Two weeks ago, Christopher Daniels, one of the wrestlers most-associated with TNA, announced that he had parted ways with the company. I had a chance to talk to him about his release, what his future looks like, as well as a side-project he's doing in the comic book world.
Ring Posts: Two weeks ago, you announced on your Twitter page that you were officially a free agent. What's it been like for you since then, to not be contracted by TNA?
Christopher Daniels: You know, it really hasn't hit me yet. I've got my schedule filling up with independent dates and other things. I guess they had figured by June that I'd be free to go. Yeah man, it is what it is.
When did you realize that your contract wasn't going to be renewed?
I didn't know until the day they told me. I went in to speak with TNA officials the last booking that I had, which was a taping of one of the One Night Only pay-per-views, on April 12. That was when I found out. I didn't know before then. I kind of assumed, because Frankie [Kazarian] and I were still an entertaining tag team and our wrestling spoke for itself, I thought they were going to renew, but I was wrong.
Had you been in negotiations with them for the past few months, or was it pretty much that they just told you it wasn't going to be renewed?
I talked to them for the first time at Lockdown, and they told me that they wanted to speak to me face to face. I was then off television for a month, so the next time I got to talk to them was at that One Night Only pay-per-view. So I had no idea until then.
Did they give you any reasoning, whether it was financial or otherwise?
They pretty much just told me that they were going in a different directions with different people.
How disappointing was that for you?
Obviously it was disappointing. I wasn't expecting that. I knew we hadn't been on television for a while, but I figured that at some point it was going to come back around and we were going to get an opportunity to shine again. And that didn't happen.
Do you think there's a chance they might bring you back at some point, or was that door left open?
The way it was explained to me, they said they wanted to leave the door open to do stuff in the future. But at this point, they couldn't continue to keep me under contract if they weren't going to use me as regularly as that. Who knows what will happen in the future? I'm not sure what their plans are. I had hoped there was going to be an opportunity for me and Frankie to wrestle the Wolves in a longer program, but that's obviously not TNA's priority at this point.
You are the latest in a string of high-profile releases for TNA. AJ Styles was released a few months ago, as well as Sting and some others. In your point of view, what's going on in TNA right now that so many people are getting released?
That's a question you're going to need to ask TNA, man. I couldn't tell you the answer.
You and AJ were two of the pillars of TNA as it was becoming a bigger company. Did you ever think you'd see the day where both of you were not a part of it anymore?
No, man, I was really surprised when AJ left. I always figured that him and TNA were going to come to terms, but it didn't work out that way. He ended up with Ring of Honor and New Japan, and he's doing well, but that was surprising at the time, and now I'm gone too.
What has the morale in the locker room there been like for the past few months?
It's sort of a “wait-and-see” approach there, man. Every company makes decisions that may or may not be popular with the locker room, but you have to see how it turns out. And I think that's what everyone is doing, waiting to see how everything lands and continue to put out the best product that they can once they see the lay of the land.
So what's next for you? The last time your contract ran out at TNA, in 2010, you went back to Ring of Honor. Is that a possibility for you this time around?
It's certainly possible. I have a good relationship with Ring of Honor. It just depends on the timing and the opportunity. Nothing has been negotiated or hammered out yet. That's to be seen.
Is it a situation where you'd like to get under contract to one company, or would you like to have the freedom to go do what you'd want on your own schedule?
I really don't have a preference. I just want to continue to work, whether that's on the independent scene or with one company. I'm fine either way. It's just a matter of going out and finding the work and going out and working at a top level. If it's with one company, that's great. But if it's just making the rounds on the independent circuit, then I'm fine with that.
A few weeks ago, Jeff Jarrett announced that he's starting his new company, Global Force Wrestling. What were your thoughts on that, and is GFW something that's on your radar now?
I figure that anything that Jeff puts his mind to when it comes to creating a promotion has the potential to be very formidable in terms of the landscape of pro wrestling. Just look what he did with TNA. If he has the right people behind him when it comes to finances, then Jeff is creative enough to make something happen. So it's definitely on my radar, just like I think it's on everyone's radar at this point. Everyone's just waiting to see exactly what Global Force Wrestling is going to be. We have to see where it is, what it is, and who is going to be involved. Jeff is starting to answer slowly but surely.
A lot of wrestling fans believed that you have been misused to a degree while you were in TNA. Do you feel that's a fair critique at all?
Yeah, I feel like they could have done a little more with us as a tag team. I think Frankie and I committed to the tag team hoping that they would get on board with us as the top tag team in their company. And I feel that the fan base recognized that we were a top team there. We were really never used in that fashion. But that's not a decision that I'm allowed to make. They have their reasons for booking us in the way that they did.
You two always looked like you were having a ton of fun with that gimmick, and I know that you guys are continuing to take independent bookings together. Is this one of the more fun gimmicks that you've done as a wrestler?
Absolutely. We're definitely having a lot of fun with this, and we're hoping to continue to do so wherever we take bookings. We've been fortunate enough to become a commodity I think. There aren't really a whole lot of tag teams on the independent scene, at least that's what promoters are telling me and that works in our favor. There are a lot of fresh match-ups on the independent scene. I'm looking forward to that. And no matter where we end up, Frankie and I, we're going to go out and have fun and continue to entertain the way we did in TNA.
Would you say that's your main focus, getting bookings as a tag team?
I don't have a preference. I understand sometimes it's hard to book a tag team as a tag team. So I'm happy to work in singles, but I still think there's a lot there for Frankie and myself, as Bad Influence, wherever we go. It really is at the leisure of the promoter. We're ready to work and we're going to do it.
While you made that negative announcement, it wasn't totally a bad day because on that same day, you had your first comic book published. How did that come about?
The creaters of Aww Yeah Comics, Art Baltazar and Franco [Aureliani], they're wrestling fans from way back. I met them at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011. It wasn't until last year that they started their own company called Aw Yeah Comics. They had done stuff in the past for DC Comics. They're very well-known and well-respected in the comic scene. I just had a whim one day to write a story with Frankie and myself interacting with the characters of Aw Yeah Comics. I just sent a completely unsolicited script to Art, asking if he'd be interested in making a comic book out of it. He actually did it. He was really excited about it. Everyone at Aw Yeah Comics were really excited by the concept, and they were really happy with the project and so am I.
So is this going to be a one-time thing, or is it going to be a regular thing that you'll work with them?
The one that just came out is a one-shot, it's a single issue. I've started working on a sequel for it, and depending on Art's schedule, it may come out in the summertime. But it depends, Art is so busy right now. They have a lot of their plate right now. When the time is available, I know that Art is interested in doing another, it just depends on getting the schedule down and figure out what's the best time to get into this particular book.
So I know you're a big comic book fan. How long have you been a fan?
I've been a comic book fan since I was probably a toddler. I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading comics. I've been an avid collector probably since around 7th grade and I've been collecting ever since. So yeah, I'm a big comic book guy. I'm very vocal about it in terms of trying to get comic book references out there on TV. I was wearing all sorts of comic book shirts on Impact for the last year and a half. And the next big step in being a comic book fan is writing your own comic I think.
Are you kind of an outlier in the locker room as a comic book fan, or is there a pretty big group of you guys?
There's definitely a big group of us. I'm probably the one that's the most vocal about it, but there was a lot of us in the Impact locker room. I'm a big Marvel guy and I was trying to get the guys in the locker room into Marvel stuff. I was constantly spreading the news about the various issues that were coming out. So there's a lot of us that are readers.
Who were some of the people in that group?
Gunner was a big one. Eric Young was another. Frankie obviously is a big fan. Samoa Joe as well. There are a lot of guys backstage that follow one or two stories, or maybe more than that.
Would you say there's a comparison between the comic book world and the wrestling world?
Absolutely. Both have larger-than-life personalities and there's a continuing story all year round both in wrestling and comic books. At the heart of it, we're all telling stories of good vs. evil, and all of us fighting for what we believe in and what we want, and that's the same thing that's going on in comics.
Is this the only thing you're looking at outside of wrestling, or do you have some other things coming down the road for you?
Nothing that I can comment on right now. There are always the different avenues everyone looks down. I live out in California, so there are always the acting opportunities coming my way. It's just a matter of sitting down and figuring out what's the best fit for me, and then going out and doing the auditions.
While you are still considered to be one of the best in-ring guys in the business, you are in your mid-40s. Are you still solely focused on wrestling, or are you starting to think at all about your life after the business with some of these opportunities?
I'm still solely focused on wrestling. I'm still doing good work, and I can compete at a top level. I'm not looking to wind down any time soon.
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