Wrestling star Christopher Daniels sat down to chat with philly.com recently about the latest happenings in his career and the world of wrestling. Here's the transcript:
Vaughn Johnson: What’s it like in the career of Christopher Daniels right now?
Christopher Daniels: It’s really good. I’m really enjoying being a part of Ring of Honor right now and I’m lucky enough to be able to work independent dates for companies like House of Hardcore, WrestleCentre up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I just did Metro Pro Wrestling out in Kansas City weekend before last. I did FWE (Family Wrestling Entertainment) this past weekend in New York.
I’m free to go and work wherever I want to work and just trying to continue to build the name of our tag team, The Addiction [with Frankie Kazarian], up and around everywhere we can go.
VJ: How have things been now more than a year removed from leaving TNA Wrestling?
CD: Well, I feel like we were very lucky that I think the last year, year-and-a-half in TNA, I think people were sort of disappointed in how we were used. So when we left TNA, there was a good demand for us as a team … not just in Ring of Honor, but on the independent scene and overseas. I feel like we’ve been very lucky and will continue to be lucky that Frankie and I have had the opportunity to wrestle a lot of great team out on the independent scene and in Ring of Honor. It’s cool that we can sort of bring our act together around the world, around the United States to a lot of the independent companies and continue to do what we love to do.
VJ: What are your thoughts on the independent scene in wrestling? Are the independents healthy? Middling? Struggling?
CD: I think they’re healthy, man. I think there are a lot of great places to work out there. There are companies that are building themselves up. There are companies that continue to move forward. Places like PWG (Pro Wrestling Guerilla). Places like Ring of Honor, which is hard to even consider them an independent anymore just because of the length of time they’ve been in business and the strides they’ve taken with their television shows with Sinclair [Broadcasting Group], jumping on to live pay-per-view last year and continuing that trend this year.
I feel like there are a lot of great places to work out there and Frankie and I are lucky to be able to go out there and do what we want to do for a lot of these places.
VJ: What are your thoughts on the wrestling promotions that are on television here in the United States?
CD: I think it’s a great time to be a wrestling fan to have all of these different alternatives to WWE, and not to say that WWE is bad in any way. WWE is what it is. It’s the model of professional wrestling. There’s a lot of great stuff happening on WWE television right now, but there are a lot of alternatives as well like TNA, Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground coming into play in the last year and New Japan finally getting their foot in the door here in the United States. I’ve had the opportunity to watch a couple of episodes of that television show and I think it’s just a matter of time with WrestleKingdom 9 being broadcast on pay-per-view here in the States, and that television show, that New Japan is going to make a move to try to do more things in the United States whether it’s doing more crossover dates with Ring of Honor or doing something on their own.
VJ: You mention how that’s it’s a great time for the fans, but how is it for the wrestlers? How are they feeling about the current landscape in wrestling?
CD: I think that a lot of the guys that are at the independent level are a lot of the guys looking to branch out on television and there’s a lot of opportunity for them with Lucha Underground, with TNA moving to Destination America, with Ring of Honor still going strong on Sinclair’s syndicated stations. There’s a lot of opportunity to break out and get on television in one or more of these companies.
Then you can’t forget that the strides that NXT has taken to become not just the feeder system for the WWE, but it’s own brand. I know that they just had their third or fourth special recently and there’s not a bad word about NXT going around anywhere. Everybody’s thrilled about the guys that are in NXT, the action that they see and the type of show that NXT is, and that also being an alternative to the things that you see on WWE.
VJ: What are your thoughts on what Jeff Jarrett’s Global Wrestling is and what it could be?
CD: I think Jeff Jarrett is a very smart guy. I think that he’s waiting. He’s biding his time to make his move as far as putting out his own domestic product. He’s made all of these alliances with AAA (Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion) and New Japan and he’s made the Global Force name … if nobody before the WrestleKingdom 9 pay-per-view, it certainly did a lot to put Global Force in the eyes of wrestling fans around the United States.
As someone who worked with Jeff for a very long time in TNA, I know that he’s got a long game in mind. It’s not something that he wants to rush. I’m looking forward to see what his plans are in terms of a domestic product, not just like a roster, but also how he plans to get that roster on television, whether it’s another station or directly online. It’s very interesting to see where Jeff will go and I’m waiting to see like everybody is.
VJ: Not too many promotions try to partner with other promotions on such a large scale like Global Force Wrestling has done with various promotions? Do you think that should happen more often?
CD: I think so, man. I think that there are a lot of benefits to that and the fact that it hasn’t happened in such a long time, there’s certainly a freshness to it that can be utilized for television. For example, if Ring of Honor and TNA decided to do business or if Lucha Underground and Ring of Honor decided to do something like that, there are different opportunities because you have to look at it in the sense that each one of those companies has a different forum to show their show.
Ring of Honor has syndicated stations around the U.S. TNA has Destination America, which is a cable channel. Lucha Underground being on El Ray, which is another cable channel. It’s just different ways to bring different wrestlers and different match-ups to the fans.
I think it would be great if the companies that aren’t the WWE could decide to work together and trust each other to try to build to something. It doesn’t have to be something that’s a permanent fixture on the wrestling landscape. It could be just something to try and see what kind interest that we could build up by having two different rosters or two different sets of wrestlers sort of meet in the middle.
VJ: What are your thoughts on the state of the locker room in today’s world of wrestling? From what you’ve seen, how are the wrestlers today and how do they go about their business?
CD: I think there’s a lot less of a wild and crazy lifestyle being lived. We’ve seen the rash of wrestlers passing too early and the lifestyle they led in the 1980s and even the early 1990s. It’s sort of a cautionary tale, so I think guys look at this more as a business and not as a rocket ship ride and burning the candle at both ends. I think a lot of guys are just trying to relax and chill, especially the guys that are on the independent grind that are hustling to make two or three shows a week. There’s not a whole lot of time for going out and doing nonsense an living that rock star lifestyle that wrestlers back in the day would have done.
Plus, I’ve been a member of two locker rooms in TNA and Ring of Honor where everybody was really hungry to try and come together and make the product better. To me, there was always a positivity and a feeling of camaraderie that were all working to build a product that we were proud of and get that product to as many people as we could. Whether it was TNA or Ring of Honor, you can’t help but look to the left and look to the right for guys that were willing to go that extra mile to sort of break out and make their names known and make the product’s name known to everybody. That always was a positive thing. I always like going into the locker room. In TNA or Ring of Honor, I never felt like there was a real negativity. It never felt like a job. It felt like fun. We loved doing what we do and we got to do it together. I made a lot of great friendships from TNA and I’m making great friendships in Ring of Honor now. When you get in a great locker room like that you can’t but perform at that top level because that’s what everyone around was doing.
VJ: What’s it like walking into a locker room that’s the opposite of a positive and hungry environment? How do you navigate that?
CD: I don’t know, man. I’ve never really been in one. I don’t know how the WWE locker rooms are. You can only go off what you hear and every story is always hearsay and second or third hand, but there’s not a sense of contentment in the locker room at Ring of Honor. Everybody is happy with their position, but they’re always striving to go forward and get more and do better. We want nothing than to get more eyes on our product, whether it’s branching out to new markets or getting more people aware of the pay-per-views or getting out to new cities for the television show or the live event.
I’ve never been in a situation where everybody was just phoning it in or doing just enough to get by and getting through it with a sense of doom and gloom around them.
VJ: What are some the questions some of the younger talents in the locker room ask you and what are some of the things that you see in general that the younger generation could improve upon?
CD: It’s always sort of the same stuff. As a younger guy, that gas tank is always full and your stamina is at 100 percent, especially guys that are trying to make their name and guys that are trying to stand out in the crowd, sometimes there’s a lot more emphasis put on what they’re doing rather than why they’re doing it. The advice that I’m always giving … not that it’s a problem in that sense, but it’s an easy thing to say. It’s an easy thing to spot when you see guys going too fast or doing too much, to just slow it down to make everything mean something and to remember that we all have a finite amount of bumps in our life. I try to tell guys not to waste them, not to do nonsense.
Even me, there are times I feel like I didn’t put enough emphasis on things that I wanted to make important. I’m always criticizing myself. I’m always happy to let guys know that, “Hey, that could have gone slower. That could have gone different. Try it this way.” Even if guys don’t come to ask, which I do have a lot of guys asking about stuff, I’m always trying to watch what I can watch, too and even going up unsolicited and try to help guys out as well.
I know with the young guys coming up, there’s a lot of pressure on them to do well and they might not always get an opportunity to go around the locker room and ask for opinions and ask everybody to watch. There’s a lot of things going through everybody’s heads in a locker room like that, especially when you’re putting on live events, television or pay-per-views and we’re all on the same team, so I’m always trying to watch stuff and give my opinion and try to help out where I can, even if guys aren’t necessarily coming up to me and doing it. The good thing about it is that I feel like guys are always open to hear that. They’re always want constructive criticism. They don’t want to be coddled. They don’t want to be told what was great. Anybody can come up to you and say, “Hey, good match,” but if you can go to them and say, “Hey, this worked, but this didn’t work and try this,” that’s how you grow and that’s how you learn these things … is being told what doesn’t work, what does work, different ways to make things work.
VJ: How did it take you to finally understand the business when you were coming up? When did the light bulb finally go off for you?
CD: To me, it was never like a light bulb coming on as much as it was slowly but surely the room I was in got brighter. It was like someone had their finger on the dimmer switch and was slowly pushing higher and higher. It was never a moment where I slapped my head and said, “Oh, I should have had a V8.” It wasn’t like that for me. Every match I had, every time I got a chance to talk to somebody or work with someone like Jim Cornette or Kevin Kelly or Terry Taylor, Al Snow, D’Lo Brown, the guys that were agents for me, guys that were bookers for me, guys that gave their opinions, it was always information coming in and there were always to look at it that were always challenging me.
Everybody has a certain point of view and the beauty of pro wrestling is that it’s an art. Everybody is going to have a different way of doing things. I just read something recently that said six plus three equals nine, but so does five plus four. There are different ways to get the same result. I think the beauty of pro wrestling is that the more ways that you can learn from guys that have done these things in the past, you just widen that bag of tricks that you bring to every match.
I don’t think there was ever really a moment where I had an “Aha!” moment, but slowly but surely I realized that this was working better. There were fewer opportunities to where I feel like, “Oh, I suck” or “Oh, I’m not sure” or “This wasn’t working,” a part from the occasional gaffe.
After a certain period of time, you know what works and what doesn’t, and then you go out there and have fun and try to do different things, challenging yourself to be different, challenging yourself to go further and do more than you did the last time. That’s part of the fun as well is continually challenging yourself to try to be better and learn different things, even after 22 years in the business.
VJ: What are your thoughts on the upcoming House of Hardcore show?
CD: I think Tommy Dreamer has got a great business plan. I’ve been fortunate enough to work a few of the shows in the past with Tommy and Tommy Dreamer is one of the guys in the business that I think very few people have anything bad to say about him and I think that inspires you to go out there and give your best effort when he promotes you and when he uses you for his company. It’s going to be great.
VJ: How’s the comic book venture going for you and Frankie Kazarian?
CD: Very good, man. We had some very good reception from the comic. Actually, on March 1 Frankie and I appear on Comic Book men on AMC at midnight with the comic book and we interact with Walt Flanagan and the guys. That’ll be fun. We’re looking forward to doing a sequel soon. I can’t really announce anything specific yet, but hopefully within the next month I’ll have more details on another comic book.
VJ: Obviously, you’ve been around the block a few times, but like you said, you’ve got a finite number of bumps on your bump card. How much longer do you think you can go in the ring full time?
CD: As long as I want. Right now, I don’t see an end yet. That’s crazy to say, but if someone told me that I would be wrestling four days a week for the foreseeable future, I ‘d be fine with that. I actually challenge people to try and get me to the point where I’m too beat up to wrestle or I’m too tired to wrestle. I want to wrestle. Right now, I feel good. I’m always actively looking for bookings and trying to continue to get better and do more and try to expand my repertoire and just continue to make this career what it is.
I’m not looking to retire anytime soon and I’m challenging promotions out there to try to work me to death. I dare you.