I can’t keep up with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. But that’s not a bad thing.
I haven’t written much about the second biggest professional wrestling company in America because I can’t offer any information that can’t be found elsewhere.
With stars fleeing and financial woes crippling TV show Impact Wrestling, I relied upon TNA pioneer Christopher Daniels to reveal whether I should buy a ticket for TNA’s live event at Temple’s Liacouras Center on Dec. 27.
“We’re definitely not going to be done by December, for goodness’ sake,” Daniels said. “I think we’re going through some growing pains. We’re still trying to find our legs with being on the road. I don’t think there is trouble in the sense of imminent doom.”
Despite the distress reported on TNA’s fiscal structure, Daniels remains focused on improving his position within the promotion.
“I’m sorry to see some of the people who have left in the past couple months leave, but hopefully contract negotiations mean they’ll have a chance to come back,” Daniels said. “All I can really count on is me trying to stay relevant on the scene from now until my contract expires in the middle of next year, not that I’m counting the clock ticking. I’m just trying to stay entertaining on television for as long as I can.”
After two decades of moonsaulting around the globe, the “Fallen Angel” refuses to settle down.
“Honestly, I aimed for 20 years as a career goal,” Daniels said. “Now that I have reached it, I don’t see an end in sight. It’s hard to believe sometimes, but I’ve been fortunate to avoid big injury. I’ve kept myself in good shape and learned how to minimize the damage done from this wacky business. It’s just a matter of still having fun and doing it with a lot of my good friends.”
Although the “King of the Indies” headlined local shows with CM Punk and Daniel Bryan before they became mainstream superstars, Daniels never received an offer to work for World Wrestling Entertainment.
“It was OK because there are certain people that wrestle like me that WWE took a chance on and I just wasn’t one of those people,” Daniels said. “But I got the chance to work with Jeremy Borash and Bob Ryder, who were instrumental in getting TNA off the ground.”
As guest lecturer after guest lecturer stresses the importance of networking throughout the Temple community, I suggested the avid comic book fan should have geeked out with former WWE Senior Vice President of Creative Writing Brian Gerwitz, a fellow comic book buff who Daniels said he’s met a few times and “would be cool to talk comics” with.
Another former creative writer would most likely not be invited to discuss “X-Men”: Vince Russo.
“There was a time when he was pushing really hard for me to do something with Sting, and then somewhere along the way it fell apart and I never got a firm answer on why,” Daniels said. “In the past couple months, I guess in some interviews that [Russo] has done, he said that I cared more about wrestling good matches than having a character. I guess that was his reasoning for why I never got over in his eyes. I look at what I’m doing now and [Russo] isn’t there, so you tell me, was he right or was I right?”
Teaming with Frankie Kazarian to form the snarky Bad Influence, Daniels has participated in some hilarious and exciting moments, like the recent Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Organization’s Hall of Fame. Donning obnoxious baby blue and neon orange suits complete with top hats, the duo inducted Bobby Roode into their mock memorial via a hyperbolic sound bite-ridden tribute video, with various TNA talking heads ridiculously edited to compliment Roode.
“[Kazarian] and I have made a reputation of taking wacky things and making it entertaining,” Daniels said. “It’s funny to sort of surprise people with how we approach going out on stage and grabbing a microphone every week. This past year Bad Influence hasn’t been at the forefront of any storylines. We’ve just been in limbo doing good, entertaining stuff, but nothing to shine the spotlight on us specifically. Maybe being part of EGO is going to put us back at the top of the list of guys.”
Perhaps EGO will be the main event at TNA’s return to Temple – “Bound for Glory 2011” and “Lockdown 2009” were also held at the Liacouras Center. In addition to those shows, Daniels said he cherishes other Philly memories.
“I wrestled Rhino in the original [Extreme Championship Wrestling] Arena when it was his first television match as Rhino,” Daniels said. “I lived in Chicago, so ECW wasn’t available on TV but I got to see tapes. I was a big fan of Public Enemy and their wacky antics. Also, the first two or three years of Ring of Honor were incredible. I look back on the days of the Prophecy and the stuff I got to do with Samoa Joe, Donovan Morgan, Low Ki and American Dragon. The faces in the locker room may have changed, but 11 years later people look at ROH as the one of the top companies in this country.”
We’re not concerned about ROH. Can wrestling fans still perceive TNA as a top American company?
“The way the wrestling world works right now is to focus on what’s happening at WWE,” Daniels said. “If people are upset with that, they can watch TNA because we’re a big alternative. We have some of the most talented wrestlers in the world. If you’re a real wrestling fan, you can’t help but appreciate that sort of effort when you’re putting out a wrestling product.”
John Corrigan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.