Donald "Don" Callis (born October 13, 1963) is a Canadian professional wrestling color commentator and executive, as well as a former professional wrestler and manager. For most of his career he has been known as either Cyrus (shortened from Cyrus the Virus) or Don Callis. He first gained international attention working under the name The Jackyl working for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Callis is currently Impact Wrestling's co-executive vice president. He also worked for New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) as an English language commentator on NJPW World.
|Birth name||Donald Callis|
|Born||October 13, 1963|
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
|Alma mater||University of Manitoba|
|Professional wrestling career|
Cyrus the Virus
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Billed weight||231 lb (105 kg)|
|Trained by||Tony Condello|
While in the WWF Callis managed a group known as The Truth Commission and later on The Oddities and finally The Acolytes before being fired in 1999. From 1999 to 2001, he worked for Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) strictly as a manager and fictional "network representative" in various ECW storylines. While in ECW he led a group known as The Network. In 2003, he was introduced as an onscreen character for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and returned to the company (now called "Impact Wrestling") in 2017 where he took an executive position as well as an on-screen commentator.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
West Four Wrestling Alliance/International Wrestling Alliance (1989–1998)Edit
Callis was trained by Manitoba wrestling promoter Tony Condello, debuting in 1989 in Condello's West Four Wrestling Alliance promotion under his birth name. Later that year, Callis adopted the ring name "The Natural". In May 1991, Callis won the WFWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship. Between 1991 and 1994, he held the championship a total of four times. In 1994, the West Four Wrestling Alliance was renamed the International Wrestling Alliance. Callis held the IWA Heavyweight Championship twice in 1996.
In 1992, Callis wrestled for the Quebec-based Lutte Lanaudière as "The General", teaming with El Diablero as "The Jet Set Team". The Jet Set Team held the Lutte Lanaudière Tag Team Championship for eight months.
World Wrestling FederationEdit
The Truth Commission (1996–1998)Edit
Callis received a tryout match with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1996 and was eventually hired to form a tag team with Rick Martel as 'The Models'. When Martel departed for WCW, he was left without a gimmick.
On September 20, 1997, Callis debuted in the WWF as "The Jackal", a member (and eventually leader) of a group of wrestlers known as "The Truth Commission" (a take on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission). An article in WWF Magazine claimed that he was a lower-level WWF employee during the early 1990s, and that he developed a messianic complex when he led a group of WWF superstars out of Kuwait when they were stranded there during the Gulf War. In an effort to play up the Jackal's gimmick as a charismatic, power-hungry fanatic, commentator Jim Ross often referred to him as the "David Koresh of the World Wrestling Federation". The Jackal sometimes would compete in singles matches mainly on Shotgun Saturday Night and house shows. Once the Jackal fought in his hometown, Winnipeg, as the General, against Jim Neidhart and lost the match. He would also team up with and managed the Interrogator (Kurrgan). The stable was not particularly successful, with their biggest achievement being their victory over the Disciples of Apocalypse at Survivor Series 1997. At WrestleMania XIV the Jackal ordered Kurrgan to attack Recon and Sniper out of the Tag Team Battle Royal and caused the stable to disband.
The Oddities and The Acolytes (1998–1999)Edit
Callis returned to television in 1998, forming a stable known as "The Parade of Human Oddities". The group consisted of "freakish" wrestlers, including "Golga" (a masked John Tenta a.k.a. Earthquake) and Kurrgan, and had entrance music performed by the Insane Clown Posse. The stable did not last long, and Callis eventually started managing the new tag team of Faarooq and Bradshaw, The Acolytes, until he was fired by WWF. Callis claims he was fired by Bruce Prichard for "getting himself over at the expense of the talent".
Extreme Championship Wrestling (1999–2001)Edit
In mid-1999, Callis debuted in ECW as Cyrus the Virus (a name lifted from the 1997 movie Con Air), a commentator with a gimmick similar to that of his WWF persona. He would broadcast exclusively on pay-per-view along with Joey Styles. As the issues between ECW and their network TNN heightened, Cyrus was then presented as working for the network, under the shortened moniker of Cyrus. His character represented many of the real problems between ECW and TNN at that point, as he constantly criticized the violent nature of ECW programming. He would also display affection for RollerJam and Rockin' Bowl, two programs on the network that ECW fans alike despised, due to the network giving them preferential treatment despite poor ratings in comparison with ECW. He singled out Joel Gertner for disciplinary measures, among other things due to Gertner "getting himself over at the expense of the talent", which was the dubious reason given to The Jackal for his WWF firing.
Cyrus then displayed authority in ECW due to his executive position with the network, working as a heel to crusade against ECW fan favorites (in kayfabe), but to also appease the network by preventing the lewd content (as a shoot). Cyrus then teamed with the anti-hardcore Steve Corino, and eventually formed a stable with Corino, his manager Jack Victory, and their hired guns Yoshihiro Tajiri and Rhino. They were collectively known as The Network. He engaged in a long-term feud with commentator Joel Gertner, which culminated in a match on October 1, 2000, at Anarchy Rulz 2000, in which Gertner was triumphant.
Following this, Cyrus (kayfabe) canceled ECW on TNN (as the show was soon to be canceled legitimately, in favor of WWF Raw). Cyrus would then go on to aid Rhino in winning his first ECW World Heavyweight Championship at the final pay-per-view, Guilty as Charged 2001. ECW would declare bankruptcy soon after.
Independent circuit (2001–2003, 2018)Edit
With ECW gone and World Championship Wrestling purchased by the WWF, Callis returned to university, eventually earning a Master of Business Administration. He also briefly operated the No Holds Barred Wrestling Camp, a Winnipeg-based wrestling training camp. Callis also wrestled on the independent circuit, primarily appearing with Canadian promotions such as the Prairie Wrestling Association, Pro Outlaw Wrestling, and Top Rope Championship Wrestling. From 2001 to 2002, he appeared with Border City Wrestling, holding the BCW Can-Am Tag Team Championship with Terry Taylor.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2003–2004)Edit
In 2003, Callis debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) as a "Management Consultant". During this time he claimed credit for the Ultimate X match, which he said he devised to settle the dispute over who was the X Division champion once and for all. He engaged in a power struggle with then Director of Authority Erik Watts and used his power to make life difficult for Jerry Lynn, repeatedly fining and suspending him. On January 28, 2004 Callis succeeded in ousting Watts from TNA when he defeated him in a match for control of TNA, though he quietly departed the company afterward.
Callis departed TNA on good terms later that year, having been offered a job in International trade that made use of his MBA. While having generally retired from professional wrestling, Callis made an appearance at the ECW reunion show Hardcore Homecoming on June 10, 2005.
Callis also wrote weekly wrestling columns for the Sun media group and co-hosted a local Winnipeg radio show called "No Holds Barred" with Joe Aiello on 92 CITI FM.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling (2017–present)Edit
On January 17, 2017, Callis announced that he had accepted a position to become the new English color commentator for New Japan Pro Wrestling's events on New Japan Pro-Wrestling World, working alongside Kevin Kelly, replacing Steve Corino.
Impact Wrestling (2017–present)Edit
On April 22, 2018, Callis featured as the colour commentator for the Impact Wrestling Redemption pay-per-view as well as the following episode of Impact. During the Summer & Fall of 2018, Don Callis was regularly appearing alongside Josh Matthews as colour commentator and it now appears that Callis may have become the permanent colour commentator for Impact Wrestling following the departure of D'Angelo Dinero and the experiments in using Sonjay Dutt as a colour commentator whilst he was injured.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- Border City Wrestling
- Lutte Lanaudière
- Lutte Lanaudière Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with El Diablero
- West Four Wrestling Alliance/International Wrestling Alliance
- "Cyrus". Cagematch.de. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
- Harris M. Lentz III (21 October 2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling, 2d ed. McFarland. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-4766-0505-0.
- Hoops, Brian (January 14, 2019). "Pro wrestling history (01/14): Christian wins NWA World Title". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved January 18, 2019.
- R.D. Reynolds (16 November 2010). The Wrestlecrap Book of Lists!. ECW Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-55490-287-3.
- James Dixon; et al. (17 December 2015). The Complete WWE Guide Volume Six. Lulu.com. p. 296. ISBN 978-1-326-50746-6.
- "HERE'S OUR BROADCAST TEAM". ALL IN 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
- Brian Fritz; Christopher Murray (16 November 2010). Between the Ropes: Wrestling's Greatest Triumphs and Failures. ECW Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-1-55490-268-2.
- Cyrus, Lance Storm and. "PodcastOne: Killing the Town". podcastone.com. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
- Currier, Joseph (January 17, 2017). "NJPW World finds its new lead English color commentary voice". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- Currier, Joseph (December 5, 2017). "Scott D'Amore & Don Callis named executive VPs of Impact Wrestling". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
- "Cyrus – Titles". Cagematch.de. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
Don Callis's profile at Cagematch.net