I recently spoke to ROH talent and X-Division legend Christopher Daniels ahead of last night's ROH/NJPW Global Wars PPV. In the first part of the interview, we talked his match with Cheeseburger, his role in ROH, and much more. In this final installment, we delve into his other projects, and his run in TNA.
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You also participated in the Universal Studios Waterworld stunt show. How has that been?
"My degree is in theater, I've always wanted to be a performer in that respect. It was always an avenue that I couldn't really turn down. Since I signed with ROH and became exclusive it really opened up my free time to be able to pursue this. Living in southern California and being close to Hollywood, I would love the opportunity to be able to venture into the world of stunt work and acting. I'm working with a lot of great stunt coordinators on this show. I've been wrestling for 20+ years, but now I'm the rookies, I'm learning by working with a lot of veteran stuntmen and women. For me that's a new challenge to be the rookie again. It's been a lot of fun and I look forward to the days I go down and perform."
You were a part of Feast or Fired, can you explain your feelings on the concept?
"There were discussions to put my face on the 'fired' briefcase instead of the word 'fired.' Using it to end somebody's contract I thought was distasteful. If you're going to use it as an annual thing, you sort of limit the amount of times you can use it to introduce a new character like they did with me. It certainly painted you into a corner. I felt that unless it was a heel who had run his course.. the concept of firing a babyface as far as the fan reaction, what good is that? I certainly didn't enjoy it. I got the idea of trying to think outside the box and lend some real life stakes to this. At the same time, there was only a certain number of scenarios that could play out before it got uncomfortable and not entertaining, and that's not the point."
How long into the Curry Man character did you know you were getting the second Feast or Fired briefcase?
"The first time I'd pitched Curry Man to them, they responded with Feast or Fired, so I knew that going in. The second time I didn't know I was going to get the pink slip until I wrestled the match. I didn't know what was going to happen to me. There was a discussion about that being the end of my TNA contract as well. Circumstances changed as far as me staying there and working as Suicide for a bit and then continuing as myself. A lot of times they don't really tell people that's the plan. They didn't tell Chavo. I heard Shawn talk about how at the very last minute 'this is it.' That's low-class in my opinion."
"He was trying to make a story out of it if I recall, to get Cody to stick around. It's sort of entertaining if you're going to fire a hated heel. Then there's a consequence that fans can be entertained by. I commend Shawn for volunteering to be that guy, but then for them to fire Cody at the end, it was a poorly handled situation."'
Was there ever a time you thought TNA was going off the rails?
"Not until I left, honestly. Even when things were going bad and looking back at the last two years of my career, I held out hope that they'd give us a chance to get back to the top of the mountain. Not just as being champions, which at that time made sense, because we were really the only tag team that were established until the Wolves came around. Just being a cog in the machine that was paying attention to you. I was holding out hope for that and in the end I realized they had no plans for that at all. If they wouldn't have strung us along for that last 6-8 months...I was disappointed. They make their decisions at the end of it all is just say that I went out with my head held up even through everything. They pulled me aside the day of before I went and wrestled and said they weren't going to renew my contract, then I had to go out and wrestle a ladder match with the Wolves, and I went and did it."
There are reports that Sinclair may be interested in buying TNA. How would you feel about that?
"I dunno man. If TNA is faltering and need something like that, my first thought goes out to the talents. I don't want to see any of those people lose a job or an opportunity to put food on the table. I don't know if that's the right thing for Sinclair, but I don't know what their endgame is. I'm not sure what their mentality is. They may be looking to gain content for a new channel. If that's the case, then great. Sinclair's got a good sense of what they want to do in pro wrestling. Their management of ROH in recent years has been top notch. The steps we've been taking, whether big or small, have been steps forward. If they want to add TNA to the ROH brand, whether it's consolidating everything under the ROH banner, or keeping TNA as it's own separate entity, I don't know. I guess there's a lot of avenues they could explore to get the most out of it."
Austin Aries made some comments lately about TNA needing to drop Dixie Carter to grow. Do you agree with that?
"I certainly think if her mentality is keeping control of the company is keeping it from going forward in a business sense, people need to take a step back and look at that and see what everything is holding people up. If TNA is in such a position that they need to sell now and need a rapid influx of capital, and the thing is holding it up is them being insistent on maintaining control, that speaks for itself."
You had one of the best matches in history at TNA Unbreakable 2005 with Samoa Joe and AJ Styles. What are your memories of the match, and did you know as it was going on that it was special?
"I sort of had that feeling in the middle of it. We were still kind of fresh in the Impact Zone at that point. Putting us last and letting us be the main event, I thought they were setting the table for us to do well. As often as I'd worked with Joe and AJ at that point, I knew we could put something special together. As it went on, I got the impression that people were buying what we were selling. When it was over I remember that feeling of relief that we got through it and did what we wanted to do, and was very happy and content with what we presented. I had no idea that ten years down the line people would still be talking about it as the best match or one of the best matches in TNA history. I appreciate that. It certainly stands out in my career as one of the highlights. It has a place in my heart."
How do you feel about people comparing NXT to ROH?
"I think for them to compare NXT to ROH is sort of a compliment to ROH. It points to that change in perception. ROH has never been that company that was based around being a big guy, it was based around talent. If you were a smaller guy, bigger guy, you went out and got yourself over. I don't know if ROH specifically tempered the construction of NXT or it's direction in the past couple of years, but you can certainly see the parallels with the way guys are booked, and the way guys are presented in NXT in terms of matches at least. The styles presented are very similar."
We had some unfortunate news recently that Chyna passed away. Any memories you have of her, and your thoughts?
"I would do dark matches and syndicated matches (with WWF) and had the opportunity to talk with her in the locker room a couple of times. She was a polite lady, very respectful to me. You can't deny the impact that her career had on wrestling as a whole. She broke down some barriers and I think some of the ladies today owe a debt of gratitude towards her. She blazed a new trail for women in the WWE. I think the outpouring of respect from the ladies in the WWE and who wrestle anywhere, it speaks volumes for their respect for Chyna."
ROH has a great tag division with Addiction, Briscoes, MCMG, ANX, War Machine, Roppongi Vice, Young Bucks. How does it feel to be a part of this surging part of the show?
"I think it's great man. Knowing you can go in there with any of those teams and have a great match, it's exciting and lends back to me being motivated to keep up with all these great teams you mentioned. Using the tools at my disposal to stay on top. That's keeping me going, knowing there's all these great teams and wondering 'how do Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian stand out?' That's my goal right now. It's probably the most crowded tag team scene in pro wrestling right now and in ROH history. That's where we're at and I'm thrilled."
We left out a personal favorite of mine...Silas Young and the Beer City Bruiser!
"Of course! I'm a huge fan of Silas and the Beer City Bruiser. Silas certainly turned a corner during his feud with Dalton Castle."
Deceptively athletic, that guy.
"Absolutely. He's a great performer. I think he's just sort of scratched the surface. Him and the Beer City Bruiser are and eclectic duo. Not what you'd call a standard tag team, but it works for them and every time I've seen them work, they're facing the Briscoes or the Young Bucks, and they hold their own. They're not there to enhance, they're there to win. I'm a big fan of them."
What other projects do you have going on?
"Besides being the best tag team in the business, Frankie and I are working on the second edition of Wrestle AW YEAH COMCS. I've already written the sequel, I'm just waiting for the mastermind behind the comics to greenlight the art part of the project. Hopefully when that's done they'll be available in comic book stores across the country in addition to Ring of Honor events."
That's awesome. I spoke to Mike Kingston recently, who created Headlock. Didn't you contribute to him for that?
"I did, I contributed a story, Frankie just contributed a story to the current trade paperback. I know the upcoming one has stories contributed by Samoa Joe and the Young Bucks. I don't think I'm done with the stories with Mike. If he offers, I have an idea I'd like to throw his way. Headlocked is a very interesting story and speaks to me as a professional wrestler. If you're not picking it up, support Mike Kingston.
Where can the fans follow you on social media?
"You can follow my on Twitter @FAChristopherDaniels. I don't do a lot of Facebook and Instagram, I dabble in it. My Instagram is also FAChristopherdDaniels. Twitter is your best bet, I like to keep everyone abreast of my schedule. My website is FallenAngelChristopherDaniels.com, I'm in the midst of revamping that."