Interview with Austin Aries (Audio & Text)

On Tuesday, August 1st, Inside Pulse was granted an exclusive interview with former Ring of Honor World Champion and current Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champion, Austin Aries. For an MP3 of the full interview, click here.

Shawn M. Smith: We’re on live now with Austin Aries, independent superstar, mostly known for his body of work in Ring of Honor, and also you might know him from TNA. I’d like to thank you for your time tonight, Mr. Aries. It’s a great opportunity for both of us.

Austin Aries: Thank you.

SMS: Trust me, the pleasure is all mine. Now before we go too far into anything, one of the last interviews I had actually seen with you online was with Bill Banks on the TNA website.

AA: Okay.

SMS: You had made a point that because of your tattoo, which has dual meanings meaning both “Aries” the symbol itself and also goat. And a lot of fans of Japanese wrestling had asked you why you had the tattoo for “goat” on your arm. Do you remember that?

AA: Sure, yeah

SMS: The only reason I ask about that is because you mentioned, in that same interview, the possibility of a Goat Boy versus Curry Man match overseas.

AA: Hmmm. Smells like money

SMS: Indeed it does.

AA: I don’t know. I was just over there for Dragon Gate, obviously, and yeah, I got the question. I think its pronounced tugi over there, meaning goat or ram or sheep, but once I explained to them the translation, they understood. I don’t know you can never rule out the Goat Boy vs. Curry Man, I think it would be a very intriguing match-up.

SMS: I’ll consider that an exclusive (laughs)

AA: Yes, yes.

SMS: I had a bunch of questions that we directed at me both by fans of InsidePulse.com and also people that were at ROHwrestling.com, and one that popping up honestly was that “with the people that you have worked with on the independent circuit, who do you think, right now, viably, could be signed to either WWE or TNA and become believable right off the bat without having to be assigned a crazy gimmick?

AA: Um, I mean there are a lot of guys and there are a lot of factors that play into that, you know. Obviously when you go to the WWE, they’re going to have some control over your creative direction as far as outside the ring and inside the ring. Still, some guys that I think have that talent now that maybe came from Ring of Honor and are there in WWE or TNA can do it, but it’s easier said than done. There are so many factors that play into guy’s pushes or guy’s succeeding. I mean a guy like Nigel McGuinness obviously he’s got good size he’s already has a gimmick, it’s not a “gimmicky” gimmick, that’s just who he is, that separates him a little bit.

SMS: Yup.

AA: And he’s a damn good wrestler, so he’s a guy that can probably step right in. Colt Cabana kind of already has a gimmick, he’s a good size guy, a good wrestler, and those are two off the top of my head that could translate right into there because they kind of already have a gimmick that sets them apart.

SMS: I agree on both of those counts. Mostly Colt, I would love to, after having seen him as a Druid at WrestleMania, once again see him in a WWE environment. (laughs)

AA: Yes.

SMS: He’s a very good guy too. I met him once at FIP. Now, personally, I just noticed this for the first time, is it true that you’re a vegetarian?

AA: I am the spectacular, vascular vegetarian. It’s been about six years.

SMS: Wow.

AA: I have been animal free.

SMS: Very cool.

AA: I should say “meat free,” cuz I do eat cheese, being from Wisconsin, and I’ll eat the occasional egg here-and-there. No, I don’t eat the animals, don’t eat the meat. Don’t put the meat in my mouth.

SMS: (laughs)

AA: That can’t be said for a lot of the other boys in the business. As a matter of fact, I think I am the only one who doesn’t put the meat in his mouth, as far as I know, me and Killer Kowalski. (laugh)

SMS: So, then you’ve never been taught respect by the Iron Sheik, I’m hoping?

AA: No, sir, I have not. Actually, the Iron Sheik, him or his webmaster emailed me on my website and asked to be linked. I think our websites are linked, I’m not too sure.

SMS: Yup.

AA: I think the Iron Sheik already has respect for me, and he doesn’t need to “break my back.”

SMS: That’s absolutely one of the greatest videos, not even just as a wrestling fan, just as a human being who has any concept…that was phenomenal. So for anyone paying attention now, and doesn’t know, that’s AustinAries.com.

AA: Yes, AustinAries.com.

SMS: And I am glad they are updating it more regularly again for you.

AA: I’m trying.

SMS: How are your knees doing?

AA: Uh, you know, they’re here. I’ve been working through this for a while, and it’s nothing that a lot of other guys don’t do, from guys in this business to guys in other professions, baseball especially. Baseball catchers their knees are shot, but they still get down there and crouch for 140 games a year.

SMS: Yup.

AA: I know a lot of wrestlers that have bad ACLs and things like that. I’m like a step below the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin brace. I don’t have the big Halo one on the outside but I do have a nice support on the inside. Hopefully, I won’t have to move up to that because I’d have to change my name to “Stone Cold” Austin Aries and their might be some trademark infringement there.

SMS: Just a bit, but WWE’s already stolen your shirt before, the “Wrestling Machine” one?

AA: Yeah, yeah. Actually, I had an acquaintance from the Midwest who was going there for some dark matches not too long ago and he asked if he could have one of my shirts when I was back in there doing some shows. “Do you have something I can wear when I go down there for my dark stuff?” and I was like, “Oh, that’s not a very good idea!”

SMS: The tattoo one might be the only one you could actually let him have.

AA: Yeah, but that one’s out of print. They’re not making those anymore, so if you have one it’s now a collector’s item.

SMS: And if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to sign it for them if they’re gracious.

AA: You just never know.

SMS: So you mentioned baseball a little bit, are you still actively following the Cubs? Were you watching the trading deadline stuff yesterday (Monday, July 31st)?

AA: Yeah, the Cubbies and the Brewers. Obviously the Brewers are my team too, being from Milwaukee, it was nice when the Cubs won the National and the Brewers won the American, so I had a team from each division. Now they’re in the same division, you know, I like to watch them, I followed to see what the Cubbies were doing, see if they made any big trades, but they didn’t really do too much, so it should be an interesting off season. The Brewers are still kind of on the edge, on the fringe of the Wild Card race, but I thought they made a couple of good moves. I pretty much follow-up with all sports, you know?

SMS: Very cool.

AA: I grew up in a house filled with sports and as a result, I’ve always followed.

SMS: That’s one thing you find with, even a lot of collegiate athletes, that even once you’re out of playing the game, at that level, you still follow something almost religiously.

AA: Sure. I was brought up as an athlete and I played different sports growing up, and then there was a period in my life in college, where I didn’t really have any physical “output” and then wrestling obviously provided that for me but I still follow baseball, football and hoops.

SMS: Are you a Bears or Packers fan?

AA: Packers. Big-time Packers.

SMS: Good decision.

AA: Go Pack!

SMS: Not that they needed my plug. Poor Brett Favre. That poor guy.

AA: I don’t think he’s feeling too bad for himself. They’ve got a young team this year, but it’s a not real tough division that they’re in, it’s wide open. They could surprise some people. They’ve got some hungry, young players and if they play together, they could have a decent run.

SMS: I hope they do for his sake.

AA: Yeah.

SMS: He’s one of those guys that you don’t necessarily have to be a fan of the team. You can’t help but be a fan of the person himself especially in light of everything that happened with his father, with his wife.

AA: And just what he’s accomplished, as far as his consecutive streaks of playing that’s just a tough S.O.B. You look what Cal Ripken did in baseball, which I don’t think is as physically demanding as football, but he’s the Ripken of football, and he didn’t miss a start in what, ten years?

SMS: Yeah, something like that. Now do you still follow your alma mater at all, Winona State?

AA: Not really. I didn’t really follow it when I went there to be honest. After collegiate sports, I went on to other things, but didn’t I hear, I think they won…

SMS: A National Title this year (editor’s note: Division II Men’s Basketball.) You and I both went to Division 2 schools that went on to really great success once we were gone. The only thing I found super humorous was you and I both ended up Psych majors (laughs) that’s what drove us out of college.

AA: Yeah, after a few years of tooling around, I thought “maybe I should start taking some classes to try and understand why everyone is doing this?” (laughs)

SMS: It’s not for everyone.

AA: No, no it’s not. The whole time I was in college, I tried to think to myself “what 9-to-5 job can I get that is going to make me happy and not want to blow my brains out from doing the same thing every day.

SMS: Once the 5 o’clock comes.

AA: After three years, I couldn’t think of anything that I needed a college degree for that would make me happy so I just moved on. I figured I got about a year left, and I could finish up at some point. Colleges aren’t going anywhere.

SMS: No, that will be a long, long time. Now, how old were you when you began training? You were at Eddie Sharkey, correct?

AA: Eddie Sharkey was the name on the camp, and Terry Fox was the guy that did a lot of the in-ring stuff. I was 22, I believe, when I first got in there.

SMS: That’s still pretty young.

AA: It’s a little bit late. Pretty young, but surprisingly a lot of guys now begin at 18, 17, some guys have 5 years experience by the time they’re 22. A guy like Roderick Strong, my buddy, he started training at 15, 14. He’s got a lot of experience under his belt for still being pretty young. I started about 22, and have about 6 and half years experience now. I think I’m just really starting to catch my stride.

SMS: You’re picking up a lot of steam, that’s why a lot of us were worried when we heard about the knee injury, obviously, they’re prevalent in older athletes. We were like “no, not when he’s just starting to hit his streak.”

AA: The funny thing was it’s something I’ve had for a year and a half now. It actually happened in Canada when I was wrestling against Kevin Steen. At that time, it was at least a partial tear because I know that the following week I had to cancel a show off, Jersey All Pro, and even the week after that when I did wrestle for Ring of Honor, I think it was a cage match, I was still wrestling and hobbling pretty good. It slowly got better and over time I just worked through it that maybe in the last two months, I might have re-injured it at some point, maybe completely tore it. Like I you said, it’s something that a lot of guys got banged up knees, elbows, shoulders, whatever, that’s the nature of the business.

SMS: And you have to work through it.

AA: Put a brace on it. Rub a little dirt on it, you know, and you go out there.

SMS: So we’re coming up on one year since your TNA debut…

AA: Yeah.

SMS: Any thoughts on the last year?

AA: It’s just a good experience, just a whole different ballgame, so to speak. Wrestling in a place like Ring of Honor or the various indies I’ve been to or even over in Japan and overseas, it’s a lot different than putting on a TV show and Pay-Per-Views and things like that.

SMS: Did it mean a little bit more?

AA: Did it mean more?

SMS: To be voted in by the fans because it was overwhelming. It wasn’t even close.

AA: To be voted in? I suppose, but on the same token, it was an internet poll, and obviously most of my fan base is internet driven just because Ring of Honor is an internet promotion, as that’s where most of their fan base is. Yeah, it’s always nice when the people seek you out and want to see you. I was just happy to get a chance because I had gone down there a few times before that early in my career, trying to get on when they were still down in Nashville and there wasn’t a lot of interest. It was nice for it to finally come full circle and get the chance.

SMS: At least if they, maybe not someone in the office, was like “Hey, let’s make sure we bring this guy in,” but that they put you in the poll and the fans overwhelming were like “Hey, you got to get this guy down there to work!”

AA: Sure, sure.

SMS: Very cool.

AA: It’s been a good time. I think we’re just scratching the surface there.

SMS: Do you know if you’re planning on going back? Have they said anything? Am I allowed to ask? (laugh)

AA: Actually, I just…keep watching your TV in the next month and you’ll see an “Austin” sighting.

SMS: Austin sighting? Very nice. You mentioned Rod (Roderick Strong) before, which is actually great, because I know that a lot of people that have fallen in love with Rod’s work, especially you guys together as a tag-team now, as World Tag Champs. Can you make a viable comparison with a legend with him, maybe someone that he reminds you of when he’s in the ring?

AA: I think he’s a mixture of Dean Malenko and a little Arn Anderson. Especially right now at this stage of his career, again, he’s still young, the guy’s got a lot of experience under his belt, Roddy’s only 22, which is how old I was when I started. So, you look at where he is at his age compared to where I was at his age, and he’s already ahead of the game in that respect. There’s things that come with age, obviously he is going to keep getting better and better, but right now if you just look at the way he works and the way he wrestles in the ring, he comes, he’s all business, he’s well-versed in different areas and he hits hard enough to be intimidating and to be an enforcer in that way, and yet, he’s a little more nimble and that’s why I say he’s got a little Malenko in him. Malenko is a good athlete.

SMS: Tully Blanchard as well too, I think.

AA: Yeah, except for Tully had a little bit of the attitude…

SMS: Yeah.

AA: …that Roddy hasn’t quite developed yet. Roddy right now, when he hits the ring, he’s Arn Anderson. He’s focused on one thing and that’s taking his opponent apart and getting the job done. That’s something that over time as he continues to add accolades to his resume, you could see an attitude like that definitely come out.

SMS: He’s very impressive now. Now, just a couple days ago, you wrestled in that Four Corners Survival on the 28th,

AA: Yeah.

SMS: So what was that experience like, as also, across the ring you had “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, you were also working with Delirious and Homicide. What was that like?

AA: I had a good time, obviously I won, which always helps the experience. That was the first time I had been in the ring with Delirious in Ring of Honor and hadn’t been in there with Homicide in a while, and me and Bryan have some history, so it was a big match in regards to what was at stake, a World Title shots or guys not getting title shots down the road. At the end of the match, I thought the crowd was happy, I was happy, and no one got seriously hurt other than the usually bumps, bruises, scrapes, aches and pains.

SMS: Very cool. I brought up Dragon, obviously, because it’s pretty much known that you took over the trainer position at the ROH Wrestling School from (CM) Punk when he left, when he signed his contract with WWE. Now, Dragon has taken over, was there “professional burn-out?” Was it just because you wanted to open up more dates because you wanted to go to Japan? They were on point now and now everyone was craving Austin Aries.

AA: Right, right. It was just a combination of things. I had done a couple of classes and unfortunately, the numbers haven’t turned out like any of us would have liked, as far as the number of students. Again, a lot of people say they want to do this, but when it comes down to it and they realize the work and the financial and the physical toll that you are expected to take…some people say they want to do it, but it’s another thing to do it. So, we haven’t had the turn-out as far as that went, I did a couple, it was a good experience, but like you said, I wanted to open up my dates a little bit to do more overseas stuff. They wanted to give Bryan, being the champ and the face of the promotion, they wanted to give him the opportunity to try and do the school. It worked out for everyone, and I think they are having some try-outs for the next class and hopefully it fills up because Bryan’s a hell of a wrestler, hell of a teacher, and if someone’s really serious about getting into this business and really wants to do it, I couldn’t think of too many places to go and learn.

SMS: Absolutely. There’s a different passion for the business that, thankfully, is appearing more prevalent on the indie circuit than it is in the “major league” spots with a lot of the talent from Ohio Valley (Wrestling) going up to ECW or WWE, so it’s better to see these young kids growing. Anyone from those classes, that you’ve trained in particular, that you have high hopes for, that you’ve seen grow a lot, that you’re just proud of?

AA: The first thing I realized is, a lot of these kids are really young: 18, 19, 20 years old, so you can see potential in guys at this age, but it’s “who’s going to be here in 5 years?” It’s doing the grind to get the experience, to get the exposure. Really, all of them bring something different to the table. Rhett Titus, he was a guy who was a “scramble brain” when we were going through stuff originally, and his first match out there, he was just calm, cool, collected; a complete 180. He’s got a decent look, he’s young, and he’s a guy that if he keeps his head screwed on straight and continues to follow through the “right” paths, in 4 or 5 years when he’s 23-24, who’s to say? An example I use is that I first started training with Shawn Daivari. He was 16 at the time, and I look at this kid at 140 lbs. and kind of immature, “This kid’s never gonna make it. Who’s he kidding?”

SMS: He’s been pushed to the moon now.

AA: Exactly, so you can’t look at someone at 19 and say he can or he can’t do it. That was my motto when I took the school over, as far as guys trying out. I can’t look at someone physically or how they move and say they can or can’t do it. This business is about the heart and the determination and drive and sacrifice and what you’ll put out.

SMS: Absolutely.

AA: If you don’t take no for an answer and you stick in this business long enough, and you love it, and you’ve got a little bit of brains, sooner or later you’ll get your opportunity and you’ll persevere. All the guys, Mitch Franklin, he’s a guy that physically is at a disadvantage. He was born extremely premature and he’s a little bit small. He’s only 125 lbs. and 5’2″, he’s an underdog, but man, he scraps, and he fights. He doesn’t give up. He’s got that tenacity that you like to see. He’s another guy that could fit into a role and play that role very well in this business, and if he decides he wants to continue to do this, he could.

(gulps)

Ah. Got a sip of water finally.

SMS: I’m sorry. Literally, this was your show, and I was just chilling’.

AA: Honestly, I will be completely honest with you, I got in this morning and this interview had slipped my mind. I was actually driving on my way to GNC when you called, so I dropped my girl off to go shopping, and I’ve been sitting in the car. Now she just brought me some water, and it’s delicious.

(laughs)

Yeah, so that’s where we’re at.

SMS: I heard the laugh in the background, and water is very tasty. Any water you’d like to plug?

AA: Smart Water is good.

SMS: So is tap.

AA: My favorite water is “free” water.

SMS: Yeah, tap water.

AA: Cold water.

SMS: I don’t trust New York water. I don’t care if they say it’s the cleanest thing in the world, I live here and I filter the crap out of the stuff.

AA: You know, they say that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans’ too, but humans don’t lick their ass.

SMS: Exactly.

AA: They say a lot of things, but you don’t have to believe them all.

SMS: That’s one of the very few moments where I will never even think about putting in a laugh track. I just started laughing my ass off.

AA: (chuckles)

SMS: So, the commercial you did with Keri Russell (of Felicity fame.) That was back when you were in New York.

AA: Yes.

SMS: How was that experience? That just completely came out of nowhere to most…to me, at least.

AA: Steven DeAngelis, ring announcer for ECW, he did some ROH ring announcing a while back, he just kind of contacted me out of the blue. He’s a casting director in New York and he had this part in this Cover Girl commercial where they were kind of doing some fight scenes. He was trying to convince them to use maybe a couple of wrestlers over some stunt guys for a couple of different reasons. Actually, me and Bryan Danielson just took a trip to New York one day, and kind of did a little casting call and got our film out there for them to look at. For whatever reason, I got the part. I was the token white guy…

SMS: (laughs) Yeah, you were.

AA: And I think that my Asian tattoo helped a little bit with the part. It was a good experience, you know? Kind of unexpected, nice little bonus financially and actually I’m now eligible for SAG (Screen Actors Guild) take some of the money I made, join SAG and try and get some more work.

SMS: That’s a plus.

AA: I was there 8 hours, but I probably did 15 minutes worth of work, and made more than I make in most of my wrestling matches.

SMS: It’s a very lucrative business to get into, so I am glad to hear that. Even if it is something to do on the side, it opens up another door for you.

AA: It’s great because they’ve got this big, cushy mat for me to fall onto and they’d say “Are you sure you don’t want hip pads? Maybe some elbow pads?” “Hey, you guys don’t see my usual working conditions and what I’m usually falling on.”

SMS: Yeah.

AA: “This is going to be a piece of cake. No worries.”

SMS: It must have been the easiest day’s work ever for you.

AA: Yeah, it was a lot of fun, just a good experience to see just a little bit of the showbiz side of entertainment and make some connections that way and see what happens. It’s always good to branch out.

SMS: Branching out never hurt. It’s a back-up plan as well.

AA: Mmm, hmmm.

SMS: This Friday and Saturday, you’re going to be participating with Rod Strong in two Ultimate Endurance matches. Do you have a lot of experience in Ultimate Endurance? Is there a lot of prep with the guys? How exactly do you get into the mind-set to participate in something like that?

AA: Honestly, I’ve only been in one. Must have been last year, and I think it was me and Jack (Evans) actually, that were in it. We didn’t fair too well. I didn’t get pinned. Not blaming anything on Jack, I’m just saying. I guess the best way to prepare is to go back and throw that DVD in and take a look at that match, and some strategies and that’s really about it. We’re gonna approach this like any other title defense we’ve had. The difference is that we have three teams in front of us now. We’ve just got to beat all three. We’re confident we are the best tag team going right now and we’ll be able to prove that after this weekend. Basically, we have an open contract: anyone from anywhere. Any country wants a shot at the titles; we’ve got the open contract for anyone that’s willing to step up.

SMS: I have a quick question that one of my fellow writers had actually given to me. It’s a little off-base, so it might be fun. He had asked, “If you had the option of having your own action figure or being in a video game, which would you choose?”

AA: Well, I already have my own action figure, although it’s not a publicly distributed action figure. I’ve had different fans make action figures of me and give them to me, and a couple of them are actually pretty good. I’d probably have to go with the action figure, though. I think it would be cool to have a nationally-distributed action figure. I know when I was a kid, I had all the AWA figures.

SMS: The Remco ones.

AA: Yeah. I remember the first two I got were Baron (von Raschke) and Rick Martel. They were on my birthday cake. That was probably my seventh or eighth birthday, my seventh. From there, I just collected all of them and found out you could take their heads off…

SMS: (laugh)

AA: Switch them around. And face paint. Every guy had face paint at one time or another. I built my promotion up with the AWA guys and Thundercats and He-Man.

SMS: G.I. Joe?

AA: G.I. Joe was too small, so the G.I. Joes were put away. I was a big G.I. Joe fan until I saw AWA on TV. All the other stuff got put away and I got into wrestling. Who knows? If it hadn’t been for seeing Jerry Blackwell on that Sunday morning, I could be in the army right now for all I know. All’s good with the AWA.

SMS: My call on that question, by the way, you made the right choice. Originally, I was thinking “maybe a video game,” but at the same time at some point the technology, the platform that the game is on, you won’t be able to plug it in easily and play. It’s going to be a complete pain-in-the-ass to do it. An action figure, if it’s made and mass produced, you can get tens of copies and keep them and give them to your grandkids. That’s really cool.

AA: It’s true. Plus, with the way video games are nowadays, you can just create me anyway.

SMS: I am sure there are lots of sites where people have already done that.

AA: Oh sure. There’s lots of different, what do they call them, CAWs or something?

SMS: The Create a Wrestler program.

AA: You got it. See, I don’t even know what it stands for.

SMS: I’ve seen quite a few, but the faces don’t look right. You can’t get the facial hair right, and you change it so much anyway.

AA: No, really, I am such a strikingly gorgeous male. It would be pretty impossible to come close to my face.

SMS: I’m glad you said that. (laugh) I’m glad you said that and not me.

AA: Me too.

SMS: That’s ironic because that was going to be the next point I was going to bring up. It is actually because of you that there are a lot of women at these shows, hooting and…personally, I wanted to thank you because it’s basically a well-known fact that part of the reason that my girlfriend goes to every single show is because she hears that your name is on the bill.

AA: Nice.

SMS: I thought it was the tattoo at first, but it’s that whole “girls like butts,” and I can’t say anything about it, but “thank you” because I haven’t had to pay for a damn ticket since last summer.

AA: That’s outstanding. I try to do my part. If I can help the guys out by getting the girls there, getting them to pay for the guy’s ticket.

SMS: I haven’t sat worse than second row. She’s pretty adamant about getting them now.

AA: I’m sure she wants to sit nice and close, and who can blame her? I certainly couldn’t. If I was a female, I’d definitely go to all the shows and watch me wrestle.

SMS: (laugh) Oh boy. We were talking a bit, I mentioned Gen Next for a second, any personal feelings now about the temporary, technical disbanding of the name because you guys are assumed to be superstars for the federation now?

AA: It’s just one of those things that the name just kind of doesn’t really fit us anymore. We’re not really the “next generation.”

SMS: You outgrew it.

AA: I’ve been on the upper card for almost two years now. Honestly, there’s a whole new generation that’s coming up and some of us are moving on and are not quite as entrenched in the promotion as we were at one time. Jack’s over in Japan doing a lot of stuff with Dragon’s Gate, Matt Sydal’s been over there quite a bit. Obviously, my ties with TNA now, so were not really the next generation, we’re the current generation and the name doesn’t fit, so we just got rid of it. It’s not like we’re breaking up as a faction, necessarily, but we are focusing on our individual goals. Again, the idea of the group when we got together was to band together and to kind of make our way up the ladder faster than we could if we were doing it solo. Now that we’re on top of the ladder, we can branch out into our own direction. Of course we’ve always got each other’s backs but for the time being, we don’t really need to.

SMS: Are you friendly? Is it a professional relationship with GenNext or, other than Rod, are you close with any of the other guys?

AA: Me and Matt know each other because we were both breaking in at the same time. We did a lot of IWA stuff in the Mid West, so he was someone I wrestled on the way up. He’s a great kid. It’s not like we hang out because we all live in different parts of the country, to tell you the truth, but definitely, when we get together, I consider those guys friends. Well, Jack. Jack’s just Jack, man. He just a…

SMS: He’s phenomenal.

AA: He’s just a different cat, but he’s a good kid. I hope he continues to be made out of rubber because I’m just waiting for one of these times where he doesn’t get up, but somehow he always does.

SMS: How old is Jack?

AA: Jack’s got to be in that 22 range.

SMS: So give him about 3 more years until the knees start hurting and the back gets bad.

AA: I keep telling him “I did the same thing; you guys don’t know it because I was doing it in bars and armories and kind of under the radar.” I was taking those stupid bumps and popping up after all of them. After 25, it starts taking it’s toll a little bit, and you don’t pop up quite as quick. Then you hit 30, then 35, so looking back, when you start thinking about your arsenal of moves you don’t really think about the physical toll that your moves take on me personally.

SMS: It adds up.

AA: The 450 is fantastic, but that’s a lot of impact on my elbows and my knees as well as my opponent. When you have to pop that off to finish people off every match, after a while it takes it’s toll on me too. I can’t deal with his 630 and all his…he’s just, the kid’s insane. He’s got no fear.

SMS: He’s ridiculous.

AA: Hopefully, it doesn’t catch up to him.

SMS: No, I don’t either. I wish him nothing but the best, but every time he does something crazy like the Scramble Cage Melee, you’re just kind of “What the hell is he thinking?”

AA: Yeah, exactly.

SMS: “A double back flip?”

AA: Hey, you know what? If it wasn’t guys like him doing it, then maybe it would be Matthew. Luckily, he does it so I don’t have to.

SMS: (laughs)

AA: Thanks, Jack.

SMS: That’s a nice way to thank him. Other than AWA, was there anything else that you watched a lot of as a kid growing up? Was there any promotion you followed religiously?

AA: Just NWA, AWA, World Class. Those are the three I remember. I got some old CWA in my room. Kind of fuzzy, so I had to turn the tuner knob a little bit. The old Master of Pain, down there, a little Cactus Jack here and there. Not too much.

SMS: Very nice.

AA: Ron Fuller and the Stud Stable. I was drawn more to the dingy arena “wrasslin'” more than I was the WWE stuff. That was a little more over-the-top, a little more cartoon-y, and I kind of compare it to the Top 40 Pop Music, you know, “cater to the masses.” If you dig deep enough, just like in the music industry, you’ll find a lot of real talented and real passionate stuff underneath. That’s kind of what Ring of Honor is now, it’s that kind of underground wrestling that’s different than what’s on TV for the masses and it definitely has a fan base of people who appreciate it.

SMS: I agree with that wholeheartedly with that. It’s a nice alternative, and I like that every time I go to a show, I see more and more young kids or people that are in their twenties that are checking it out that are fans of wrestling. That’s important.

AA: I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think I’ve shown an ROH DVD to anyone I’ve met that used to be a wrestling fan or who watched wrestling, but didn’t like it that didn’t say “Man, that’s not like the stuff I see on TV. That’s all action. You’re really hitting each other.”

SMS: That’s wrestling.

AA: Yeah, exactly. That’s the wrestling that I remember, to some extent, but with the new, innovative moves and the style. It’s nice that we’re able to keep that alive because if we weren’t doing it, and other promotions were doing something similar, all people would think that professional wrestling is what Vince is putting out there.

SMS: Very cool and very true as well. It’s nice to have the alternative, even though they brought back the “technical” third-brand of ECW, it’s not what captured the fans’ interest from the middle-90s through 2001.

AA: It’s just too hard. ECW was about emotion and a feeling and an aura, and that’s not something you can re-create. The wrestlers actually created that atmosphere with their heart and their dedication what they were putting out there. Again, when you get into the big money in any field, you don’t necessarily have the people that are the most passionate. Some people are just there to make a buck.

SMS: Some of them just “phone it in.”

AA: We’re all trying to make a buck, but maybe some were never wrestling fans. Some maybe never had a passion for wrestling and this is just a way for them to make some good money. Nothing against them, but that does show through in your product. You’re not going to re-create ECW, but it’s good to give people alternatives. I enjoy a good vignette as much as anyone else, if it’s done well, and I enjoy certain things about the WWE brand of wrestling, and there are a lot of things I like about the more ROH type and different fields as well. It’s good to have alternatives for everyone.

SMS: Indeed.

AA: ROH provides one, and, hopefully, TNA can provide a third one. For everyone saying that wrestling’s kind of in a “down swing,” there’s a whole lot of wrestling on TV, so hopefully it will all “click” and vibe with the people so that the best stuff won’t be too far behind.

SMS: Well, WWE alone has 5 hours a week that’s on broadcast cable or television, and then they’ve got their web show. What gets me upset, not really mad upset, but just kind of disappointed is that I grew up at a time, obviously you and I are the same age, but we grew up at a time when there were so many alternatives, but it was regionally based. You could, say, live in the Mid West and catch a great match with Bruiser Brody from 5 years before or check out some great AWA grappling, and now what’s on TV is more of the entertainment aspect, and I think that’s why people are so passionate about Ring of Honor. While there can be emphasis on the DVDs and occasional in-ring stuff, most of the action is settled in the ring.

AA: Sure. The storylines are used to set up the matches to some extent, but the entertainment is in the match itself. It’s not in the promo to set up the match. You’ll get a three minute promo to set up a 25 minute match, not the other way around.

SMS: Which is unfortunate that in a large business situation, like, well, I will mention them again and then drop it, in the WWE, you’ll catch a guy that’s 22-years-old maybe getting pushed to the moon, but basically doesn’t have any of the promo skills that you learn over time and all he has is a “look.” While that may be marketable, as far as on camera, if they can’t put something in the ring that people can get behind and see is believable, you can’t really expect people to flock to it anymore.

AA: Sure. Really, a lot of what they are doing, because it’s a show more than it’s wrestling, you’re kind of asking guys to be actors, in some respects. That’s not what those guys are either.

SMS: And a lot of them aren’t even trained for it.

AA: No. They’re not necessarily put in an easy position either, but something’s working or they wouldn’t have such a stronghold on the business. There are reasons that they do things the way that they do. The Ring of Honor stuff is very physical, my body has definitely taken its tolls from the wars that I’ve had there, and I can get up and I can do that 3-4 times a month if I have to, but you’re asking these guys that are on the road 250-300 days a year to work that same kind of style.

SMS: Right.

AA: I just don’t think that’s plausible. You’re talking about big contracts and big money. You can’t afford to have your guys on the shelf, not competing. You can see the problems that they are having now, even with what people call a “toned down” style.

SMS: Even still, you’re still seeing the broken necks, the neck fusion surgery. That’s not supposed to happen until your 70s.

AA: If at all, exactly. These repetitive bumps and bruises, they add up…quickly.

SMS: You mentioned it for a second before, and I don’t want to keep you too much longer because, obviously, we are past our time and I appreciate you being so gracious with us.

AA: Sure. That’s no problem.

SMS: Is there any musically that you’ve been listening to lately that’s got you interested. You mentioned Pop 40 and the comparison that could be made to what’s on TV right now for wrestling, is there maybe anything that you’ve been listening to that’s a little off the radar?

AA: Not too much. I’m a big Black Label Society fan, but they’re sort of becoming a little better known in the main circles. I always encourage someone to go back and get some of their older albums too before their newer stuff. I’m a big fan of Zakk Wylde and those guys. Other than that…

SMS: Phenomenal guitar player.

AA: What’s that?

SMS: Phenomenal guitar player, one of the greatest ever.

AA: Oh, absolutely. I’ve been kind of lagging behind on the music lately. I’ve been so busy and traveled so much, that I haven’t really been able to pick up any new albums that I’ve been looking at. I’ve been cycling my own CDs in my car. I listen to a mix of a lot of different stuff: Led Zeppelin to Sean Paul to Space Hog to Black Label Society.

SMS: Zeno’s Revenge?

AA: Aw, no, we tried to bury all of those CDs where no one can find them.

SMS: I’m just glad I used a pseudonym. I know the feeling.

AA: What’s that?

SMS: It’s a phase where being in a band is a great idea and you go back about ten years later, and I’m looking at stuff I did, personally, when I was 16, 17…

AA: Right.

SMS: And I’m like, “what the f*ck was I thinking?”

AA: Yeah, yeah. I had a good time doing it. I just never got delusions of grandeur and thought it was anything more than it was.

SMS: You just did it for the fun of doing it?

AA: Yeah.

SMS: Any plugs you want to give, now that we’re closing stuff up?

AA: I guess, just check out my website, AustinAries.com. Go to ROHWrestling.com and find out where they’re going to be because it’s always some good wrestling action.

SMS: Obviously, you’ve got the two shows this weekend.

AA: Yeah, in Long Island and New Jersey (8/4 Lake Grove, LI; 8/5 Edison, NJ) anyone within a reasonable driving radius, I would encourage to go attend if you want to see some hard-hitting wrestling action. I guess I would amiss if I didn’t mention TNAWrestling.com as well.

SMS: Where we’re all looking forward to seeing you again very, very soon.

AA: Or a version OF me very, very soon.

SMS: (laugh)

AA: You’ll soon be introduced to the different faces of Austin, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

On behalf of myself and Inside Pulse, I’d like to thank Austin Aries for his time and the frank nature with which he approached the questions. For an MP3 of the full interview, click here.

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