The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
April 20, 2023

Shawn Spears On Giving Me Those 20 Chops, AEW Return, Becoming A Father, Cody Rhodes

Shawn Spears On Giving Me Those 20 Chops, AEW Return, Becoming A Father, Cody Rhodes

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Shawn Spears (@shawnspears) is a professional wrestler with AEW and is known for his time in WWE under the name Tye Dillinger. He joins Chris Van Vliet in Hollywood, CA to talk about why it has been so long since we have seen him in AEW, recently becoming a father to his son Austin, how his wife Cassie Lee is doing, we reflect on the 20 chops I took with him and Tyler Breeze at their wrestling school Flatbacks, what they look for in a great student, life lessons from your 20s, 30s and 40s, his friendship with Cody Rhodes, how he became "The Chairman" with the chairshot to Cody Rhodes at AEW's Fyter Fest and much more!


Check out Flatbacks Wrestling School:


On returning to AEW:

“I hope, I've tried, we put some feelers out there, and some ideas out there. It's just a matter of trying to get the wheels in motion. It was also, they've been very, very good. Last year was tough. I lost my mom last August. [Chris - So sorry]. Thank you. It was just, we kind of knew it was coming. But then it happened very suddenly. So that was tough. But at the same time, Cassie was five and a half, six months pregnant. So like, I'm expecting and losing at the same time. And then, you know, I'm in Florida, and I'm trying to settle my mom's estate, all my family [is in Canada]. I have no family here. Just so everybody's home. And you know, my family doesn't come from any money. They don't, we didn't have anything growing up. So it's just a matter of making sure everything is handled and taken care of. And my, my sister, my older sister, she's doing a lot of the running around and like basically, a lot of them didn't have a chance to like mourn, I didn't have a chance to mourn because I’m way over here and I'm not with them, and then you go home quick. And then you have to get back to your wife and like it's, it was just a lot and AEW is very good about kind of allowing me that time.”

On the infamous chair shot to Cody Rhodes:

“Swing for the fences was the term. I said, Okay, put your hands up, and he goes, No. I was like, buddy, you gotta put your hands up. And he says, No. I was like, damn it. So again, it's Cody, I trust him. He trusts me. [was it supposed to be a gimmicked chair?] Yeah, but it's, you can shave down a chair as much as you want. It's not the flat part, it's the lip of the chair that is always the most dangerous part. And that's usually the part that catches somebody and in this case, it was. And it was just a fraction off, but he'll take the wrap himself, I'm swinging, so I take the rap for it, and it's my fault. But I hit him and it was a wonderful reaction and it got the shock value that it did and you hear the term red equals green and it's you know, blood is money and all that kind of stuff. I just remember hitting him, listening. And I have a look at Brandi, and we have a little moment there. And I look back at Cody, and that's when I see the pool. And I just went Oh sh*t. And I look at Brandi, and she's kind of looking at Cody and she looks at me and I go sorry, I gotta get out of here. I got to the back and like I was, I had tears of like, tears in my eyes. I was profusely apologising to her, because I felt so bad, I loved that guy, was like a brother. And then I go to check on him and he's on the table face down and go, I go, Hey, man, look, I'm so sorry, you okay? He's like you are the most unsafe professional wrestler I've ever seen in my life. He starts just busting my balls. And I'm like, you can't, you don't understand where I'm at right now man. I'm having a hard time he goes, Yeah, I'd have a hard time too. I am having a hard time getting stitches put in my head. And I'm just like this guy. But that was the night it got, business wise, it got a lot of buzz. It set us up for what would happen at All Out.”

On trying to capitalize more on the chair shot:

“I thought we could have capitalised on it a little bit more. I thought it, you know, when you come into a company like that, starting out, I don't think we had TV at the time. That was the other thing about [it]. We had either just gotten it or we were in the works of getting it. I can't remember the exact time. But a lot of people will say to me, do you think the match, you know, with Cody, do you think you should have won, like coming in, and you know, do you think that would have propelled you? That's not the match, no, because this match started on the internet. And we did the Road To’s on YouTubes and stuff like that. And the big blow off was the match at All Out. I'm a big believer in when the good guy and the bad guy are having battles, it's okay for the heel to win a few battles here and there. As long as the babyface wins the war. That was our babyface winning the war. Because we didn't have the three months of television time to kind of bounce back and forth. There would have been five times more promos there would, that's the part that kind of bugs me the most is I wonder what we could have done verbally against one another because again, he would have forced me to up my game or he would have left me behind. So I was looking forward to that aspect of things, we just didn't have the luxury of television time.”

On future AEW dream matches:

“There's no one's, this doesn't mean I don't want to wrestle anybody. But I've had, I’ve wrestled almost everybody I've set out to wrestle in my career in some way, shape, or form, whether it be a live event when the cameras are off or on tour somewhere in some city that people have forgotten about or whatnot. I've been very lucky, very fortunate to wrestle a lot of people that I set out to wrestle. There's no one that really jumps out at me. Because there's still a lot of things I would like to do in AEW. But I had a blast wrestling as many people as I did there so far. Maybe Wardlow. I think Wardlow in a one on one singles, give us about 20 minutes and just let us wrestle, no cage, you know, even a cool, I’ll take a cold match with Wardlow. Let's do it on a Dynamite, Rampage can be 20 minutes. And let us just go, because that guy is still untapped. In my opinion, he's very untapped. He's been decorated. He's a two time TNT champion and stuff like that. But you've seen a little bit of his athleticism, but he's still untapped on what he can do. And I think I can pull it out of him. He is massive, sweetheart of a man, incredible talent, incredible human being.”

On becoming a father:

“So, I have a lot of friends. I'm a little older, like I had my child, what many people consider later in life. You know the deal when you're growing up, everybody [says] you're supposed to get married and have a house and kids by 30. Just kind of what society has thrown out there, at least for me growing up. So some people might say I'm a little late, but a lot of my friends have children, and they've had kids for years now. And they've given me so much advice, and hey, wait till this happens and wait till that happens. And it's, you can get all the advice in the world, nothing prepares you for when you're holding your own than everything just, you kind of forget everything that somebody had told you. And then things kind of make sense, but they're not supposed to. And it's just, it's a whole new world. And I'm still trying to figure it out, that's why I'm still trying to find the words for it. But it is the absolute greatest thing that I have ever done and will ever do in my life. We might have another or whatnot but like this, that will be by far my greatest achievement will be my children.” 

On the viral video of Chris getting chopped being a great advertisement for Flatbacks Wrestling School:

“It is, but a lot of it, you see a lot of kids come in they're like so like, are we doing chop day? And I was like, Well, it depends. But like, I think there's a little bit of a misconception. So this is perfect. Because you were there live. So the reason why we do chop day, the main reason is because you can actually feel a little bit of pain, a slap to the chest. Which allows you to sell it, gives you something to tap into mentally that okay, so I know what this feels like, I can sell this for real. Well, I can sell a punch the same way, I can sell a kick the same way. It helps them. If they're having a hard time coming out of their shell or making noise or selling, it gives them a starting point. The other part is what you saw firsthand is that the camaraderie that it builds, because in pro-wrestling, you know, this, like, as much as anybody else, you're trusting each other with your lives. So I just met some of your guys today, right here helping out in the studio. If they're pro wrestlers, and I don't know them, and we showed up today at a show and we're wrestling each other like, that is a very, that's a reality, I don't know how safe or dangerous this person is. That's where professionalism comes in. That’s why professional is in the whole professional wrestling. But the camaraderie that it builds is something to be seen. So when you see a lot of these young kids come in, they're 19 20 21. And they're shy, and they're nervous, and they're kind of scared and they're like, I don't know what I'm doing, but I just love wrestling and just want to be here. Yeah. And they're like, Hey, man, have some fun and smile, and they go, okay, loosen up. Okay, breathe. Like, there's just, I remember what it was like to be in that spot. So once they hit chop day, it's like they just go oh, ok.”

On Tony Khan:

“I have never seen him yawn, so I'm assuming no [he doesn’t sleep]. He might be half a cyborg, who knows? But that guy has a tonne on his plate. And just a steel trap of a mind, remembers everything, every detail. When I first met him, we were having conversations, he's like, Oh, I remember the match you had, I forgot about it. I was like really? Yeah, it was in such and such city. I'm like, holy sh*t. I was like, Oh, you're just buttering me up? No, he remembers everything. But he's not just like that with wrestling. I've walked into his office and I've seen him, he's got his iPad, I hope I'm not gonna get in trouble for saying this. But he's got his iPad set up. And he's watching like a Jags game and they are at you know, he's watching a Fulham game. And he's, he's, he can multitask like, like no one I've seen before. But in the midst of putting a card together and getting everything done. And so I mean, yeah, and like I was saying before, just what a sweetheart of a man, gave me all the time in the world when my mom passed. And now that Austin's been born, I had all the time in the world to be home with my wife, cuz it's just us here, like just a good man, a busy man, but a good man.”

On Tyler Breeze:

“He's fantastic. That guy's he's, I always tell him he's the smartest dumb person I know. And I mean that in the most loving way, but I wish I met that guy [years ago]. I've known him for 10 years now. But business partner, my best friend, Yeah, he's very smart. He’s multiple properties. He's got his fingers in everything, still works for WWE. He's got the school going. He's got a lot going on for himself, very happy, very healthy, and that's, I keep bugging him now. I say Hey man, you got to have a kid cuz my kid needs a friend. You're my only friend, my kid needs a friend. And he's like, leave me alone. So but yeah, things things are very well.”

What does Shawn Spears look for in aspiring wrestlers: 

“Heart. Heart. Our biggest thing is, and I know that might sound a little cheesy, our biggest thing that we harp on most of the safety and footwork technique, because if you kind of get that down then the danger levels kind of drop. But like, man, just the will to not want to stop or not quit, it is so hard to instil. And it was, it was great cuz I was out last night a little bit in LA. After we did the Live With FTR, I went to the Comedy Store, and I saw Ziggler and Ryan and yeah, so they were performing. But the best part is I had like my kids out there. And when I say kids, I don't mean that their children. I mean, like the kids that I've trained. So like Austin Gunn, Colton Gunn, Kiana James in WWE, what half the Women's NXT Tag Team Champions. Harley Cameron, who's now with AEW, like, when you kind of stand back for a second, you look and like, you're so so proud. And then you kind of remember, you know, they were sweating their guts out and basically dying during training, and I'm in their ear, I'm in their ear, all of them, you can quit if you want, you can stop at any time. You can take a break, you want to get some water, go ahead. And they refuse, some of them tell me f*ck off. Like just but that's me going you don't know your limits yet. It's my job as a coach to find your limits. So I'm going to push you towards them, they're going to be uncomfortable. But if you're able to break through those limits, not only will it help you in pro-wrestling, it'll help you in life. You got to remember I’m getting young kids, right, so I push them because that's what they're paying me to do. I don't push them to a point where they completely fold, because they're still very impressionable, they're still very young, but they don't know their limits yet. Push yourself to find those limits, you might surprise yourself. You might surpass them. And you know, if you get the ball rolling for them like, who knows what you're capable of. It's a very powerful thing, if you can kind of wrap your mind around it. But it takes a long time to wrap your mind around. If someone in your ear saying you can quit or you can keep going, choice is yours.”

What is Shawn Spears grateful for:

“My son and wife, I can be a good man, a good father, and that I have a life worth living.”