The last time we spoke, pro wrestler Chris Daniels was in Chicago as a part of the Ring of Honor promotion. We talked about wrestling, comic-books and whether he was a geek or a nerd. But that was over 2 years ago, and now Daniels is back as a member of TNA Wrestling, the Nashville-based promotion that some will say is the remaining major competition to the WWE. The company earns the distinction by boasting a roster with names like Hulk Hogan, Kurt Angle and "The Icon" Sting.
TNA is bringing its brand of wrestling to the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates on Thursday, March 14th, for a live broadcast of IMPACT WRESTLING LIVE, and Chris Daniels will be there as one-half of the "Best Tag Team in the Biz-Ness". Whether he and his tag-team partner Frankie Kazarian will be appearing as TNA Tag Team champions will depend on the results of the triple threat match that they'll competing in at the LOCKDOWN PPV on Sunday, March 10th in San Antonio, TX. They'll be facing off against current champs Bobby Roode & Austin Aries and fellow challengers Hernandez & Chavo Guerrero for the belts.
In advance of his return, I spoke with Daniels from his home in California. This time we talked about the challenges TNA has competing with the WWE; what it's like to work with names like Hulk Hogan and Kurt Angle; and what advice he has for young athletes who want to pursue a career in pro wrestling:
Geek To Me: How have you been?
Chris Daniels: I’ve been great man. Living the dream, like many of us. The success of TNA, of Impact Wrestling, is our success. All is well right now.
Geek To Me: The last time I had a chance to talk to you guys was a while back, for Bound for Glory...
Chris Daniels: It’s been a long time since we’ve been back up in the Midwest, unfortunately, the Chicago area.
Geek To Me: What took you guys so long? Come on!
Chris Daniels: It wasn’t up to me man. If it was I would have been there a lot longer. I’ve got ties in Chicago. I was trained there. I’ve got a lot of family and friends. One of my favorite comic book shops, Challengers, is in Chicago. And I don’t get a chance to visit them as much as I should because of the schedule. Now that we’re coming out to Chicago on the 14th, all those birds are going to be killed with one stone.
Geek To Me: Cool. There are two big things, coming up. The return of TNA to Chicago and you’ve got a match coming up at Lockdown, right?
Chris Daniels: March 10th is Lockdown in San Antonio. As you know, myself and Frankie Kazarian, we are the "Best Tag Team in the Biz-Ness", we’re deep in the hunt for the World Tag Team Championship, being held by Bobby Roode and Austin Aries. And hopefully, when they announce who the #1 Contenders are for those belts, it’ll be myself and Francois. Hopefully we’ll be wrestling for the tag titles at Lockdown. (Note: the match was annnounced after our interview - Elliott)
Geek To Me: You’ve been a singles competitor, and a tag team partner. What are some of the challenges in working in each category, you would say?
Chris Daniels: Well, I feel that most of my success comes, as a singles wrestler, because you only have yourself to blame - and yourself to credit - when you succeed you’re your biggest supporter and when you fail you’re the reason.
But, the truth of the matter is, I’ve also been very successful in tag teams because my mentality is - if you as an individual can put the team ahead of the one - the needs of the individual - that’s the key to succeed.
And I’ve been very fortunate to find someone who is like-minded like myself in Frankie, who understands that if we put all of our efforts into making the team the #1 priority, we’ll get success. We’ve been very fortunate in the last year and a half to sort of rise to prominence in TNA - and professional wrestling - as a duo. We’ve brought a lot of eyes back to TNA - and a lot of attention back to the tag team scene, with our success.
Geek To Me: TNA also has the challenge of distinguishing itself as a brand. Everyone knows about the superpower that is the WWE. You also have the indie scene (ROH, Chikara, Windy City Pro). TNA straddles the two worlds there. What do you think are some of the challenges that TNA faces to make itself a distinguished brand, that can compete with the WWE?
Chris Daniels: Well I think a lot of it has to do with just awareness of the brand, like you said. So many people, especially lapsed wrestling fans from the boom back in the late 90’s - early 2000’s, a lot of wrestling fans sort of went away. And they aren’t really aware that there is another brand now, now that WCW closed and ECW closed. A lot of people went away right after that, and they’re not really aware that there’s another brand out, other than the WWE, just sort of enjoy professional wrestling.