A mainstay of TNA’s X-Division, Daniels captured the X-Title from AJ Styles in March last year, during one of TNA’s most high-risk matches, the Ultimate-X, at Destination X.
He has also held titles in many promotions across North America, including Ring Of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrillas, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest independent wrestlers in the world.
Chris spoke to Kirsty about his hopes for the future of TNA and the X-Division, his thoughts on Sting joining TNA, his legendary feud with AJ Styles and his upcoming X-Title match at Final Resolution on Monday.
Since the inception of TNA, the X-Division has been a unique addition to the professional wrestling landscape. Joining me today is one of the most exciting and innovative stars of this division. He is the Fallen Angel, Christopher Daniels.
Kirsty Quested: Chris, how are you?
Christopher Daniels: I’m doing great.
First of all, congratulations of the birth of your son in October.
Oh, thank you very much.
I have to ask, have you had to transfer any of that cat-like in-ring skill into avoiding getting peed on while you’re changing diapers?
Hahahah! I’ve avoided it so far. I don’t know if I’ll avoid it forever but so far I’ve been very lucky.
Chris, you’ve wrestled for many independent promotions, as well as brief stints with WWE, ECW and WCW, but you’ve often said that your loyalty to the company is the one that gives you opportunities, until they give you a reason not to.
Is TNA that company for you, and do you feel as if you’ve hit your stride there?
Oh definitely. Yeah, they’re definitely the company I’m going to stick with, you know they’ve given me the opportunity, they’ve given me the ball…
[Kirsty apologises here for not turning off her mobile. That was it you heard beeping]
… to run with it, and so far I feel like I’ve proven their loyalty correct. So yeah, right now I feel like I’m hitting my stride, everything’s kind of going our way at TNA, so I’m with them for the long haul.
Take us back to the Six Sides Of Steel at Turning Point in 2004. What was going through your mind as Elix Skipper was balancing on top of that cage?
Um, really, don’t fall. That was the gist of it all. That was a big night for us, I mean the fact that they gave us the opportunity to main-event the pay-per-view. You know, it was a chance for all four of us to go out there and show that we deserved to be main event players. And I felt like we proved it that night. Yeah, and there was a lot of pressure, you know so many things can go wrong inside a steel cage match, and especially that particular thing that you’re talking about with Elix, but we came out of it pretty unscathed, compared to how it could have gone.
You’ve had some outstanding matches in the X-Division. The 3-way against AJ Styles and Samoa Joe at Unbreakable was truly amazing.
Oh, thank you.
What were your thoughts on that match, looking back on it?
Well, I just felt like it was another opportunity to show that I could main-event a pay-per-view. It’s the first time in our history, or at least in TNA’s history, that the X-Division main-evented a pay-per-view, and we went out there, the three of us showed that the X-Division certainly has the right to be the main event on any given night, so it meant a lot. That day, it gave us that opportunity, and I felt like, again, we proved that in giving us an opportunity, we showed them that they were right in doing so.
The reputation of the X-Division continues to grow. Do you think that it has a solid future in the business?
Oh, definitely, definitely. I think that guys like myself and Joe and AJ, and then the guys coming up like Alex Shelley and Austin Aries, we’ve got a lot to prove, we’ve got a lot to offer professional wrestling, and it’s just a matter of the management giving us the opportunity, and so far that’s what TNA’s done.
You’ve worked with AJ Styles in all sorts of matches. How do the two of you keep it fresh after working together for so long?
Well it’s just a matter of taking what we’ve done, and trying to add to it, or just trying to flip it around a little bit, just trying to do different stuff. But when you get a guy that’s got, when you get a guy like AJ and chemistry like he and I have, it’s pretty easy. And it’s fun to do, it’s always fun to work with AJ.
What are your thoughts on TNA taking iMPACT! on the road sometime, and doing house shows?
Yeah, that’s the plan, I mean that’s our hope. Once we feel like the television has kind of yielded an audience for a house show tour, that’s the plan. So I’m looking forward to it, that’s kind of like the next step I think.
Yeah… you said that you’re looking forward to it, but you’ve said a few times before that one of the things you love about being in TNA is the schedule is not as relentless, and it means that you can stay at home with your family more. Do you think that’s going to put more pressure on you, if they do take iMPACT! on the road?
Um… no I don’t think necessarily that it will, I just think it’s a matter of, instead of all the independent work that I do, I’ll end up just doing a lot more for TNA. Which is fine. I mean, right now I feel like independent shows that I do are my house shows, and it’s a chance to kind of, keep my skills sharp, you know, going out there and working every week as often as I do, so if it turns out where on the weekends I’m working for TNA rather than for independents, it’s still me working, and you know I still get to come home and spend a substantial amount of time with my family, so it’s not a problem to me.
What other independent promotions have you been spending time with?
Well, Ring of Honor is first and foremost, just because their schedule’s pretty heavy. But I’ve also done a lot for Pro Wrestling Guerrillas out in California. I just did a weekend for One-PW in England, I’ve done stuff for the IWC that’s based out of Pittsburgh, I’ve done a lot of stuff with Jim Kettner’s ECWA, so it’s just a matter of kind of, working where I’m wanted, you know?
Have you been back over to Japan, to do New Japan wrestling?
Ah, no I haven’t done, the last thing I did, I went over in November for Zero-One. I haven’t returned to New Japan for about a year and a half, but with the relationship between TNA and New Japan I hope that that will change soon.
Yeah… you said that you were still working with Ring of Honor, but you had mentioned before that you were put in a position a while back where you had to make a choice in terms of that promotion. How has that affected your relationship with them?
Well, they understood where I was coming from, I mean I really had to choose between… the thing was they knew that I was getting more work, and a good chunk of my income from TNA, and they knew that if I had the choice I would have rather done both, but that wasn’t my choice. It was something that I was kind of forced into. And I always kept in touch with Gabe and the Ring of Honor office, while I was kind of exiled from there, and I always supported them from afar. So, you know, once the opportunity came back to return, it was very… I was welcomed back, pretty much with open arms.
Tell us about the One Act Plays on your website.
Oh, unfortunately I don’t get a chance to do it as much as I’d wanted to now, or as I used to, but that was just funny anecdotes that happened to me on the road, with different wrestlers and I just thought it’d be fun to share those with the fans that were supporting my website.
“And The Cow Goes” is hysterical.
Did Ikuto Hidaka go around saying “meow” after the end of every sentence?
He still does! He still does, off and on.
[The One Act Plays on Chris’s website are worth a read, check them out]
Our Editor, last year interviewed Raven. And Raven mentioned that he thought you should be working right now as a babyface. What are your thoughts on the way that your character’s headed right now?
Well, they basically did just turn me babyface in the last month and a half, so um… I mean right now, it’s been a while since I worked as a babyface so I’m not as comfortable with it as I was, but I’m 100% committed to trying to make it work, and I think TNA is giving me the opportunity to make it work, so I’m happy with it, I think it’s going to do… I think there are a lot of different opportunities for me as a babyface, and I think that that’s the main thing, is go and take advantage of the opportunities as they present themselves.
How would you perceive the fans’ reaction now that you’ve turned? Are you finding that you’re getting a different reaction from them now?
Um, I think more enthusiastic. I mean, when I was working as a heel I tried very hard to not elicit a positive response, and a lot of times I still got it, but now that I’m kind of looking for it and the fans kind of realise that I am, it’s a little bit more enthusiastic, like sometimes it was a little understated when I was doing what I thought was, you know, evil bad things, and I would still get a positive response, but now that I’m doing, kind of, now that I’m on the straight and narrow, I’m getting a much more enthusiastic response for it.
You’re going into Final Resolution against Samoa Joe, this will be one of your first big pay-per-views as a babyface; we’ve heard that he has suffered an injury, how’s that going to impact on your match with him at Final Resolution?
Well, I’m not really sure, I guess I’ll find out when I get into the ring, but you know, I’m going to take any advantage that I can to try and win the match, so if I can figure out where exactly he’s hurt I’ll probably concentrate my attack on where it is, but I’ve already got kind of a good game plan in my head, so I’m not sure if this will affect it or if I’ll even deal with it.
Are you looking forward to working more frequently with Joe in the future?
Oh definitely. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of spotlight right now on Samoa Joe, he’s kind of shaking up the X-Division, and I think that the guy who finally ends the winning streak of Samoa Joe, that’s going to be a pretty hefty feather in his cap. And that’s what I’m looking to do this Sunday.
Is he still going around telling people that you were in Spiderman? Are you still signing Spiderman DVD’s?
Hahahhahaha! A lot less frequently now, I think that that rumour has come and gone, it’s had its day in the sun.
You’ve mentioned that your idol is Shawn Michaels, and that you’d love to step into the ring with him. Is there anyone else that you’d love to face, that you haven’t yet?
Yeah, I think another guy I really respected as far as his work and his character goes is Chris Jericho. When he was with WWE I felt like he was a perfect blend of character and talent. And he really could get across his personality when he was on a microphone, and when it came time to get in the ring and perform, he did it as good as anybody, so I really, if I ever had the opportunity to work with him I think that would be a big thing for me.
I’ve just been part of a press conference with Sting. And he mentioned that when he saw the X-Division he almost backed out, thought he couldn’t do it anymore.
What are your thoughts on Sting coming into TNA, what kind of impact do you think it’ll have?
Well, I think it’s going to get a lot of people who might’ve walked away from professional wrestling in the last couple of years, it might entice them to just take a look and see what we’re all about. And my opinion is, once new fans take a look at what we got going on, they’re going to stay with us. Once they realise it’s not exactly what the WWE is offering, when they see that we’re truly an alternative, we’ll get a lot more people to kind of stick around and kind of stick with us, and hopefully that’s what Sting’ll bring to the table, that name recognition, just to get, you know if we can get the fans involved through him, I think it’ll benefit TNA as a whole.
Do you think Christian’s had that kind of impact since he came on board with TNA, having consciously made the jump from WWE to TNA?
I think so, I think so. But I think that Sting will have more of an impact, even though he’s been away from, I think the fact that he’s been away from the business for such a long time, it just kind of increases the anticipation to see him return… yeah, it’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges, Christian was kind of high-profile up until when he left WWE, but Sting being gone for so long, I think it’s just a different question of how he’s going to perform, so…
You’ve had all sorts of classic matches all over the world. What are some that really stand out in your memory?
Well, a lot of the stuff that I’ve done with AJ stands out in my memory, just because I’ve done so much of it… this last March in England, when we did the International Showdown show, that match stuck out because it was my first title defense for the X-Division title, and England has always been a very hospitable environment for both me and AJ, so it was a strong night for us. And then that 3-way that you just mentioned, the match with Joe and AJ, you know that it was the first time that the X-Division title main-evented for TNA on the 3-hour pay-per-view, that meant a lot to me. So those two stick out first and foremost right now.
Well the Unbreakable match… I think that meant a lot to all the fans as well, there were people going around saying “this is one match you really have to see to believe” and they were right, yeah.
Well, I think the X-Division title, being like the first major singles title that I’ve held, that definitely stands out in my mind. You know, hopefully it won’t be the last time that I hold that championship, so that’s kind of the pinnacle for me, I mean the X-Division being the thing that kind of brought TNA the most exposure, and to hold the championship longer than anyone else in the company, you know it meant a lot to me and it’s certainly something I’m very proud of.
Are you still looking for movies to watch with your daughter? Are you still watching them with her?
Yeah, she’s kind of entranced with Willy Wonka now. She’s watching a lot of the musical numbers in Willy Wonka. She doesn’t much care for the story, but she likes the music.
Is this the old one?
No, well, a little bit of both. The Johnny Depp version is what started her, but now she likes the part where Violet Beauregard turns into a blueberry, and she likes it on both versions. So either one is one I’ll end up playing a lot.
Have you sat her down to watch the Princess Bride yet?
No, she’s a little young for that yet, but I’m sure that’ll end up being on our list as she grows a little bit older.
I’d heard that Konnan had suggested you should watch the Exorcist with her?
Yeah, that and Scarface.
Seems like you should maybe wait till she’s 6 or 7 for those…?
Yeah, that’s probably a good idea. When she learns how to use her AK-47, is probably when she’ll get to watch Scarface.
Chris, what does the future hold for Christopher Daniels?
Well, just trying to stay busy and stay healthy. I mean, like I said I feel like right now I’m in the prime of my career, I’m probably doing the best work of my career, and it’s in front of more people than I’ve ever you know, had a chance to show my work to, what with being on Spike Television. So just to try and take advantage of the growth of TNA, and get my name out to as many fans as I can to show them that I really am one of the best in the world. So, I mean that’s my goal for 2006. And definitely to try and become X-Division champion again.
Well, all the best for that X-Division championship at Final Resolution in a couple of days time.
Thank you very much, I appreciate that.
Thanks very much for spending the time with us today Chris, we appreciate it.
All right, thank you.