Ring Rust Radio with Aron Rex
Hosts: Donald Wood, Mike Chiari, and Brandon Galvin
Audio available at Blogtalkradio.com/ringrustradio
On his TNA Impact Wrestling debut and whether he felt any nerves: Ok, so this is funny, as a performer I would never get nervous. When I first started, I was a teenager and of course you are nervous when you hit the ring and trying to get the timing and to get all the moves right. As I got more and more seasoned, I would never get butterflies. This was true even up to WrestleMania. I never truly got nervous because I would always go out, know who I am and do my thing. I said this to Dixie right before I went through the curtain, I had not had butterflies in 10 years, but today I do. I think the reason for that was because to me, it was a new version of me. It was a far more real version of me. I wasn’t playing a character on that episode. That was probably the most heartfelt promo I have ever done. I really didn’t know what I was going to say when I went out there. Knowing how great Impact Wrestling is, I kind of had an idea of what to say. I just wanted to go out there and talk to the fans and number one thank them for supporting me. I wanted to also thank Impact Wrestling for bringing me in because I had no plans on ever wrestling again. I did some autograph signings here and there and called it the “Thank You Tour.” It essentially was me going around, taking some shots, doing some autographs and personally thanking fans since I was moving into other projects. When I got the call from Impact and started talking to some of my friends that were there and some of the officials there, my philosophy changed, and I decided I wasn’t going to rule it out. The atmosphere at Impact Wrestling is one that I have never been around, and I have been doing this since I was 16 years old. The locker room is great; the management is wonderful. They allow the talent freedom to use the platform of the television show and the ring to paint their own picture. When I was given no direction outside of “Go out there and let the fans know you are here,” that meant the world to me. I am a loyal member of Impact Wrestling now. People can say what they want about my promo whether it was ground breaking or buzz worthy, but it was just a guy talking to the people, the viewers at home and the fans at the arena. I know that can be lost in our business sometimes, but at Impact Wrestling the talent is given that chance for genuine interactions with fans.
On how important it was to speak about WWE and having the handcuffs removed and what kind of feedback he has received: To me, my former employer, I really have nothing bad to say about them. They gave me a platform, and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have the street cred, so to speak. With that being said, my role in that company was very specific. I was labeled as entertainment and that’s fine. Here, I can work throughout the whole spectrum. It wasn’t a shoot, it wasn’t a negative, it was expressing how Impact Wrestling has taken some chances and is changing the game. I am proof of that.
On scripted vs. non-scripted promos, and were there any discussions with TNA about how much creative freedom or input he will have: This is on pretty much a night-to-night thing, let’s see what it works, go do it, and in my opinion, that’s how the wrestling business should be. That’s how the form of entertainment we do should be done. You have a live audience and a TV audience, there is also that Shakespearean element to it and there is also the element of improv. The coolest stuff sometimes will catch on and I think you need that. I was never a guy that you hand me a piece of paper and tell me to go out there and recite it. If I’m not feeling it, it’s going to come across as scripted. You have to feel it. You have to believe everything you are saying. If someone writes something and I believe it, I’ll go out there and recite it verbatim. If I’m not, then we will see if we can make some changes and that’s on a case-by-case basis.
Whether he is looking to prove the doubters wrong and how much did that impact his decision to sign with TNA: As far as I am concerned, anyone that doubts me, that is their opinion. I have to live with myself, and in terms of a performer in the WWE, my fans reactions spoke for themselves. Regardless of what I was doing, if you aren’t in the world title picture, but you’re getting a world title response as a performer, that’s on me and that’s OK with me. I was completely at peace with it and that’s why I didn’t know if I would still wrestle since other opportunities have come up. As far as guys having a chip on their shoulder, I can’t think of anyone like that, and I know the guys like ECIII, Lashley and Galloway. There is no chip on their shoulders and they are going out there and doing their job and making waves. Impact Wrestling in the last few months, you can’t tell me they haven’t changed the ways the industry has presented itself. They are exploring new venues and operating off a new template. They are taking risks, and it’s not just from a production stand point, it’s from a TV standpoint. It’s working. It’s absolutely working. I would put Impact Wrestling against any other wrestling show on TV today.
On his long-term goals with Impact Wrestling and whether he feels he can be a cornerstone of the brand moving forward: I never really thought about it like that. You are talking to the most left brained professional wrestler you will ever speak to with goals and everything. Short term goals, every time I am out there, I am out there to make the audience feel like they got their money’s worth, to make the viewer feel the time they invested to tune into and watch Pop TV, that their time is well spent. There are a lot of guys with that philosophy in Impact Wrestling. When you have a team atmosphere back there, and this isn’t just talent, this is management, talent and everyone working together, and giving everyone freedom and collaborating together it is such an awesome process. It is such a process and it is really starting to translate on TV. It has been a long time since I have been excited for professional wrestling and about the future. I honestly thought months ago my best days in the wrestling business were behind me, but after last night I can guarantee you they are ahead of me. There are a lot of guys I can say that for. This TV show, this company, is growing, it’s changing and it’s awesome.
On how other wrestlers reacted to him signing with TNA, and the wrestlers he is most excited to step in the ring with: From an executive stand point, John Gaburick I have known him for a long time. That was just kind of like, “Oh hey great to see you again.” Dixie couldn’t have been nicer. I met her and her family for the first time yesterday. This is coming from a guy who spent his whole career in the WWE. It’s just an instant sense of family. I felt so welcomed by everyone there. Even guys I have never met before would come up and just tell me they were so glad to have me there. I cannot say enough good things about how I was received on every level of the company. The agents and producers are so great and they are so passionate about it. You look at our talent roster for example and see a guy like Moose. He is a former NFL star and competed at the highest level of football that there is in the world, and now he is here with us and doing great. He is so passionate about this. He stepped away from a NFL career to do this because he loves it. The list goes on and on. There are guys that can go out there and entertain and put on great matches and a great TV show. Who would have thought the Hardys could spend the rest of their career as the Hardys in terms of what you get from them? They are doing stuff that is absolutely crazy and is changing the way the business is operating. I think this is some of the best stuff Matt Hardy has ever done. With me one thing that never went away was this: Whenever I stepped through that curtain, whether it was with the WWE at WrestleMania, a live event, an independent show or Impact, whenever I am performing in front of people, I had no choice but to love it. It is just the way I am wired. I put everything I have into it. That’s what I said last night and it might have been a little off the cuff, but I can’t remember verbatim. What hit me was how positive and upbeat everyone is about creating the product. How everyone’s input is taken into consideration. I left a lot of friends in the WWE locker room, but I have a lot of good friends here too so everything is a tradeoff. For me, and I actually said this to Dixie today, as far as timing goes, I couldn’t have picked a better time to come into Impact Wrestling. We really are on the cusp of some awesome stuff happening and everyone is on the same page. I really feel blessed to be here at this time.
On his show closing moment with Lashley and a potential match for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship: You don’t step into the ring unless you are trying to be the best. Bobby Lashley is as good of an athlete that is out there. He is an extremely high level amateur wrestler, MMA fighter and pro wrestler. You look at him and watch him compete and that says it all. I have known Bobby for a long time and I look forward to getting in the ring with him.