Austin Aries recently spoke with Sportskeeda Wrestlling’s Unskripted show about the difficulties in being a heel today due to the current cultural climate. Admitting that it is hard to stay in character as it can damage reputations.
“Things change, cultures change, the business has changed,” Aries stated. “When I broke in, I was trained by Eddie Sharkey which is as old school as it gets, you know? The mentality was, really for me, when I walked out of the door in the morning I had to assume the role, right? Even when the show was done if I was in the bar afterward or fans saw me at the gas station, I would give them a little bit of that heel character, I wanted them to believe.
“But in culture now, that doesn’t really work because unfortunately, that gets you labeled. People, for as much as they know that wrestling isn’t real, people started to think that Dan Solwold was this a-----e that Austin Aries was portraying every time they’d meet me. So, I think nowadays it is difficult,” he confessed. “I think we’ve broken the fourth wall and we’ve peeled the curtain back and I don’t know that it does anybody any favors to kind of keep this persona to really make people believe because once people believe, it kind of colors your reputation a little bit.”
Austin Aries also touched on cancel culture, believing that it makes it hard to be a heel right now as it can be a slippery slope to navigate.
“Also being careful not to step on certain lines, because we are really into feelings now and if you hurt someone’s feelings, we talk about the cancel culture, it’s a real thing,” Aries said. “As a guy who is trying to offend people and get under your skin, it’s hard now to gauge where that is because if I really offend you, it’s a slippery slope and it’s delicate.”
He provided an example from his own career of an issue he dealt with. The situation took place during his TNA run with Christy Hemme, which led to comments about sexual assault when his crotch was thrust into Christy Hemme’s face.
“I can give you an example and it was the Christy Hemme situation that happened at TNA. This was something that was an on-the-fly moment, she just made a mistake in the ring announcing, but as a heel and I’m offended and I’m upset that she announced us as the wrong names. So I’m in my head thinking, ‘let’s do something with this,’ so I backed her into the corner and made her say it right. Then I stood on the middle ropes and did my pose like I always did. But eventually, it turned into, ‘he sexually harassed her.’ People were legitimately upset online but my thought at the time was, ‘I’m a bad guy doing a bad guy thing, they shouldn’t like that, it wasn’t a good thing to do.’ But it wasn’t Dan doing it to Christy backstage and reprimanding her,” Aries pointed out. “It was a heel character doing a bad guy thing but again, people took offense to it online and started to make a lot of noise.
“It got re-characterized into something it wasn’t and that’s something that has kind of stuck with me all these years and people still make comments about it,” he admitted. “It’s unfortunate because you’re doing something spur of the moment with improv, me and her have no issues, we had a good talk afterward, we’re professional, we are good as colleagues.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Sportskeeda Wrestling with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcriptions.