CONTRA Unit’s Josef Samael Explains Why Fans Should Choose MLW Over Other Wednesday Wrestling Shows

Feb 3, 2021 - by James Walsh

Show: Wrestling Epicenter
Guest: MLW’s Josef Samael
Date: 02/02/2021


CONTRA Unit’s leader Josef Samael joined the Wrestling Epicenter recently to talk about MLW being back in action after the pandemic, MLW’s approach to not mentioning the pandemic within their universe, and Jacob Fatu being World Champion, Hammerstone’s upcoming title opportunity, and his own status as an in-ring talent.


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On how it feels for MLW to be back in action after shutting down for the pandemic:
“Well, we’re not fully back. As you said, it isn’t 2019. But, it feels good. Besides injury, I’ve never been inactive for so long so it feels foreign to me. I’ve been in the wrestling business for 22 years. Yeah, it feels strange. But, it feels nice to be back!”


On MLW working overtime during the pandemic to grow the brand:
“For sure! That is a testament to Court Bauer and the people he surrounds himself with. Everyone, for the most part, that is in MLW wants to be there and believes in the product. Being in front of as many eyeballs as possible is the name of the game. The good thing about MLW is the product does not insult the viewer. Behind the scenes, people things were happening but also creatively, they’ve done a great job connecting the dots on why things stopped in our universe. I don’t think we’ve mentioned “pandemic” once since we’ve been back. That is creative in a business that sometimes feels like everything has been done, I think MLW is on an island on its own as far as that is concerned. They take the product very seriously and nobody is afraid to be in the professional wrestling business. This is our universe and we’re able to create, you know, our universe! We do a really good job from the writers to the directors to the performers. It has been refreshing to see the company go through hard times and, on camera, seem like we’ve not skipped a beat. We haven’t skipped a beat.”


On what CONTRA Unit is all about:
“It is kind of like an underground crime syndicate. A lot of this stuff is still to be revealed. The mystery of it all really lends to the creative… It is almost like, and I apologize that my thoughts are fragmented here a little bit. I wasn’t prepared for this question. It is almost like when you see a really good movie and somebody says, “Yeah, but have you read the book?” And, in reading the book, it kind of connects the dots that were tailor made for you. I think that is where CONTRA is right now. On the surface, it is an underworld, underground crime syndicate that is trying to take over MLW and hijacking their airwaves and get their message across on MLW’s broadcasts. What their message is is yet to be revealed. What they’re going to do to get it revealed, how it will be revealed… It is just compelling programming. It is open ended in a way to where you can zig when people think you’re going to zag. You can go up when people think you’re going to go down. I know that is a long, broad answer to the question but it is what it is. So, CONTRA is an underground crime syndicate that is trying to take over MLW’s airwaves to get their message across.”


On the CONTRA NES video game coming to mind whenever CONTRA is said:
“Absolutely! (laughs) Up, up, down, down, BA, BA! (laughs) That could be my favorite video game. I wasn’t thinking of that but that was such a fun video game to play. Whoever came up with that, I think it was Konami, that was such a great game. And, the timing. I don’t know if you remember the cover art but it was almost Comando, Rambo, Alien, Predator… It embodied every action movie of the 80’s!”


On how he and Jacob Fatu became friends:
“Oh wow! I believe Jacob Fatu and I became friends in 2015. At the time, I was running a promotion in California, and, well, I still am but the pandemic kind of stopped it, called PCW Ultra. I met Fatu on the Internet. He wanted to come to my company and, after seeing his film, I wanted him there! We jsut became fast friends. He’s just such an athletic phenom. He’s just such a natural athlete. He was just coming on when I was in the winter of my career, if you will. I had a thing or two to teach him. We had kind of a nephew-Uncle kind of relationship. It was just a pleasure teaching him what I knew and watching him soak it up like a sponge kind of watering this tree and thinking of things I wanted to do but athletically, I couldn’t perform them. (laughs) Almost like a Frankenstein, using my brain with his athletic talent. It became a thing! We really worked well together. And, we realized early on that when we got out in front of crowds, the reaction to us was better together than us on our own. It was just a strange thing. It worked together. It was a contrast but it was just right. It was magic. Me being around for 22 plus years, I knew how special that was. We started to work the independents and we started being booked in some high profile matches. We started to get interest from a lot of companies, MLW being one of them, and what MLW was serving up sounded best to us. We knew that MLW had a lot of respect for the wrestling business and they saw the wrestling business the same way we did. So, yeah, we entered MLW as a packaged deal. We signed for a very short period of time as a means of protection for ourselves. We quickly resigned because we were happy with the company and the people involved. And, we’re here now! The vision from Court and the way we performed it turned out to be magic in MLW. The group that came in (CONTRA), without bragging, they kind of built the company around us. To be the type of heel that I am and that Jacob is, we’re main event heels. To be recognized that way was very refreshing. There is nothing worse than trying to convince somebody of your worth. MLW knew right away who we were, what we were, and what they wanted to do with us. As far as I can see, we don’t have any plans of going anywhere else. We’re very happy with MLW!”


On Simon Gotch’s involvement in CONTRA:
“Well, initially, he brought us in and we were his guys. But, as things kind of shifted… Talking is my strong point so I kind of shifted into the leader… And that is kind of my personality backstage. I’m an event planner, I’m an agent, I’m a booker. I’m a manager for shoot and on screen. Simon? He’s one of the boys. I don’t think he’d want to be a leader. I think he wants to lace up his boots and go to work. I do think he is a throwback. He’s so technically sound so much so that you can sometimes see him wrestling around people. Like they say, “Hey could wrestle a broomstick!” (laughs) He’s just a really brilliant technical wrestler. I’m very happy being involved with him. The cool thing about CONTRA is all the characters are vastly different but in some weird salad, they all seem to fit together.”


On Josef wrestling less himself in MLW of late:
“Yes is the short answer to that. This (the pandemic) kind of kicked me into an early retirement which is fine by me. My brain is 100% wrestling and I’ll always be in the wrestling business. I love the backstage aspect of it. I’ve always enjoyed putting matches together, I love agenting young talent – I love giving people the how’s, the why’s, and the when’s. Your tool is your body in this business and I’ve been wrestling a rugged style for so, so long. And, i can go. I can still go but, you know, I feel real comfortable in the role that I am in and to be perfectly honest with you, it sure doesn’t suck not taking bumps! (laughs)”


On being a manager now:
“Managers, nowadays, are like “”Oh, he can’t get it done. Make him a manager.” In the old days, managers were old grizzled vets that could really direct traffic out there. Because MLW is such an old school company, that is the spot I’m in. And, I really like that spot. I like selling popcorn, setting up the chairs, setting up the ring, being a referee, getting to where you can wrestle. I’ve been a world champion in Japan, I’ve wrestled and main event on nearly every continent. I’ve done all of this stuff. And then, you start working your way back down, I can still add but it doesn’t have to be in the ring. Lets showcase the Jacob Fatu’s of the world and I’m out there to go, “Hey, on that, you should’ve done this or you should’ve done that.” Or, water the tree and give them all the confidence they need to know that they did it right from an eye that can see that it was right. Wrestlers know when they’re being bullcrapped. They know when they’ve done something so to have someone in their corner that recognizes it, that builds trust. So then, when you see something is wrong and you’re going to cut limbs off that tree, they understand that they trust you and that you’re coming from the right place. In today’s business, especially on the independents, it is real easy to get off track. And, to have veterans keeping you on track is not really the norm in today’s business. But, MLW being set up that way and Jacob Fatu coming from a family that is so steeped in old school, it really makes… And there are many, many pieces that are not seen that make this puzzle and make this puzzle successful.”


On MLW’s style:
“It is really something I’ve been preaching for years. It is the bridge from the old school to the new. It is not forgetting the past. It is not forgetting the architects that built this business. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But, you have to update. You have to be modern. MLW is the bridge from the old school to the new. It is the athleticism that meets the history and the psychology. That is very important. I know there are some casual fans and new age which that might not be important to but there is a massive fan base that it is important to and I think MLW is a product for them and I like to be that product for them.”


On Jacob Fatu heading into a war with Hammerstone:
“I can say it until I’m blue in the face. Hammerstone is the hardest worker that I’ve ever seen. I have seen Hammerstone cut 40. 50 pounds to make weight for a Lightweight Championship. I have see Hammerstone put on 50 pounds of muscle. The way he can manipulate his body and the dedication he has to his craft… I haven’t seen it from many other people. He is just a phenomenal athlete and a phenomenal talent. I’m very happy he’s getting what he has earned. I won’t say “deserved” because I hate when people say “You deserve it” in wrestling. The business doesn’t owe you nothing. The one thing I can say is when those two get in the ring (Fatu and Hammerstone), you know it is going to deliver! I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. I know Hammerstone. I know Hammerstone better than anybody… Maybe even better than Hammerstone knows himself. We’ll have to see how that pans out. But, one thing is for sure, every fan that sees that match is going to get their money’s worth for sure.”


On why fans should watch MLW on Wednesday nights instead of the other guys:
“If you tune in to MLW on Wednesday nights, you’re going to see the big boys, the real wrestlers. You’re going to see wrestling the way it should be presented. You’re going to see wrestling that is the bridge from the old school to the new.”



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