This Sunday at TNA's Bound For Glory pay-per-view event, tag champs Christopher Daniels and Kazarian will defend in a triple threat match against AJ Styles & Kurt Angle, and Chavo Guerrero Jr. & Hernandez.
"The Fallen Angel" -- approaching 20 years in the pro wrestling game -- has had a very interesting road in the business. My colleague Jimi Kee and I had a chance to speak with Daniels:
I know you have a busy weekend ahead, so let’s get right into it.
I’m actually packing for this weekend you’re talking about, sir. It is a busy weekend and I appreciate your forthrightness, so let’s get to it!
Can you tell us a little bit about how you began your career in professional wrestling?
I was born a small child on a sharecropper’s farm in North Carolina…that’s not true. Actually I grew up in North Carolina, and I was a big fan of the Mid-Atlantic promotion; I grew up watching guys like Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors, you know, watching actual wrestling happen. And then fast forward to after I graduated college, I lived in Chicago and I always joked with my girlfriend at the time that if this acting thing, which is what I got my degree in college in, I could always be a professional wrestler. Well she found a school in Chicago, Windy City Pro Wrestling, she found the school, made the appointment for me to meet the owner, his name was Sam DeCero, and I went in and talked to him for a short bit of time and my wife says I came out with stars in my eyes. She said I was hypnotized and I decided I was going to give it a shot. I felt like if I went to that wrestling school and failed, at least I could tell my kids, “Hey guys I tried this for a short period of time, it didn’t work out.” But as it happened, because I was such a fan way back in the day, I had a really good frame of reference for my training. I started my training in January of 1993, I had my first match in April of 1993 and the rest is history.
You were a prominent figure in the beginning of the ‘X Division’ in TNA. What made that division special then and where do you see it going now?
Well I think that at the time there wasn’t anything like the ‘X Division’ on television. You just had ECW and WCW sort of close down in the last year or two before TNA came to prominence. And so WCW and ECW, those were the places where you would see guys like Taka Michinoku or Rey Mysterio, Psicosis, or the cruiserweights from WCW; that is where you saw that fast-paced hybrid of Japanese style and Mexican style of Lucha Libre. Once those two companies closed, there wasn’t really an outlet for that style, that fast-paced athletic style. And so, when TNA came around at the middle of 2002, they put emphasis on guys like Low-Ki and Jerry Lynn and A.J. Styles and the Amazing Red. It was different from what you were seeing in the WWE at that time. That was the main difference and because TNA was sort of marketed as the alternative to the WWE, you actually saw the difference in the style of WWE and the style of the ‘X Division’ wrestlers. And now, 10 years later, you’ve got guys like Zema Ion, guys like Doug Williams, guys like Sonjay Dutt, Kenny King, Mason Andrews. ... You’ve got guys that are trying to carry the torch that A.J. lit, that Jerry Lynn lit back in 2002, and these guys are trying to make their name and still trying to push the envelope as far as what constitutes an ‘X Division’ style, that hybrid style that I talked about. ... That Japanese, Mexican, high-flying, high-athletic, high-energy style.”
You mention A.J. Styles. You guys have had a storied history in TNA. What is it about the two of you that makes you both gravitate towards each other in the business?