Former TNA World, X Division and Tag Team champion Austin Aries recently talked to v2 Wrestling in the UK about a range of topics, including a how close he came to retiring before his current TNA run.
Aries was speaking with v2journal.com as part of TNA's promotional work for their UK Tour in January 2014, which they claim will be "unprecedented levels of fan interaction."
The whole interview can be heard at http://v2wrestling.podomatic.com/entry/2013-09-14T16_44_32-07_00
The following are some of the highlights:
On his on-air character
You know, I find it funny that all the people that follow wrestling, people like yourselves, that they all kind of use the terms babyface and heel, and good guy or bad guy, because I don't look at life like that and i don't look at wrestling like that. I'm pretty much who I am, and I'm not everybody's flavour, and I'm kind of polarising and some people like me and some people don't. And just like everybody in life, some days I come to work and I'm not in a good mood, and some days I come to work and I'm in a great mood. And i think that's like everybody. Nobody walks through life as a pure babyface per se or a pure heel, we all have shades of grey, and there's some days we're a little better than others, and some days we're a little more ornery. And I think that I just embody that. I think Austin Aries is pretty consistent when he's on the screen. I don't think my attitude has changed a whole lot, other than letting people know that if you wanna cheer me, go right ahead. I'm not gonna stop you. Tell the people who make decisions what you want to see. Tell them who you wanna see on camera and in the ring.
On his previous TNA run
Eveybody likes to speculate that me and Austin Starr are somehow related. I always say that that guy never had a tattoo. I've watched all of his footage, the guy's mildly entertaining, never really had a whole lot to sink his teeth into, but I certainly enjoyed him in the Kevin Nash Invitational Battle Royale, I'll tell you that much.
On whether Kevin Nash helped or hurt the X Division
Kevin Nash is a recognisable name, and he was obviously someone they brought in because of who he was. And for him to hang out with us, you've got to understand that we had a blast. I had a blast working with Kevin, and if you go back and watch some of the Paparazzi (Productions) skits that I've seen, those guys all look like they're having a great time. I think Kevin was doing what he could to help give the X Division guys at that time a little more personality and bring some of that out, and Kevin's a great guy to do that because he's full of personality.
On his feelings about the wrestling industry
I've been doing this so long now as a job and a profession that - it's not that I don't appreciate professional wrestling, but - it's not something I do in my spare time. I have a lot of other things I enjoy doing, so when I'm done with work I kind of put it away. That doesn't mean I don't occasionally catch some other wrestling on television or YouTube, but there was such a long part of my life where I was really consumed with it, where it was all I thought about, and I just think as my career has progressed and as I have matured and the perspective of all this has changed a little bit, now it's more of a job. That doesn't mean I don't love my job and have passion for my job, it's just not something I spend a lot of my free time doing.
On meeting the fans
I think there's a balance of fan interaction. I think sometimes there can be a little too much interaction. I know when I was a kid, the mystique of wrestlers and stuff was something that was kind of big, and if I got to hang out with them all the time i think that mystique can be lost. You've got to be careful not to over-expose and over-saturate (access to the wrestlers), because it loses that specialness.
On his future
I still feel that I perform at a level where I've got another ten years in me before I even start to think about maybe transitioning into something behind the scenes, but I've always been interested in the creative process of wrestling. I think that's a part of what has helped me excel, because there's a lot of guys who athletically are as gifted as I am, so I think it's the mental aspect of the game that has helped me achieve the success that I have.
On how close he came to retirement in 2011
I had made the decision (to retire). It was just one of those situations where I didn't feel that I was getting back what I was putting in. I didn't want to be a prisoner to the world of wrestling; I didn't want to be a guy who was trying to hustle every weekend and do a convention. I didn't want to be Randy The Ram in 10, 20 years. I felt at that point of my life I was OK with transitioning into something else, and I'd stopped taking bookings and had nothing on my schedule, and before that really sunk in I got a call from TNA offering me the opportunity to come down there for an X Division qualifying match and I figured, well why not take one more pay day, that certainly can't hurt!