Aron Stevens has become a popular part of the new incarnation of the NWA ever since Powerr hit the airwaves. Whether it's a Hollywood type or karate master, he brings the entertainment to the company's programming. A lot of fans have taken to the former Damien Sandow's interaction with Mongrovian Karate sensei the Question Mark. What makes the duo so great is they are playing it completely straight.
The 37-year-old has drawn over the years from the likes of Adrian Adonis, Harley Race and Lanny Poffo. However, he has never thought about doing this current character. For the star, the fans have inspired this performance.
"Their reaction to what I'm doing. My interaction with them...With this character, I just want to make it good. People might say that's a karate gimmick, it will never work. No, it shouldn't work. My job is to make it work. I think we're definitely seeing that," Stevens said.
"Every character we would like to get over. That's across the board, but I don't think people were expecting the Question Mark to become the overnight sensation that he is. It's kind of cool because what I have with the Question Mark is the same thing I had with The Miz where they love one of us and hate the other one. We feed off each other."
Stevens felt they were on to something with this mysterious masked man in black shortly after his debut. He traces it back to maybe the second outing where people started getting behind the throwback.
"I just remember we did a promo. It was like, 'When I say karate, you'll correct me in the punctuation of it.' By the second time he said it, the whole building was saying it with him," Stevens remembered. "Whether you are at an arena or a studio or wherever, when you can do that and people catch on that quick and sudden. You know it's going to work. Once you have lightning in a bottle, you have to nurture it because if you remain stagnant it will get old.
"Case in point the Stunt Double. You have to continue to facilitate the development of the character in the right way. If you give fans completely different than what they are popping for or buying, it's not going to work. But if you give it to them the same thing all the time, it's going to get old. It's a fine line. He has been so great to work with, so I think we're doing a pretty decent job with that. There are so many other people who are doing a great job. It's definitely a team effort there."
Before the coronavirus pandemic forced the NWA to postpone the Crockett Cup, Stevens was scheduled to defend the National championship against a familiar opponent in Trevor Murdoch. His challenger has felt a career resurgence of his own. Stevens Murdoch brings further credibility to the brand.
"When you're flipping through the channels, you stop and think he doesn't look like everybody," he said. "He doesn't move like everybody. Another missed opportunity by other companies I think. Someone who is now getting the opportunity in the NWA. It's just great to see."
Stevens is one of those hybrid talents who can do it all from serious to comedic. Some of his more humorous pieces of work even going back to WWE would probably get an eye roll from traditionalists. Those who might not appreciate why someone is dressed like other characters such as Magneto from X-Men or mimicking what he saw in the ring as the Stunt Double character with Miz or Paul Revere (his favorite). The way pro wrestling is presented is a debate that rages on today with everyone having a side or viewpoint on social media. Stevens has his own.
"Part of entertainment is being aligned with the times. There are some things in my opinion that should be unchanging in pro wrestling. I'm one of these traditionalists that thinks the rings should be squared with three ropes. Let's not go from that. Anything else, experiment with it. Have fun," he explained. "This isn't the church of pro wrestling where everything needs to be the same, and that will be the unchanging way it is. No, it's the wrestling business. Key word is business. So whatever the fans are buying you need to go with.
"We live in a day and age where people know that wrestling is a show so to speak. So much where they have other opportunities to watch real fighting. There has always been theatrics in wrestling. Even when you had Lou Thesz, you had the drama of an unbeatable champion against another guy who is up-and-coming. That was the drama. Now this drama has played out in different ways from Lou Thesz to Hulk Hogan coming out with Cyndi Lauper to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin fighting The Authority. The drama will always continue, but the dramatic aspect of what we do, in my opinion, that's the glue that holds everything together."
Stevens believes companies should let wrestlers play to their strengths.However, if someone can do both entertainer and serious wrestler, even better.
"I think that's what makes them an even more valuable commodity," he said. "That's what I always saw myself as. I never wanted to be the guy that got missed. You look at the original incarnation of the "Intellectual Savior." Then you look at Mizdow, and you think about how that happened. With the right circumstances, you can make anything work. I'm a firm believer in that."
Outside of the ring, Stevens is also dedicated to his acting career. It's a natural transition for him as he continues to find more success with experience. Being able to pursue both his passions these days, he finds a nice balance.
"Things are going really well in terms of my acting. It was about a year-and-a-half ago I did three episodes of Midnight Texas. I kind of was in line to possibly come back as a new character and was super pumped about that, but the show got canceled by NBC, which is the way she goes," Stevens said. "Then I did a couple of short films between that to keep sharp. I guest-starred on an episode of Magnum PI at the end of 2019. I was working on another show on NBC before all this came down.
"Actually, it's just starting to take off. It's a really cool thing. Nothing will ever be like performing in front of a live crowd. There is something to be said when you're so into character that nothing else matters where you forget the cameras are there and all these lighting people. You're just so present in the scene. It's such a great feeling too. It's funny when I left wrestling to pursue acting it was very much swimming upstream because I went in cold. I just said I would do this on my own and figure it out. As I gradually started warming up to the wrestling business again, I reconciled this too. It's a really good place to be because I've never been happier in my acting career or my wrestling career."
Aron's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.