Sawyer Fulton, who was released by WWE last month, talked about his five-year run in the sports-entertainment organization’s developmental system during an interview with Solo Wrestling. Here are the highlights:
You signed with WWE in 2012, only 2 years after your debut as pro wrestler. Can you tell us your experience at the Performance Center? Was it tough?
“I’ve been practicing sports all my life. College Wrestling has some very extreme intense workouts, so the workload part of the PC wasn’t that big of a deal for me. The biggest part for me was learning, you spend years and years training your body to defend without thinking and showing no emotion, and all of the sudden it’s the exact opposite, that was the most difficult part of the transition for me.”
During your training, Dusty Rhodes was in charge of the promo class. Sadly, Rhodes passed away in 2015. Did the locker room notice his absence?
“The whole world notices his absence. Working with Dusty was a much more than I realized at the time. Charisma didn’t come naturally to me, but I think he must of seen something because Dusty was always hard on me. I used to get so frustrated because I didn’t understand why he would tell me things, and he told me that I may end up hating him but he will make me better. I started hitting a good stride while tagging with Dawkins, and I remember I had a really good promo, and he just sat back and smiled, told me after it took me long enough, now keep that going, and all of the sudden everything he was saying just seemed to click a bit more.
“Head writer Joe Belcastro runs the classes now. There’s more structure and his classes are great, but no one brings that thing out of you like Dusty did.”
In 2016 you joined SAnitY. Your gimmick was described as Mad Max-like. Who had the idea for the character? Was it inspired by the movie?
“We got the idea a lot earlier than 2016. The idea was originally pitched to Solomon Crowe, Marcus Louis, and myself. It was a Triple H idea based around the movie Smokin Aces. We tried a few things, and nothing really clicked, then Sammi left and Marcus was released, and I was on my own again.
“On a live event in Bartow, Wolfe and I were teamed at random to face the hype bros, and that drew a lot of attention back to the idea. I made jokes about how tag teams never really worked out for me but I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. Wolfe is insanely gifted, and smart in the ring, and I know I’m a better wrestler just for working with him.”
One of the first feuds the stable had was against Big Damo/Killian Dain. However, you suffered an injury and Dain became a member of SAnitY. Would Dain have joined SAnitY if you hadn’t been injured? Which was the original plan for the feud?
“That feud started after my injury actually, as a way to fill my spot after I tore my pec. I found out about the plans as they were happening a day after my surgery, Killian actually being the first one to tell me.”
Do you think Dain is a good substitute?
“Great guy, great wrestler. I don’t think anyone else could have filled that spot other than him. ”
After your injury, you had some matches at NXT live event, but you never made your return to TV. Why? Did WWE have plans for you, joining SAnitY or against them?
“I’m pretty sure they had zero plans to use me after my injury. They didn’t want SAnitY getting to big, and no matter what ideas I pitched I really didn’t get any feedback. Honestly, if I wasn’t working as hard as I was I think this would have happened in April. I had already decided if there wasn’t going to be plans for me by WrestleMania I was going to ask for my release, I was just getting frustrated and stressed trying to get back to TV, so the release is mostly ripping off the band-aid.”
Where do you want to work now? Lucha Underground, Impact, ROH, NJPW, NWA? Can you tell us your plans for 2018?
“I’ve always dreamed of working in Japan. I would really love to spend some time training and learning over there. I’ve even been taking Japanese lessons in hopes I can travel sometime soon. Otherwise, I just want to wrestle as much as possible and just see where it takes me.”
On the independent circuit, you have more creative freedom. Are you going to make some changes to your gimmick? Do you have new ideas?
“I think I’m going to start with a similar character to what I was on TV, then adjust where I need to. I’m excited to just work on what I want, and try out new ideas. I’ve always enjoyed the SAnitY character, so now it’s figuring out how to make it better.”
Can you tell us a funny story about your time in WWE?
“There was a live event in Venice Fl, and my stomach had not been agreeing with me for most of the day. I even joked with Norman Smiley about not taking any gut shots in the match. I was wrestling Solomon Crowe with Drake as a referee. I dropped an elbow off the second rope, covered, he kicked out and I put him into a side bearhug on the ground. Just then Drake looks at us and says ‘What the hell, someone reeks!” I blamed Crowe and he even apologized for it in the ring. When we were sitting in the locker room I was just in my undershorts, when everyone left I went to take them off and saw it was me… then I saw it was on the chair I was sitting on… I snuck the chair through a side door and threw it and my undershorts in the dumpster behind the building. I think I let Crowe believe it was him for about 6 months before I finally told him!”