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    Monday, May 2, 2016

    #MustWatchMonday (5/2/16): Keeping Up with the Callihan (or Crowe)

    Solomon Crowe (real name Samuel Johnson) was under contract with the WWE, specifically under the NXT brand in 2013, and stayed with the promotion until November 23, 2015, when he requested his release from the company. During his time with the company, he wasn't able to make too much of an impact, and so the casual fan may think he was just a scrub, or not important enough to pay any attention to. That's where you would be wrong.

    Before the WWE, Solomon Crowe wrestled under the name Sami Callihan and debuted in 2006 for the Heartland Wrestling Association, an independent promotion based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and wrestled on and off for the promotion until 2011. While HWA was where Callihan made his debut though, it wasn't where he built up the reputation that endeared him to independent wrestling fans and got the attention of the WWE. He did that for a promotion called CZW.

    CZW, or Combat Zone Wrestling, is a wrestling promotion that some consider to be a spiritual successor to ECW, and at a simple glance, one can understand why. CZW built its reputation on hardcore and deathmatches; and Sami Callihan thrived in this environment, employing a scrappy, brawling style mixed with technical efficiency to go against his opponents. One of his most notable matches while he was in the promotion was against Matt Havoc in a brutal Cage of Death match, which he had in 2009. In addition to the matches he had, Callihan won the CZW Junior Heavyweight Championship twice, the CZW New Horror Championship, as well as winning the 11th edition of the promotion's Best of the Best tournament.

    Far from being a one-trick pony in the ring, Callihan proved he could go in a normal match as well, wrestling for more traditional promotions such as EVOLVE and PWG and more than held his own, going up against the likes of El Generico, Dave Finley and Adam Cole, who was Callihan's rival for quite sometime before Callihan signed with the WWE.

    Besides his in-ring ability, Sami Callihan was well-known for his promo skills, portraying a mentally unstable man who thrived on the pain and the blood of his opponents, which led to him being nicknamed the Callihan Death Machine, as well as The New Horror. It was a character and a gimmick very similar to Dean Ambrose's during his time as Jon Moxley in the indies, and for good reason: the two were in a tag team known as the Switchblade Conspiracy—a team this author had hoped would come together in the WWE at least once, but I digress. While the similarity to Moxley's gimmick was definitely there, Callihan probably took it to another level, bringing a switchblade with him to matches, and tried to use it against his opponents.

    All that ability is why independent wrestling fans were excited for his arrival in the WWE. However, due to bigger names such as Kevin Owens, Finn Bálor and Hideo Itami being signed at around the same time as him, Crowe—as he was known—never quite gained traction, and later requested for his release.

    Callihan returned to the independent circuit almost immediately after his release, and showed fans that he hadn't missed a beat, winning the 2CW Heavyweight Championship and the AAW Heavyweight Championship not long after his comeback.

    He also showed what the WWE missed out on when he returned to EVOLVE for their Tag Team Championship tournament, teaming up with Zack Sabre Jr. at EVOLVE 53 to go against the team of Chris Hero (you may know him as Kassius Ohno, but that's an article for another time) and Tommy End, in a gripping match that basically told the story of two much smaller wrestlers going up against the giants that were End and Hero (match starts at the 40 minute mark of the first video, and continues in the second).

    Other than this match, Callihan has gone up against quite the list of notable independent wrestlers. He defended his AAW Heavyweight Championship against Ricochet, beat Zack Sabre Jr. at EVOLVE 55 and defeated Tracy Williams in EVOLVE 57, to name a few. With his youth (he's only 28), his ability, and the fact that he left the WWE on good terms, I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to show up there again one day. Maybe they'll use him right then.

    What do you think of Solomon Crowe's time on the independents? Do you want to see him back in the WWE? Leave a comment below!


    Brandon Sy is a PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics currently based in Sydney. Since he wasn't allowed to watch wrestling as a kid, he's been overcompensating ever since. Despite being a huge fan of Japanese wrestling, he still holds a soft spot in his heart for WWE's Kane. He's good for recommending matches from pretty much anywhere, whether it be Japan, Europe, the US or Mexico. He'd be ecstatic if you watched Dragon Gate though.
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    Item Reviewed: #MustWatchMonday (5/2/16): Keeping Up with the Callihan (or Crowe) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: bodonium
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