TNA star Austin Aries shares thoughts on the all-cage Lockdown format, his dream opponent, nearly retiring in 2011, Hulk Hogan's run in TNA
Shining Wizards Podcast with Austin Aries
Hosts: Tony Z, Eddie, and Matt
Interview available at Shiningwizards.com
His dream opponent: "I've always said that I never got the chance to wrestle Vince McMahon. I would love that. I think Vince is a very underrated performer and if you're in the ring with Vince McMahon, you're probably in a pretty good position, so that's a guy I always throw in there. I told Hulk that we really should build a match between me and him and I could give him a great match, there's no doubt in my mind. I'm sure if you ask me on different days, I'd give you ten different answers. I've always said that no matter who my dream opponent is, I just want Bobby Heenan as my manager, because he was the man. To me, he's in the top 10 all time performers and no doubt that he's a hall of famer. He brought so many different things to the wrestling business. He's one of my personal favorites, and as long as he's bringing me down the aisle, I could pretty much guarantee we're going to get a W."
On almost retiring in 2011: "I wasn't making any big announcements, but I just quietly decided to not take bookings for a while. I had been doing this for 10 years at the time, trying to do the hustle and fill my calendar up with bookings, and it got to the point that it felt, personally that I was just spinning my wheels. I wasn't really accomplishing the things I wanted to, and I thought instead of banging my head against the wall, I would step back and push my energies in a different direction. I was looking into going to a vegetarian culinary school and was in the process of making that happen, then in the first week of me not having anything on the schedule, I got a call from TNA asking me if I wanted to come down for this one X Division showcase match and I thought it couldn't hurt. I was grateful for the opportunity and was able to take advantage of it and kick the door they left open for me."
Comparing his two runs in TNA: "I'm viewing it through a completely different lens, I guess is the easiest way you can put that. The Company is obviously in a different place. It was in a growing stage at that point (his first run) and really trying get a stronghold within the industry, newly on Spike TV, and was trying to build that following. As for myself, I was a lot younger and maybe a little less patient. I knew the capabilities I had and I knew where I saw and expected myself. Walking in, maybe I was too much of an eager beaver and was hoping to get those opportunities that weren't coming my way. In the same regards, if you're not happy somewhere and there's a difference of opinion in your worth and value than you have to make a decision if that's the place you want to stay or move on from it. When I came back and got the opportunity again and had the success that I've had since then it kind of validated a very tough decision that I made back then. I'm happy to be back in TNA and I think the company is growing. I know that the fans get wrapped up in the dirt sheets and the Nielson ratings, but I think we tend to forget that TNA is in 100 countries, and we've got strong fan bases throughout the globe. Internationally, TNA is doing very well."
On Hulk Hogan's time in TNA: "Hulk Hogan is the most recognizable face in Pro Wrestling. He is a cultural Icon and transcended wrestling, and people throughout the globe know that face. Anytime you can attach that to your promotion, you have the potential to use that as a big boom for your company. I think Hulk Hogan is definitely an asset to a Pro Wrestling company. But it's like anything else, you have to put people in the best position to be successful. And people have difference of opinions on whether or not TNA did that with Hulk Hogan. So, I think he brought a lot of positives, but I think there could have been a lot of things done that could have gotten more out of him and maybe have kept him around a little longer. All in all, it's something you had to do as a company who's trying to put their face on the map and get recognized. So you want to go out and get the most recognizable face in wrestling history, and that's Hulk Hogan.
On speaking his mind: "I think anyone that knows me and has followed my career knows that I have no problem speaking my mind. But I also know to pick my battles and I know how hard to push my arguments, and at the end of the day, I don't get paid to make those kind of decisions. I get paid to go out there and put on one of the best performances that anybody does and I'm ok in that role. I do think that I'm given an opportunity to express myself and I do think my input is welcomed, but at the end of the day I'm not a decision maker. So, I can say my piece, but there are people that get paid to make those decisions and I'm not one of them, and I have to respect the decision that's made and just go out there and do the best with the things that I can control, and that's when I step in between the ropes."
On The Lockdown Format: "My personal opinion, and again, I don't get paid to make these decisions, but I'm a big fan of 'less is more.' I think that two or maybe three of the big matches or the matches that warrant it being in a cage would be sufficient. I don't think it would take away from the Pay Per View; if anything, I think it would add to it just because it would make the matches at the end more special. Again, as performers, in some ways you're handcuffed inside a ring so you kind of handcuff all the performers with that and it is going to be a challenge for us and how you make the early matches different than the later matches on the card, because we all have the same parameters that we have to be confined in. Our job is to go out there and take what we're given and make the best of it, and I'm confident that everyone is going to go out there and put our best foot forward and bust our asses to put on the best show we possibly can."
Other topics include Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, his opinions on his match at Lockdown, impatient wrestling fans, his projects outside of wrestling, living the vegan lifestyle.
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