Father James Mitchell is your go-to guy for NWA Samhain.
Mitchell, aka the ‘Sinister Minister’, is the honorary host for the NWA Samhain pay-per-view on October 28. He spoke with WrestleZone about his latest gig as well as his knowledge of Samhain, the Gaelic festival that inspired Halloween and the NWA PPV name.
“I’ve always been something that a student of the occult going back to when I was a child. So I have been familiar with the concept of Samhain since I was probably in fifth grade, or something like that. Samhain is the forerunner of what we in the United States called Halloween. Essentially, it was a time when once a year, it was celebrating the change of the seasons,” Mitchell explained. “It was an evening when they believe the veil between the living and the dead was opened. And all of the dead, the spirits will walk the earth and engage in misbehavior.
“And as they adapted it over the years, that’s the reason that children dress up like ghouls and goblins and walk around through the neighborhoods,” he added. “So yeah, I’ve known of it for a long time. And I was surprised when they brought it up as the name of the pay-per-view. And I guess that’s why I’ve been tagged as the host, the “devil at large.“ Because I would be the go-to guy for that sort of thing.”
We The People
Mitchell recently told WrestlingNews.co‘s Steve Fall that he was once contacted by WWE about managing Jack Swagger. The role ultimately went to Zeb Colter (Dutch Mantell) during Swagger’s “We The People” run, and Mitchell said it wouldn’t have been a good fit for him.
Mitchell went into more detail with WrestleZone, explaining how he wasn’t told that it would be Swagger that he could have worked with. This was the second time that WWE had reached out to him, as they previously thought of bringing him in to work with Lord Tensai (Matt Bloom).
“I forget what the date was. [But they reached out and] said, ‘We’ve got a guy who needs a new coat of paint. He needs a mouthpiece.’ And so I waited, waited, waited, and I finally got a phone call,” Mitchell explained. “And the guy said, ‘I don’t know if you watched so and so last night. He goes but the guy we were going to put you with was Jack Swagger. And we put him with Dutch Mantell instead.’”
It wouldn’t have felt organic
Mitchell said he saw what Mantell did as Zeb Colter and realized that he never would have been able to do that role justice. Mitchell was then asked if he would have turned the role down if he did know what the gimmick was since it was out of his wheelhouse.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do that,” he stated. “It just wouldn’t have been organic to me. So, I mean, if they’d offered me the gig, I would have tried. You know, I mean, God knows what they would have, I’m sure they would have completely changed my appearance and the whole nine yards. But, you know, I honestly don’t…even if they hired me for that, I don’t think it would work because I think they would have changed me so much that it wouldn’t have felt organic. And I thought Dutch did a hell of a job with it.”
You want to be typecast
Plenty of people have taken opportunities that weren’t a perfect fit and often changed what made their persona special in the first place. Mitchell has mostly stayed true to the nefarious character he’s played over the years and it’s one of his strengths. Mitchell says wrestlers should want to be stereotyped in some way because that’s what fans love about them. The same is true in film, highlighting how evolution doesn’t have to completely take away someone’s gimmick.
“I think what you want to be in wrestling is…basically, you want to be typecast, you know? You know, Arnold Schwarzenegger is still usually Arnold Schwarzenegger no matter what role he’s playing. John Wayne was always John Wayne, even when he played Genghis Khan. It was still John Wayne, you know? Clint Eastwood, same kind of thing,” Mitchell said. “When you look there, I mean, there have been a lot of great journeyman wrestlers over the years that…they did 50 different gimmicks. You know, they did whatever it took from territory to territory, changed your names completely changed your characters, you know, and they kept the lights on and kept food on the table. But generally, guys who did that were not people that became iconic.”
Mitchell noted that Dusty Rhodes, who had already been in Vince McMahon Sr.’s WWF, also had to walk the line when he began working for Vince Jr. Dusty went from the “American Dream” to the “Common Man”, but he was still Dusty Rhodes at the end of the day.
Evolve or stagnate
“They brought him in and made him the ‘Common Man’ and [Vince] put the polka dots on him. Now he bristled at doing that, but he just said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go ahead and dive in it because this is the way the wind is changing.’ You know, you have to adapt, and evolve, or you stagnate, and stagnation leads to extinction. Dusty, in that case, was still basically able to be himself.”
Mitchell said if Dusty had to be a mailman or change the way he spoke, it would have failed.
“The most successful characters in wrestling are people who take something from within themselves. They just turn it up to 40, you know? And that’s really I think, the secret to anybody getting over,” he stated. “You have to be true to yourself.”
Watch our full interview with Father James Mitchell below. NWA Samhain takes place on October 28 at at TempleLive in Cleveland, Ohio. The event is also available on FITE.