Christopher Daniels returned to TNA last month and is performing under that name in the company for the first time since 2007. Of course, as Daniels mouthed on Impact in his first appearance back, he “never left.” Daniels will face X Division champion Suicide tonight on the Sacrifice pay-per-view.
I conducted a phone interview with Daniels earlier this week.
How does it feel wrestling again as a character that TNA fans haven’t seen in a while?
It’s awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to come back, as far as being picked by Jeff to be part of Team Jarrett at Lockdown, and wrestling Kurt Angle in my first match back on Impact. That was a big deal to me, and I felt like, coming back and wrestling the match that I did, it proved to me and the wrestling fans that I’m still one of the best in the world. And that’s all I really wanted, was a chance to prove myself. And if I came in and I failed, then I would have no one to blame but myself. But I came in and I wrestled Kurt and I thought I had a really good match, and then I went on to Lockdown and our team won. I felt like, being back and wrestling at that level, I kind of reaffirmed my position in TNA. It was a high pressure situation for me, but I feel like one of the things I do well is respond to that pressure. They put me in that position – they gave me the ball and I felt like I ran with it. Now it’s just a matter of onward and upward for me.
I don’t recall you ever being in the ring with Angle before that match. Is that right?
I wrestled him one time in 2001 on a UPW show. This was right after I got let go by WCW and it was right after he got badly injured when he was wrestling a three-way with Triple H and somebody – I can’t recall who. He had a couple concussions back to back and I wrestled him in that period of time. But, yeah, eight years later – the rematch. I’ve been looking forward to wrestling him ever since he got into TNA in 2006, so it was a long time coming and I was really thrilled with how it came down.
Looking back at the Lethal Lockdown match at the Lockdown pay-per-view, what did you think of the crazy spot A.J. Styles did when he dove through the cage roof?
I was worried a little bit because it looked like he hit really, really hard, but I knew that he was OK. He wouldn’t do anything that he didn’t think he could pull off. We both laugh because when these things come around, it’s usually one of us that is thinking of doing the high-risk stuff. So, I knew that he’d be OK. It was just that split second of, “Oh my gosh,” and then back to the match.
Suicide pulled off a pretty big high-risk maneuver that night as well when he dove off the top of the cage onto the floor.
Yeah, he’s a bit crazy. He’s a well-named character. I don’t know if I could have done that, so I give him credit.
I didn’t know if you saw that move or not because they cut right to the back after the match for an interview with you.
I saw the tape afterwards, and, yeah, that was a good little match. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to work with that guy.
So what’s the deal with your name? Are you simply Daniels now? Is that a copyright thing or what?
No, it’s not a copyright thing. It’s just the direction they want to go in. The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever they call me, I’m still that guy. I’m the guy that held the X Division title longer than anyone else, won more Ultimate X matches than anyone else, nine times I’ve held titles in TNA – looking for No. 10 coming up. So it doesn’t matter to me what they call me. Whatever they decide, people are going to know that I’m going to go out there and give it 110 percent.
Like most wrestlers, you’ve gone back and forth between babyface and heel. Are you happy with where your character is at right now?
Yeah, I feel like this is the spot for me right now and I’m happy with it. I’m just going with the flow. I’m trying to go out there and just do what I do best, which is wrestle. I’m fortunate enough to be in the position I’m in to be wrestling some of the better wrestlers in the world today. Just being in the company of guys like Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Jay Lethal, Consequences Creed, Kurt Angle, Booker T., Scott Steiner [Samoa] Joe, A.J., and to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys is a big deal. It’s something that I have to maintain to stay at that level and be part of that crew. It’s a challenge, but I look forward to that challenge.
TNA has a lot of good young talent on its roster, but also a lot of big-name veterans. Do you think the time is right to make some of the younger guys in TNA the featured performers?
I think the best thing to do is to put the guys that are TNA Originals in the ring with guys like Angle, Booker and The Dudleys. The more we mix and match, the more that we’re all looked at in the same light. I want to compete in the X Division, but I also want to wrestle against Team 3D. I want to wrestle against Kurt Angle, and Booker T., and Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner. I especially want to work with Sting again. In my case, I feel like the more I am looked upon as a well-rounded athlete and a guy that can get in there with the heavyweights, get in with the X Division guys, the higher profile I’m going to have. My goal is to wrestle anyone and everyone that our company has on the roster and prove to the world that I can hang with them, and more than hang with them – excel with them.
What do you see as your role in the locker room? You’re sort of in the middle, meaning that you’re not a young guy just starting out, but you don’t have as many years in as several other guys in TNA.
I actually had this discussion with Brother Ray. I couldn’t think of another guy in the position I’m in. To the younger guys, I’m looked at like a veteran, but to guys like Sting, Booker T. and Team 3D, I’m looked at almost like a young guy coming up. There are probably not five guys in the industry that you could name that are in that position. It’s sometimes tough because sometimes the younger guys come to me for advice and my knowledge, and at the same time, I go to guys like B.G James and Kip James and those guys who have had experience at that high level, and I’m always looking for advice to make myself better. I know there are things that I need to learn even after 16 years in the business. So when I go to guys like Terry Taylor, or Dutch Mantel, or Jeff, I’m looking for ways to make Christopher Daniels a better wrestler and a better commodity for TNA. I feel like being the guy that can give advice and still take advice, I’m helping the company and I’m also helping myself in trying to get better.
What are your thoughts about the upcoming Sacrifice pay-per-view?
Suicide owes me one, and I’m going to see if I can collect on that at the pay-per-view. It’s going to be a test for me and I’m looking forward to it. With the momentum that [TNA] has in terms of ratings, we have a fire built underneath us and we’re just cooking right now. So I think right now is the time to watch TNA, not just for guys like Mick [Foley] and Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle, but also for guys like Lethal Consequences, The Guns and Suicide. Everybody’s at 110 percent right now. Everybody’s got their eyes set on the goal, and we’re always trying to take a step forward and a step up. You don’t want to miss even an episode of our show or a pay-per-view, because you never know when the next match is going to come around.