Hello again everyone, and welcome back to another edition of How It Started vs How It Ended! Today’s edition of the column is all about former WWE Superstar Damien Sandow. Today, you’ll take a look at how Sandow became a “savior”, visit his time as a Rhodes Scholar, relive the moment his career took a major hit, and find out how his run with the company came to an end.
Damien Sandow re-signed with WWE on July 14th, 2010, after failed runs with the company as both Aaron Stevens, and Idol Stevens. Now, competing in Florida Championship Wrestling under the moniker Damien Sandow, working a militant style gimmick, Sandow quickly picked up the FCW Tag Team Championships. Damien entered 2011 with his partner Titus O’Neill, and the pair held the titles for 112 days, until March 25th’s FCW live event. On the night, Sandow and O’Neill dropped the straps to Seth Rollins, along with Richie Steamboat, before Sandow turned his back on his partner. Damian moved into the singles division, and began to make the climb towards singles gold. Sandow would reach the top of the mountain on September 22nd, after he put away the first ever FCW Champion, Seth Rollins. Damien held on to the developmental brand’s top title for 113 days, until Richie Steamboat took yet another Championship from him. The dust settled after the loss, and Sandow moved on up to Smackdown. Sandow embraced an entire new gimmick, and began calling himself “The Intellectual Savior of the Unwashed Masses”. Sandow entered arenas around the world wearing a robe, and wrestled in pink trunks. The sounds of “Hallelujah” played him to the ring, as well as a chorus of boos, and the heat magnet finally found himself a gimmick that could last. During the May 4th Smackdown taping, Sandow walked down the ramp for a match against Derrick Bateman, but he refused to make his debut against Bateman. The self-proclaimed savior cut a promo, and stated that if he faced an “inferior opponent”, the WWE Universe wouldn’t learn anything. Damien hit the squared circle again on May 18th, and tried to pull the exact same stunt with Yoshi Tatsu. Yoshi called Sandow out for running, which prompted an attack from Damien, and set up a match for the following week. At the next Smackdown, Sandow picked up his first win with the gimmick, and he maintained an undefeated singles record through the first 30 days of August. On August 31st, Sandow intentionally lost to then World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus via count-out, and would be pinned for the first time in October. Sandow stopped competing as a member of the singles division during this time, and came to a “Cross-Rhodes” in his career.
Rise Before The Fall
At September 21st’s Smackdown taping, Damien Sandow, along with Cody Rhodes, joined forces to start a feud with the WWE World Tag Team Champions. Rhodes and Sandow began calling themselves Team Rhodes Scholars a week later, and they entered a tournament to become the number one contenders to the Tag Team Championship. In the first round of the tournament, Team Rhodes Scholars put away The Uso’s, and moved on to the second round. Sandow and Rhodes defeated Zack Ryder and Santino Marella, and advanced to the finals of the tournament. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara put up a fight in the finals, but Team Rhodes Scholars picked up the victory, and earned the title opportunity at Hell in a Cell. At the event, Team Rhodes Scholars defeated Team Hell No, but only via disqualification. Sandow and Cody defeated Kane and Daniel Bryan again two weeks later, in a non-title match that went down on Main Event. Sandow would momentarily move back into the singles division after the win, allowing Cody to take time off to heal an injury. Damien earned his first main roster singles title opportunity, and dropped a tough match to Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston. Cody returned from the sidelines on December 10th, and the duo picked up right where they left off. Team Rhodes Scholars won a Fatal Four-Way Tag Team Elimination match on Raw, and moved on to face Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, at the TLC Pay-Per-View. Cody and Damien scored the victory at the event, and earned the right to face the tag team champions once again. Team Rhodes Scholars took advantage of the opportunity right away, and challenged Team Hell No at the next Main Event taping, but left empty handed yet again. Cody and Sandow entered 2013 without any gold, but there goal remained intact. The cocky and arrogant tandem faced off with Team Hell No during January 7th’s Monday Night Raw, and defeated them in a non-title match, to earn one last chance at the titles. Rhodes and Sandow arrived at the Royal Rumble without gold, and left just as they came, after falling in defeat to Team Hell No for the final time. Team Rhodes Scholars mutually agreed to part ways, but they realigned once again a few weeks later. The partnership came to an official end at the Money In The Bank event, where Rhodes and Sandow competed in the events namesake match. During the closing moments of the contest, Rhodes attempted to grab the briefcase, but Sandow threw him off of the ladder, and unhooked the briefcase for himself. Damien earned the future title opportunity, and moved on to make singles history.
Crash & Burn
After earning the opportunity for a future World Heavyweight Championship, things seemingly began to go backwards for Sandow. Damien and his former Team Rhodes Scholars partner took to the ring for weeks, and Cody had the upper-hand for most of rivalry. Rhodes even tossed the Money In The Bank briefcase into the ocean, which caused Sandow to miss out on an opportunity to cash-in on Alberto Del Rio. Damian and Cody hit the ring together for one last match to end the feud, and Rhodes put the “savior” away with the Cross-Rhodes. Sandow scraped himself off of the mat after the match and Mr. Money In The Bank dropped matches to R-Truth, Santino Marella, and Dolph Ziggler, during the weeks that followed. Damian looked to turn his luck around at the October 28th Raw, where he laid down a challenge to “the face that runs the place”. Sandow interrupted a promo segment featuring John Cena, who Sandow claimed still felt the effects of an earlier match with Alberto Del Rio. Sandow threatened to make his move on Cena, and unleashed a vicious assault on the World Heavyweight Champion. Sandow whacked Cena in the injured arm with the briefcase, before tossing him to the outside. Damien ran Cena and his injured arm straight into the barricade, and followed up with a nasty steel chair shot, while the arm of Cena rested on the steel steps. Damien confidently claimed “my time is now”, and cashed in on his title opportunity, setting up a match right away. Sandow worked over the injured arm, and caused damage to the knee of Cena, but it wouldn’t be enough. The Champion nailed the Attitude Adjustment, and put Sandow away, making Damien the second person in WWE history to unsuccessfully cash-in, and the first without any interference. Damien managed to pick up a win over Kofi Kingston a few weeks later, and earned another Intercontinental Championship opportunity, after defeating Dolph Ziggler. Sandow took advantage of the title shot, and took on Big E at TLC, but he suffered The Big Ending, and lost the match. Sandow entered the Royal Rumble when 2014 rolled around, where he would be the first eliminated, after being tossed out by CM Punk. Sandow went on a losing streak after that, and moved on to the closing months of his career.
Man of Many Faces
After making appearances as Magneto, Vince McMahon, Bret Sandhart, Sherlock Holmes, and even a rapper named D-Sizzle, Sandow formed an alliance with The Miz, during August of 2014. Sandow impersonated, and mimicked The Miz as his “stunt double”, and even bumped around the ring when The Miz would take a bump in the ring. Damien Sandow went full Miz, and started wrestling as Damien Mizdow. The decision to embrace the gimmick would pay off at Survivor Series 2014, where Miz and Mizdow won the WWE World Tag Team Championships, in a Fatal Four-Way match against The Uso’s, Los Matadores, and The Rhodes Brothers. The victory earned Mizdow his first main roster title run, and his popularity with the fans began to earn him thunderous reactions. The Miz and Mizdow held on to the tag team gold for nearly 40 days, until they dropped the straps to The Uso’s, during the December 29th episode of Raw. A debuting team known as The Ascension defeated the former champions later in the night, and The Miz and Mizdow began to have a falling out. The Miz became jealous of Mizdow, since he became immensely popular with WWE fans. Things started to boil over between Miz and Mizdow during the early portion of 2015, when The Miz would pose for audiences mid-match, and receive jeers from everyone. Mizdow would do the same pose on the floor, and receive thunderous standing ovations from everyone, causing the team to come to an end. Mizdow met up with The Miz in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, at WrestleMania 31, where both men lasted until the final three. Mizdow tossed The Miz over the top rope, and had the entire WWE Universe behind him. Mizdow nearly eliminated The Big Show to win the match, but he was unable to achieve victory. The moment brought yet another glimmer of hope for Damien to an end, and his popularity began to slowly fade away. Mizdow returned back to his old self for a short time after that, and Damien Sandow started to feud with Hulk Hogan... who was actually Curtis Axel. Sandow made his way to the ring dressed as “The Macho Man” Randy Savage, and competed as Macho Mandow. The two impersonators eventually combined to make a team known as The Meta Powers, but other than providing a few laughs, they never accomplished anything significant. The team came to an end when the real Hulk Hogan caused a stir outside of WWE, forcing the company to drop Hogan and his image like a bad habit. Sandow returned to his former self once again, and spent the rest of 2015 competing mostly at live events, and on Main Event. Sandow picked up his final televised victory, over Heath Slater at a 2016 Main Event taping, and resurfaced at 2016’s Wrestlemania 32 event. Damien entered the Andre Memorial Battle Royal once again, where he would quickly be eliminated by NBA star Shaquille O’Neal. Damien lost a match to his former FCW partner Titus O’Neill after that, and closed out his career with a loss to Darren Young on Superstars. Sandow received his release from the company on May 6th, 2016, leaving the WWE Universe dazed and confused.
Wow, what a disappointing end for Sandow. He finally found a gimmick that really worked for him, and seemed to have all of the tools needed, but he just didn’t get the right people behind him. The failed cash-in really put a huge damper on fans taking him seriously, but he managed to turn it around as Mizdow. The stunt-double gimmick got over in-spite of itself, which apparently upset the powers that be, and they ripped the rug out from under him once again, at ‘Mania 31. The move sent a clear message to the WWE Universe, and the name Damien Sandow became a mere memory of what could have been.
How it Started
How It Ended
That’s all for this weeks edition of How It Started vs How It Ended! Join me right here next week for an all new edition of the column, and until then, have a safe week everyone!