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Former WWE Superstar Shawn Daivari subdues an unruly train passenger in Minneapolis
Former WWE Superstar Shawn Daivari’s commute took an unexpected turn several weeks ago. While riding a train in his native Minneapolis, he subdued a confrontational passenger who had been making death threats to his fellow commuters. Though the threats seemed innocuous at first, The Great Khali’s former associate ( PHOTOS: DAIVARI IN WWE) sprang into action when the passenger grew hostile, locking him in a mixed martial arts hold and restraining him until the train came to a stop, where he removed him from the car. No one was harmed in the incident, but it’s safe to say that Daivari had himself quite the morning. WWE.com caught up with the former Superstar recently to get his account of the incident and see what he’s been doing since parting ways with WWE in 2008.
WWE.com: Please describe what happened on the train.
DAIVARI: I was just on the train and I was heading to the airport. I’m from Minneapolis, so I was just visiting family. I got on the train and there was this guy saying racial and anti-Semitic stuff really loud, specifically at a few passengers, and you could tell they were really uncomfortable. One guy had actually pushed the emergency call button on the train. And this guy kept going on and on, and nobody was showing up to help.
There was one older guy sitting in a chair and he told the guy, "Hey, sit down, you’re making the train ride really uncomfortable for everybody." At that point, the guy just got right in front of the older guy and physically threatened him, even threatened to kill him. That’s when everybody started running for the emergency call buttons. They were all hitting the buttons, and we went another stop after that, which was another two minutes. When the doors opened, nobody got on the train, so we knew there were no cops waiting to get on and help.
I didn’t know if this guy had a knife in his pocket or a gun in his backpack, so I just went up to him, turned him around, grabbed him in a rear naked choke/sleeper hold and held until I felt his body go limp. I dropped him, locked on a body scissors and held him down until the next stop, which was about 45 seconds down the road. Then I just grabbed him by the seat of his pants and his collar and I threw him off the train. And mind you, from when this started, we probably went half the length of the trip, which was about 20 minutes. It was one thing when he was saying all that racial stuff, but when he started threatening passengers, I didn’t know if it was just a big guy talking tough like he’s at a bar or if he’s got a weapon. By the time I got to the airport, there were still no cops at the train station.
WWE.com: How big was the guy you subdued?
DAIVARI: He was about 6-foot-1, 280. But a fat 280, not a solid 280. I’m 5-foot-10 and I weigh about 215 pounds.
WWE.com: Do you have any MMA training?
DAIVARI: No. I learned the hold from watching and working with other wrestlers who did have that background. I actually had my first professional wrestling match when I was 15 years old, so my only [outside the ring experience] was high school wrestling. I wrestled my freshman year in high school [135 pounds], but by my sophomore year I was having professional matches. So that ended my amateur career.
I’ve worked with a ton of guys that have a jiu-jitsu background, and they’ve showed me some stuff. Actually, what’s kind of funny is I learned a couple of holds from WWE referees Chad Patton and Jack Doan. They do legit MMA training at home and they actually showed me a couple of holds. I think they were the ones who taught me the triangle choke and the rear naked choke/sleeper hold.
WWE.com: Would you ever consider pursuing MMA as a full-time career?
DAIVARI: No way, I’m not an MMA fighter. Wrestling is the only thing I know how to do well and it’s pretty much the only thing I’ve ever done my whole life. I’ve had two jobs in my life. I’ve been a student and I’ve been a wrestler; those are the only two things I’m qualified to do. And I like wrestling, it’s the one thing I feel like I’m very good at and it comes natural to me. To be a fighter, I think I’d actually have to train and work. Being a pro wrestler isn’t work to me, it’s my life.
WWE.com: Where have you been wrestling since leaving WWE?
DAIVARI: Since I left WWE, I’ve wrestled in Japan, Mexico, France, Ireland and England. I’m going back to Mexico at the end of the month; I just got back from Aruba working on a tour for Kevin Nash, I’m going to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates in November, and I’m going to Chile in December. I’ve been keeping a very busy schedule.
WWE.com: What do you get from that kind of worldly experience?
DAIVARI: When I got to WWE, I was maybe in my fifth year of wrestling. Mind you, that was five years of United States independent wrestling, which isn’t that much qualification for WWE. By the time guys like Chris Jericho, William Regal, Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero got to WWE, it was their 12th, 13th, 14th year wrestling, and they had already learned the American style, Mexican styles, European style, Japanese style. I feel like that’s where I am now. I just turned 28 this year, and it’s kind of weird; I tell people I’m younger than WrestleMania. I could potentially be a guy who wrestles at WrestleMania 40 and still be in his 30s.
WWE.com: Is there anybody you still talk to at WWE?
DAIVARI: I still talk to CM Punk and some of the other guys who are still with WWE. A lot of people from my time in WWE have come and gone, though. Daniel Bryan’s a guy who I’ve known for years and wrestled before, but never in WWE.
WWE.com: Is there anybody in WWE you would like to wrestle?
DAIVARI:You have no idea what a huge Dolph Ziggler fan I am. When I first got signed by WWE, he was learning his first bits of wrestling ever; he had never even set foot in a wrestling ring. To see what he is today is probably one of the most impressive transitions I’ve ever seen, from first day on the job to full-blown future World Champion. He’s someone that blows me away. Obviously, other guys — my buddies like Punk — we’ve wrestled before, but it was in front of 100 people at a bar in Chicago, not a sold-out pay-per-view for his WWE Championship.
There are so many people I’ve wrestled in WWE that I still wrestle now on international shows, and that’s how I stay in touch with people I met at WWE. They still call me up to wrestle them, even though I haven’t been on WWE TV since 2008.
WWE.com: Do you have a message for the WWE Universe?
DAIVARI: Thank you. It’s kind of funny. Apparently, they must have liked what I did on TV because I’m still getting calls every week from promoters asking me to wrestle, and that’s because fans who watched me in WWE will still come to see me. There are lots of other guys who have passed through WWE before and after me, but my phone still rings constantly, and that’s because WWE fans liked my wrestling.
WWE.com: So, one last question: Of all the holds you could have used to subdue the hostile passenger on the train, why did you decide to use a rear naked choke?
DAIVARI: Well, they were using the Figure-Four in car one, and I didn’t want to steal their finisher (laughs).