Donald Wood from Bleacher Report and Ring Rust Radio recently interviewed new TNA X Division Champion Austin Aries, who discussed his TNA and Indy career, his recent title win and more. Here are some highlights from the interview, you can listen to the full interview by clicking here.
Winning the X Division Title Again: "Oh, you know, it was a nice little step up for the X Division title. I spoke with the X-Division title last night and he's really happy to be back around my waist."
Building the Title's Prestige: "My responsibility is to just go out there and do whatever I'm asked to do to the best of my ability, I don't put any extra pressure on myself. I don't necessarily get rubs from championships; I'd like to feel the championship gets a rub off of me. So, if being around my waist is something that's going to make the title become a little more prominent on the television show, then that's great. Whatever I'm asked to go out there and accomplish I'm going to do to the best of my ability."
Plans on Cashing in the Title to Become World Champion: "I think that opportunity makes sense, now with the 'Option C' stipulation that was implemented a couple of years ago, thanks to yours truly, that's an option I could have if and when I decide to take advantage of it."
Winning it Now vs. Three Years Earlier: "Well the first time you win it, in some regards, it cements yourself as being at a certain level, a championship level. After doing it a couple times, I don't want to say its old hat, but you know that's not the end of the journey. The X Division championship, for me, is just part of the journey and I always have my eyes set on the next goal. And hey, there are all those championship titles that I don't have around my waist or on my shoulders in TNA then I feel like my journey is never complete. "
His View on the AJ Styles Storyline: "Well, my opinions don't really matter because the storyline, for me, is just to entertain the fans and keep them engaged in what's going on with the company. I will say that any time that you have the opportunity to take the top prize in the company and take it internationally, and maybe compete and defend it in some territories and in front of some sets of fans that don't normally get to have that honor, I think that's a great thing for the company. That helps get the brand out there and helps put the product out there. A guy like AJ Styles is obviously a great talent and he's going to go out there and put on a performance that's befitting of a man who is the World Champion. So, from that standpoint alone, I don't see how there could be anything negative coming from AJ taking that belt all over the world and defend it against anybody that wants an opportunity. I know that's the same mindset I've had in my past when I've been world champion. Bring 'em all on, near and far, we don't like to sit here and pretend that the only wrestling is the wrestling that happens in our universe. There's professional wrestling going on all over the world and we want to acknowledge it and put our best against their best at any time."
If Companies Should Focus More on the In-Ring Product: "That's not really for me to say; ideally I think you have the right blend of both. I talk to a lot of wrestling fans, not only the hardcore wrestling fans who obviously have a voice that they are able to use via social media, via the internet and things like that, but I talk to a lot of mainstream, common wrestling fans. People who may be used to watch it back in the day and kind of get back into it now, and those people value the storylines and the characters as much if not more than the actual in ring competition. I think it's important that we don't alienate any type of wrestling fan and we give everybody a little something that they can grab on to and appreciate."
How Winning the World Title vs. Roode had Changed his Plans/Outlook: "I've always been a big believer in myself and that if you give me an opportunity I am going to make the most of it. I was thankful that TNA saw the potential in me and put me in a position to fulfill something like winning the World Heavyweight Championship. For me it was affirmation of all of the hard work I put in, some of the bumps along the road that I had to maneuver, and that was the culmination of it all. I welcome those challenges, I welcome being put in the top spot and the pressure that comes with it, and to be quite honest I would've liked to have sunk my teeth into it and journey a little bit more but Jeff Hardy came along and unseated me and now I'm trying to find my way back up to the top of that mountain."
Turning Heel after Winning the World Title: "You have to understand that there's decisions that I control and there's decisions I don't control and that was a decision that really wasn't under my control so, in retrospect, I still feel that wasn't a decision under my control. For me to comment on it any more than that at this point I don't see any benefit in that. Everything you said was true: the buzz I had around me, the fan support I had around me was organic and something that grew over time and it was authentic. I definitely think that when you have a situation like that, you want to use that to your advantage the most you can. I'll let everyone else debate whether that happened or not. That being said, it's going to be tough any time you're standing in the ring against a guy like Jeff Hardy, who really has such a strong fan base and support, it's going to be really hard not to divide the fans and make them choose one side or the other and that's kind of what happened. "
Favorite Match or Rivalry: "In different time periods there's different answers I suppose. You go back and in my Ring of Honor run and there were memorable matches with Samoa Joe, memorable matches with Bryan Danielson and CM Punk. I really enjoyed my time spent there locking horns with Jimmy Jacobs, who brought a whole different mentality out of me as a performer, I think he's really underrated in what he does. I've always enjoyed my tag wrestling whether it's been with Roderick Strong or later on with Bobby Roode in TNA. I have an appreciation for a lot of different things that I got the opportunity to do because they all help bring a little something different out of you and I like to be a well-rounded performer and continue to grow."
Influence Indy Wrestling had on his Career: "When I started this journey, my goal was to say that professional wrestling was my job and luckily there are ways to do that without being signed to one of the major companies. From when I started wrestling till now there's been a big change in the landscape of wrestling as far as where those opportunities lie. WCW was still going on when I first started in the business and that's no longer the case. Then you have places like TNA and Ring of Honor which have popped up to give some guys a platform to continue to make money and do this as a job. I think the biggest thing that most guys take who have worked a similar path that I have, which is the independent scene all over the globe, is that you learn how to put on quality performances in front of different sets of eyes and different people because it's not a one size fits all mentality when it comes to going out there and entertaining. So you have to know who your crowd is and understand different things and different styles of wrestling and what different psychologies work in front of different crowds. It's one thing that when you see the guys that have gone on to TNA or WWE the guys who have been most successful come from that background because they realize it takes different things to entertain on different nights and they can find out what that formula's going to be for that evening and they can always go out there and put on a great quality performance."
Feeling on TNA Coming Back to Orlando: "The one thing is that yeah, we're taking a lot of our television back to Orlando, but from me taking a glimpse at the schedule for the beginning of next year, we've got a lot of live events and actually even more than we had last year. So if that's any indication then our product is going to be getting out there just as much on the road, just not as much in a television capacity. So I think that's an important distinction to make and sometimes you have to take a step back in one area and take a step forward in others so I think the company right now is just trying to find the formula that's going to work and be financially successful and allow us to continue to grow. People get paid to make those decisions, I'm not one of them, so I'm just going to follow along and make the best of things that I can control."