At NXT TakeOver: The End…, a mysterious duo clad in combat gear brutally attacked Chad Gable and Jason Jordan while legendary wrestling manager and WWE Hall of Famer Paul Ellering looked on.
American Alpha barely had any time to process that they had lost the NXT Tag Team Titles to The Revival when they were ambushed by the monstrous newcomers. Fans was stunned by the slaughter, and even more shocked when Ellering appeared to align himself with the devastating team of titans.
They are Sunny Dhinsa and Gzim Selmani, who together are known as The Authors of Pain. Here are seven things WWE NXT fans should know about this mysterious tag team that has put everyone on notice.
While growing up in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, Sunny Dhinsa was considered a phenom in amateur wrestling.
A 2013 profile piece on him in the Abbotsford News noted, “The living room of the Dhinsa family home doubles as a wrestling museum, and an impressive one at that. Hundreds of medals won by Sunny Dhinsa, some dating back to when he was five years old, hang on a rope which runs along the wall, just below the ceiling. On the mantle and in front of the fireplace, banners, sashes, posters and trophies are displayed.”
According to Simon Fraser University, where Dhinsa attended college, he finished in second place at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and was the Canadian Champion the following year. In 2013, he competed in the Gold Medal Match of the Senior National Championships against Korey Jarvis. Jarvis will be wrestling at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
At the age of 18, Dhinsa came close to qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom. In March 2012 at the Pan American Olympic qualifying tournament in Orlando, Florida, he needed to finish in the top two in the heavyweight (120 kg) division to earn a berth in the Greco-Roman variety of the sport, but fell short.
Dhinsa ran into difficulty even before he hit the mat. In a random drawing to establish the eight-man bracket, he drew American Dremiel Byers, who competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Byers beat Dhinsa in two hard-fought rounds, 1-0 and 3-0.
With an Olympic berth out of reach, Dhinsa then lost to Ramon Garcia of the Dominican Republic to place in fifth. The Abbotsford native felt he would have qualified for the Olympics had he drawn an opponent other than Byers.
“It’s kind of stupid, because everything depends on the draw, depends on your luck,” Dhinsa told Abbotsford News after the loss. “I knew the American was good, because he’s a full-time Greco guy.”
He continued, “I’m not upset with my performance — I did what I could. I’m upset with the draw. But I can’t do anything about it.”
Immediately following the setback, Dhinsa had his sights set on competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics. In 2014, however, he left the sport to begin training to be a professional wrestler for WWE.
Gzim Selmani, an ethnic Kosovo Albanian from the Netherlands, has a martial arts background. He began practicing judo when he was four, took up kickboxing at age of 12 and began training in mixed martial arts with his brother Egzon when he was 15. Both he and his brother dropped out of school to focus on MMA.
In 2012, Selmani joined Golden Glory, a Muay Thai, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts camp and management team based in the Netherlands. After competing in amateur mixed martial arts Shooto competitions all across the Netherlands, Selmani had his first professional fight on November 24, 2012 in Brasov, Romania. He was victorious in his debut, defeating Anatoli Ciumac via TKO.
In his second professional fight, Selmani faced Ante Delija on May 24, 2013 in Osijek, Croatia and lost by TKO. He then beat Mario Milosavljevic via submission (guillotine) on November 9, 2013 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina to record the second victory of his professional career. His third professional victory occurred on December 13, 2013 in Skopje, Macedonia, beating Tomaz Simonic via submission (arm-triangle choke).
Selmani earned an impressive victory over Oli Thompson on April 5, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. Thompson, who once earned the title of Britain’s Strongest Man, lost to Selmani in 18 seconds via technical submission (guillotine) in the main event of BAMMA 15.
In his most high-profile match, Selmani competed at Bellator 130 on October 24, 2014 at the Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas. The event aired live in prime time on Spike TV. Selmani lost to Daniel Gallemore via TKO in what would turn out to be his last fight before joining WWE the following year.
Despite a brief tenure, Paul Ellering will be remembered by wrestling fans around the world as the loud-mouthed manager of arguably the greatest tag team of all-time, The Road Warriors.
Ellering introduced himself to WWE fans in 1992 when he reunited with Hawk and Animal following a brief separation. Unfortunately, the reunion didn’t go quite as planned. Ellering failed to gain fans after showing up at ringside with a ventriloquist dummy named Rocco. He left WWE shortly after his debut.
Six years later, Ellering’s popularity sank even more when he returned to WWE to manage LOD’s chief rivals, The Disciples of Apocalypse (also known as DOA). Ellering successfully led his new duo to victory over LOD at Fully Loaded in July 1998. A few months later, however, Hawk and Animal teamed with Droz to get their revenge when they defeated Ellering and DOA.
Ellering’s time in WWE failed to mirror the amazing success he achieved as LOD’s longtime friend and manager. Ellering’s unmatched intellect and guidance of Hawk and Animal during their rise to worldwide domination in the 1980s was honored in 2011 on the night before WrestleMania XXVII. LOD accepted their final accolade in an emotional induction ceremony, taking their rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Sunny Dhinsa’s arrival to WWE in 2014 was considered a surprise since he wanted to wrestle in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil before joining the sports-entertainment organization.
Gerald Brisco, who scouted Dhinsa at an amateur wrestling tournament, said in an interview with SLAM! Wrestling in 2013, “[WWE] scouted two young amateur wrestlers and brought them for a tryout recently, Sunny Dhinsa from Canada and Tyrell Fortune from the U.S. They both want to become WWE Superstars, but now they might want to stick around to perform at the Olympics, which is a great thing as they will be known internationally before coming to the WWE.”
Dhinsa was offered a WWE contract after impressing organization officials at a tryout in the summer of 2014. He was among a class of recruits without prior experience in the professional wrestling industry to report to WWE’s training facility, the Performance Center, in October of that year. The other recruits in his class were amateur wrestler Josh Woods, bodybuilder Dustin Mueller, and models Zahra Schreiber and Gionna Daddio.
“A new group of wrestlers signed from a camp over the summer, who started out this week in Orlando, are headed by Sunny Dhinsa, who is something of a surprise,” Dave Meltzer reported in the November 3, 2014 issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. “Dhinsa was the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Canadian national freestyle wrestling champion in the 264 pound weight class and placed third in the 20-and-under world championships last year. Dhinsa was attending Simon Fraser College in British Columbia as a freshman last year. As a teenager, he took second at the 2011 Pan American games but failed to qualify for Canada’s Olympic team as an 18-year-old heavyweight. He was training for the 2016 Olympics, and really one would think his peak would be 2020. But he had said that he wanted to train for 2016 and go to WWE that year. But after an offer by WWE, he decided to give up amateur wrestling. Gerald Brisco had scouted him a few years back and had kept in touch with him ever since.”
Meltzer continued, “Theres a fine line here. It’s the guy’s choice, but I know amateur wrestling officials, and they tend not to like pro wrestling to begin with. Amateur wrestling people don’t even like when guys like Ben Askren leave for MMA because of the feeling they are taking guys who still have medal potential out of the sport. Brisco generally works with college officials and doesn’t sign people until their eligibility is up. But this was the exception. Except for Dhinsa, everyone else were all signed with an emphasis on their look.”
First impressions are everything so WWE will often gauge fan response to a wrestler’s gimmick at small shows in Florida before promoting him or her on television. This is the case with The Authors of Pain as the act originated from a three-man group.
When Sunny Dhinsa and Gzim Selmani made their first appearance together in NXT last year — on October 29, 2015 in Citrus Springs, Florida — they were joined by Lovepreet Sangha, a former World Kabbadi League Champion from India who WWE signed earlier in the year.
The trio was dressed in black and cut a heel promo in the middle of the ring. Calling themselves a tribe, Dhinsa, Selmani and Sangha told fans to bow down and show them respect. The act, however, was a one-time experiment as they never appeared together again.
Prior to their television debut at NXT TakeOver: The End…, The Authors of Pain were given a test run at non-televised NXT live events in Florida. Sunny Dhinsa and Gzim Selmani began teaming together in February, with the pair often donning skull masks and camouflage. Despite their menacing appearance, the duo lost the majority of their matches.
In their first match together as a unit, which took place on February 12, 2016 at a live event in Tampa, the devastating duo lost to the team of Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley (also known as The Hype Bros). In fact, they lost their first four matches before picking up their first win on April 22, 2016 (over a team of identical twin brothers, Gabriel Ealy and Uriel Ealy). In May, The Authors of Pain lost three consecutive matches to NXT Tag Team Champions Jason Jordan and Chad Gable.
Fans can expect The Authors of Pain to follow a similar path to The Ascension — Konnor and Viktor — who dominated the NXT tag team landscape with brute force in 2013 and 2014. Expect Sunny Dhinsa and Gzim Selmani to quickly trounce no-name teams.
Having Paul Ellering as their mouthpiece will give the team of titans a huge boost. The legendary manager can do the talking while The Authors of Pain focus on wrestling. This will play to their strengths and mask the duo’s limited verbal ability.
With NXT running low on tag teams following the respective promotions of Enzo Amore, Big Cass and The Vaudevillains to the main roster, the road is clear for Dhinsa and Selmani to head to the top of the developmental brand in short order.
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