Former WWE Superstar Austin Aries was a guest on Talk Is Jericho this week to talk about his departure from the sports entertainment juggernaut. Additionally, Aries addressed some rumors surrounding his WWE release and discussed what the future holds for 'A Double'.
According to Aries, he had no problem ultimately losing his feud with the surging Neville - he just wanted to know that there was a plan in place for him in the wake of the Cruiserweight Championship angle.
"That didn't bother me. I just said, 'well, okay. Now, where do we go?' and it didn't seem like they had a clear direction of where to go, which was frustrating because I'm more than just a good match guy. You can literally use me anywhere and I'm open to be used anywhere."
Although rumors abounded that Aries was displeased with his match versus Neville being relegated to the WrestleMania 33 Kickoff Show, Aries stated that he and Neville, who has since run around and deserted WWE, took pride in the fact that people showed up to see their match and Aries was not mad about the bout being kept off the main card.
"The first thing that hit that night for WrestleMania 33 was my music and that crowd exploded and I walked out. They didn't explode for me. It was like, 'after four hours in this heat, the show is starting!' That wasn't lost on me, Chris. But the other part of me that's like, 'it was because of me! It was my music! It was just like 'Stone Cold' when the glass shattered! Did you see them?' But, no, man, seriously though, it was awesome. I had felt, I had been there the year before and I know how empty that arena was for those guys that went out there and busted their ass[es] at the preshow or the kickoff show. And I think Neville and myself took a sense of pride that that place was pretty full and people were sitting in their seats, ready to see our match. It was the Kickoff [Show] and that place was pretty full and they were ready to rock and roll and be entertained."
Aries added, "here's the funny thing, man. Of course, everybody wants to be on the main show, but not everybody can be. And so, [being on the Kickoff Show] didn't bother me in the least. I looked at it like, 'alright, I have a job to do, and now my job is to make sure everybody is here for the Kickoff Show, and I'm going to tell everybody, 'hey, if you miss the Kickoff Show, you're going to miss one of the best matches of the night because were going to go out there and tear it down' because that's my job. That's my responsibility. I take that seriously. I don't have any ill-will about any of that and I think we went out there and did that. I'm proud of that."
During the interview, Aries addressed the rumor that he left WWE in part because he was not receiving royalties from the WrestleMania 33 DVD. Aries said he was paid to put out the tweet in question, but had to put his own character's spin on it knowing he was not actually on the DVD.
"There was a tweet I put out that garnered some headlines. I put a tweet out telling everyone that the WrestleMania 33 is available in Canada on BluRay. Unfortunately, one of the best matches of the night was left off the DVD.' Right? So people took that and made it into, 'oh, one of the reasons Austin Aries left was because he's mad that his match wasn't on the DVD.' So I'm going to out myself here, okay? I get paid to put tweets out sometimes. Okay? Sometimes, I'm paid to put things over by people who have things that they're selling and it just so happened that the one thing I'm paid this time to put over was that the DVD of WrestleMania 33 was now available in Canada on BluRay. Well, when I went to put it on, I realized, 'oh s--t! I'm not even on this DVD that I'm supposed to promote. How would I do that in all my sarcasm and wit?' And that's how I chose to, right? And so, people took that, and I didn't even think about the 'oh, I might not get royalties for that now?' s--t, I didn't even think about it."
Aries continued, "so I just want to clear that up. It wasn't some smoking gun. I wasn't sitting around, pouting, kicking things over, because it didn't really dawn on me that I wasn't and it didn't really affect me."
Interestingly, Aries admitted that he did not leave WWE on his terms, as The Leader Of 'The Banana Club' was told creative did not have anything for him and he was being let go.
"I mean, long story short, and I can't speak to stuff that I've read or that people have read because those things were never brought to me personally, so that's really… I don't like to deal with speculation. Just plain and simple, I was told that they had nothing for me creatively. I was set to start… I just started rehabbing some nagging injuries on my neck. I'm obviously finishing up the program with Neville, and it left me… they didn't have anything solid for me creatively, so speaking with the doctors, that it was a good time to give me a little time off, let me rehab, get some strength back. I had lost some size. And I was looking forward to that and then I got a call actually the day after I started doing that and just said that there was nothing for me creatively and that was really it."
Aries elaborated, "I was just told they have nothing for me and they're going to let me go. And I expressed that, obviously, that was unfortunate. I wasn't completely surprised. I felt maybe from things leading up to it that that maybe the direction we're going to head, but, hey man, that's a business decision and the bottom line is I think I appreciate the opportunities that I was given there. I didn't want to leave. I didn't ask to be released. It never crossed my mind. I never had that conversation with anybody. I was more than happy to spend the time getting healthy and figuring out what they had for me next because, literally, I was happy to do whatever. I'll go to NXT, put me as a mouthpiece, take me out of 205 [Live]. You can do anything with me. Like, I'm open and I'm at a point in my career where I've won championships, I've done all these things, and it's cool, and I realized that I take pride in being a utility guy. Like, could you build Austin Aries to be the world champion? Well, yeah, you could. Right, but if you asked me, 'would you build Austin Aries to be the world champion?,' I'd go, 'well, there [are] probably 10 other guys I'd do first, but could you do it with me? Sure, against the right opponent, with the right story and the right build, I can handle the load. I know, like, I have the talent, but I wouldn't be the ideal choice and that's not lost on me. Luckily for me, I can do a lot of things and be a valuable asset that has nothing to do with winning titles or championships or any of that, so that [has] never been an issue. It was a business decision and I respect that."
While Aries suggested that there may be more to his release than he knows, he did not care to speculate.
"There could or could not be more to that story and I will never know and it doesn't really matter because you're always the last one to find out anything anyway. So to worry about the things I've heard, or the speculation, or the things that have been written about me, man, I'm just going to go with the facts."
Aries said he appreciates the run he had with WWE and noted that WWE allowed him to continue to rehab at the WWE Performance Center during his 90-day moratorium.
"I also respect and appreciate the fact that they let me for the 90 days that I was still being paid, to go in the Performance Center and continue to rehab and get the strength back. Yeah, well, listen, I started rehabbing the day before I got the phone call and I just said, 'hey, I just started doing this. My neck [has] been an issue. I don't need to go wrestle anywhere for the next 90 days and I was looking forward to having some time to get my body right and they were gracious in allowing me, and I really have to thank Tara [Halaby] at the Performance Center for putting the work in and helping me. Yeah, so that's cool. I appreciate that I could walk out of there feeling good and I could resume doing what I do. And they can keep doing what they do and what they do is the best in the world."
Another tweet that got Aries some attention compared WWE pay to the indies. Apparently, Aries will make WWE-level money from his work on independent scene for the rest of the year while being in control of his own destiny.
"I've got nine shows lined up for the rest of the year, starting mid-November with Tommy Dreamer's House Of Hardcore. I've got some stuff internationally, but, literally, in those dates, I will make as much money as any month working for WWE. And listen, that was not taking a shot or a knock at the WWE money or the job there, man. It's phenomenal and the upside there is unlike anywhere else. But there's also something to be said for actually having control over how much money you can make and you don't always have that there. And the nice thing is, and this is all I was really speaking about, I was a 'top name' on the indies for most of my career and I know the money that wasn't or was there for you. It didn't matter how good your name was or how good you were in the ring, the money just wasn't there because the fans weren't coming out to pay it, so I know what the limits were five years ago and 10 years ago. It's what a guy could go out and make on his own and when I look at the landscape now, man, it's all different and that's an awesome thing."
Also during the podcast, Aries indicated that he may be open to signing with another professional wrestling promotion provided that he will maintain some flexibility with his schedule.
"There [are] a lot of great opportunities and I don't want to restrict myself too much because there are and not just in [pro] wrestling, but outside of wrestling for me, but as I'm seeing it, it seems like a lot of guys have relationships with these different companies to where they're still retaining some of their freedom and getting to do some stuff on the side and that's really appealing."
Click here to listen to the show. If you use any of the quotations from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Source: Talk Is Jericho