Multi-time champion Christopher Daniels was on a recent episode of AEW Unrestricted with Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone. Daniels discussed his storied career in pro wrestling before later taking questions from fans. One fan asked about the legendary three-way match at TNA Unbreakable with AJ Styles and Samoa Joe, and Daniels recalled his mindset at the time.
“I felt like the table was set for us to either succeed or fail,” Daniels recalled. “We didn’t know until that day that we were going to be the main event of that show, and for a company that had so much to do in terms of tradition, in my mind, I thought they’re never gonna make us last. They’re gonna make the world champion last, and we get there and they find out that we’re the main event. That to me was like, alright, well, they’re giving you this opportunity.
“So it’s sink or swim. So Joe, and AJ and I, we’re very close friends even to this day, and at that point, we were like, alright, you give us this opportunity. We’re going to kick it over the fence or whatever. We’re going to hit a homerun, whatever we got to do, and I feel like in the middle of that match, I felt the sweet spot. The fans are where we want them. We’re right where we want to be, and they’re buying what we’re selling, and I remember when the bell rang and just the emotion, I started to cry and thinking, man we did exactly what we wanted to do.
“And I didn’t know 15 years down the road, we’d still be talking about that match. You never know until after it’s done whether it’s going to stand the test of time or not, but I knew that night that we had done something pretty special, and I was just very fortunate to be in the ring with two of my best friends and performing at that level the way we did. All the stars aligned.”
Daniels also spoke on the Curry Man gimmick and whether he would bring it back today. Curry Man was a comedic Japanese persona Daniels portrayed in TNA in which he would speak with a Japanese accent.
“It’s something that I’ve thought about in the last couple months. To peel the curtain back, I don’t know if I could do Curry Man the same way I did it in TNA and not be racially insensitive,” Daniels admitted. “The original plan for Curry Man in TNA, in my mind, was to be like The Yellow Dog. I had just left TNA, and I was coming back under a mask, and I wanted everybody to know that it was me and I wanted it to be so obvious that it was me.
“But Jeff Jarrett was like, ‘No, no, it can’t be you. It’s not you,’ and so that was where the idea of making him Japanese and doing the Japanese voice came from. At the time, that’s not a stereotype voice. That’s actually what Jushin Liger sounds like to me, and so I was trying to do not just ‘oh this is what a Japanese guy looks and sounds.’ This was what Jushin Liger sounds like when he talks to me, and that’s what I wanted to do.
“So that’s my impersonation of Jushin Liger, but if you don’t know that and you’re a Japanese guy and you hear this white mouth saying stupid stuff in a Japanese accent, it might really upset you. So I don’t know if Curry Man can show up. I have to reimagine, and I think I have an idea but who knows if anybody will ever want to hear it. I have an idea of how it might work, but at the same time, it might be better if Curry Man rode off into the sunset and is just looked on with fondness from afar.”
Another fan asked Daniels about how AEW can avoid the problems that TNA ran into in their early years. He explained how creative collaboration can help AEW succeed.
“I do feel that AEW is similar to TNA in the sense of the young locker room and in the same way that TNA back in the day had these guys hadn’t had that opportunity on the national spotlight. Now, you’ve got AEW where you’re looking at guys like Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus, and Marko Stunt, and Private Party and a list of guys who I’ll forget and afterwards go, I wish I had mentioned, Scorpio Sky,” Daniels said. “We are very similar in that respect.
“The one thing that I do think is different and one of the things where I don’t think we’ll make some of the same mistakes that TNA made is that I feel, in the creative process, that there’s a feel of collaboration rather than a feeling of exclusion. There were very many times where I tried to comment on things that were happening with me, and there was immediate fight back, push back. Not always but often often enough where I ended up getting a reputation as being a guy that asked too many questions, and it ended up hurting me at TNA.
“There was even a point where they put a clause in our contract that said, if you keep pushing back, we’ll fire you, even though that’s in every contract any wrestlers ever wrestled ever signed. I feel like here at AEW, there’s a feeling of collaboration because I feel like Tony and the guys that are doing the creative, they want to hear opinions, and they want to hear the devil’s advocate. If they have an idea and someone goes, wait, this won’t work because, they want to hear that. They don’t want to find out, oh, this didn’t work because and no one said that. They want to hear those things, and so that’s the difference at this point.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.