Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian talk comics, TNA, Ring of Honor in Philadelphia

Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, collectively known as Bad Influence, made an appearance at Fat Jack’s Comicypt in Philadelphia Saturday to promote their new comic book “Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics!”

Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian talk comics, TNA, Ring of Honor in Philadelphia

Christopher Daniels. (Lee South/TNA Impact Wrestling)
Christopher Daniels. (Lee South/TNA Impact Wrestling)

Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, collectively known as Bad Influence, made an appearance at Fat Jack’s Comicypt in Philadelphia Saturday to promote their new comic book “Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics!”

As apart of their appearance, the former TNA World Tag Team Champions signed autographs and took photos with fans. They also took time to have a conversation with philly.com.

Here’s the transcript:

Vaughn Johnson: How’s the comic business going for you?

Christopher Daniels: So far, so good, man. We’re very lucky. It would be like a guy pitching a movie for the very first time and having Pixar decide to make it. Art Baltazar and Franco [Aureliani] are probably the top names in terms of all-ages comic books, so to have my name and [Frankie’s] name attached to something that they’ve put their effort into really helps. It’s really awesome. They’ve been 100,000 percent supportive about putting the comic book out, so it’s awesome.

VJ: I know Chris is comic book fan, but Frankie I didn’t know that you were as well.

Frankie Kazarian: I am a big fan. Not on the level of [Christopher], but yes. I just kind of never grew out of it. I don’t keep up with it as much as he does, but yes I’m always reading. I’m always listening to [Christopher’s] recommendations. I dig it, man.

VJ: What made you guys want to make this a venture?

CD: The whole story is that Frankie and I met Franco and Art Baltazar at San Diego Comic-Con a couple of years back. We found they were wrestling fans and we stayed friends. I have friends in Chicago — I was trained in Chicago, so I travel there a lot — and their store, Aw Yeah Comics, is in Skokie, which isn’t too far from Chicago, so I got to see them off and on. Last year, they decided to run a Kickstarter to start Aw Yeah Comics the publishing. The first couple of issues they sent to Frankie and I and that’s where I found out about Action Cat and Adventure Bug and Awesome Bear, and then I just decided, “Well, what if I wrote a story about Frankie and I going to this dimension and meeting these characters?”

Even though we are professional wrestlers, we decided to go out there and fun and cut up and be ridiculous, so that spirit sort of flowed into the comic book story. I literally sent it unsolicited to Art and was like, “Hey, would you like to make this?” To my sheer delight they said yeah. So here it is, six months later. I wrote it September of last year and we had it out by April. We’re very lucky.

VJ: Being that you are professional wrestlers, how have people taken to you in the comic book world?

FK: They dig it. There are actually a lot of professional wrestlers that are actually big comic book fans and a lot of wrestling fans that are big comic book fans, so it’s kind of just a natural thing. A lot of people knew based on various shirts that Chris would wear to the ring or just by the look of our gear that we were at least somewhat into comic books. It was just kind of a natural thing when this book came out. Everyone that has purchased it or looked at it has really thought it was cool. A lot of our friends, all of the fans have been real receptive and they really dig it.

VJ: Does it help that you already have a name in pro wrestling?

CD: Absolutely. The fact that we were on Impact for so many years, both of us had been in professional wrestling for so many years, it certainly helped in terms of the wrestling fan base, but it’s only been the last couple of years that I think the focus has been on the fact that we’re both comic book fans as well. That’s sort of a new fact that fans are starting to learn about, but this is a perfect example to them of how big of fans we are.

VJ: Speaking of Impact, did the contracts with the promotion simply expire or were you outright released?

CD: The contracts ran out and they just decided to make different choices with their roster. That opened the doors for us to return to Ring of Honor, which is what we’ll be doing on the 22nd of this month and it also opened the door for more independent stuff in the United States and a lot of appearances overseas, so the Bad Influence business as it were is still going strong, just not in Orlando.

FK: They were going in a different direction and it’s a business at the end of the day and it’s a business for us, too. We’re going to do what’s best for Bad Influence and they’re going to do what’s best for Impact Wrestling and that’s the way it should be.

VJ: Did you guys want to stay if they had offered you a fair deal?

CD: I would have stayed if they had offered, but like I said, they made the decision to try something different. At some point, it’s the right decision to go and build up younger stars. My thought process was that Frankie and I were still a very entertaining part of the show and we had only scratched the surface of what we could have done for them if they wanted us to stick around. I don’t think it was a good decision on their part, but in the end it’s their decision to make and so we’re done. We’re not bitter about it. We’re not going to go out on the Internet and say bad things about them. It’s just their choice and our job now is to prove to them and the wrestling world that it wasn’t a very good choice.

FK: My take on it was absence makes the heart grow fonder. I had been there for a long time and sometimes you need a break, you need a separation. I’m not just talking about myself; I’m talking about TNA Impact Wrestling as well. I was good with leaving. Would have I been good with staying? I’m not sure just given the current state of things, but I’m hoping that in six months to a year that TNA is doing double the ratings their doing and house show attendance is up because I’m a TNA fan. Apart of me will always be in TNA.

VJ: What is the current state of things in TNA? You hear a lot of speculation from the outside looking in, but you guys were on the inside.

CD: We couldn’t tell you the current state of it because we’re not there, so you’ll have to ask the people that are in it right now what the current state is. You can sort of see what’s happening with TNA. You can make your own assumptions and observations as to their current ratings, their current product and I’m not going to comment on it right now.

FG: It was all speculation because even when we were there we were never necessarily told, “Hey, this is the state of the company or that’s the state of the company.” It was all just chatter amongst the locker room, but nothing was ever said to us officially like, “Hey we’re for sale,” or “Hey we’re not for sale.” We just could only assume.

VJ: How did the deal with Ring of Honor come about? Was it just a seamless transition essentially?

CD: Pretty much. First of all, the big reason why it was a seamless transition was because we’re still a very relevant part of the professional wrestling landscape. I feel that we’re the best tag team in the business and I think Ring of Honor recognizes that and wants to have the opportunity to show Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian against the teams that they have. Guys like reDragon and the Young Bucks and The Forever Hooligans. They recognize that we have the ability to entertain on the microphone and entertain in the wrestling ring. Their recognition is the reason why they contacted us as soon as we were available.

VJ: I’m pretty sure that made the exit from TNA a lot easier knowing that you could do Ring of Honor and so many other things.

CD: Well, sure. Just because we’re not with TNA doesn’t mean that we’re done wrestling at all. We still have a lot to do.

FK: I’m actually excited. There’s a really, really talented crop of wrestlers in singles and tag teams alike out there on the indies and out there in Ring of Honor that we haven’t had the chance to work against because we’ve been in TNA working hard there and burning out basically since the company started.

CD: I’m really excited. The wrestling landscape is big and full of a lot of talented guys, talented teams that we’re both looking forward to working.

VJ: I’m not going to ask the obligatory “Are you going to WWE?” question, but you also have Jeff Jarrett’s promotion starting up. What other opportunities are out there besides just Ring of Honor?

CD: A lot of stuff. Hopefully some stuff overseas. We got some stuff coming up this fall in Europe. We’re always looking for potential stuff in Japan, which might be happening, obviously Jeff Jarrett if and when that gets rolling. We’re both friends with Jeff. We’ve known him a long time. He’s a smart guy, so anything he puts his stamp of approval on is definitely worth looking out for. We don’t turn our nose to any opportunity. We’re both businessmen. This is our business and we’re looking to take the Bad Influence brand everywhere we possibly can.

VJ: Back to the comics, do you see yourself one day maybe being full time in the comic business when wrestling is over?

CD: That would be great, but the honest truth is that I was inspired to write this story and I’ve got a couple of other stories. If I was forced to have a story ready every month […] it’s very hard to be that creative. Like I said, I was very lucky to be inspired by this story and if I can keep doing it and keep writing other stories I will, but I’m not sure if full-time writing is for me.

FK: I also have a story in mind if this continues and we’ve both worked with Mike Kingston, who does Headlocked comics and does really cool stuff. Doing stories based in the wrestling world is cool and doing something just completely on the other side of that would be cool, but you need a lot of time to dedicate and focus. When wrestling is done, who knows? It’s hard to kind of balance the two right now.

VJ: What goes into making a story for comic?

CD: Just being inspired, man. Just having an idea. Like I said, this came about literally with me going, “Well, what if Frankie and I met those guys?” Then it was a matter of how would I do that and would happen if I met him and he met them? The sequel that I’m writing now is what happens after this? What would we do if we went back? It’s that sort of thing. You just got to come up with an idea that you think is interesting and make it interesting to the people that you bring it to.

FK: A lot of stuff is loosely based on real-life things that have happened to us like being backstage or on the road. You can take a funny story and make it even more hilarious by elaborating and embellishing it. That’s also a direction to go in terms of writing stories that can fit in a comic book.

Daniels and Kazarian will appear at the House of Hardcore show Saturday night at 2700 Southampton Road in Philadelphia. For more info on the show, visit the promotion’s web site HERE.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
About this blog
The Squared Circle is a one-stop shop of pro wrestling news, recaps and observations. You can also enjoy interviews with some of your favorite stars from the world of professional wrestling both nationally and locally. Reach Vaughn at vjohnson@philly.com.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
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