Recently on Talk Is Jericho, pro wrestling legend Chris Jericho spoke with former WWE Superstar Austin Aries. Among other things, Aries shared how his orbital socket injury led to his run on WWE commentary, whether his feud with former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville went as planned, and whether he wanted to be in WWE's revamped cruiserweight division.
According to Aries, he started doing commentary for WWE after approaching Triple H about working on-screen for WWE while recovering from his eye injury. 'The Greatest Man [Who] Ever Lived' was given "the greatest complement" by Vince McMahon when WWE's Chairman told Aries that he is "a natural" commentator.
"When [the injury happened] happened, I was talking with Hunter and I said, 'I don't necessarily just want to disappear for whatever extent of time, so if there [are] things I can do, whether it's commentary, managerial, anything, I'd like to stay, somehow, in the scenes.' And this was at NXT, so when the 205 [Live] idea was brought to light, and they said, 'going off of what you said, maybe this would be a fit for commentary' and it provided an opportunity that honestly I am so thankful for and it [has] opened a lot of doors for me. I learned a lot working with Michael Cole and having Vince, literally, after my fight night, [saying] 'Goddammit, you're a natural. Nobody [has] ever had a debut like that before.'"
Aries continued, "I walked back to Gorilla [position] and he was standing there with a big smile on his face and 'Goddammit, you're a natural!' I was looking at him like, 'what are you saying?' Literally, the greatest complement you could probably get at that point in your career. Sure, and Vince has sat in that seat and heard everybody and I mean everybody, good and bad, so for him to come back and heap that kind of praise on me, I didn't take that lightly."
Predictably, Aries supplied commentary for cruiserweight action while on the injured list to ultimately set up his return feud with Neville. Aries said things played out how they planned except no one knew how well Neville, who has since given up WWE, was going to do in his role.
"Originally, I think that how it played out was pretty much what was the idea. At the time, what wasn't known was how well Neville was going to do in his role and that changed things because, if you listened to my commentary, I wasn't coming off as a sweet, nice guy. So, at that point, they kind of had to make a decision, and, listen, this guy, Neville is on another level, man, completely another level and I'm not just talking about the cruiserweight division, I'm talking the whole company, so let's not mess with that, but now we kind of have this in place, so we're going to just switch it, which isn't always easy."
Aries explained that he is more comfortable as a heel and being utilized as such would be most beneficial to the company overall.
"It's easier [working as a heel]. I like to show my ass and I'm at a point in my career that I don't need to be the champion, or the focal point, or the guy. So if I can be in that role, it's so much easier to help other guys."
Aries added, "I would have relished the opportunity to do what I think I do well, which is get under people's skin and have it shoved up my ass."
In Aries' learned opinion, he had no more equity as a babyface at that time after conclusively losing his feud with Neville. The Leader Of 'V-Generation X' broke it down for us:
"Right or wrong, the first four things I did as a babyface there was fail. My first four attempts, my first four attempts with Neville, I failed at accomplishing the job. Do you know what I'm saying? I believe it was four. The one time I beat him was by disqualification. But so, again, that's fine, we can do that, but I don't have any worth anymore as a babyface, so now there has to be a catalyst for something whether it's me turning on the other side, whether it's me doing something outside of the 205 bubble, whether it's putting me back in NXT, whether it's making me a mouthpiece for somebody, like, I'm literally open to anything, but I don't have any value left as a babyface because I failed the first four things anybody [has] ever seen me do. I talked a big game on commentary and I came in and I failed repeatedly. And that's hard to overcome, but that was the situation and you roll with it."
Notably, Aries claimed that he was up for the challenge of being in the cruiserweight division on paper.
"Yeah, listen, I was totally down for [being part of the cruiserweight division]. When you say, 'hey, we want to make this a brand, we want to market it, we want it run on its own and we're looking at you as one of the guys to help us do that,' that's a great challenge for me. Absolutely, give me that. I wish that I felt like that was really what the intention was. The frustrations I had weren't necessarily with myself. I think it's frustrations we all have as performers and professionals. We can only control so much of what we do and that can be frustrating at points, but you go out there and do the best you can with what you're given and what you are given depends on where you are on the totem pole and so that leaves you with what you have to work with and you do the best you can with it."
Yeah boy! If you use any of the quotes that appear in this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Source: Talk Is Jericho