I spoke to former ROH TV and Tag Team Champion 'The Fallen Angel' Christopher Daniels recently ahead of this Sunday's ROH/NJPW Global Wars show. In the first part of the interview, I spoke to Daniels about his match alongside Kazarian against Jushin Thunder Liger & Cheeseburger, WWE's Global Cruiserweight Series, and much more.
You can see part one of our interview below, and the second part here on Wrestling Inc. next week.
* * *
You've been in the ring with the likes of Samoa Joe, and other intimidating stars in the business. You and Kazarian are facing Cheeseburger and Jushin Thunder Liger at Global Wars. Where does Cheeseburger rank on that list?
"It's easy to dismiss Cheeseburger. You look at him as a guy who is 5'8, 125 pounds, very inexperienced. I know not to judge a book by it's cover, and if a kid with those dimensions is willing to get in the ring with me and Kazarian, you know his heart is the size of Cleveland. I'm fully aware that Cheeseburger is there to fight, there to prove himself. He's teaming with his mentor, his idol Jushin Liger, so in addition to not wanting to get killed, he's going to be out there to impress Liger. He's out there with nothing to lose and everything to gain. I respect Cheeseburger's heart, but heart isn't going to beat me or Frankie Kazarian, so you can expect a beating of biblical proportions."
Jushin Thunder Liger has taken a real liking to Cheeseburger, as did the Japanese fans at Wrestle Kingdom.
"You look at what one of the facets of Japanese wrestling is, it's that fighting spirit. If anybody exemplifies that fighting spirit, it's a guy who is 5'8, 125 pounds, and will get in the ring with guys like me, guys like Moose. Of course the Japanese take a liking to him."
Ring of Honor's PPV presence has really increased lately, especially with the relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling. How do you feel about that?
"I feel as if now both companies are benefiting from the relationship. Ring of Honor has always been about the best wrestling in the world, and by adding the New Japan talent into the game, it's really upped everyone's game. You're seeing matches you may not have seen, matchups that are newsworthy and worth the price of admission alone. New Japan, who is on a tear, they're gaining a lot of great United States exposure being on Ring of Honor's television and pay-per-views. I feel like both companies are thriving and surviving and excelling. I'm personally thrilled. Having this relationship, it opens up the door for me to return to New Japan after close to seven years. Getting a chance to go back last year was a big deal to me, getting to work with guys like Tanahashi, Yuji Nagata, Okada. Those guys push you to be at the top of your game. At this point in my career, that's something I thrive on. I like to prove what I have what it takes to be here."
There were reports that you've taken an increased backstage role with ROH. Is that true, and if so, how has that been for you?
"It's true, I've taken more of a leadership role in the back. Nothing specifically official. I don't have a title in that respect, but I try to contribute to the product as much as I can in terms of the day-to-day shows. Trying to help shine a spotlight on the stories we have, trying to get the most out of the limited television time we have. Trying to get the most of the characters we've got. That's sort of my focus, to get the most out of everybody, and eliminate the negatives and accentuate the positives."
How much longer do you see yourself in the ring?
"Part of the reason I signed this contract with ROH was to plant the seeds of my focus in wrestling after I'm done wrestling, but that didn't come with a timetable. There's not a timetable for me right now. I'm sort of playing it by ear. I feel as if I've been rejuvenated and I've got a focus on staying in the ring as long as I can. I'm training a little bit harder, doing more homework by watching these guys' tapes. I don't see a time in the near future where I'll be hanging up the boots."
WWE's doing a Global Cruiserweight Series this summer. How do you feel about that?
"I guess I'll have to wait and see. I feel like the last couple of months for NXT have shown they're willing to think outside the box and get rid of the constraints they put on their programming back in the day in terms of their attitude towards cruiserweights. You look at some of the hirings over the past couple of months, picking up Austin Aries, giving guys Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Rich Swann an opportunity to excel. I look forward to the matches, knowing that a guy I hold in high regard like Zack Sabre Jr. is going to be a part of it. I'll see what they do with it. I feel like they're giving it an honest chance to get over. I think NXT is the right platform to do that."
I feel like MMA has changed that stigma. A lot of small guys are considered the most dangerous guys on the planet.
"Sure, and look at Conor McGregor as well. One of the best talkers in the business. For years now boxing and MMA have shown it's not the size of the guy in the fight. Even in WWE, guys like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk weren't 6'5 and 280, they were smaller, and more athletic guys that got over despite the perception of what a wrestler was in the WWE. Those guys sort of helped break that mold. AJ Styles is the number one contender to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That's another example of WWE not putting those constraints on them as it pertains to their perception of what a wrestler is."
Samoa Joe and AJ Styles recently signed with WWE. How did you feel about that and do you keep in touch with them?
"I try to keep in touch with them as much as possible. I'm thrilled to see them doing well and knew they would if they were given the opportunity. I kept in contact with Joe as he was going through the process of signing with them and finding out the opportunities he was being given, it's exciting. It shows you there's a change of perception in the office there. If there's anyone that deserves it that opportunity, it was Joe. He did so much at TNA and ROH, he deserved to be seen on a grand scale. Now he's showing his worth in NXT, and he's the first guy to hold the TNA, NXT and ROH title. History is his."