NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis spoke with Wrestling Inc.'s Raj Giri for The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast to chat about NWA and it's current relationship with AEW. Aldis spoke about turning down an offer to sign with AEW in the past explaining why the timing was not right for him.
"It's like you feel like the train is leaving the station without you a little bit because you knew that it was going to be this big thing that everyone was talking about," Aldis expressed. "You knew it was going to take all this oxygen, and it was very tempting to think, 'well, this could be validation for the last sort of year and a half at the time,' because this was January of 2019.
"So it was like early, early days and honestly, that was a big factor in my decision because I knew that the TV wasn't going to start until fall, and in my mind, I wasn't sure that I had built up enough momentum yet to be able to last through to that time. I was worried that by the time we got to the end of the year people kind of go, 'oh yeah, I forgot he's on it too,' and I just didn't want to be that guy because I had worked too hard with All In, which is two years ago today."
Not only was the timing off for Aldis but he also noted that he always wanted to feel like he and his matches with the NWA Worlds Championship felt like a big deal. He said he wanted people to have the same reactions to his matches as he did when he was watching wrestling growing up.
"I wanted people to feel like when I step in the ring with the title, like I wanted people to feel like this is a big deal. Like this is a happening," Aldis described. "I don't have to be considered the best wrestler in the business. I don't have to be number one on the PWI 500, and I don't have to have people sort of saying, 'oh, he's the best.' When I wrestle, I want people to be like, 'this would be interesting. Cool, I'm ready to see that.' I wanted to have situations that made somebody at home feel the same way I felt when I watched like Rock and Triple H or Sting."
On the Aug. 22 episode of Dynamite, NWA Women's World Champion Thunder Rosa appeared and challenged Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women's World Championship at All Out. Aldis admitted on the podcast that he does not know what the future is with AEW and NWA, but he noted that Rosa vs. Shida is a big match making it a "no-brainer" when it came to making the match happen.
"All I know, at this point in time and this is the truth and you're right, if there was more to it, I probably wouldn't be able to say but I genuinely don't know, but it was just a situation where they approached Billy [Corgan] and expressed their interest in wanting to book this sort of prize-fight match," Aldis explained. "I don't know. I probably should know, but I wasn't sure if there was any history prior to AEW and the NWA between Rosa and Hikaru Shida. I know that Rosa has wrestled in Japan a lot.
"So I don't know it was just one of those things where it was presented, and it was a no-brainer. We said, 'that sounds like a good idea.' Ultimately, we were very confident in the reaction. We were very confident that that the fans would bite and feel like this was special because Rosa is special, and the NWA is special.
Aldis noted that AEW and everyone else in the wrestling world are paying attention to what NWA has been doing with NWA Powerrr and their big PPVs as Ricky Starks and Eddie Kingston have signed with AEW. He said that in order to create a genuine alternative to WWE, then everyone involved needs to put their egos aside for a relationship to go forward where AEW and NWA can co-exist and benefit from each other's strengths.
"It's obvious that they have been paying attention based on the fact that they signed Ricky and they signed Eddie Kingston, nothing against Ricky," Aldis prefaced. "For example, no one went to bat harder than me for him because I couldn't believe that he was so relatively unknown. When I saw his stuff, I went, 'wow, this guy's TV ready,' but he wasn't someone that people were talking about. I was the one kind of pressing Billy and going, 'we need to bring this guy in, and obviously he's had great success now, but it's validating for the NWA and it's validating for our approach and our philosophy.
"I think if everyone involved can put their egos to the side and can look at the bigger picture for sustainability for a genuine alternative to the WWE, which has an overwhelming market share, I think it makes all the sense in the world for a much broader, more succinct relationship going forward where we are able to maintain our own distinctive brand and style and they can do the same with theirs. And we can coexist and we can take advantage of their resources and they can take advantage of our approach and production capability in terms of our creative basically for lack of a better term.
Aldis also noted that NWA also has their brand behind them as well. He recalled many in the wrestling world questioning Billy Corgan's decision to buy NWA. He said that with NWA's historical significance and AEW's partnership with Tuner Broadcasting, then they would have the reach to bring back fans who left wrestling after the end of WCW.
"And obviously, the other thing is the brand. People had so many sideways comments when Billy bought the rights to the NWA," Aldis pointed out. "There were 'what's the point in that? No one cares about that anymore.' Well, we sure reminded them quick, and obviously, AEW is starting from square one in terms of historical significance and sort of bragging rights and the value that comes with that. Aside from the WWE, there is no other American brand that can offer that sort of historical significance like the NWA.
"The fact that they're on Turner, again, if they're doing their homework, and I'm sure Tony [Khan] is because he's a very astute guy and he does a lot of research, there's a lot of evidence to suggest that there's a great number of fans, particularly in the South, who left the genre all together when WCW went away. I believe that the combination of their positioning on Turner and our brand and historical significance can really do a lot to bring a lot of those people back and could potentially reignite and grow the overall audience for the entire industry."
Aldis was asked if he would be open to being the NWA representative at AEW. He said is open to it as it would provide him a stage to not only showcase NWA and the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title but also himself. He named opponents that he would like to face but highlighted finishing the trilogy with Cody Rhodes as one that many fans have been craving for a long time.
"Absolutely, ultimately it's about providing the stage and a platform for me to showcase myself and to showcase the title and the brand and the legacy of the NWA, but it's also about me. It's also about me trying to carve out my place in history more so than I already have," Aldis noted. "As far as opponents, obviously, the one that never goes away is the trilogy with Cody. That rivalry is just one of those things where the second that we make contact, it was just obvious that it was going to be a real significant rivalry.
"There was just chemistry, but since the Rosa announcement, there's been a lot of a lot of talk about me and Moxley. There's been a lot of talk about me and Kenny Omega and a lot of talk about me and Jericho. That's very flattering to me because they're top guys, and I think of myself as a top guy, but ultimately, it would just be about, again, coming in and making sure that my thing, my moment felt like the most important moment in the business."
Aldis' full interview will air next week on our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.