audience knows this, but they deny themselves this knowledge in order to engage in the entertaining spectacle of wrestling. And this unique situation is known as kayfabe, and it's unique to wrestling and the podcast Cleanseas Pancake. I used professional wrestling kayfabe to analyze American politics, and this podcast was quite popular. It went viral and it attracted the attention of a WWE professional wrestler by the name of Samisen. No, I'd never heard of Sammy because I don't keep abreast of wrestling.


I haven't watched professional wrestling since I was a kid. I was a kid. But Sammy shared it. And when he did, people on Twitter, his heads exploded. What I found was that. People who listen to my podcast who enjoy wrestling are huge fans of Samisen because Sami is a wrestler, but he's also very outspoken politically and is known as someone who. Has very articulate and wide ranging opinions within wrestling, and I found an intersection between people who listen to this podcast and people who, like Sammy saw lots of people were saying, Sammy and Blind Boy, you have to have a choice.


You have to have a chat. So I got talking to Sammy on Twitter and we organized a chat over Zoom. And that's what this week's podcast is. It was quite it was quite it was before I got chatting to Sammy. It was very it was funny for me because when I announced that I was going to be interviewing Sammy on this podcast. There was there was a lot of a night, a night wrestling nards, there was a lot of annoyed people who are running wrestling blogs or people who had been running wrestling podcasts.


Who couldn't get an interview with Sammy? Apparently it was it's difficult to get this type of access to someone like Sammy in the WWE. He's one of the biggest wrestlers in the world, is one of the biggest wrestlers in the world. And we barely even spoke about wrestling. What we did do is we had an incredibly enjoyable and engaging conversation about. The kayfabe within wrestling, obviously kayfabe, but we spoke about politics, we spoke about compassion, we spoke about anger.


We spoke about Islam. We had a fantastic, fantastic conversation, and I'm really pleased to be sharing with you this week. Before I continue with is Sammy is he's Canadian, Syrian and Sammy, he's he's involved with a charity, the Syrian American Medical Society, Sam's and Sari's and Samis involvement is called Sammy for Syria. And basically what Sam is doing is helping the Syrian American Medical Society get mobile clinics and ambulances into areas of Syria that have been very, very badly affected by the Syrian civil war areas where by.


They've been so desecrated by war that they don't have access to things like hospitals, so Sammy for Syria helps to get ambulances and mobile clinics in to reach some of the most. Disenfranchised and traumatized people in the world, so I just want to give that little plug before I chat to Sammy. He's doing great work in that respect. This is the first interview that. I've conducted on this podcast in over six months because of coronavirus. I haven't I haven't done any live podcasts and up until this point.


I haven't done any new interviews because I didn't know how I didn't know how to do it or how to be right. So with this interview, because I kind of got the opportunity to interview a person who is very difficult to interview, I was like, fuck it, I'm going to do it on zone. I'm going to record my side of the interview and test Mike on this could Mike. And I reckon I can get decent enough audio quality to.


I'm really happy with the audio quality of this interview. So without further ado. Here is my interview with Samisen, the Canadian wrestler who is with WWE and is one of the. The biggest wrestlers in the world is one of the most famous wrestlers in the world, and if you don't have to be into wrestling. If you're thinking, fuck it, I don't give a shit about wrestling. I don't want to listen to this. Trust me, you're going to enjoy it.


We speak about wrestling, but everything we speak about is through the lens of humanity. We speak about humanity. That's what we speak about. All right, Yade. So, Sammy, you you're a wrestler with the WWE. I don't know anything like I used to watch wrestling when I was a kid and I used to really, really adore it. And then I kind of grew out of it. And when I announced on Twitter that I was speaking to you, I got so many replies and it took me back to.


Realizing the read the soap opera element of wrestling, the drama, the entertainment part, and how many replies were people wanting to know about your personal life or your views and things like that? And one of the things that the reason you're on this podcast is because you heard a podcast that I did about kayfabe and I was speaking about kayfabe and I was comparing Donald Trump and American politics to being a type of kayfabe. And what I want to what I'd love to ask is what is kayfabe from from someone whose job is kayfabe?


What is kayfabe? OK, well, so, yeah, that podcast you did was really interesting, and it's definitely and I'm glad because you put us in contact and everything, and now here we are speaking today. So I think it was a great podcast. And I think you made some very astute observations in there.


But so kayfabe. So kayfabe is part of what drives pro wrestling, in my opinion, but it's not everything. And so but it's a big, big part of it. I think kayfabe really refers to the. Suspension of disbelief that makes that makes wrestling work and you touched not obviously in your podcast saying that we know it's not real, but that's not the point.


We want to just enjoy it, you know, and don't don't don't ruin that for us.


And then you talked about how that overlaps into what's going on in American politics, which to be fair, I think that element has always been involved in politics because politics has always been kind of spectacle and theater. And we all know on some level that they're lying, but we all just kind of go along with it.


So I think I think kayfabe is about suspension of disbelief, but I don't think that's entirely what makes wrestling work. I mean, it's actually it's crucial.


But we enter a very interesting time in the world now where a kayfabe is, in a way dead.


And if these becomes of social media semi well, it's actually it's prior to social media, you know, the podcast you did.


And we could do a whole talk about the about the podcast you did. But one of the things that struck me is when you were talking about the podcast, about kayfabe and all this in your podcast, you were talking pretty specifically about wrestling in the 90s.


Yes. And that's important, actually, because wrestling is older than that. But the 90s are where you see.


A radical shift in just in so many ways, and one of the things one of the I guess the most remarkable things is I want to say maybe it was nineteen ninety six.


Vince McMahon himself comes out on television and says, look, we think you're tired of this good guy, bad guy kind of stuff.


And, you know, the world isn't simple. It's a little more shades of gray. And we're not going to treat you like imbeciles and we're going to give you a more complex kind of product. So I'm not saying that was the death of CAFE by any means, but but there's a radical shift in there where we're telling you straight up, this isn't real. This is entertainment.


And idiots think that Vince McMahon did that. What was the choice? Was it literally? I think as audiences, you are now more literate. And we have to we can no longer pretend that this is as fake as it is, because it might it might die like we live in an Kayfabe 2.0.


Like what what when you have seen kayfabe is like is anarchic, is it not an archaic term?




No. And you really hit the nail on the head there because. Wrestling, if you look at it historically, it's always been a reflective art form in that it reflects the times that that exists in. So if you go back to even the forties in the 50s, you know, it's always especially in the United States, it's always where it's from. And it's been reflected of the sentiment at the time or the zeitgeist, as you discussed Zangas at the time.


So know, the villains in the 40s and 50s are Germans and they're Japanese. And then, you know, in the 70s and 80s, Russians and Iraqis and Iranians and an Arab bad guys and all this sort of reflects sort of the sentiment in the country at the time.


And I'd even argue this is a whole again, everything we're saying can easily be expanded upon and kind of become its own podcast.


But I'll also say that now may be the time when, especially if you're just looking at WWE, WWE is an all of pro wrestling, but it certainly is the biggest company. So we'll just talk about it with WWE now. Now, I'd say is the least political that's ever been as far as the actual product. Very little of what you're seeing on television reflects the hysteria that I would say has engulfed American culture right now through politics. And WWE doesn't touch that.


But I would argue that WWE not touching that is once again a reflection of the product of the times we live in, because you know what I'm saying?


Yeah, because it's too hot. Exactly. Exactly. Which, again, is is a Reflektor is a reflection, but it's like this weird anti reflection.


Reflection where. You can't even reflect it, but I like to think maybe it's because people now couldn't can't leave their kayfabe at the door, like if I think back to Hulk Hogan, Hulk Hogan for me, when I saw him as a kid, Hulk Hogan represented America and American imperialism. Hulk Hogan was the American dream. And then you had someone like the Iron Sheik. Was the Iron Sheik supposed to be like an Arabic character? Are Iranian or Iraqi, the Iranian?


Yeah. So when you have Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik together in a ring, it's literally it's it's reflecting through theater war and it's reflected through theater, American imperialism. And if today you had one character who is clearly a Trump supporter and then another character who represents a liberal, maybe the audience wouldn't be able to leave their kayfabe at the door and you might actually end up with actual riots in the crowd. Yeah, so it's kind of too hot to touch, but part of it is also the the polarization as well, because let's just say on a live event and again, we're talking in a Soviet era world now.


Let's rewind. Let's rewind six, seven months to live. Events are still going on and small towns and all across America. And I get on the microphone, even on untelevised event, and I and I say something like, oh, we're in Biloxi, Mississippi.


And I bet there's a lot of, you know, Donald Trump supporters out there, you know, and if I say something like that, I might not be getting the reaction.


You can't even control that reaction because you don't know yet. You don't know the audience, OK?


And you don't know how many of them actually do support Donald Trump and how many don't. And a big part of pro-wrestling. So this is what that me suggests, the kayfabe is broken down like it's the audience, I would imagine are willing to to throw something at you. They'll get really angry. It's like.


I mean, so wrestling used to be like that, I mean, you did you elicited because because it was under the let me not see on TV what like surely in the history of wrestling during the Reagan era when things were divided, surely shit got out of hand. Surely the crowd took things too seriously. And that's just the bit that I didn't get to see on TV.


Of course. Of course. And that's because it was a pretty social media world.


And you can get into all that and you couldn't you can't hide that now. So it's out of hand now. Everyone's got everyone has a phone. Yeah, yeah, I mean, and a bad guy is a hero here. Yes, I'm a heel on the hill. Have you always been here a semi?


No, no, actually I was a career good guy. It was a career babyface for about 15 years. I was like the quintessential good guy.


I'd never been a bad guy.


And then I turned heel in twenty seventeen, I believe.


And what is the nature of your badness? What, like when you go out there into the ring and you understand, OK, my character is to be a bad guy. How what, how does your badness take form and your performance. What, what do you want to do and who do you want to upset.


Well so I think the character's point of view, because I was delicate about being doing too radical of a transformation, because that's also something that you kind of can't buy. Right. Like. So if this guy tells me for five years that he's about one thing, but then one day he turns bad, but he's about not, suddenly he's saying a complete 180 to me.


There's a bit of a disconnect there where it's like, oh, this guy's now playing this completely different person, you know, because it's so far removed from the original identity that we've crafted for you. So in my case, I tried to kind of say, well, OK, the character still believes what he believes, which is he's always kind of been about doing the right thing and fighting for what's right and this and that.


But now he's taken this new outlook on the same viewpoint. And so now his methods are just different.


And he believes himself to be you know, he still believes himself to be justified and almost like a martyr, you know, about for doing the right thing. And he just.


But but all these become until you've become Barack Obama, you think you're doing the right thing, that you're still bombing weddings. Yeah, yeah, maybe that's one way of looking at it, I'm Barack Obama.


Yeah, how how easy and hard is it to like I can like I remember I think it was just as always a decade or. That's just a start.


He was a good guy. He was a good guy. Yeah. He flipped. And I remember Jesus, the sense of fucking betrayal, like I was seven. So the sense of betrayal that I felt it put me off. Any man who has that haircut for the rest of my life, no believe the haircut is called the Missouri mudslide. It's a particular style of money, like actually.


Yeah, I'll tell you one, because the first ever, Parn, that I ever saw when I was about 11, it was a dude with a Missouri mudslide. And I couldn't I couldn't enjoy my first Parn because it reminded me of the treachery of said justice.


And it's like you're not even supposed to be looking at the dude. But that's the impact that kayfabe, because I'm a kid and I'm learning very, very important moral lessons from wrestling a very binary good and bad, good and bad. And I wasn't questioning it, but my dad was my dad was going, this is harmful. There's no in between. This is not how things are and I'm going. But it's so much fun. And he used to hate letting me watch it.




You know, and it's weird because here's this thing that I love. I really do love it and I've loved it as long as far back as I can remember.


And it's it's funny because now in your older age, you recognize these things that your your dad, your dad recognized.


And and then I have to kind of reconcile that and I have to kind of make that set goals. Know, on the one hand, it does kind of promote these promote, not promote. But again, because it's a reflex excuse me, reflective. It's just a reflection. It's not. It's not it's not dictating anything, it's not saying this is how it should be, it's it's reflecting and perpetuating what's already going on.


You know, so I don't know, I feel like how do you feel, Sammy, as like so your your Syrian Canadian and your you're a Muslim to your. Yeah, I was raised was raised Muslim, very Muslim. At any point in your career, have you felt that you were pushed into a direction to make. Like you were a wrestler at a point where the dominant narrative in America is that Muslims are bad, Muslims are evil, Muslims are terrorists, did you ever feel pressured or pushed into trying to portray that negative image?


No, in fact, I'd probably say the opposite, but so this is long before I ever signed with WWE, God, I don't even know where to start here. We could either start when I'm a five year old kid or we could start to start from the start.


And I want to know how you found wrestling and how he got into it.


OK, so just just a touch from the upbringing and and how it relates to wrestling and all that.


And so how did your parents get from Syria to Canada? What was that about? Oh, it's a crazy story. My dad told it to me and I'm actually a little sketchy on the details, but it was the 70s and immigration was a lot different then. But he came to study and then just kind of stayed and then they almost kicked them out, but then they let him in. That was just crazy, the story. It's kind of long.


And and my dad's not a good storyteller. It's not linear. It's there's weird details that he admits. And so it's kind of a crazy story. But all that to say, my parents come here in the late 70s and as a result, I'm born here.


Which again, whole other thing we can discuss there about how much hard work goes into success and how much is just luck that's out of your out of your hands, because if I was born in Syria, would we be talking right now? Would I be a pro wrestler? Who knows?


So so I become this really interesting. Little person, because on the one hand, my household is Arab, Muslim, and that it might as well have been in Syria, but then I go out into the world and I'm just really white looking kid with red hair and I go to fucking Irishmen.


Everyone thinks, yeah, because his father has followed me my whole life. But I think Irish people look at me and they go, well, you don't look Irish. Yeah.


Because they can tell. But but most people, they just see red hair and they go. What do you Irish. Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah.


And so. But no, I'm not. I'm not. And so but but but that definitely I think colored my experience because I'm brought up as this, I'm treated as as just this white redheaded kid.


And then I noticed I noticed the difference if I was out with my parents because my mom wore the hijab and my dad has a big beard and it's pretty obvious we're Muslim. And so you kind of observe. This dynamic from a very young age and from a very young age, I'm a product of two very different cultures, which I think in a way.


What were you discovering white privilege that you would have had?


Yes, absolutely. I always want to say I don't want to get into all of it. But when people are like, oh, white privilege doesn't exist, I just want to chime in like, look, man, I am a white redheaded Arab Muslim. And I can tell you that it exists. And I can tell you because I've seen it, I've seen it firsthand when I'm alone and how I'm treated when I talk because I don't have an immigrant accent versus one my with my parents or, you know, when I'm crossing the border, you know, because my name is not the most Arab sounding name.


But if my name was like Abdulrahman Abdul-Karim or whatever, I might might have had a lot more issues traveling the way I did between 2004.


That's a thousand and a question I'd love to ask Sami. Right. Because like, the American border is a scary fucking thing even for Irish people. It's scary. I don't know what it's like for Canadians, but like. At what point when you go to the US border and the guy is are the woman is staring at you. Is there a point where they're like, oh, it's a white Canadian dude, it's OK. And then they find out something about you in the moment that suggests that you're Muslim and then shit flips.


So it's never happened to me. It's never happened to me. I know other people that have kind of had that experience, but for me, it's never happened because again, my name doesn't really sound Arabic and I don't look Arabic. And so I really never had any sort of problems. And it's funny and I don't know if this can get me into any kind of trouble now, all these years later. But, you know, for the first several years and this is another thing I can get into, there's just so much.


But when we talk about illegal immigration, which is another hot button issue in the United States, you know, I don't think anybody would think this is immoral or evil for me to tell that, you know, for the first several years of me making my name in the States, I started traveling to the US in two thousand four and I only first got my first work visa.


And I want to say two thousand and seven. So those first three years, three years I was technically crossing the border illegally, know I was lying.


I was saying I'm coming here to train for wrestling or whatever. Yeah.


And and because I got to that you're not earning a lot of money and your friends are expensive. Yeah. I'm making, I'm making one hundred dollars a yeah. And so you know, nobody, nobody would even think to say. This person is crossing the border illegally and there know nobody's thinking to say that, and I think that's because I'm one white Canadian or really an Arab, but viewed as a white Canadian and also because it's viewed through the lens that, well, this is just a kid following his dreams to make it in the world.


Americans run Blairism.


You are following the American frontier. Extreme, right.


But but but it's very different when it's me versus when it's a, let's say, a Mexican laborer who wants to, you know, just he's willing to to pick crops for pennies on the dollar. These people are vilified.


So the good, the good and the good immigrant. And I think part of it is whiteness, if I'm being frank. But the other part of it is that we don't value labor. We don't value that type of labor. We don't value crop workers, but we do value art and we value pro wrestling. And we we love that narrative of a kid following his dreams to make it big and in wrestling or in Hollywood and nothing but a dream, you know what I mean?


There's this whole narrative around it that surrounds it that for some reason just doesn't. Get afforded to Central American or Mexican laborers who are doing the exact same thing coming here, just trying to make trying to live the American dream and trying to make enough money to to provide a decent life for their families. I've always noticed, again, the the difference in the framing of my story of coming to America versus how how how the story is framed for these other people who are far less fortunate and.


Also, as well, you've done can you speak with the charity work that you've done in Syria and whether as well if if that shit like got you in trouble or raises eyebrows in the US? No, not at all.


I'd love to talk about and thank you for bringing it up because it puts some eyes on it to your audience who might not know me. And essentially, I'll tell you how it started. And it was from. Just calling myself out on my own hypocrisy, which I think became a big thing to me a few years ago, is really realizing like how much of my value system I live in by, you know.


And so, you know, for years and years the war in Syria, I just think it's this awful thing. Everybody could agree on that. But then at a certain point, I have to say, well, what are you really doing about it? Nothing. You're just like everyone else.


You talk you talk about how terrible it is and how or whatever, but you don't do anything about it. And so I said I got to do something about it. And so I got in touch with this organization called Samms, which is the Syrian American Medical Society. And the reason I was drawn to them in particular is because they were doing work on the front lines on the ground in Syria, like in the war zone, in the thick of it.


And to make a long story short, we had we basically launched a campaign, a fundraising campaign to raise money to be able to launch a mobile clinic which is delivering health care to.


To internally displaced people, to people whose homes have been blown up, we're now living in camps and things like that, so they have no access to health care. So this mobile clinic basically drives out to them and delivers health care to them. And so that's still going on. It started in twenty seventeen. We had it running for about a year and it provided something like eleven thousand medical services, which I'm very proud of. And then now we're doing it again.


We just it just got up and running a few months ago.


And did you want to say did you visit Syria at this at this point to see what things were like? No, no.


I haven't visited since nineteen ninety eight. I think it's to be honest, like Syria isn't really somewhere you just visit is this. You know, I don't even know I don't even know now, certainly certainly getting to these camps would be very, very difficult and dangerous.


Yeah. And one question I got that I wanted to ask is, is how do you feel about them? So. Wrestling is actually incredibly camp, but it's the fan base see it as this very macho and heterosexual thing. But wrestling itself, I mean, it's men dancing around in their underpants, hugging each other, you know, and how how how do you feel about that? How do you feel about hypermasculinity within wrestling? Is there room for I don't know what kind of a shift.


Yeah, so let's. OK, so I don't think it's just hypermasculinity I think it's. There's definitely an aspect of sexual sexualization because you see it in women as well, especially, it's much easier to identify in women, right. But there has been a real shift in recent years of looking at the women wrestlers as competitors and not just eye candy like they were maybe 10 years ago.


And similarly, even even the way that the male physique looks in pro wrestling, these I mean, look, when I started wrestling in 2002, I was told from day one, you're way too small, way too small. You're never because wrestlers looked like in two thousand and two were just they were massively jacked up. Yeah.


I don't like the wrestlers that I adored when I was a kid. Like, they were on a lot of steroids.


Yeah. And that's why so many of them are dead. Right.


And once again, a reflection of the world we live in in the 80s. You see, steroids are everywhere. Steroids are candy.


I mean, you look at you look at the action stars, you know, prior to Arnold Schwarzenegger and then after Arnold Schwarzenegger, two very different things of the world. You can see what's going on in the world reflected in pro wrestling.


Once again on a man needed to have was a hairy chest. And that was it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, so once again, I think you see that reflection. And now you look at the wrestlers now and they're athletic and and all that.


But you're not seeing guys, Jack, to the gills, you know, with their veins busting out of their necks as much. That's that's the minority more than it is the majority for sure. So I think there has been a shift in that.


But just to touch on something, you said the beginning of your question when you were saying, in a way, wrestling is very simplistic.


I think it's actually very complex and not to sit here and defend this this thing that I know that I like, but but it really is profound because but it is so simplistic. But I don't think it's simplistic in the way that. People who insult wrestling, if you would, a simplistic where they say, oh, it's just two guys and they're just dancing around their underwear. Yeah, that's sort of a way to to dismiss to dismiss some of the city behind it.


Yeah, it's very reductive. It's very reductive. And now, if I was going to be reductive about wrestling, what I would say is that wrestling, in essence, is the art of manipulation. Right. And so in order to manipulate, one has to have.


An understanding of some very complex concepts like psychology and sexuality and and sociology, and you manipulate these things, you manipulate the human condition to elicit the reactions you want.


And if you look at it through a capitalistic lens to get their money, feel that's what drives the business.


And so that's why in some ways, I think wrestling is a very easy way to explain how the world works to a lot of people, because it's something that's pretty easy to understand. Some of these concepts can be very complex, and especially when you get into the academic level and you get into academic language that can be very exclusionary, then then you have these theories that you can't necessarily articulate to everybody.


And again, one of the things that I think you do brilliantly is, is you bring these very interesting and complex ideas and you deliver them in a way that's very accessible to people.


And so I argue that since wrestling is sort of my discipline, that I can use wrestling in some ways as a mirror.


How the world works, much like the way you used to describe how politics work, you know, like especially when people talk about Democrats and Republicans in the States, I always refer back to wrestling and I go, look, man, what do we go on these European tours?


The good guys are on the good guys, us and the bad guys are on the bad guy bus.


Why don't we both. You serious, man? Yeah. Yeah.


Like you discouraged from being friends with someone who your character is at odds with.


No, it's just one of the last bastions of Kaifeng still alive.


But really. But you're having drinks. You're having drinks with the people you're fighting with, I'm guessing. And there you go. And there's and there's again, if you get back into the reflection of how the world works and politics and all that, here's the good guys. Here's here's the Democrats on one bus. Here's the Republicans on the other bus. Here's here's a here's B.. But you know what? They both they both go to the same arena.


Yeah. We both change in the same locker room. We both do the same job. And at the end of the day, it's the same name that's on our paychecks.


And I'm guessing to actual conflict would fuck up your job to for you to step into a ring with someone you have a real actual issue with, I'm guessing would get in the way of your professionalism in the same way that with a politician, because then emotion comes into it.


Yeah, that's a great point. I never even thought of that. But you're absolutely right. And so you're right.


It behooves you to keep good relations with these people. So even though there is the spectacle of going out there on camera and saying this person and I can't believe his behavior, it's very much within the storyline of what you're seeing on television.


It's never personal, you know, because like you said, they probably all just go out drinks after the show, you know, and again, it's just it's just a way to reflect the world, the people, in a way that maybe makes it easier to understand.


Yeah. How do you feel about kayfabe in the age of social media? Like, is a wrestler expected to continue, like they have wrestlers had any Twitter feuds and this is part of the script. So there's something I can really talk about this one, I love this subject, so it's very, very interesting for a couple of reasons. One, Twitter, there is a disconnect between.


So if you look at just my Twitter, for example, I won't say everybody's Twitter, but. But I'll just use myself as an example. I do tweet about a lot of stuff that is not congruent with my character at all. This is just me. It's just me. Now, again, social media as a tool. And it's all in how you use it if you want to use it as strictly a tool to further your storyline and your character.


That's fine. But that's not how I choose to use it. I choose. I see it as a platform and that I can spread ideas on this platform so I should make it count or I can raise money for charity for this holds. The whole thing we did with Sammy for Syria was all through social media, was all through Twitter and a little bit of Instagram there at the end. But it's all through social media, so it's all in how you use it.


But so. What I'll do sometimes is if I am doing a character tweet, I think sometimes confuses people because they don't know if it's the character or or the person.


Are you thinking, what if you're like in a feud with a wrestler and then you accidentally like a picture of his dogs on Instagram? Oh, I mean, it'll it'll go far beyond that and it's not accidental, you know, people just don't care. So you can be in a program with somebody, a program being rivalry with somebody on television, but then still have a friendly back and forth with them on Twitter.


Holy fuck. Yeah.


But then also sometimes but then we'll also sometimes on the show use Twitter as a vehicle to start a program between two wrestlers. So we'll we'll manufacture a Twitter beef between two wrestlers and then we'll go on television, go look at these two fellows. They got at it on Twitter and now they're going to have a match, you know what I mean?


So so it's sort of it's very fluid. It's extremely fluid.


But but it brings about a couple of things that I have very fascinated in. And one of the things that I find so interesting about the professional wrestler as an artist or as a performer, and the only one that I could kind of compare it to is maybe stand up comics. Where because. Because we tell you straight up it's an act, OK? This is not me. This is not me. This is an act. But they still think it's you.


They still think that if you said it, you believe it.


And the only other people I can compare that to a stand up comic says it's an act and they're going about their life.


They're talking about their lives. They're talking about their wives, their kids. But when I look at a stand up comic, I have the kayfabe is I know that's some of what you're saying is probably lies because your job is to give me the most funniest and entertaining version of what actually happened. And I'm OK with that. And I don't want to talk about it.


Yeah, yeah. I mean, like, Dave Chappelle is incredible. And, you know, he'll talk about his wife and kids sometimes, but then he'll also make a joke just a minute later about like eating pussy or something crazy like or, you know, trying to have a threesome with his friends.


But then minutes later, well, we'll we'll joke about a story about his wife and family and it being a very healthy. So it's very close to very fluid.


Snoop Dogg has been he has been married to his wife since he was seventeen years of age. And all he talks about is fucking other women while having a very loving relationship with his wife on Instagram.


Right. Right, right. So and you see it with musicians to and rap music in particular, because they're selling an image especially.


So, you know, not everybody's living that image.


But I mean, I talk about mental health with a plastic bag on my head, you know? Yeah, well, you know, I wanted to talk about the plastic bag for a minute, let's just pause things there briefly so we can have time for the ocarina pause. We can start a digital advert. All right. And if you're a new listener, there's digital adverts in this podcast in the midpoint. So I'd like to just give a little warning so you don't get a shock.


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Having chats with me are watching me making music twitch that TV favorites like The Blind by Podcast and The Patriot on page is Patriota Come Forward, Slash the Blind by podcast. Let's get back to Samisen asking me about why I wear a plastic bag.


Yeah, well, you know, I wanted to talk about the plastic bag for a minute. Let's circle back around to that.


But please remind me because I want you to wear a mask. You used to be called alginate. That's right. You had a mask on. Yeah. So I really wanted to ask you about the mask, because one thing. So here's another thing. And I'm sorry if I'm rambling from all over the page.


It's just a lot look, my mind is starting to get excited, but so one of the things that I observed when I was when I had a mask and before I want to say this, I didn't know I knew very little about you before I heard your podcast's.


I heard you once on Russell Brand's podcast. Yes, and I said, oh, man, you said you said something in there like advertising doesn't sell your product.


It sells you an idealized version of yourself. Right away, I was like, oh, man, I like this guy. I like this guy. But then I didn't hear about you for years. And then your podcast about pro-wrestling that you did a few weeks ago popped up and I listened to your podcast. And when I listen to your podcast, then I discovered the rubber band and then I discovered it. And then I discovered that you had this BBC show and that you wrote a book and that you're really successful in all these different avenues.


And I didn't know any of it.


Right. And you wear a plastic bag on your head, so hide your identity. Yeah, so one one question for you and forgive me if you've ever addressed this on a past podcast, but I'm curious about your take on it. Is have you ever noticed a difference between you without the mask and you're just you you're just some guy that had no idea who you are and then all of a sudden you say, oh, actually, I'm blind, boy.


And then the transformation in how they treat you.


Oh, fuck. Yeah, right. Like, isn't that just the most remarkable thing that.


But that's why I have a fucking bag on men. I know.


And that's why I love the bag. And I wish I had the bag. I loved wearing a mask.


And because I want I do want my work to be famous but I don't want to be exactly. And if that makes sense. So to answer your question, Semih, like. What that does for my mental health is fantastic. OK, so so one thing I say to people, because some people say to me, just take off the bag, you don't need it anymore. And what I say is like in Ireland, I'm pretty well known in Ireland, but once I don't have this bag on, no one fucking knows who I am.


Nobody knows who I am. And one thing that I know what I so what I say to people is if I'm at a festival or something, if I'm at a festival and I'm backstage and there's like 200 people in a room so I can walk into that room with the bag on as blind by, and I'm the center of attention. And when I meet a person I don't have to put any work in. This person knows who blind boys. They're exceptionally nice to me.


OK, then I take the bag off and I go back into that same fucking room with no bag on and I'm just a regular dude. And what happens is when I meet people. They are now speaking to just a stranger, and I have to be worrying and what's nice about it is when I when I don't have a bag on and I'm speaking to another person, I now have to gain their trust by using empathy, by being kind. I have to show that person I am someone who's worth talking to.


And that human interaction is very genuine and it's very compassionate. When I've got this fucking bag on, I don't need to do any of that. I walk into the room, everyone knows who I am. Everyone is nice to me for no fucking reason. If that was my life, I think I would have great difficulty maintaining a healthy sense of self esteem. I'd have great difficulty being humble because my capacity, everyone who knows me is like there's fucking blind boy and I don't have to put the work in.


I don't have to put the effort in. And that will be frightening to me. I mean, there's a lovely story from Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan said, because Bob Dylan, like he's he's fucking crazy famous. That's as famous as you get. And Bob Dylan said the biggest heartbreak for him was that he's at the level of fame where he can't even be normal around famous people. So if Bob Dylan goes to the famous person restaurant and Tom Cruise is there and Robert De Niro is there, everyone eats differently because Robert De Niro is like, there's fucking Bob Dylan, you know?


And that for him is that break. And a prince was similar to a two and taken it back to Russell Brand like I know a story about like so some people. So, so so fame does not suit my personality. I like you said there, I want to work. I want to create art. I want to perform. And that's what I love doing. But I don't want the fame shed. It doesn't suit who I am. But there are other people, and I'm sure you've met them in the industry and fame actually suits their personality.


They need it and they're healthy within it. And Russell Brand.


But I would argue that last point about the healthy cut you off. But I would argue that that even if you do well with it or it suits you, I don't think that if it drives you OK, I don't think that's healthy. But we can get into that after and I'm sorry to cut you off, carry on with your story, but also Brandon Russell.


There was a point before Russell became known in America, Russell was incredibly famous, kind of just in the UK and Ireland, like really famous, everybody knew him. And Russell likes fame. He he does enjoy it. He enjoys the notoriety. That's it's it's he would say it's kind of part of the thing that he has to fight, but he does have a desire. And I like to be noticed and to be the center of attention. So when Russell was made famous in Britain, he went to California and he couldn't fucking handle that.


Nobody knew who he was. He couldn't handle the anxiety of. That's interesting. So he had to go to Malibu for all the English people live. And he just stood there on the corner of Malibu. And then people knew who he was and he needed his. Which is, yes, not so that doesn't sound healthy. No, Russell has struggled his entire life with addiction and mental health issues, and this is his shtick. You know, and I do this to I'd be a lot more successful, Sammy, if I didn't have this fucking bag.


I'd have a lot more opportunities and I would be doing better in my career. But I don't think I'd have mental health. I don't think I'd be able to trust who is my real friend. I like meeting someone as a fucking stranger, and I like putting in the effort and human compassion. And I like earning that person's respect for me to be OK to speak with them. And when someone tell you what I what what I think it does and stop me if I'm wrong.


But what I think that's what it's amazing about it bag is that it allows you it forces you to compartmentalize your identity as a performer with your identity as who you are at home, with your family, your friends, because they are two different people. Yet you are. They are they. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.


You know, they are the bag the bag is so visually different. That is just simply not the same person.


So it forces you to do something that most people struggle with greatly when they're entertainers and their identity and their self-worth gets latched on to that. There you go. That their value is contingent on the art that they create. What ends up happening is the line between you and the performer is completely blurred.


And especially, like I said, when when we're pro wrestlers, where there's that you don't even know where the character begins and the person begins.


But semisweet like for you then being somewhere like New York where you go into any shop and somebody knows who the fuck you are and then being on tour and maybe going to a country where you're not as known. What are those two experiences like for you? Well, so this is the thing that I also love is we have a very niche audience in a way I'm not John Cena. So John Cena walks around, you look at him, you know, that's John Cena or the Rock or whatever.


I mean, WWE as a brand is very famous. Everyone's heard of it. But like even in your case, you know about WWE, but you kind of tuned out.


You don't know who all the characters are. I could walk right by you and you wouldn't know who I am.


I know. I know. I know. And even if the rock is even still in fuckin wrestling, I don't know.


No, he's not. He's not.


But but there are certain people who and the Ford really place at the helm of the company who will be recognized far more.


I'll get recognized, especially in New York City. But it's not I can walk down the streets in New York City. I have this super convenient level of fame where.


I am left alone ninety nine point nine percent of the time, and then once in a while I'll recognize someone and it makes their day OK. And that is the perfect level to me where I can be nice to someone. If I can, I can have somebody go. I just might say I've got a picture of them and it helps brighten up their day a little bit.


That feels good to you. That feels good for you because that's an act of compassion.


But how do you one thing that always frightens me, too, is. It's like sometimes I do get recognized and my voice will give me away, and it happens so rarely that I can actually have a connection in a conversation with that person and introduce them a little bit to who I am behind my back. And it's lovely and it's not excessive. But my big fear would be if I got heavily recognized and then I six people ask me for selfies and then by the time I've done six, I'm a human being, I have limits.


And then when someone comes along, I'm saying no. And to number seven, I'm a fucking dickhead. I know what I mean. Of course.


Yes. That that always I remember when you were saying that it reminds me of a story. One time I was in Hawaii with a wrestler who one of our top wrestlers and Daniel Bryan, but I've known him forever from the independents. We've come up together and we were in Hawaii. And, you know, he's very, very nice person, is very nice person. So somebody's asking for a picture. He's happy to oblige. But then exactly the scenario you just described came up here because he's also married to one of the ballots we're on to total divas or total Bela's.


So they have crossover appeal with a whole other audience that has nothing to do with wrestling, just like women who watch the E network will recognize them, you know, so he start getting recognized. And then one picture turned into five or six is like, oh, man, I got I got to get out of here because he's not built he's not built for that either.


But goodness, just going going back to the thing to to do things I wanted to ask or discuss one, do you ever resent the difference in the treatment to Blind Boy versus you as a person like. Somebody kind of like Rootie as it happens. Yeah, but but they don't give a shit about you because you're just some guy, they don't give a shit, but they have actually.




You see that transformation and it's like that shallow, you shallow piece of shit.


Yeah, I haven't had that, alas. But I have had situations, men where I'm not wearing my bag, I'm just socializing and I'm entered into a new group of people and I'm speaking to someone. And this person is just being rude, just being rude for because this is how they are and then haven't been rude, are not engaging me for the entire night. Someone whispers into their ear and says, Do you know who that is? And all of a sudden they're the nicest person.


And that breaks my heart. And I have to I that breaks my heart to see what I have to tell myself is I've just met a shallow person and that person and that's OK. And it's not all humans.


Yeah. The thing that upsets me is I think I whether I want to acknowledge it or not, I think that exists within me, within all of us to a certain extent.


Yeah. You know, but but but when you observe it, you're like, that's not right. When you're when you're at the center of it, you're like something seems really wrong about.


So you've had that situation, have you had situations where you're just having a chat with someone and then someone says, this guy is really big in WWE and all of a sudden the person changes. Yeah, well, so, you know, I think about this back, my friends would do it a lot, and this is even before WWE just because wrestler is such a strange occupation.


So back when I was single many moons ago and going to bars and chatting up Yemen or whatever, this is so long ago now, it feels like a different lifetime.


But there was always like it's almost like this ace up your sleeve or the power you have or it's like, well, because it's one of the first questions that comes up like, oh, what do you do?


Well, actually, I'm a pro wrestler. Oh, really? Well, wait a minute. That's that's interesting. Yeah. And so it becomes like.


It just really makes you question the idea of like social currency, you know, and and this is one of the things I want to circle way back around to hear when you're talking about wrestlers on Twitter and the age of social media and all this, one of the things that social media has done to let's actually take wrestlers out of it to people. I mean, just everyday people is is. It's been. Let me see if I can articulate this properly.


It's been like the next level of corporate takeover of corporatocracy and corporate mindset. So I thought the debt and maybe I'm right about this, maybe I'm wrong, but. The biggest corporate takeover of all time is is the corporate takeover of America. America now is a wholly owned, wholly owned by the corporations whose interests it serves. But now. But that's still an abstract idea. It's an abstract idea to this body. Whatever America is, America doesn't it's not a tangible thing.


Right. But it's the system of governance has now been infiltrated by a corporatocracy. But now it's like with Instagram and with Twitter and with the idea of social currency being afforded to the everyday person, it becomes the corporate takeover of the individual.


So now the individual now commodifies themselves and every aspect of their life in an effort to get more social currency.


And I see it with Rustler's a lot because I'm pretty private, even though I don't have the bag, my figurative bag anymore. I do have a personal shield.


I'm pretty private with my personal life and I don't know much about me when it comes to that. Know, they can they can infer a lot based on conversations like this one that we're having right now about who I am or based on my tweets. But they don't know about my personal life and they don't know everything about me. And I keep it that way by design. Yeah. Other wrestlers, obviously. I mean, the bag, the bag does it bag as well.


But just there's certain things I'll speak about my childhood to speak about my parents, but then other stuff outside of that, I just, I'm not talking about it. That's mine.


And I'm entitled to the same same. And I think I think you I feel like, you know, I feel a connection with you on this level because I think you think those things are sacred and you still think you still value these things. You still value privacy.


And I think other data and other people like my that's what freaks me out about influencers and things. It's like that's your fame now. Your sister's in the photograph now. Your dog is in the photograph.


It's like, yeah. Are you consenting with all of these people about today to bring these people into the spectacle of your life?


You know what I mean? I, I wish I could say, like, look, again, I said this earlier, I am reactionary. But then I've reached this level where after my initial reaction, which is usually like disgust or anger or whatever or judgment, I always sort of I always going to go pause, go two steps deeper. What why? Why you got to ask you just got to look at how people are behaving. You got to ask yourself why are they behaving this way?


And when you start to look at why and then you almost feel like sorrow or you feel compassion for people, that's very important.


And I think that's a big problem. Once again, with our culture is going back to that whole conversation is there's a big lack of a introspection, but the compassion and we're not we're not conditioned to ask why. We never ask why is somebody behaving this way? Never we're not taught to look at people and even look at them as as anything other than their behavior at that moment.


We're completely. They're judged completely on their behavior in that moment and nothing else, and there's no further thought, you know, and you take these very complex issues and I'm sorry, I'm ranting and I'm going in the wrong direction now, but you take these complex issues like crime and and poverty or you see all these riots going on and whatever, all these huge issues. And people just take it at face value and they go, oh, this is this is bad.


They're acting this way. They don't they don't ask why the conversation ends there when it comes to the public sphere.


But I'd love to see some is like, you know, you're bringing words like love and compassion into a conversation there. How much of your outlook on life and humanity is informed by Islam and what you grew up learning about? What, Islam?


Well, that's a great question, and this is something a revelation I had only in recent years, I want to say in the last couple of years of deep, deeper introspection, you know, being brought up with religion the way it was within my household certainly walked me in some ways, like there's no question, I think.


But, you know, every everything works when I was growing up a fucking Catholicism like. So, yeah. Yeah, so you see, you understand, and especially Catholicism has that reputation where it's just shrouded in guilt, guilt and judgment.


Yeah. And so certainly Eslam, I don't think as well, maybe it is a little inherently judgmental, I guess. And any religion that says God is going to judge you inherently has judgment in it. But you know, you can practice Islam in a somewhat nonjudgmental way.


But certainly I was I felt I felt like judgment was a huge part of it.


And then only in recent years that I kind of start to realize, like, wait a minute, this also does colored my perspective in a lot of positive ways, too, that I didn't make the connection with as being derivative of my Islamic upbringing until recently. So one one example would be fasting when you fast for Ramadan, when you fast at an age of like 12 or 13, at a time when all you want to do is play and party and eat and have fun.


It teaches you it teaches you a lot of valuable lessons at a very young age.


Lessons that some people don't even learn in their whole life about go about going without and about sympathizing and empathizing with people that have to go without. And what it's like to. You know, just not everybody has when you're really hungry, you're like, man, when is it? Five o'clock. So I could eat. But then you think to yourself, man, some people don't get to eat.


And if that's the lesson of Ramadan, is that part of of when you are fasting? Are it does Islam ask the person fasting to think about what it's like for someone who doesn't have the option of fasting? This is their existence for sure.


For sure. And I think these are these are the lessons that, you know, for for Islam or for any of these religions that have gotten the flak that they have. And, you know, I think a lot of it is. You know, people say things like, oh, you know, religion is the cause of war and I don't agree. I think religion is just a it's a it's a it's a tool excuse. It's an excuse.


Like anything else. If it wasn't religion, it would be nationalism. It's not nationalism. It's but people are fucking fighting over masks about who wears a mask and who doesn't. Polaroids, whatever you give humans depolarize over that polarize and eventually throw a stone.


Exactly, so what I'm getting back to and using it almost like social media, is that these are tools, these are tools and it's how you use it. And so if I if I stop and think about.


And there's also a great deal of compassion that's taught in that lesson about fasting and humility is a big thing.


So I was talking to a friend of mine once that he actually brought up the point because he was brought up Catholic, too.


And he's like, you know, when you're a kid and they tell you say sorry to God and God wants you to worship him and pray to God five times a day and tell God that you love them and you're a kid. So your thinking is like, what's up with this guy?


That's a very God, isn't it?


He seems like he really wants a lot of credit all the time. Yeah. What's what's up with your kids?


This is where you're thinking and you're like, wait a minute. If I if I apply these very same principles to a human, it seems arrogant or ever. But then but then the connection was made like, no, the lesson in that is that is humility. Actually, it's your saying that you haven't done this all there's there's a cosmic OK, there's a there's there's there's there's something that you need to be grateful for because it's not only you controlling this at that time.


What you're saying about collectivism, when you're saying collectivism, it's about us recognizing. Hold on a second. This is part of something greater than us. This is the collective the thing that allows you to eat your food in the morning. Someone has to prepare that food. The thing that allows you to get into your car, someone had to make that car. It's all collective efforts and the individualism is the illusion. Yeah, yeah, and in addition to that, and now that religion has kind of gone by the wayside and a cultural cultural on a cultural level, but it's not so dominant in our cultures and certainly in Ireland or or the states like it used to be.


Now, you'll hear a lot of people say things like, I'm very spiritual, but I don't subscribe to any religion. And what they're basically doing there is they're keeping the lesson that is taught from I mean, ideally, hopefully they're taking the lesson of saying, well, there's a greater cosmic force that surrounds not only my life, but all of us. And we're all interconnected.


And even if you get into some real hippy dippy stuff about the universe and the whatever the consciousness and consciousness, we're all one consciousness sharing and individually experiencing a collective consciousness. You're still saying the same thing, yet Islamic people are saying about God, you're just using different language and you're not using a human humanistic representation, because we tend to think of God is like a giant man in the sky.


So we we we reflect ourselves. You know what, I'm not sure I'm putting in the right word, we give it a human quality, whereas now we're getting a bit more abstract with, like, saying words like consciousness and interconnectedness.


It's just God's you just you want a vision of what what you call it.


Exactly, exactly, and I think people just, you know, in this day and age, perhaps because of the rise of individualism, people also don't want to be tied down to the dogma that surrounds the these religions, especially when individualism is so tempting and is so readily available.


You know, but but but I do think individualism is slippery, is a slippery slope for many reasons and one that I absolutely abhor.


I just hate. I hate. And this is a narrative that pops up in wrestling a lot, actually, to tie it back to wrestling about like I I did this like I earned this.


I worked so hard and I got here, you know, like, come on.


And if you're not talking about the people who had the you mean the selfishness of declaring an achievement, the sole thing of one person.


Yes, because, again, because this narrative permeates pro wrestling and it permeates our culture, which is like you work hard, you get something, and that's the end of that.


That's the end of that. You work hard, you get something.


And at no point anywhere in that conversation do we talk about the interdependency and that about how crucial it was that you had good parenting, how crucial it was that you met the right person at the right time who did something out of the goodness of their heart that allowed you to have the right break, that got you to the next, you know, or that you were lucky enough to be born healthy because that you were lucky enough to be born with an aptitude for these skills.


Not everybody. Because if you don't so much luck like what you're saying.


I mean, if you don't recognize that, then that's how people are allowed to call other people losers. Do you get what I'm saying, it's like if we have this individualism of I am where I am because I work really, really, really hard and this is all me. And then you go, well, what about this person over here who doesn't have much? They must be a millionaire and now they must be lazy.


They work hard enough instead of going home.


And maybe what was their situation with their parents? What was their education? What was their economic situation? What was exactly what I'm saying?


And that's that's the why and that's the why that we don't ask. And that I think once again goes back to individualism, which I think again, I don't know.


I personally feel maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm a crazy conspiracy theorist. But I think that there are sinister motives behind keeping people thinking in that individualistic way because because it serves corporatism. And that's just my opinion. But I think it's pretty. It's not it's not much of a reach. You know, they are they go hand in hand.


And and if you convince people that everybody should be allowed to do this sort of stuff and that nobody should be allowed to tell you what to do because you're an individual, and then they're like, yeah, that's how you get people cheering, cheerleading, billion dollar transnational corporations polluting, polluting our water and polluting our air and destroying our planet.


Because you wrap it up in the guise of under the guise of individualistic freedom. So I think it's a real slippery slope. I think it's so important to recognize what we're saying. Shouldn't be we shouldn't even have to say that.


Yeah, you got to. But you've got to recognize you're the the amount of dumb luck. Yeah. Of just dumb luck. Like I said earlier, I could have been born in Syria. We wouldn't be having this conversation. You know, that might have been me and my kid floating face down in the Mediterranean. For all I know, the difference between the difference between that man, that refugee who now you're calling dirty and you're calling subhuman. And the difference in me who you're maybe have admiration for, the difference between him and me is, is my dad moved to Canada before I was even born.


Yet that might be the only difference. Otherwise it might have been me. And that's that's the thing that. Man, I'm going to go off on with something subject, but I'm going to ask you one last question, Sammy, and just because a lot of people were you banned from Saudi Arabia? I don't know.


I don't know the specifics on this to this day. I didn't really ask, but I wasn't because I wasn't really keen on going anyway. But he did a thing, a partnership sort of with or some sort of sign, some sort of deal to put on these shows in Saudi Arabia for, I don't know, what, ten years or something like that.


And I just wasn't invited to go. And I really never I never really dug into it too much because I wasn't keen on going too much anyways to begin with. But, you know, I would like to discuss that for a moment, because there is. There is a certain amount of. That's what I'm looking for here. You know, like it's very it became very popular, very easy to say, well, you shouldn't go to this country because they do these awful things.


And I understand it and I agree. And, you know, like if I was asked to perform in Israel, I would write.


But but at the same time, I perform in the United States and I live in the United States, you know, so so I kind of there's that sort of dissonance that we be to get your head around the one.


Right. So I don't know. I don't know. I don't know how I feel about all of that, but it's like, man, that's.


Jesus Christ, man, I you know, I call for social justice while using the infrastructure of corporations that are destroying the world and corporate, you know what I mean? Like that the software that I, you know, I know is smartphones.


This is this is one of the biggest things that I personally deal with. And I feel like I have a lot of weird personal guilt because I feel like I'm a part of the system that I criticize. Right.


And especially in the country and say that Twitter is. Exactly, exactly. And it's like actually just one we're on this topic. So I covered this in my book series and there was a dude who I interviewed. It didn't make it into the final cut, but he was a guy who literally was like, I'm going to fucking live off grid. The world is too evil and there was no way for me to be. He he was a he wasn't a Buddhist, but he was into Buddhism and he was like, I need to live a life of pure compassion and I cannot do this.


If the clothes that I wear came from a sweat factory in Pakistan, I cannot do this if my food is not ethically produced. So he tried it and he was arrested. He couldn't he couldn't live that life. It meant legally occupying, occupying someone's land. It meant the police coming and breaking his shit down. It meant him ethically being unable to work and relying upon asking for money.


And I interviewed him and it wasn't possible because, like I said, that's that's and I started quizzing him going, where did this light come from? Where did this come from? And he had an led light. And I said, look at this. This light came from China. What do you know about this light? And I was being nice and compassionate, but I was asking him about it. He couldn't he could not do it. It was not possible for him to live without blood on his hands because I did.


The show was about slavery. And the central question I had at the start of the show was how many slaves do we own? How many slaves do I own?


How many slaves the you own just for to exist in Western society? The man had some heavy chancers between 60 and 70.


Oh, my God. Just for you and I to I mean, like our phones, you know, you're on your phone right now doing this interview and there's a product in the phone called Coltan, which comes from Watts riots in the mines. Artisan is what they call it. But mine's in the Congo where, you know, Apple or whoever, a distance from where the mines are. But there's kids get in the fucking hands chopped off. There's it.


It's impossible possible for it's in.


And this is my point, because especially in the age of social media, there's a lot of. What about as. Yeah. And there's a lot of purity test. Yes. And well, yes.


Say this, but you do that and it's like, fuck off.


What do you want from me? Can I go? OK, I'm trying the best I can.


Does that count for anything. I mean, I'm trying here, man. I'm trying. I'm just doing the best I can. And yes, yes. You want to live in a way that is most harmonious with your value system. And yes, that means questioning where a lot of this stuff comes. This is why I stopped eating meat, you know, several years ago, because I realized, well, shit, I can't just say that I care about animals.


I think animals are grand or whatever.


And then and then be OK with the mass. There's this industrial level of cruelty. I just can't do it. And so I'm out because that's easy. I could control that. So that's me doing my best.


But, you know, I said, what about the square that was created on the road to deliver your tofu? You know, you can't you cannot you cannot break free entirely of exploitation, and I didn't I didn't know that.


I'm going to watch that episode of your show for sure. That sounds very interesting to me because I think about it all the time, because I'm constantly bombarded with this.


I'm constantly bombarded with, well, you know, you say this, but you're also a part of this and this person does that and you know that person. And so what what do you want me to do? I'm just trying to work within the framework, because unless we abandon the framework altogether and try to go hermit like your man there, unless we do that, you you are beholden to these systems.


I so so like, for example, I pay tax to the US government who then takes my money from Syria and they give it to.


That's what they do have the same people that you're technically bombing. That's right.


That's right. And I. So what's the answer. So what's the answer if I'm really adhering to this purity test was the is my systematic change. But that's fucking huge.


Right. But but what I'm saying is, what's the answer on an individual this level?


If I'm beholden to this purity test you've got, I'm here because what if I got a hypocrite, which I'm all for? I'm all for calling myself out.


But does that mean no longer wrestling ever again in the United States, no longer making a dime?


Because even if I move back to Canada, I make my money in the States, which means I have to pay tax to the American government.


So does that mean denouncing America altogether, never visiting America again?


Are you or someone in your youth in your position of privilege to do what you can within that? And that's how I look at that's it, and that's and that's how I like to trade the exact same thing you've traded off, you work in a big corporation, you earn money in the states, you pay the American taxpayer.


But while you are there, you're doing what you can to dismantle that system and you've made a trade off. You have put it very succinctly and far better than I could, but yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. And I'm saying it's on us to do the best that we can.


And I also think culturally, some very well-intentioned people are getting sucked into this into this into this type of conversation of like, well, you know, you you're one of the most disgusting things that I'm sorry.


I don't want to I don't know how long this podcast is going on. I don't want to make this too long.


But one of the most disgusting things I've seen recently is in the wake of the murder of George FOID or Jacob Blake is then turning around and saying, well, you know, he was no angel.


You know, he did these things. Yeah.


And and it's like. So does that mean what does that mean exactly? Like, does that mean so does that mean deserve to die?


Is a death penalty for a fake twenty dollar bill? Is that we are saying he had a fake 20. That's the death penalty. And the amount of people that I saw swallowing this up and putting it out there and circulating it and and just saying, well, don't shed no tears for this guy because, you know, he committed a crime.


We made up some rules and he didn't adhere to all of them.


And so, therefore, it's the collateral damage shit. It's when I'm attacked and I'm critiquing Obama and I'm talking about Obama droning a wedding in Pakistan or in Syria because one of them might be an ISIS. You know what I mean? And then it's like how many people died, but it's like, yeah, but one of them was in ISIS and you don't know if it could have grown up to the this to you don't know. Right.


And you know what better way to create ISIS soldiers than by, you know, bombing, bombing my uncles and aunts and.


Right. Right. You know, but whatever. That's a whole other topic. The only reason I brought this up is because we need to another part of. And when I say we I mean all of us, but especially the people who have a platform and you're doing it all the time and I'm trying to do it, is reshaping the culture, because that's one of the things that I think we have some influence over.


We've been afforded this luxury somehow, some way through a lot of dumb luck and a little bit of tiny bit of hard work, which I wouldn't even call work because I enjoyed it so much.


But we've now been afforded this platform. And I think I think one of the things that we can facilitate hopefully is, is some cultural change, because, as I said, all these problems are so deep rooted in culture. They're not. They're not easy, they're not easy fixes, you know, and I had this thought the other day, I had this I know it's your trademark, but I had this hot take about about defunding the police. And I was thinking, you know, what if what if you didn't take away their money?


What if you didn't call for abolishing the system altogether?


But what if instead you made it mandatory that they all had to you know, there were sociology classes and economic classes and historical classes that they had to take surrounding crime and surrounding poverty so that they understood that's one of the system?


That's one of the things, though. Some like the term defund the police, I think is such bad branding, because when such bad branding, that's not even what it's what they mean.


Calling for abolition.


Economists are saying there is when someone says defund the police, what they mean is that all the money is being put toward punitive violent policing. So how do we take a good chunk of this money away and instead we put it into social services. If someone has mental health issues on the street that a cop with a gun is and who shows up instead, someone who shows up with proper training, who can deal with this compassionately because the American system of policing its militaristic and it it's because of the prison industrial complex.


It's the policing is designed to create criminals, to create people who are in prisons because people earn money from prisons. So I'd love it if they found a different term to defund the police because you harass.


It's a terrible thing.


I agree with everything you just said is what people say is, oh, you want to OK, so get rid of the police and then there's anarchy and it's like, no, just stop giving the police all that money and think of different complex ways to deal with the complex situation instead of just hammer them with everything with one hammer.


What's the what's the end goal of what you're saying? And that is a cultural shift. The it is to shift away is punitive rather than punishing people. That's right.


It's shifting the mindset away from punishment and in creating a more humane system. And and and the we're not even calling. I mean, look, there's an argument to be made for abolition. I don't think it's completely unreasonable. It's not it's not like police is an inevitability. It's not it's a very recent creation. But I'm not saying it was created for the Irish.


It was created for the Irish by the British. John Peel, that's why some people not John. Yes, Robert Peel, that's why some police are called Peeler's, but literally the first ever police force was created by the British for Dublin to control the Irish only like 150 years ago. And I'll tell you another thing, the are the only people who tried to invade Canada. Well, I love the 70s, a group of one hundred and fifty Irish people tried to invade the Canadian border and didn't because there was only a hundred and fifty of them and they were drunk.


They were.


That's hilarious. Anyway, all I'm trying to get out of here not to go off on a huge tangent because because I can't believe me, I can. But all I'm saying is this whole thing of defunding the police, it's just you're right.


It's terrible branding.


What people are calling for is getting away from the mindset, the mindset, the mindset of militarization, the mindset of punishment.


And inhumanity and gearing it towards compassion and understanding and just understanding or at the very least the attempt to understand or the the formality of making them going through classes, what do they have to attempt to understand?


What has created the circumstances for all this? So what I'm talking about is a radical shift.


Before you get to legislative reform, you need cultural reform, and that's one of the things that's not discussed and I really think that's that culture is at the root of all these things. But the only time that I do despair is when I'm like, you know what? I'm going to go out on my million with my one million Twitter followers and I'm going to put out a message of positivity and I'm going to change the culture. And I go and I do it.


And then I look and I see like, OK.


And Ben Shapiro is shit like that with his with his six million followers or whatever he's got and has vigilent likes.


And I'm like, oh man, we're up against it, you know.


And it's like but the thing is, I mean that that the others it's easier to agree with Ben Shapiro and it's not easy to agree with the message that you're saying, because it's a complex message that asks us if I'm to agree with Ben Shapiro. I get to be reactionary and angry and reaction and anger really fucking easy because I don't have to accept any personal responsibility. But if I want to go with compassion, I have to. Compassion requires empathy and it requires self reflection and it requires ownership and taking responsibility.


And that shit is tough, but just getting fucking angry and going, it's their fault. That's easy as fuck. Really easy.


It's the difference between getting a takeaway and cooking your own meal. Yeah, you know, you've got a real way with words, that blind boy, because that that would have taken me about 30 minutes of ranting and raving before I finally before I finally hit the hammer on the head.


But you just you perfectly encapsulate the idea. And and that's very much it. It takes work to it takes it's not even work. It's one just one step deeper than our immediate, visceral reactions. And that's what I God help us both really make the world a better place. If we could just go people and look, I'm I'm not perfect.


I'm working on it all the time because I have those same reactions. But at least I've learned to stop and go, whoa, wait a minute, why they act.


And there you go. Just ask one question, one word y and then you start getting into well, you know, there's these pressures and there's these constraints and there are these situations that people are dealing with. And it just makes you a more compassionate person and it hopefully makes the world a better person or a better place.


And one thing that I've been I've been learning that a lot recently because because of quarantine, I'm not meeting a lot of humans, but right next door to me, my neighbors have this dog and the dog wakes me up every morning. He barks and backs and backs when he's on his own. And I obviously feel angry because I'm being woken up. And one morning I found myself going onto Amazon to buy a thing that makes loud noises, that trains dogs.


And then I said, no, why is he barking? And then I started going to the poor little dog is at home on his own. Those barracks that are waking me up, those are bags of loneliness and fear. And all of a sudden I put the phone down and I'm not buying this thing to punish his ears. I'm instead going, I need to live with his barking because his back is his pain and his fear. And I need to start thinking that way and going, it's OK.


I can I can lose an hour of sleep. It's OK. That poor dog is terrified and it took a lot of effort. But if I didn't now I'm a man who's just bought a weapon for hunting dogs. You know what I mean, man, that's a great story. That's a great story. I love that story. But it's the that's the that's the, you know, George Washington. I'm not now I'm not annoyed with his box anymore.


They exist. But I've been tuned out because I'm not angry with him.


I accept, you know, pain and suffering of his barking.


I accept that. And it's OK. And what's amazing about this story, by the way, is that you were actually directly impacted by this dog's blanket, even if it was in a very mild it was a mild inconvenience. You were woken up maybe a little earlier than you would have. It's a mild inconvenience, but still it directly affected you. Whereas a lot of these things that people are like calling for just the most insane kind of stuff. Yeah.


Or about issues that don't actually even affect their day to day life.


Lock them all up, throw them, send them all back to hell and whatever. Bomb the whole country.


And you hear people say these crazy things and it doesn't even affect, you know, what else you know.


And it's just regarding when when I was processing my anger with the dog.


And this is this is to to to reflect the point that you're making there about people being angry with things that don't affect them. When I was processing my anger and my fists were clenching and I was ready to order a tool to hurt his ears with noise when I started to look at that anger. Yes, I'm irritated by the dog, but all the dog did is he triggered a much deeper anger and a much deeper unfairness that wasn't related to the dog.


It was the unfairness that I feel that I can't do gigs because a coronavirus, it's the I love travelling. It's the unfairness that I feel that I can go to Spain now for two weeks and. Right. And all these things in my life that are unfair that I'm angry about. But I don't live with that anger. It just all came out now and now it's a poor dog next door, and I should have been given him in terms of the irritation of his back, he deserved a level to of anger.


But all of a sudden, I'm in my mind, I'm giving him a level eight. And he's now has taken responsibility for the unfairness in the world and only by analyzing the anger and having compassion and saying he backs our backs of fear and loneliness was able to reveal to myself, oh, look at all this shit you're really angry about, but you're not taking any ownership at all. You know, and if a lot of a different person, I could have taken a step further and now I'm someone who's physically hurting a dog or this is how dogs get poisoned when people poisoned fucking dogs, you know, while they do that.


And it's the same process. But I'm lucky enough to have had the self-awareness to spot it and have empathy because I work on myself like that.


Well, it takes a lot of emotional intelligence that I think, again, it's it's you have it.


But I learned that Cohasset. That's the thing. You learnt it. Exactly. It wasn't me all. I learned that.


And I'm lucky. And I and the other thing, Semih, I had fucking parents. I didn't grow up with a lot of money, but I grew up with a lot of love. And that sense to me stands to me. And that's why I can go to that place. Someone who grew up with angry parents are living with abuse. It's a whole different journey for them to empathize with someone else's pain or an animal.


So so I think and again, this is why I think your podcast is important. And I think, again, trying to foster this culture of emotional intelligence and reflection is so important because maybe that's one less dog poisoned.


Yeah, it's one less weapon bought off Amazon, you know, and just. Oh, man, I don't know.


It's like, you know, I think I heard you say this on your podcast and it really, really connected with me because I'm a very I think you said something like you're by default, a very happy person, but it's external things make you unhappy. And I'm very much the same way. I'm like my default setting is like an eight point five or nine point five. I'm really just flying high and there's no reason not to I mean, I'm so lucky.


It's insane. It is insane.


I can't even it's so hard to even explain how lucky I am, the fact that I can everything. When you think about everything I can breathe. I can I can t unimpeded. You know, that's good. That's a big feeling when you get older. Men have prostate issues and you can't even pee. You shit your pants. I can. I have control of my bowels.


I know that sounds ridiculous to breathe, but I can walk. I can breathe. And you know what? If you take even one. My God, these things, there's so much to be grateful for, and when you're grateful, you're happy. And I think that's really look, if I had two guiding principles that I think. I try to live by it and then everybody should try to live by it, and it's not perfect, but you try it's gratitude, gratitude and compassion, gratitude and compassion.


And I I mean, there's just so much to be grateful for. And then when you have that gratitude, I feel like compassion is sort of a natural byproduct because you're like, oh, my God, I'm so lucky. Oh, man, those poor people don't have what I have. That sucks for them. And it makes you simultaneously. Sorry for them, but not in a patronizing or condescending way, but in an empathetic sort of way, and it also heightens your gratitude and appreciation for what you have.


And it's very hard to be a miserable bastard when those are the thoughts that are filling your head. You know what I mean?


Although sometimes I guess you could feel sorry. I certainly do for all the suffering in the world.


And that's that's what brings me down, is when I can't balance my compassion and my gratitude and compassion, sorrow overtakes compassion. And that's where I struggle is with the sorrow, with the state of things sometimes. And that's something that I'm I don't really know the answer to that one other than going back to what you said earlier, we just do our best. You are familiar with that shit.


What I do is. Is is. You have to accept suffering exists, you have to accept that suffering is part of the tapestry of human existence, and you do you look at what is within your you have to look at what's inside your control, because tend to be to be given excessive energy to something that is genuinely outside your control, that is impacting your mental health. And the thing is, if you allow things that are outside of your control to impact your mental health, then you're of no service to your community.


So the positivity that you do, Samme, when you're speaking on Twitter or when you're trying to change things are what you're doing in Syria. You you can only act on those things because a comment from a position of being driven to do it. But if you were to allow the pain of things that you can't control to impact your mental health, you won't be motivated to be to do the change that you can to get me. Yeah, well, you know, but so so I ultimately think you're right, but I think I think anger and sorrow and and these things, if you don't allow them to overtake you, I think they can be channeled into really beautiful things because because the thing in Syria was born out of out of sorrow and compassion, of course, but out of sorrow and out of this anger and this horrible thing.


And you have a sense that you are feeling guilty. I felt duty because I started to recognize that there was some change that I could surely affect and I just didn't really know what that was because nothing will make you feel more powerless than a war overseas in a foreign country. I mean, you're talking about things that are within our control. If anything seems out of our control, that would probably be top of the list. Know, but then recognizing that, wait a minute, I can do something and then going back to the idea of collectivism people.


A friend of mine gave me a lot of credit for this whole like the Samey for Syria thing in the mobile clinic, but I when I thought about it more, it's like, yeah, it's real easy to think that way. But it's also the truth is it was a collective effort. The money that we raised was to collective. It wasn't just I could have donated the money once by myself anonymously, and that would've been the end of it.


And then I could have carried on going on, you know. Well, I did my part. But the truth is we are more powerful together. There's more power, there is individual power, there is individual responsibility, but there's collective power and collective responsibility, which is so much greater. We are just that's the nature. That's, again, the nature of humanity where we're better together. That's how we work. That's how we thrive. That's how we survive.


So it was a collective effort and I didn't do anything. All I did is I worked within a very individualistic framework because I put my name on this exactly right. I called it I called it samme for Syria. And that's not because I want to toot my own horn. It's because I know it's branding attention.


You're operating within the system to go. Here's my brand, here's my brand. Now you'll pay attention. Right, because the truth is, most of the donors, the people have donated, I mean, they have no personal allegiance or a lot of times even awareness to the conflict in Syria if no awareness about it. But they know me and they like me. So they'll think, oh, Sammy's trying to do something. I like Sam and this is a good thing.


I'll help versus if I just called it like Syria and it'll be like, I don't know, Syria is not my problem. Right.


So I used individualistic thinking conferences anymore and branding and corporatism and branding and marketing. And once again, these are all tools that I think circling back all around to pro wrestling here. From the very first question, how does pro wrestling inform our life or how does it how is it a reflection of our life? I learnt these tools, how to how to manipulate these tools, how to recognize these tools through professional wrestling. Because I started to realize, you know, and.


Maybe I'm maybe I've gone off the deep end a little here, but, you know exactly the same thing, like I had to use the existing framework and I had to use the individualism and all that and branding and marketing all these tools to wrestling. Wrestling usually manipulates for for profit to use, which is able to channel them. Yes. Yes.


Well, Samit, that was two hours of a chat which is fucking. Oh shit. I'm sorry Norman. That's personal if you're going to be able to use a car.


Well it's a podcast. That's the beauty of a podcast. But look, that was a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for it, OK. And it was just amazing to. I was worried that I'd have to ask a bunch of wrestling questions and not know enough about wrestling, but we had a lovely conversation just about humanity and life. So thank you for that. And one thing I'd say to you, too, I know it's fucking Caronna, so I won't be in America for a long time and you probably won't be in Ireland for a long time.


But if we get the opportunity, I'd love to have a pint or a cup of tea with you if we ever are in the same country. One hundred percent, man, really, I feel like I told you this when I said, yeah, but I feel like you're real, you're a kindred spirit and I love what you're about. I think you're doing great work. I think it's important work. You've got a way with words. You're very succinct.


And if I ever started a podcast, I don't think it would. I don't think it would have the clarity that you have. You have an amazing knack for clarity. And I really appreciate you having me on, I hope.


What a lovely chap. What a lovely gentleman. And that was a fantastic interview with Sammy. It was a pleasure to do it. And he's someone who just gives me hope. He gives me hope knowing that he's got this giant platform. He has a huge platform. He has this massive ability to reach wrestling fans, primarily male audience, and to reach them with a positive message of compassion. And that fills me with hope. And that was a pleasure.


I'll talk to you next week. I'll be back with a hot take. All right. God bless. This bid is sponsored by Discover Loch Durgahee, and as part of this raid, I'm contractually obligated to say make a break for the lake and also to mention that Loch Darg is part of Ireland's hidden ends up being sponsored by a lake. I'm a shill to Big Lake. Big Lake has gotten me. And I'm OK with that, but for a lot, DARG is an absolutely gorgeous place and discover Lakhdar Zarqawi wants you to consider going there for like a weekend getaway.


And I would suggest you do, because it is an utterly splendid little place. If you want nature lakes, mind just mindful Irish nature and the beauty of his head up the Lakhtar. If you want something a little bit more energetic, there's walking, cycling, canoeing, water skiing, kayaking, the whole shebang. If you're into biodiversity, a breeding pair of white tailed sea eagles have successfully fledged yoong on an island unlocked dog for the first time this year.


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