Ariya Daivari On Insight With Chris Van Vliet: Podcast Recap

Ariya Daivari was a recent guest on Chris Van Vliet’s podcast Insight. On the show, they talked about being the brother of Shawn Daivari and how that helped him get ready for the WWE. They also discussed the legal battle from WWE to keep his real name, the portrayal of his heritage on-screen, the use of The Magic Carpet splash and more. The recap can be found below:

On being the brother of Shawn Daivari:

“Yeah we just started watching together. He was 14 and I was 8. We just started watching together, he was the one who discovered it but we watched it together, which was super cool. Just over time he got to be an indie wrestler first, obviously. That’s why his career took off before mine did, he’s just older. We were big fans together. He had all the T-shirts and I had all the toys. It actually brought us a lot closer. We were just typical brothers, we hung out but not a lot. But pro wrestling really brought us closer and closer and to this day that’s why we are super tight.”

When he thought he could be a wrestler:

“When my brother got signed. Me and him are about the same size. We are both 5 foot 10 and 180lbs. We knew it was a long shot, more for him, because back in his time it was more so land of the giants. He had a real hard chance of getting to WWE and he made it. I was with him when he got the call. We were just chilling at our mom’s house and he goes ‘I just got signed.’ We couldn’t believe it, my mind was blown. I already knew I wanted to be a wrestler, but to see someone from my family actually make it. I’m like holy sh*t this is really a possibility.”

On how his brother got him ready for wrestling:

“I always tell people that I was so lucky to have a brother that was in the WWE. Someone who could give me good advice and get me ready for the WWE. I always tell people that the information and the advice he was getting was from guys like Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. When he would tell me some advice he would say ‘This is something that Shawn Michaels would tell me.’ If it’s from Shawn, it’s obviously correct information and correct advice. It wasn’t just older brother telling younger brother what to do, it was legends and Hall of Famers.”

On wrestling his brother:

“We have only wrestled each other one time. It was when he asked for his release from WWE in 2008, I was only about a year in. We had a match in Green Bay, and that was the only promoter that wanted to have us wrestle each other. Every other time we have been a tag team, which I totally understand. I was so green at the time, I wish we could do it again. I just let him put all of the match together, but now I think the roles would be reversed.”

On his thoughts on being released:

“I tell a lot of people that I can take a nice breath of fresh air and say ‘I’ve done it.’ That thing that used to keep me up at night as an indie wrestler. I just keep thinking over and over what do I have to do to make it? But I did it, I made it. I wrestled on a pay per view, on NXT, on Monday Night RAW. I got to have conversations with Vince McMahon and Triple H, I did all these things. So I got to do all of these things I wanted to do, so a small part of me is like I can close that chapter and go to another part of my wrestling career. Luckily this is a great time because places like AEW, New Japan, IMPACT, all these places are popping up. I can say I know what it’s like to wrestle for Vince, now let’s see what it’s like in the other places.”

On keeping his name:

“Luckily for me everyone in the CWC [Cruiserweight Classic Tournament], they wanted everyone to have their names, because I think they wanted to capitalize on buzz. They said it was the best free agents so they kept everyone’s names. The only people who had their gimmick names were guys who had gimmick names on the indies. Guys like Lince Dorado and Mustafa Ali kept their gimmick names, but everyone else it’s our shoot names.”

On using the Daivari name:

“I kept going back and forth on it. I didn’t want people to think ‘Oh he’s just Shawn’s brother.’ And I have to admit he was in at a time when the wrestling industry was even hotter. He had a lot more eyes on his career back in 2004. Some people went ‘Oh cheap ripoff.’ But whatever. I was proud of the fact that I made it to the WWE at my size and keep my name. It is all me being presented as me.”

On WWE trying to take his real name away:

“They sent me a legal letter that had a bunch of mumbo jumbo , stuff you use blah blah. It said in parentheses “Ariya Daivari.” I had to call my lawyer just to double check. I said ‘You know that’s my real name right?’ All of my platforms are going to say Ariya Daivari.’ They said yeah and it was a formality letter, they just kind of pushed that stuff in there. But I wanted to make sure. The lawyer laughed on the phone and said ‘Yeah it’s your real name.’ I didn’t want to get screwed by giving my name away.”

On his plans now:

“I just want to wrestle, I want a busy schedule. That’s the only thing I want. Because right now I’m sitting at home with these 90 days. Not too long ago we were dealing with a pandemic, that sh*t sucked. I did not like sitting at home. Obviously the pandemic was a little bit different because nobody could do anything. But right now the crowds are back and wrestling is super hot and I’m not doing anything, it’s driving me f*cking crazy. I just want to be a busy as possible, it doesn’t matter where it is. AEW, IMPACT, New Japan, back to the indies… I just want to wrestle the best guys possible and keep a very busy schedule. This is my life now. It is all I care about and all I want to do.”

On if he thought he would go the next level:

“Yeah honestly right before we got released. Me and Tony Nese were doing a lot of tag stuff together. Me and him tagged on and off since the beginning of 205 Live. In the last 4 to 5 months of TV they were having us tag pretty regularly. They had us doing promos together. Everyone in the office, Shawn Michaels, Matt Bloom, they would all be telling us ‘You guys are killing it as a tag team, you’re doing a great job, you look good.’ We were having good matches and a lot of the boys said we looked good as a team. We thought that this was going to take us to the next level. We thought we were going to be a tag team on NXT. Me and him discussed talking to Vince and see if he would bring us to RAW or SmackDown. I was told that Vince or WWE in general isn’t big in the tag team division. That was the only hurdle we had to climb, to get them to pay attention to tag stuff. I really thought that was going to take us to the next level. But unfortunately we got released.”

On no one being safe:

“My own brother was recently part of the COVID releases. Only just recently he was brought back, which I am very happy for. I was very upset when he got released during COVID. After the COVID releases happened I was like it sucks but I survived I think I will be good. Then there’s been 3 waves of firings in 2021. When Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman got released, the whole roster from top to bottom, RAW, SmackDown, NXT was like oh sh*t. If they are letting guys like Braun and Samoa Joe go, it could be anybody. I would say for the last 4 to 5 months I wasn’t expecting it, because I was wrestling all of the time. But a small part of me said that if it was going to happen, it might be around this time. Unfortunately it did.”

On a possible WWE return:

“I think so. I have this 5 year plan in my head. I’m 32 now, if I don’t go back to WWE in 5 years then maybe that door is closed. I still feel young and I still feel good. You see so many guys like Drew McIntyre and Jinder, seeing them leave WWE, and they were at the bottom of the barrel when they left. To go out there and get in great shape, reinvent themselves and then come back and have the success that they have had, it’s awesome to see. Shelton Benjamin and The Hardy’s, all great guys but when they left I thought that was it because they have done everything that they can do. They are older now and probably won’t come back. Now they have come back and done extraordinary work, I don’t think the door to WWE is completely closed. It might be that right now they are reshuffling things and figuring things out.”

On leaning into his heritage:

“At first I felt it more, because it’s WWE, they love people from different countries, they said that to me on my trial. They said ‘We love the fact that you are Iranian and can speak another language.’ But they knew I was Minnesota and all that sh*t. They knew I spoke another language. At first I was all about it, but some people’s responses on Twitter were like ‘Uhhh, another foreign guy, great!’ I think that era of wrestling is ending and it’s on me. I took it to Vince McMahon and said ‘Hey I don’t want to do this Sheik thing anymore.’ I wanted to do this Daivari Dinero character and he was all about it.”

On changing his character:

“I didn’t want to completely abandon the fact that I am Middle Eastern. The Daivari Dinero character was actually based on this TV show called Shahs of Sunset, there’s a lot of Iranian and Persian people in LA. I said ‘Hey if you want me to be a character, I got a way better character for you guys.’ All these Iranians and Persians are driving all the white BMWs, gold chains and all that stuff. I don’t think it’s as offensive either, it’s a little more tongue in cheek. That was why I wanted to switch to that character. Also, a lot of Persian people are born in America, so we don’t have to insult the intelligence of the fans. I knew that being myself was going to have a lot more shelf life than being a typical foreign heel.”

On not doing The Magic Carpet Ride:

“My brother did it once as a goof to pop the crowd, and they really liked it. So when he went to WWE I said do you mind if I start using it, he said yeah cool. It always got a great reaction from the crowd. Funny enough I did it in my try-out match for NXT. I did it when I did try-out stuff on the road and it popped all the boys, so I’m like sh*t I’m gonna keep doing it. I did it in my trout match and Bill DeMott was the coach. As soon as I did The Magic Carpet Ride, which is a top rope splash while holding a carpet, I hear the bell ring. I was like oh sh*t what happened? On the microphone in front of everybody, he [Bill] goes ‘We don’t do that indie bullsh*t here! Next!’ I did it on the indies but when I got to WWE, that image is so burned in my head I never bothered asking if I could do it. He just made me feel like it might be too silly for WWE. But months later Jack Gallagher is jumping on me with an umbrella.”

On what he is grateful for:

“My health, my family and my time in WWE.”

Ariya Daivari can be found on Instagram here and Twitter here.

Featured image: Wrestling INC.

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