With recent WWE talent cuts flooding the market, and ROH releasing much of its roster to go on extended hiatus, the landscape of pro wrestling is changing quickly. One thing which has not changed, says Nick Aldis, is that a shot at the National Wrestling Alliance’s legendary “Ten Pounds of Gold” must be earned.
“It makes a very bad precedence for someone to walk in on Day 1 and have a World title shot,” Aldis states.
Demands to immediately challenge for the NWA title are “disrespectful,” he said in a Wrestling Inc. exclusive interview. “To everybody else,” Aldis opines, “You’re essentially saying, ‘All the work you did didn’t matter.’”
Spurring Aldis’ opinions were questions about Mike Knox, who in his first NWA match challenged and was defeated by World’s Champion Trevor Murdoch at the Hard Times 2 pay-per-view. To get the match, the journeyman with time in WWE, TNA, and various U.S. and Japanese promotions threw Murdoch’s teen son to the ground and pummeled the champ inside a steel cage at the company’s By Any Means Necessary last month.
“What’s the qualification process here?” Aldis asked during the Wrestling Inc. interview, “Come in and attack the champion?”
However, they take on added meaning with Hard Times 2 in the rear-view. After dispatching Knox on December 4, Murdoch was again confronted by another debut, former WWE and current Impact superstar Matt Cardona. In his first appearance for NWA, the recent GCW World Champion made it known he’s now eyeing the NWA World title.
Throughout his historic 1,043 day, second reign as NWA World’s Champion, Aldis says he encountered far too many competitors looking for similar opportunities to jump the line. Whether former WWE competitors, successful independent names, or those “bouncing around between Impact, Ring of Honor, and a few other places,” Aldis continued, their request entering NWA was “an immediate World title shot.”
“It’s just disrespectful,” he stated.
“You’re essentially suggesting there is no qualification process here. All the work I put in and Tim Storm, and Cody, and Marty, all these guys, that doesn’t matter,” Aldis said, “It would irritate me.”
According to Aldis, such expectations made it difficult to take those challengers seriously. As someone whose career focus over the last four years has been working with NWA to rebuild the brand and legacy of its World’s title, he called the demands self-serving rather than aligning with the bigger picture.
“To be World champion anywhere is a responsibility and a privilege, but to be NWA World Champion, you’re also carrying this vestige of history,” asserted “The National Treasure,” who defeated long-time best friend-turned-rival Thom Latimer at the PPV.
“These guys, you could tell they don’t give a s**t about Jack Brisco and Dory Funk, Jr.; they don’t give a s**t about Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, and Harley Race,” he blasted, “All they really care about is having something to make a nice Instagram post.”
Not all competitors fall into that category, of course, Aldis notes. The same night Knox brutalized Murdoch, ROH tag team Mike Bennett and Matt Taken debuted in a series of impressive matches and defeated former NWA World Tag Team Champs Aron Stevens and JR Kratos in Atlanta. Austin Aries returned from semi-retirement to defeat Rhett Titus at Hard Times 2 while a variety of other names, faces, and talent new to NWA also made terrific showings at the PPV and subsequent TV tapings.
Overall though, Aldis believes the influx of competitors presents exciting opportunities for the company. Not only will it captivate fans — “There are all these match-ups people are thinking about,” the former champ said, “It’s all there for the taking” — he hopes it keeps veteran NWA talent on their toes It is a reminder to even those who have been with NWA long-term, Aldis says, that “your screen time isn’t guaranteed.”
People can no longer feel safe in their “comfort zone,” he insists.
“It kills every promotion I’ve ever seen stone dead when you have people who aren’t adapting and evolving and creating interest in what they’re doing,” he explained.
“If you’re not tinkering and improving and striving to be better this week than you were last week, the comfort zone will kill you,” Aldis went on. “The NWA has to be very careful about that. Maybe this influx of Ring of Honor talent will keep that mentality alive.”
To Aldis, with so many possibilities on the horizon, everyone in NWA needs to up their game. For those looking to stay in the NWA spotlight, it’s not personal, “Strictly Business,” and ultimately boils down to one question.
“Are you making a difference, yes or no?” Aldis concludes, “If you’re not, somebody else will come in and make a difference!”
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