Ariya Daivari on life after WWE, whether he’s open to returning, his tag team with Tony Nese, changing his gimmick in WWE, using the family name, how pro wrestling brought him and brother Shawn Daivari closer together


By Jason Powell, Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Insight With Chris Van Vliet with guest Ariya Daivari
Host: Chris Van Vliet
Podcast available via
Video available at Chris Van Vliet’s YouTube Page

His thoughts on being released from his WWE contract: “I tell a lot of people that I can take a nice breath of fresh air and say, ‘I’ve done it.’ That thing that used to keep me up at night as an indie wrestler. I just keep thinking over and over what do I have to do to make it? But I did it, I made it. I wrestled on a pay per view, on NXT, on Monday Night Raw. I got to have conversations with Vince McMahon and Triple H, I did all these things. So I got to do all of these things I wanted to do, so a small part of me is like I can close that chapter and go to another part of my wrestling career. Luckily this is a great time because places like AEW, New Japan, Impact, all these places are popping up. I can say I know what it’s like to wrestle for Vince, now let’s see what it’s like in the other places.”

On missed opportunities for him in WWE: “Yeah, honestly right before we got released, me and Tony Nese were doing a lot of tag stuff together. Me and him tagged on and off since the beginning of 205 Live. In the last four to five months of TV they were having us tag pretty regularly. They had us doing promos together. Everyone in the office, Shawn Michaels, Matt Bloom, they would all be telling us ‘You guys are killing it as a tag team, you’re doing a great job, you look good.’ We were having good matches and a lot of the boys said we looked good as a team. We thought that this was going to take us to the next level. We thought we were going to be a tag team on NXT. Me and him discussed talking to Vince and see if he would bring us to Raw or Smackdown. I was told that Vince or WWE in general isn’t big in the tag team division. That was the only hurdle we had to climb, to get them to pay attention to tag stuff. I really thought that was going to take us to the next level. But unfortunately we got released.”

His plan now: “I just want to wrestle, I want a busy schedule. That’s the only thing I want. Because right now I’m sitting at home with these 90 days. Not too long ago we were dealing with a pandemic, that shit sucked. I did not like sitting at home. Obviously, the pandemic was a little bit different because nobody could do anything. But right now the crowds are back and wrestling is super hot and I’m not doing anything, it’s driving me f—ing crazy. I just want to be a busy as possible, it doesn’t matter where it is. AEW, Impact, New Japan, back to the indies… I just want to wrestle the best guys possible and keep a very busy schedule. This is my life now. It is all I care about and all I want to do.”

On being the brother of Shawn Daivari: “Yeah we just started watching together. He was fourteen and I was eight. We just started watching together, he was the one who discovered it but we watched it together, which was super cool. Just over time he got to be an indie wrestler first, obviously. That’s why his career took off before mine did, he’s just older. We were big fans together. He had all the T-shirts and I had all the toys. It actually brought us a lot closer. We were just typical brothers, we hung out but not a lot. But pro wrestling really brought us closer and closer and to this day that’s why we are super tight.”

On using the Daivari name in WWE: “I kept going back and forth on it. I didn’t want people to think ‘Oh, he’s just Shawn’s brother.’ And I have to admit he was in at a time when the wrestling industry was even hotter. He had a lot more eyes on his career back in 2004. Some people went, ‘Oh, cheap ripoff.’ But whatever. I was proud of the fact that I made it to the WWE at my size and kept my name. It is all me being presented as me.”

On his brother Shawn Daivari being released before him: “My own brother was recently part of the COVID releases. Only just recently he was brought back, which I am very happy for. I was very upset when he got released during COVID. After the COVID releases happened, I was like it sucks, but I survived I think I will be good. Then there’s been three waves of firings in 2021. When Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman got released, the whole roster from top to bottom, Raw, Smackdown, NXT was like, oh shit. If they are letting guys like Braun and Samoa Joe go, it could be anybody. I would say for the last four to five months I wasn’t expecting it, because I was wrestling all of the time. But a small part of me said that if it was going to happen, it might be around this time. Unfortunately it did.”

On a possible WWE return: “I think so. I have this five year plan in my head. I’m 32 now, if I don’t go back to WWE in five years then maybe that door is closed. I still feel young and I still feel good. You see so many guys like Drew McIntyre and Jinder [Mahal], seeing them leave WWE, and they were at the bottom of the barrel when they left. To go out there and get in great shape, reinvent themselves and then come back and have the success that they have had, it’s awesome to see. Shelton Benjamin and The Hardy’s, all great guys but when they left I thought that was it because they have done everything that they can do. They are older now and probably won’t come back. Now they have come back and done extraordinary work, I don’t think the door to WWE is completely closed. It might be that right now they are reshuffling things and figuring things out.”

On leaning into his heritage: “At first, I felt it more, because it’s WWE, they love people from different countries, they said that to me on my trial. They said, ‘We love the fact that you are Iranian and can speak another language.’ But they knew I was Minnesota and all that sh*t. They knew I spoke another language. At first, I was all about it, but some people’s responses on Twitter were like ‘Uhhh, another foreign guy, great!’ I think that era of wrestling is ending and it’s on me. I took it to Vince McMahon and said, ‘Hey, I don’t want to do this sheik thing anymore.’ I wanted to do this Daivari Dinero character and he was all about it.”

On changing his character: “I didn’t want to completely abandon the fact that I am Middle Eastern. The Daivari Dinero character was actually based on this TV show called “Shahs of Sunset”, there’s a lot of Iranian and Persian people in LA. I said, ‘Hey if you want me to be a character, I got a way better character for you guys.’ All these Iranians and Persians are driving all the white BMWs, gold chains, and all that stuff. I don’t think it’s as offensive either, it’s a little more tongue in cheek. That was why I wanted to switch to that character. Also, a lot of Persian people are born in America, so we don’t have to insult the intelligence of the fans. I knew that being myself was going to have a lot more shelf life than being a typical foreign heel.”


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