There’s no hyperbole behind the statement that Josef Samael is one of professional wrestling’s brightest minds. Over the course of his 20+ year career, the CONTRA Unit leader has had a hand in the development of some of professional wrestling’s top stars, and that’s only continued since signing with Major League Wrestling in 2018.
Samael recently joined me to discuss a wide variety of topics, including his love of working with the likes of Alexander Hammerstone and MLW Heavyweight Champion Jacob Fatu.
Working with Alexander Hammerstone
SL: “I really liked the point you made there on the psychology because I think it’s something that applies really, really well to two individuals you’ve brought up in the past in Jacob Fatou and Alex Hammerstone. Now, obviously, with the two it’s very obvious the relationship that you guys have as far as pro wrestling goes, but maybe take me a little bit into the relationship you have with the both of them and what made them sort of stand out as people you really wanted to take on as a mentoree.”
JS: “So, Hammerstone I met first. I was promoting shows in Arizona, by way of California. We were doing pretty well, and Hammerstone was a young guy and I look through the lens of old school guy. I don’t like to give anybody anything. I like to make sure that they want it. I like to make sure that the knowledge that I give is used properly. I don’t – I make people work for it, and Hammerstone is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met in professional wrestling, is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met in life. He just is not scared to work. I tested him multiple times, I would say, ‘Hey, you know, you want to spot here. I’ve got a Cruiserweight spot.’ The guy shedded about 25 pounds and got shredded. I manipulated him in ways that were not malicious. I manipulated him in ways to see, you know, how mentally strong he is. A couple times, he wanted stuff a little too early, or he got frustrated, but I always kept beating the drum in the same way. Eventually, he would see on more than one occasion that I was truthful and I was trustworthy, and what I said was right, and it came to fruition. So I really, really took a lot of time with Hammerstone and, you know, learning him and understanding him and testing him. To be quite honest, he’s hit the ball out of the park every single time. He’s somebody that continues to get better. He continues to impress. He continues to shape up his body better, his mind, his psychology. He’s just somebody that if you see, and then you see him six months later, he’s better. He’s also somebody that absorbs knowledge. If you tell him ‘Hey, this….’ he doesn’t go ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.’ He actually applies the knowledge, like, instantly and correctly. So, he’s somebody that I have a lot of fun – he likes to say I’m his mentor. I don’t like to take any credit for him. I’ll always be there to help him, but he is certainly somebody that has helped himself and done the work. Yeah, I’ve given him knowledge. Yeah, here and there I’ve done this and that for him, but others did that for me, too. So I definitely transfer that.”
Working with MLW Heavyweight Champion Jacob Fatu:
JS: “Fatu I saw and Fatu is somebody that when you see for the first time, it’s like, he’s a 300 pounder, and he’s like a 300 pound six-foot-something pile of money. He’s just absolutely phenomenal. I definitely had a few, I wouldn’t say fights, but we didn’t see eye-to-eye when we first met. He wanted something a certain way and I explained to him the way it really is. And he was very young. And then little by little, I earned his trust.”
He’s just somebody that doesn’t have to try. He’s just incredibly, incredibly gifted. He has just probably one of the most naturally gifted guys I’ve ever seen. I mean, on his worst day, he can do better than 98% of the wrestlers out there. He’s just, he’s just incredibly gifted and he’s natural. So Fatu is somebody that I’ve really enjoyed kind of just sanding the corners off of.”
“I think that’s where my talent lies is I’m not somebody that can tell a guy – I could – but I’m not the type of guy that likes to take somebody from a seed. I like a trained guy that has got a little bit of momentum and then I like to show them how to get from the second rung of the ladder to the 10th rung of the ladder. I like to show them how to really, really exploit their talents, how to really, really shine the light on their gifts. A lot of times what hurts talent is they want to do something rather than – it’s like if you’re a duck, and you want to be a tiger, and it’s like, ‘hey, hey, you’re not a tiger, you’re a duck’ or vice versa. ‘Hey, you’re, you’re a tiger, don’t quack anymore,’ you know, and it’s like you’re trying to show these guys. And you really have to show them by them, gaining their trust, and then having them apply things. And then, when it works, live, some of the guys – not all of them, some of the guys and girls, not all of them – a light will come on when it works, and they’ll go ‘oh!’ you know, and those are really the people, the coachable people, the teachable people are the ones that I like to be around because there’s some guys that are just not coachable and they’re incredibly frustrating to be around and (with) Hammerstone and Fatu it’s almost like I got aces up my sleeve. I mean, those guys were gonna be good with or without me, you know what I mean? I just liked I just like to give them a little bit extra so they can get to the finish line a little bit quicker. So, I don’t take too much credit for those guys but I definitely enjoy being on the sidelines coaching them any way I can because they’re amazing. They’re incredible to watch and I am a fan of them.”
Please credit Spencer Love/Love Wrestling with any transcriptions used.