|Birth name||Don Callis|
October 13, 1964 |
|Professional wrestling career|
Cyrus The Virus
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) |
|Billed weight||95 kg (209 lb)|
|Billed from||South Africa
(as The Jackyl)
|Trained by||Tony Condello|
Don Callis is a Canadian former professional wrestler and manager, known for his appearances with the World Wrestling Federation as The Jackyl, and Extreme Championship Wrestling as color commentator Cyrus.
He was trained by local wrestling promoter Tony Condello and debuted in 1989. Wrestling under the name Don Casablancas, Callis formed a tag team with The Psycho as "The Mercenaries of Mayhem" under the tutelage of their manager The Golden Sheik.
World Wrestling Federation
On September 20, 1997, Callis debuted in the WWF as "The Jackyl," 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 Jackyl'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 Jackyl sometimes would compete in singles matches mainly on Saturday Night Shotgun and house shows. Once the Jackyl 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 Jackyl ordered Kurrgan to attack Recon and Sniper out of the Tag Team Battle Royal and caused the stable to disband.
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, Hell's Henchmen, until he was fired for dubious reasons.
It has been speculated that The Jackyl was being propped up as the logical choice for the "Higher Power" behind the Ministry of Darkness, instead of Vince McMahon. This is supported by The Jackyl's gimmick of a charismatic cult leader with a flair for brainwashing wrestlers into becoming his followers, the occult religious symbolism he and his charges were decorated with (including the Gate of Yog-Sothoth, hinting at a nascent H.P. Lovecraft/Necronomicon-inspired gimmick) and his previous segments where he'd promise to become the leader of the WWF and that "the revolution of The Jackyl is coming".
Extreme Championship Wrestling
In mid-1999, Callis debuted in ECW as Cyrus the Virus, a commentator with a gimmick similar to that of his WWF persona. He would broadcast exclusively on pay-per-view along 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 Rock n' 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 ironically was the dubious reason given to The Jackyl 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 for 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. 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. the Wrestling Observer newsletter reported that Callis had a verbal deal on the table with Eric Bischoff to go to WCW. Callis had been promoted directly to Bischoff by Lance Storm, Dave Meltzer and Joey Styles. Rumors at the time were that Callis and Styles were to become the new commentary team for Nitro.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
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. After this he quietly departed the company.
Callis departed TNA on good terms later that year, having been offered a job in International trade that made use of his MBA. Callis is all but retired from professional wrestling, although he 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.
Callis has expressed an interest in participating in Canadian politics, and worked as a Media Relations Specialist for the House of Commons of Canada in the early 1990s. Callis earned an MBA in 2003. As of 2012, he is the President, CEO and Executive Director of the Manitoba Trade and Investment Corporation.
- Finishing moves
- Callis Claw (Clawhold)
- "The Natural"
- "The Virus"
- "The Warrior Prophet" (WWF)
Championships and accomplishments
- Border City Wrestling
- International Wrestling Alliance/West Four Wrestling Alliance