In just over a weeks time, “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” will main event his first ever TNA PPV.
At Destination X, Austin Aries goes one on one with Bobby Roode with the TNA World Heavyweight Title on the line. Whilst Aries’ talents have never been called into question, few could have predicted his meteoric rise to the top of the card over the last twelve months (although, let’s be honest, we kind of did). Yet, through a combination of both hard work and determination, Austin Aries turned a one shot deal into a year long reign of awesomeness.
With his date with destiny looming, Aries took the time to talk to a select bunch of respected wrestling journalists (including our very own Chris Pilkington) about his upcoming title match, his TNA tenure and of course, his love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Good afternoon Austin, thank you for giving us your time today.
You’re very welcome. I know you were very excited, I saw your tweet!
Yes, very excited! So Austin, we know you are somebody who takes a lot of pride in performance, but what importance do you place on championships you’ve held in the past, or any championships you could hold in the future?
Not everybody is equipped to be a title holder or a champion, and I like to think that whatever belt I’ve held throughout my career I’ve carried professionally and with a certain amount of respect, so that people can look at it and think “alright, this title belt has worth, it has meaning.” And I’ve had some big shoes to fill in the past with belts that I’ve held from the people who’ve held them before me. All you can go out there and do is put your best foot forward and try to make sure that every time you walk out people feel like they’re going to see the main event. Hopefully we’re going to do that on July 8th with Bobby Roode at Destination X.
I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be in the main event against the World Heavyweight Champion… I think that belt has a lot of worth right now, I think the X Division title has a lot of worth, and it should be a great match. Hopefully the best man wins.
And on that note, if you were successful at Destination X, would you rather compete in X Division style matches as the champion or would you rather go against some of the larger athletes like Bully Ray or James Storm?
I’ve always felt comfortable that I could really face anybody in the ring, whether they work more of a cruiserweight or high-flying style or more a heavyweight, grounded style. I bring my own style; it’s a hybrid, it’s a mix. I can take to the air, I can do some of the quote unquote X Division style wrestling, but on the same token I think I can get in there with the Bully Rays (and I’ve proven that), the Samoa Joes and now Bobby Roodes and wrestle that style match too.
I’ve always been adamant against being pigeonholed into any one certain characteristic or type of wrestling. So if I win the world heavyweight title the matches are going to be wrestled as Austin Aries style matches which I think is a win-win for everybody.
Do you have any special preparation for a match of the magnitude of your contest with Bobby Roode?
Special preparations? I’m probably going to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a cup of coffee. For some reason that combination just does wonders for me. Something about the peanut butter and jelly and the coffee to wash it down, the flavours play off each other so nicely! I’ll probably hit the gym, probably get a good stretch, make sure I don’t pull anything, but probably nothing too special outside of that. I’ve been doing this a while so I kind of have a routine down. I just stick with it. The biggest thing, when you have a big encounter like this, it’s easy to get yourself too hyped too soon so the biggest thing is just to remain loose and just focus on what my job is.
The talented Mr Aries also fielded a wide range of topics during the hour-long press conference. Here are a few more highlights.
On maintaining the prestige of the X Division title: The championship’s only as important as the guy who holds it. I think for the X Division it’s all about having quality talent, and having enough that there’s competition. There’s a lot of hungry guys out there who have either been here once or have never been here that want a shot in the X Division. It’s just a matter of accumulating the talent and letting the talent compete. The cream usually rises to the top.
On the current state of Ring of Honor: Let’s just say that the people that originally had the vision and the passion for that company … once they left, things started to slowly change. And I think that the vision and the energy that was originally there, through the different transfers of power, is not what it was. If you look at the talent roster during it’s best periods, you’re going to go back and look, shake your head and go “wow, there was a lot of talent there at one time!” That energy, that vision and that passion…that’s what really separated Ring of Honor from other companies at the time and I’m not sure that still exists.
On potential opponents from outside of TNA: The guys that come to my mind are guys I’m familiar with, Rhett Titus and Kenny King who I think are a great tag team and they’ve worked extremely hard to get to the point that they are at. Obviously I trained Rhett so I have a little favouritism there! And another one of my trainees Grizzly Redwood I think would be a great addition to any wrestling roster. He’s a unique character who fills a role that not many can in the business and is a quality person who is also a hard worker. Those are the guys I would go to bat for because I think they have something to offer not only in the ring but in the locker room.
On his defining TNA moments: Securing that contract was a big moment for me. When I came back in the tournament that lead to the contract match at Destination X there were no guarantees and no promises. Basically I was given an opportunity and what I did with that was up to me. Securing the contract and a few months later winning the X Division championship were two big moments that stand out. When I’m main eventing against Bobby Roode for the World Heavyweight Championship, I think that moment is going to take the top spot as far as memorable moments and accomplishments so far in this company.
On working with Hulk Hogan and Sting: It can be surreal at times if you let that inner child think about it. I mentioned to a friend last week that my ten year old self would be giddy about the fact that Hulk Hogan is telling me how great I am in the middle of a wrestling ring. If you told me that when I was reading the news magazines at the grocery store when I was ten I wouldn’t have believed it. Guys like Sting, Hogan and Kurt Angle have accomplished so much in this business, they’re so well respected that when you get compliments from them it holds a lot more weight than when it comes from a lot of other people.
On doing more shows and PPV’s overseas: I think it’s something that’s been discussed internally; I think it’s something we’d all like to do. The fan base in England when we were there for our live show was pretty amazing. When you go to places that aren’t oversaturated with wrestling they really appreciate when you come to town, and as part of our growth it’s definitely something we’re going to want to explore. When the business plan makes sense I think it’s definitely something we should do.
On what he’s most looking forward to at Destination X: Probably my match. Other than my match I’d probably say … my match!
’The Greatest Man That Ever Lives’ Austin Aries faces off against ‘The It Factor of Professional Wrestling’ Bobby Roode for the TNA World Heavyweight title at Destination X on Sunday 8th July in Orlando, Florida. The show will be broadcast in the UK on Challenge TV on Wednesday July 11th at 10pm. For latest news and match information, visit DestinationXPPV.com.
This article was written by Chris Pilkington.