Sam Roberts

Cody Crybabies, Hollywood Rock, Tribalism & What This Era Should Be Called w/ Sam Roberts

Sam Roberts (@notsam) is a broadcaster, podcast host and WWE personality. Chris Van Vliet sits down with him at the NotSam Studios in New York City to talk about how wrestling has entered a new era and what it should be called, the exact moment this era began, how The Rock’s return has changed the landscape of WWE, how social media promos play a factor in TV storylines, Cody Crybabies, our predictions for WrestleMania 40, the best and worst WrestleMania of all time, his favorite movie starring a wrestler, dissecting The Fast & Furious franchise and much more!

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On balancing life and work:

“Honestly, sleeping is not great. There are days where it’s like, you’ll find days in the week where you’re like, that’s gonna be the night that I can sleep. I mean, after the Australia pay-per-view, when we did the pre-show from Stanford, it was that Saturday night. Because the pre-show was on at 4 am, call time was 1:30. So then we did a Bump post-show after the pay-per-view. So, I probably went to sleep at like 10 o’clock that night, and then slept for about 11 hours, probably. Except, I have a newborn. And I didn’t hear that baby. Thank God I have an attentive wife. Because I was like, that’s where my body was like, No, you’re gonna be unconscious for the next 11 hours. And then we’ll catch up after.”

On prioritising:

“That’s the other thing, it becomes difficult to prioritise the things that are being done in self-interest. And I don’t mean that in like a bad way. I mean, you’re doing that to maintain yourself at your peak, physical, whatever. But when you have kids and a wife and you’re now doing this together, you can’t go well, it’s very important that I eat every three hours. I’m gonna need to take a break from that so I can have my meal here and my meal there. It’s like, you can’t justify it anymore.”

On watching wrestling:

“You have to be very honest, I think with yourself when it’s like, Yes, I am doing this thing. Like, I’m rewatching the rock’s promo from SmackDown. And it is actually essential. I know, I’m gonna have to I want to get on and do like a monologue. It’s gonna be like 25 minutes. And I want to have every detail in my head, like, I want to really be able to talk about this with that level of expertise. Then there are other things where it’s like, well, if I can watch that Rock promo for work, then I should also be watching this movie for work. And it’s like no, you’re watching the movie for pleasure. You have to constantly keep yourself in check. I think the trick is like, can I justify this to my wife? Like she’s like having a trainer at the gym like she’s there to hold you accountable? Can I explain to her why it’s so important that I watch 90 Day Fiance? No, of course not. That’s absurd.”

On the current wrestling landscape generating new fans similar to how The Attitude Era did:

“And you could say the same thing for Cody I think too. It’s been really like, one of my favourite parts about this era of wrestling has been meeting new wrestling fans, because that’s I feel like how you know that things are really getting hot again. without even realising it. I went years without ever meeting a new fan. I met fans, but I never met a new fan. I met fans that have been like, oh, yeah, I’ve been watching for years. Oh, me, too. Let’s be friends. But never like, Oh, I’m a hardcore fan today. And I started watching eight months ago. And that’s happening all the time. Now, even when I’m doing my podcast. My podcast is such an inside baseball nerdy, like you have to be a hardcore wrestling fan, to listen to my podcast. And then you have to be an even more hardcore fan to email into the podcast for the email segment. And then I’m getting emails from people that are like I started watching at WrestleMania last year. And it’s like that’s how you know there’s so much going on right now that it’s brought people in over months to become that level of fan.”

On The Rock’s return: 

“It’s also not Hollywood Rock, which people are like, Oh, Hollywood Rock is back. No Hollywood Rock wore a black leather vest. It’s a different deal. It was a different evolution of the character to me. Yeah, this is like, Wouldn’t Rocky Maivia was a white meat babyface. And people started chanting Rocky sucks. Rocky sucks. The Rock came out and he was The Rock and he was disrespectful to the fans. And he spoke in the third person. He started wearing those shirts, and he wore sunglasses all the time. And what happened all these years later, The Rock comes out as a white meat baby face to take on Roman Reigns. And what do people start chanting? Rocky sucks. Rocky sucks. And what happens? The exact same thing. This is what happens when you chant Rocky sucks. This is the monster that you create.” 

On letting storylines play out:

“Yeah, that’s where let them cook comes from. That’s what I mean. Just let them cook. And that doesn’t mean necessarily, don’t worry, there’s an exact scientific plan here. And they’re going to follow it to the letter and it’s going to wow us all. It’s just these are people who know how to use the ingredients that they have in front of them. So even if there is a misstep along the way, and who knows if there was or not. That’s the beauty. I mean, we don’t know if this was a pivot, or if this was the plan all along because both theories to me make sense. But by the time we get to the destination, it’s going to be like, oh, yeah, that makes sense. I mean, there were people after WrestleMania 39. Cody loses I’m done, they don’t know what they’re doing. This is so stupid. Cody’s finished. Cody is finished after this. How could you do this? Cody is hotter than he’s ever, ever, ever been. And I mean that to me is what you have to look at. And I do think that the Triple H era and the creative around that regime, I mean, it’s earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt. You could say before, like, oh, no they screwed this up. They screwed that up. They screwed this up. But this isn’t that. Yeah, this is a different day.”

How long will The Rock be around for?

“That’s a great question, because and I’m optimistic because he’s on the board now. Right? Like he’s a part of TKO and a very strong, important part of the company now. So I feel like and I also think that that’s what makes it fun that it hasn’t been said, We know he’s gonna be on SmackDown three weeks in a row. Right. But it hasn’t been said. Is he just in for WrestleMania season? Is he in for longer than he’s gonna pop in and pop out more often? We don’t know. But we can speculate wildly now. More so than ever because he is attached, which he hasn’t been attached in a long time.” 

On Roman Reigns vs. The Rock never being announced:

“It didn’t have a graphic. That’s my thing. The graphic, I’m all about the graphic. When you show me a graphic, it’s for real. And they never had a Rock versus Roman Reigns graphic for WrestleMania. Then the second press conference was over, which was great. But the second the press conference was over. There was a Roman Reigns versus Cody Rhodes graphic. I said, Okay, that’s a match. I saw a staredown between the rock and Roman Reigns. I saw Cody leave the ring looking not happy. No graphic. This tag team match. The challenge has been made. I think the tag team match is happening. I’ve thought it was happening a week ago, like going into the Elimination Chamber. I said, You know what? I think the tag team matches the way to go. But as of this recording, no graphic.”

On what will define this era:

“I say that this era, and I talk about it all the time. Rule number three, there’s three rules on Not Sam Wrestling. It’s watch the product, speculate wildly, and rule number three is essential to this era, which is everything counts. And it hasn’t always been that way. Everything counts. When The Rock says this at a press conference. It counts. It counts for the story when Seth Rollins is standing there and he’s not even announced as part of this thing, but he’s a part of this thing. It counts you can’t discount it you can’t just go like what’s that’s now gonna fight Drew. Well okay, but that doesn’t justify it, why did Seth and Cody happen? Why did Seth have Cody’s back? Like, why is all this happening? If he’s just gonna go fight Drew? Well, no, because everything counts. So now that has to be answered too, as well.” 

On nostalgia:

“When TNA does a pay-per-view and the brand is back, I’m like that rules. When Nic Nemeth shows up and it’s just this moment and you’re like, that’s awesome. You don’t need to go, but are they going to be able to capitalise on it? What are we going to do from here? What is the difference between TNA and impact? I don’t know. But what do you feel right now is cool. It’s cool to see like, Sting coming down from the rafters. That’s awesome. On his last Dynamite one more time Sting comes down from the ceiling, that rules. I mean, those are the moments where you’re just like, that’s the point of being a fan when you could just go like, that’s awesome. And you know what else is cool? Two days later, The Rock is gonna be out to SmackDown. And I know, I got more amazing stuff just happening. We’re getting hit with it multiple times a week.”

On Cody Rhodes:

“You’ll love this. I was in Stamford watching SmackDown. And we do the SmackDown Low Down right after SmackDown, it’s a half hour show. What we watch is a truck feed of the show. So we’re not watching on Fox. I mean, it’s live but it’s whatever. We taped the whole show. And we came back into the room to just grab our stuff and go home. And on the truck feed. Cody was still around the ring signing things for everybody in the front row. Still there as the ring crew is just sitting there like can we take this ring apart? But he’s there like putting in the hours and that’s why one of the reasons why people are interested. I mean, when was the last time that you recall the good guys got cheered, bad guys got booed and adults and children were cheering for the same person.”

On his first wrestling interview:

“Okay, so my first wrestling interview that was like a wrestling interview. So I was working for this radio show called Opie and Anthony. And it was like a kind of shock jock comedy show. And I was like a lowly intern slash associate producer, right, like one level above an intern. They knew I was a big wrestling fan and everything. And so we’d have WWE guests come in. And one of the WWE PR guys who was a fan of the show, and I became really great friends with. It was WrestleMania 23. He goes, Are you going to the press conference? I go, it’s not open to fans. He says, You can go to the press conference. You work in media. I go, really? Because, yeah, obviously. That’s who goes. I went to I never even thought of it. And once the press conference. And so like I started going to stuff like that and getting content for the purpose of rebroadcasting on their radio show. And then sometimes it’d be like, I don’t know what I’m going to do here that fits into their radio show. Or I get a little bit for their radio show and also go I just want to talk to these wrestlers about wrestling. Like I’m just a fan. So I did it. I was also started asking people what’s the haps? I got a couple of clips for them, but it was probably the WrestleMania 24 press conference was the first time that I really did like almost a medley of interviews that I put up on my YouTube channel, which back then YouTube channels were really just like a, an unorganised toy box where you would just upload clips. You know what I mean? There was no rhyme or reason. So yeah, that was one of the early ones that I put up. And slowly but surely, an audience started to find it and it was very little, it was like me and Peter Rosenberg. And that was it. Very little wrestling content going up on YouTube, especially interviews. And I was like, oh, when I do this stuff. I can get clips for the radio show but also put stuff on my YouTube channel where just the wrestling audience, so find it. And then it was like, oh, there are wrestlers in town, I can interview this wrestler and just upload the whole interview onto my YouTube channel, but slowly, and it just built and built and built.”

What is Sam Roberts grateful for?

“My family, my health and Roman Reigns.”

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