Sam Adonis was once known best as being the little brother of Corey Graves, but Adonis has now made his own mark in pro wrestling. He has become one of the most controversial wrestlers in the world thanks to portraying a pro-Trump character and doing it in Mexico with CMLL no less.
Adonis spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast recently to discuss his character and how it all came about with CMLL.
"There's a misconception as I've never made that "the" character," said Adonis. "The character's always been the same - I'm basically just the biggest piece of crap on earth…In Mexico, as an American, I wanted to rub it in their face that this character is so cocky and outrageous, that I don't care what you think of me and I'm gonna come to the ring with a flag with Donald Trump's face on it. It's basically in the vein of all foreign heels."
As one of his heel tactics, Adonis borrowed from Ravishing Rick Rude who infamously had his face airbrushed on his tights. But, instead of having his own face on his tights, Adonis has Trump's face airbrushed on his tights and it got a great reaction backstage.
Various news outlets such as Reuters, Vice and Deadspin all picked up on Adonis' character, and he admits that he was surprised by the coverage.
"What I was surprised about is that they tried to make it very negative," Adonis said before adding they all tried to paint the character and wrestling in a bad light and his goal was to turn that negative into a positive.
"Most people that came down to do these interviews… they ended up leaving with almost a newfound appreciation with what I was doing.... It really opened their eyes a little bit more to professional wrestling and to this day I remain friends with a lot of the mainstream media because of that."
Adonis has had to fight the perception that the character he's portraying is racist but he reminds everyone that it is just that: a character.
"People are gonna say what they wanna say about it," stated Adonis. "I lived in Mexico for two years. I speak Spanish. I had a Mexican girlfriend. Some of my best friends are different minorities...
"I know I'm not something but you're always gonna have people believing what they want to believe. The situations I was put in, my bosses were telling me to push the envelope. Part of me says, 'Hey guys. You're gonna get me killed out here.' But the other part of me, as a performer, is taking it all in…I'm gonna shut my mouth and do what I'm told."
Adonis says that the controversy surrounding his character helped his popularity reach levels that are usually unaccustomed to for indie wrestlers.
"I ended up drawing some big money down there which is rare. There's plenty of guys out there with 10,000 Twitter followers, but aside from myself and Kenny Omega, there wasn't another foreigner in 2017 that sold 10,000 tickets," rervealed Adonis.
With the character being what it is, Adonis talked about when he found himself in a precarious situation in Mexico.
"I was followed in my car once by a black Escalade, and you don't see too many black Escalades in Mexico City," said Adonis. "I kind of knew what was going on there so the promoter had to 'calm that down.'
"Generally, the people in Mexico love it because most of them understand what it is.…The same people throwing their beer on me are the first ones to want a picture of me.
"I was taking my life into my own hands, but the Mexican fans are such pure fans that they appreciated my body of work."
Adonis also admits that his rather imposing physique also plays a factor in him not getting in too many physical altercations.
"If I wasn't 6'4" and 250lb, I might have had a few more problems," said Adonis.
Adonis mainly competes in Mexico and says that his character is received differently in the States than down there.
"They don't judge you for what you do…that's the mentality of the Mexican people," said Adonis.
"They have an open mind where they say, 'If you don't hurt me, don't hurt my family, then do what you want to do.' The Mexicans suspend disbelief and enjoy it. Here everybody's trying to get free tickets, or wanna be angry for Twitter likes, or make something out of it that it's not."
Adonis says that the worst crowd reaction he's ever received actually came in the States because people are looking for a reason to be angry.
"The most hostile crowd I've been in front of was at Ooh La La Lucha in Detroit, Michigan. Granted there was a tequila sponsor so everyone was wasted…but I had my back to the corner the entire time because I was afraid I was gonna have to make a dart for it," stated Adonis.
"People took it to the sense where, 'Oh I didn't pay to be insulted with politics. This is BS!' They don't see the forest through the trees…. But that's alright, I'll be back there in May and hopefully I don't get beat up again."
The full audio of Adonis' interview with Wrestling Inc was included in a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard in the embedded audio player below. During the interview Adonis discusses the public scrutiny of his older brother Corey Graves, mastering his heel persona in CMLL, being tailed by a black escalade in Mexico after Trump fueled heat he was getting, his upcoming participation in All Japan's Champions Carnival, why his time in WWE developmental didn't work out and more.