Originally published at David Sahadi recounts transition from NBC Sports to WWE, Kevin Dunn saying he hated 'NBC guys'
David Sahadi discusses his journey into pro wrestling and deciding to depart WWE.
Prior to venturing into professional wrestling, current IMPACT Wrestling television producer David Sahadi worked for NBC Sports as Manager of On-Air Promotions. Sahadi started working for WWF/E in the early 1990s and while sitting down with Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson on their Talk’n Shop podcast, he recapped his journey that led him to where he is present day.
Sahadi told the story of when he first came into contact with WWF/E through the company’s Executive Producer and Chief of Global Television Distribution, Kevin Dunn. Dunn told Sahadi that if it was up to him, Sahadi would not be in the company because he disliked ‘NBC guys’. Sahadi had the opportunity to win over Vince McMahon and fellow staff members when he put together the opening package for Monday Night Raw.
I came from NBC Sports and I joined WWE back in 1992 and in 1992, you know, they were down in the dumps and I just wanted to bring a real sports feel to it because I always thought wrestlers are f*cking tremendous athletes and they were mainly considered ‘goofballs’ by people who weren’t wrestling fans. I’m like, that’s bullsh*t man. These guys are legitimate athletes.
Do you wanna hear a funny story? I’m in there for two weeks. John Filippelli, he’s now the head of the ‘YES’ Network. Yes, he was and I’m like, I’m f*cking f*cked man. I’m not gonna be here next Monday. This is it, he didn’t like it so he goes, ‘All right pal, play it again’ and the editor plays it again and then Vince looks up, starts looking down and again, this is like four minutes of silence, and I’m in the corner like, all right, well you know, I guess I’ll sign my forms right now for my termination release and he goes, ‘I don’t know. What do you guys think?’ And Bruce Prichard goes, ‘I like it Vince. It’s really different. We haven’t done anything like that before’ and somebody else is like, ‘I love the music, I love this,’ you know? And all of a sudden, once Vince asked people’s opinion, because it was so different — they were doing things that were like a lot of pink and yellow, kind of like, you know, color palettes or whatever and I was bringing in like black and white and red.
Sahadi explained that he departed WWE due to burnout. He expressed to Kevin Dunn that he wanted to take a sabbatical, but Dunn wanted to keep David at work.
They would meet five months later and the offer on the table was that Sahadi could come back to work full-time. He wanted to ease his way back into the WWE schedule, but Dunn was of the ‘full-time or no time’ mindset.
2003 came and a year I wasn’t happy because the company went public, shareholders, they hired some people that knew nothing about wrestling but they — instead of me talking to Kevin Dunn or Vince directly, I had to go through other people and they had the worst ideas and I just felt like creatively, I was stogged. I just couldn’t do things I wanted to do because I couldn’t understand this outside the box stuff which got the casual fan which also got the wrestling fan to love as well too. They kind of wanted to sanitize everything and make it vanilla and that’s not me dude… So just over the years, I was feeling like I just need to take a break from this place. Working 60, 70 hours a week, doing all the important stuff…
Again, it was a me thing. It wasn’t Vince or Hunter or anybody there. It was just that all these new people that only lasted a couple of years who’s just making my life miserable because they knew better. I went to Kevin Dunn and said, ‘Kevin, I need to take some time off’ and he’s like, ‘Yeah, you’re joking.’ I go, ‘No, I need a little sabbatical.’ It took me five minutes to convince Kevin that I was… and I said, ‘Kevin, I can leave today. I know how this place works. I can stay for six months. I just need to know that — I need a break. I need to take a sabbatical’ and he goes, ‘Okay, why don’t you do this: Why don’t you make your last day in a month, you know, for now and we’ll ease on.’ I said, ‘Okay, thank you and let me tell Vince.’ He goes, ‘Oh no, no! Something this big, I just can’t tell Vince. You can’t tell him. I gotta figure out the best way to give it to Vince and give a solution’ so, by the time he told Vince what was going on, it was like three-and-a-half weeks in. I think Vince thought that instead of me being flexible on my outdate, that it was a four-day notice. When I came back from L.A., the last commercial I shot was the Brock Lesnar SummerSlam commercial where he’s on the beach. It was a take from Jawz. ‘Shark! Shark in the water’ and at the end, you see Brock in his wrestling gear just running out there doing the F5 on the shark in the ocean. In Vince’s mind , I did, yeah. But in reality, it could’ve been six months and again, before Kevin — you know, I talked to Kevin and he knew that I was serious, he said, ‘Take three months off and we’ll pay you.’ ‘Kevin, I can’t.’ ‘Because why?’ I said, ‘Because I’m gonna be counting down. Okay, nine days left, 88 days left, 87 days left,’ and I’m like, ‘Kevin, it might be three months, it might be a year, I don’t know.’ So five months later, Kevin asked me to have dinner with him and John Gaburick who is replacing me in the job, with somebody else. Kevin told me that my spot was too important for one person so yeah, actually I was doing the job of two people so he had to make it a two-headed monster. But it was really Kevin Dunn’s way of getting a job there. He found an opening for him, it was my departure.
But so five months later, I’m having dinner with ‘Big’ go, ‘Okay, it’s no time. We’ll talk later.’
Sahadi worked with IMPACT Wrestling from 2004 to 2017 and was away from the company for one year before returning in 2019.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Talk’n Shop with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.