NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis appeared on the This is the NWA podcast to talk about his time in TNA, the differences between wrestling and entertainment, and advice he has for younger wrestlers.
Aldis worked for TNA from 2000 until 2008 and was asked about what the backstage moral was like during his tenure there. Aldis felt like reports that come out of TNA were always blown up for no reason. He noted many WWE Superstars that came over felt like TNA was calmer backstage than in WWE.
"To give context to what I'm saying here, so I don't want anyone to think that what I'm saying is the case today," Aldis said. "But Ken [Anderson] and I were talking about when we were there people used to like to run it down, despite the fact that it was a number two promotion, a really good, viable alternative for people which is always healthy for business. Anything that would happen backstage, the sheets would just blow it up like 'Oh, it's chaos' because they wanted it to be like WCW.
"The atmosphere backstage was always great! Obviously we had a very WCW-esque approach in the sense of like 'Oh, this guy's leaving WWE? Cool! Let's give him a job.' There was some of that in the water supply, but all I would hear from all of those guys was about how much tension and how careful they had to be at WWE, how much politics there was backstage, but how here at TNA they loved it because everybody was just going about their business, everybody was just cool with each other and there were no rules, no heat or no bulls---. And I don't mean there were no rules as in everyone gets to do what they want, but I mean no silly locker room rules. There wasn't all this unnecessary etiquette bulls---."
That wasn't to say things were perfect in TNA when some of the talent wasn't being used effectively due to a bloated roster.
"Some of the dumb stuff that happened, we'd all be shaking our heads," Aldis responded. "And we would all get frustrated when you have a card that's like, 'Okay, let me get this straight. A live event that has Kurt Angle, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy, Beer Money, Samoa Joe, the X-Division guys, all this young talent and like, we've got 200 people here? Someone's not doing their job, guys. Because Jeff Hardy could draw 3,000 people by himself."
When it comes to working in wrestling and other entertainment, Aldis feels like wrestler really have to protect their brand, especially if it's their own name. Actors can have a bad role on a show, and recover, but in wrestling that may not happen.
"Take any show, like Game of Thrones, if there's some character that just doesn't register with anyone they'll just say we won't give that a lot of attention next season," Aldis said. "That actor isn't marred for life. In wrestling it doesn't work like that. And it gets even more cloudy if your character is you. If you use your real name, you have a responsibility to protect your own product.
"I made this analogy to John Gaburick when we were having one of these discussions. If I work in construction and someone gives me blueprints that fundamentally won't work and I still build that house, then that house falls down. People aren't going to walk by and say, who designed that house? They're going to say, who built that house? You can't go 'Oh, well that's what they asked me to do.' Nobody cares."
For many wrestlers, WWE has always been the top of the mountain, but Aldis says that may not be worth the climb. With a company that's so big, the NWA Champion felt wrestlers are pretty much handing over what they've built for themselves and hoping WWE doesn't "break it."
"Your goal should be to be a star and draw money, not just to wrestle for the WWE," Aldis advised. "Because guess what? Every single person that goes there, or at least 99% of them all think they can headline WrestleMania. If your only goal is to go to the WWE, you're putting your destiny into someone else's hands. You're basically working all the way up to this point and then going like 'Here you go. Don't break it.'
"They don't care enough about any one person to go 'Oh, I better hope this is the vision he had for himself.' They can't do that. That's the nature of the beast. You can't say anything without it becoming an indictment and that's not what I'm saying. I just came to this epiphany that, God, I've been sort of chasing that dragon for a long time. If I catch it, what happens?"