Donald Wood, Mike Chiari and Brandon Galvin from Bleacher Report recently spoke to former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Magnus on Ring Rust Radio. During the interview, Magnus discussed his TNA career, his reign as world champion, working with a legend like Sting and much more. You can watch it above, below are some highlights:
Donald Wood: You suffered a tough loss at the hands of Eric Young on the April 10th edition of Impact Wrestling, but you will inevitably get your rematch at Sacrifice on April 27. What are your feelings as you attempt to get the title back?
It's a different story once you've tasted the success of being Champion. It doesn't make you want it any less; if anything it just makes you want it even more. I'm looking forward to locking up with EY again. I know a lot of people were surprised at the outcome but it's nice to be able to surprise people sometimes. I think that the viewing figures all through my reign as champion can kind of point to the fact that people are just interested in what we're doing now and that it's fresh and exciting, and if I can be a small part in that as the Champion, then great. Honestly yeah, it's never fun to lose a championship but, at the same time, this is a business and we're in this to generate interest in what we're doing. If we can do some good business then that's what it's all about and that's a very exciting thing and I'm looking forward to doing more.
With EY, he's a great competitor and in a lot of ways he has had to wait his turn and has gotten the crappy end of the stick many, many times over the years and through different regimes in this company. I was glad he was able to be portrayed in the right light and was able to get where he needs to be. I'm sure there has been a lot of criticism against me for many things, like there is against anyone especially when they become a top guy, but I think one thing that no one can deny is that while I've been on top anyone who's been in there with me has come out looking better on the other end.
Mike Chiari: TNA seems to be in the midst of a youth movement with a lot of younger talent being brought in and pushed, and your role in that is pretty interesting in that you're only 27 years old, but at the same time you've been with the company since 2008. With that said, how do you view your status within TNA? Do you identify more with the young guys or the veterans?
I love this 'Youth Movement' thing. I find it humorous and I actually wrote about it in my last column for FSM that a group of guys predominantly in their late 20's, some in their early 30's, can be described as a 'Youth Movement'. I think in any other genre, especially sports, that would not be considered a youth movement at all. In pro wrestling, obviously, we play by a slightly different set of rules. I think that speaks more to the mentality of wrestling fans, or certainly the mentality of wrestling fans who, perhaps, over analyze things a bit or somehow think that their opinion is more valuable than any other fan's because I think that the reality of the situation is that The Rock was on top in the WWF at 27, Triple H began moving into the upper echelon in his late 20's, and I could go back and point to no end of guys who went on to become icons in the business, like the last two names I just mentioned, who all reached that level in their late 20's because I think that's the time when people gravitated to them.
But for some reason now, it seems to be more of an important thing to identify their age and that's something I've had to deal with my entire career because I got picked up young. But I'm 6'4", 250 (pounds), so it's almost like a curse these days to have that because it's almost like the opposite of not having the right look back in the day. Now, if you look a certain way and you have a certain background, suddenly it doesn't matter if you go out and have a good match or not it's 'oh, he can't do this, he can't do that'. 'Overrated', that's another great one that gets thrown around a lot, but I think that you gravitate to whoever you're on the same kind of platform with in terms of mindset not the level or anything like that because there's certainly very little of that that goes on in TNA, there is a real sort of team feel to everything. Everybody just gets along and is treated equally.
I can take pride in the fact that I spoke up many times for Sam (Samuel) Shaw, we've known each other a long time, and I've also been a huge fan of Robby and Jessie's work, and I certainly think Robby is easily the most underrated talent on our roster. I think EC3 has been doing great, (Rockstar) Spud has been doing great, and they're all friends of mine, but I also have a huge amount of affection and respect for Joe, Bobby and James and A.J when he was here and many other guys like EY. Abyss is another guy, he wears a lot of hats in the company, he helps out with a lot of stuff behind the scenes aside from being a great talent on screen and always delivers and works hard and has an awesome attitude.
So, really, I believe in a good mix of veterans, guys in their prime, and youth, but to me, your age shouldn't define you and your age shouldn't put you in one of those categories, your work should put you in one of those categories. If you happen to be young and you happen to be ready to be a top guy, that doesn't mean you're changing the whole philosophy, it means you in particular have proven yourself in one way or another and I think sometimes people are too quick to analyze every decision and take it to mean more that it does. The reality is that we're all judged on merit. That's the way that it should be.
Brandon Galvin: Although you didn't win the title there, TNA quickly embarked on a European tour while you were champion. Can you explain to us how important this tour was for you being able to be the ambassador for TNA in Europe as champion?
Those tours are always important to us because we do great business over there. It was a tough schedule this time because we had so many TV's to do, but I don't think that there was any more pressure put on me by anybody in particular, as in 'oh you really have to deliver because you're the champion now' I think that's just one of those things when it's decided that you're going to be champion, that goes without saying. I put pressure on myself to make sure that I was a strong enough villain that we could do the right business when we went over there and I was glad that we did because I certainly didn't want, especially so quickly into my run as a heel with the title, to ruin that with positive reactions so I was very pleased with that, from the business standpoint.
It's amazing to me that people are asking a lot lately 'oh man, he got booed when he went to England, that sucks', but it doesn't, it's fantastic, and that's our job. The year before when we were there I got arguably the biggest baby face reaction on the show, and if you don't believe me go back and watch it, and then this time I went out and got arguably the biggest heel reactions. In terms of work, that's the best you can hope for, that's me doing my job correctly. I will argue this point to the death with 'smart fans' who often tend to point their finger at certain talents who are perceived to be the best workers, with the best work rate, and I will argue that if their job is to go out and to get people to boo and then they take another step that makes people cheer or laugh or clap, that's not doing their job correctly. And the same way if your job is for them to like you and they boo you then that's not doing your job correctly either. Overall, you have to try and find the common ground in your work to get the right reaction out of not only the fans who are trying to go against the grain, but the traditional fans who still make up the majority of our audience. So I was happy that I was able to get a uniform response for everybody regardless of where they fell.
Donald Wood: Your victory in December was the first major American wrestling championship for an English superstar in the 108-year history of the sport. Talk to us about what the monumental win meant to you.
It does mean a lot and it did mean a lot when I went back to England and did a lot of media. I was genuinely overwhelmed by the response from the media for the fact that I was the first Brit to win a recognized World Championship. You never really think of it until it happens because I think I assumed that someone would get there before me because there have been so many great talents to come out of Britain before me, I was just thinking that someone else will get the strap before I do. But, circumstances where such that it was me, and that's something that, no matter what, that will always be I can look back on, which is great. I do remember thinking to myself, 'I'm walking into Wembley Arena today as the World Champion and I have the responsibility to deliver and be the top guy'. Same thing when I was in Manchester and Glasgow and Dublin and Birmingham. So it was very cool and a very proud moment for me.
Mike Chiari: You were very much on the rise leading up to Bound For Glory last year, but most fans would probably agree that facing and beating Sting was huge in terms of cementing your legitimacy. Knowing how much that rivalry probably helped your career, would you like to see Sting back with TNA at some point if at all possible?
I'm as grateful to Sting as anybody in the wrestling business for the benefit he has had in my career. Steve is a great guy and very very smart and just a model citizen as far as the way he conducts himself and how much respect he commands. There are some people who seem to be obsessed with respect and seem to be obsessed with guys not showing them enough respect but Sting is a guy who has never had to pull any stunts, never had to bully anyone, never had to throw his weight around or pull rank; he commands respect. The same could be said about Kurt Angle.
Working with Steve was a pleasure every time, especially in San Diego not just for the fact that I got to be on that level or stage but that he trusted me a lot and deferred a lot of it to me every time we worked together. Whether it be promos, or in a match he's always deferred to me a lot and said 'what do you think, I want to know what you think we should do here and I'm going to trust you on this because I think that you'll be right' and that goes a long way and certainly goes a long way with the other talent too.
I remember distinctly that day going through different scenarios and he brought Kurt over to bounce some things off of him and that was when Steve went 'you know, I think I want you to beat me with a submission. We can do it all of these other ways but I want you to get me with the cloverleaf in the middle and I want to submit'. And I just sat there and said 'okay, that's a tremendous thing to do for me'. So then we talked about a few more things and then went to go get a coffee and Kurt was just sitting there looking at me and said, 'did he just say that? What just happened here?' It was just one of those things and he just goes, 'you've never even done that for me'. So that was the kind of guy Sting had been to me so obviously when you have that level of relationship and admiration for somebody I would always love to see him back and he's over to a degree that is very rare in this business so from a business standpoint of course I would love to have him back any time.
Brandon Galvin: While overseas, TNA announced another European tour in 2015. Do you think American-based promotions should tour Europe more often or do the infrequent tours help keep those trips fresh for the fans and the talent?
That's an interesting question. I think that, internally, we've had that conversation a lot. I personally think that you do have to be cognizant of oversaturating but I also think that there's probably room for a second tour for us in a year perhaps working in smaller venues and doing a more intimate kind of show. I don't think that would oversaturate or kill our arena business. The thing that a lot of people don't realize, especially Americans, about the U.K is that just because it's a small country geographically it is very densely populated and there are still a lot of towns within the towns that we hit. We hit, this time, Dublin, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and London and they're all major markets. There are so many towns, particularly sort of coastal towns down along the west coast with places like Bristol and places like that and in the South you've got towns like Portsmouth which are always great wrestling towns. Then where I was born, along the East, to get to any of those big towns we run the arena shows at it's at least a 4 or 5 hour drive which to Brits that's a significant distance. It's not like America where a 4 or 5 hour drive isn't as big of a deal. I think that there is potential there for us to run a secondary tour.