Former TNA World Heavyweight and Tag Team champion Nick Aldis recently took some time to participate in an interview. Aldis revealed new opportunities with Global Force Wrestling, his time with the TNA promotion and his experiences competing in both India and Japan. He discusses a different perspective on life after becoming a father and what lies ahead for him. Check out the complete interview below.
You have been trained by a plethora of people throughout your career. Share what you walked away with from each person.
“Interesting question. I tried my best to take something away from everyone. Some of the things I took away were things I didn’t necessarily see right away. It was years down the road where I suddenly went, ‘you know I respect that more now’. Case in point would definitely be the Knights, who I broke in with who are well known now for being the parents of Paige of the WWE. Their whole family is legitimately a wrestling business. In the sense that they all make a living from wrestling and so they are very protective of it. Now as someone who makes a living from wrestling, I completely understand some of the things they would say and do back then which at times, I thought back then I thought were sometimes harsh or just sort of rash. But now I see that’s based on the fact that they have to make a living and they have to do it the best way the can in the wrestling business. That’s one example.
It’s funny because I really made a point to try and learn from different schools of thought. It wasn’t like I tried to still stay within the same style and philosophy. The Dropkixx Academy which I went to after that was down in London (England) and one of the great things about there is they would have all these guys come in. Doug (Williams) would come in when he was free and would help out. Back then we all looked up to him as much as a guy who was getting booked all over the world. Which was always a big thing to Brits. To be booked all over Europe and Germany and Japan and Ring of Honor and things like that. He was a guy who spoke up for me a bit in the early days. That was a significant thing and there was a lot of guys who were part of the sport era of British wrestling that would come in and lend their expertise. I remember Mic McManus, coming in a couple of times and anyone who knows British wrestling knows that he was one of the biggest names arguably if not the biggest villain in British wrestling history. It was really cool to learn stuff from him.
Then going over to (Harley) Race, he just has that aura and that presence by him that everyone respects and so deeply. He doesn’t say a lot but when he does say something its very poignant. He is a very good motivator. Harley was very good to me and I have a real deep respect for and affection for Harley. He would just do little things. That camp was in collaboration with NOAH so, KENTA was there and Marufuji and Morishima, Aoki and there was so many really talented guys that were so well trained that just really made me think that I really need to pick up my game here. It was execution and the quality of execution that I took away learning from them. Harley every now and then would pull me aside and say, ‘you know, you’re doing really good, kid’. It was just little things like that which would make me say to myself, ‘okay I can do another 250 squats tomorrow’. He was smart like that. There were guys at that camp who went on to do something good and be something in the business. Myself, Joe Hennig, there were a couple of other guys I can’t remember who off the top of my head though. There was some talent there in 07’, I think. Joe (Hennig) was just starting wrestling that year, I think. He was a natural. Just like you could see immediately that he had that aptitude for wrestling. He was so humble, and not at all intimidated by the business, at times I thought. He was a great guy. I’m glad that he’s been able to maintain a spot in WWE for such a long time because I really like Joe Hennig.”
It was reported that you competed for NOAH in Japan to capture the GHC Tag Team Championship with Samoa Joe. Describe your time, your experience and any adjustments you had to make.
I enjoyed the match more when we lost the tag titles then when we won them. When we won the titles it was from Saito and Akiyama. They didn’t give me a whole lot. They didn’t know much about me and they were both veterans and it’s their right to do what they felt. They didn’t give me a whole lot and it wasn’t particularly fulfilling of a match. The match where we dropped the tag titles, I really enjoyed to KENTA and Mabach Taniguchi that was fun. I like KENTA a lot he’s a good guy and he’s obviously a bit more-worldly experienced. I like working with smaller guys, doing the sort of cat and mouse kind of story where you don’t have to worry. That was the stuff, I was pleased to have things explained to us ahead of time. It was a very significant night for KENTA because it was going to be his first title that he’d capture since he was in the heavyweight division. So I was proud to be the person who helped to facilitate that because I think he’s a great talent and so proud to be involved with him in that respect.”
Upon entering TNA, you were advertised as the ‘Modern Day Gladiator’. How did you feel that was executed and did you feel more could have been done with it?
“It’s funny, I showed up and I had signed with them and I had one conversation through a mutual friend with Impact. The next thing I know Dixie (Carter) just emailed me directly and said how you would feel about coming to America and signing with us. I just went, ‘ah..okay’. It just happened so fast. I still had commitments with Gladiators, the actual TV show over in the UK so I just said these are the dates of filming, this is the second season. I have this acting commitment in a play and it just happened to tie in perfectly with the UK tour so it just then when I debuted. They flew me in during a brief off period they had because I was so busy with that period that I literally had four days when I didn’t have anything in like a whole three month spell.
So they brought me to Nashville to do some vignettes. I got here and saw this and I just had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea of what the character was going to be and I asked them what I should bring and they said just bring workout gear because we’re going to do shots of you working out and stuff and I was okay, it made sense. Then they have me doing voice overs for my vignettes and maybe for a video game thing too, I can’t remember. I then see this piece of paper with these lines on it and it said ‘Brutus Magnus’ on it and I had just said to someone what’s that, what does that mean? They responded…’oh, that’s your name’. I was oh, cool I didn’t know that, okay. (chuckles) Then they started to lay out what the character was going to be. It was very vague at first, they just said it was going to be this modern day gladiator. So I said based off of my character from the show? Because my character on the TV show was the irony of it. I really got over on that TV show, on Gladiators by being like a pro wrestler. Loud and obnoxious and cutting promos and just being outrageous and being an entertainer. It was unlike being a boring, stoic gladiator like the rest of the guys were being. Then, I come to this pro wrestling company, who said we want you to be this stoic, boring gladiator. I was too young and too respectful to say to anyone but in my mind I would think, have they even seen the show?
Then, when I met Kurt Angle for the first time, Kurt still laughs about this story to this day because he goes, ‘oh man, I can’t believe they actually listen to me!’ I said, ‘what do you mean?’ He said, ‘I came over to the UK a couple of months ago to do stuff with the media and I was in my hotel room and I flip on the TV and there was this Gladiator show came on and I saw you and you cut this great promo and I said, that kids a wrestler I know it!’ He claims that he told Dixie that you have to see this guy and you have to hire him blah blah blah. So I don’t know if Vince Russo who was very much responsible for everything back then, I don’t think he ever actually watched the show or didn’t think I could talk or not. They went oh he’s a gladiator, well we’ll make him a gladiator character.
It seemed like there was a real disconnect. I did my best with it, it wasn’t like I hated so I just deliberately just phoning in, I would never do that. It would be completely unprofessional. But I was definitely not comfortable doing it. If I watch it back now, I just cringe because I was so uncomfortable. They gave me a helmet and the weird leather sort of S & M outfit and to me if you’re going to be a character like that you’ve got to be a real monster. The funny thing is they then bring Rob Terry in a guy few months later to be our enforcer in The British Invasion and remember thinking, that guy you should have put this gimmick with he would have been perfect for this gimmick. I think Bubba (Ray) might have said the same thing. He said that’s the guy you should have given that gimmick to. It was what it was, luckily I survived through it so I must have done something right.”
As part of the British Invasion, you worked alongside Doug Williams & part of London Brawling alongside Nigel McGuinness and Desmond Wolfe. Describe the experience. Did it feel like a bit of a homecoming? What stood out?
“Working with Doug definitely made me more comfortable. I said this many times as I’ve been asked about it, in a lot of ways it really saved me because we probably wouldn’t have lasted very long without that because I just didn’t belong there I was green and wasn’t cutting it. I knew that I needed a way to get better while still being on television and that tag team provided the perfect outlet. I think Jeff Jarrett was behind it which would make perfect sense to me because Jeff has a great philosophy and logic and he has a great eye for talent. I think it was a way to go, look we complement each other perfectly. I was very comfortable on the mic and very comfortable with the showmanship element and I wasn’t very comfortable with the mechanics in the ring because I just didn’t have the experience yet. I didn’t have the rep. Doug was obviously well known by everybody and very well respected as an in-ring technician and a mechanic. But was perhaps not considered the most exciting or dynamic character or promo guy so between us we created this great act. I think I allowed him to come out of his shell as an entertainer and he allowed me to develop as a wrestler. It was a perfect marriage.
The thing with Nigel is I didn’t know him until I came to America because he already lived here. He was long established in the United States before I got into the business so I knew of him but I didn’t know him. I met him for the first time, he was living in Clear Water Beach at the time and so Doug took me out there once and said, ‘hey, want to meet Nigel McGuinness? I’m going out to hang out with him today’. I just said, ‘yeah, sure’ and then I just came out with him and obviously we got along great straight away. We’d been getting on very well like during his initial run and successful period in TNA where he was working with Kurt at the time. I think that was one of the things they saw at the time. We used to be a little clique that would run around just by Doug and Nigel were obviously long-time friends and I was good friends with Doug and we’d been married as a tag team anyway and then Rob (Terry) would hang out with us. So we would hang out with others but that became our little travelling crew. We would travel together and room together and stuff. So I just think it was one of those things that they saw that and then thought down the line say, ‘hey, we should put those two guys together’.
I always thought it was a strange mix because I thought Nigel and I were quite similar in a lot of ways and I always thought that the best tag teams were the ones that complement each other by having things that the other guy doesn’t have rather than two guys that are very alike. But that being said, we still worked really hard to bring the best out of each other and I think that even though it was short lived, I think that it says a lot about what we did achieve because it was during that time, because it really was a very short time and people still bring it up to me to this day and it was literally like two months, I think. I think it was just a testament to Nigel and what we did in the short amount of stuff we did do as a team while we were together before Nigel had his unfortunate, predicament. I remember having a real fun in ring segment with the Machine Guns where we were all doing really entertaining stuff and Nigel and I were just the perfect little comedic heels with just enough legitimacy to make it exciting. We had Chelsea, she did a great job at giving us a bit of heat. No one likes to see an asshole guy with a hot girl. That all worked really well, and we were really excited to get to do a program with them and then it all fell apart.”
Describe the Ring Ka King experience with TNA and what the experience left you with.
“What a great experience that was, just in terms of life experience. It was a great example of Jeff Jarrett’s ability to nurture and enhance talent. Jeff was 100% the boss and in many ways it was a precursor to what you’ll be seeing with Global because it was Jeff and Sonjay (Dutt) was working very closely with Jeff now which is the case. Sonjay is an absolute asset he is a brilliant wrestler with a brilliant mind for booking and very smart and switched on to current trends in terms of pop culture and the wrestling fans and technology and all of that nature. Jeff just assembled what he thought was a great team and what he did was assemble a group of guys because he knew what he was getting into with a lot of Indian talent who took for all intents and purposes were completely inexperienced. No experience whatsoever really. He knew he had this Indian talent that he had to utilize for the network for this show and so he assembled a team of guys that he decided were reliable, smart, able to think on their feet, bring the best out of each other and know how to make other people look good, which is what a good worker is.
He brought in a team and if you look at it; Trevor Murdock, great worker, Gallows, great worker, Daivari, great worker and then he had Nunzio and this was just great and then Sonjay. Then he gave me, this great opportunity that in many ways made me the franchise player in that. To make me the top heel and be the champion there and work with Matt Morgan and later on be the face of this heel group with him and Steiner and Sonjay. Abyss was also another super reliable worker. Then he gave a chance along with some unknown independent talent who he believed in a shot like The Bollywood Boys from Canada and some other guys like that. Zema was another guy he gave a shot to. I remember everyone going what a great crew this is at the time. We had such a great time and everyone got along. There were no egos or politics, no worrying about spots being taken. Chris Masters was there, another guy who really blossomed as a worker there at the time. He had to show that he could get the best out of someone else and he did and did it very well. I think it was just a testament to Jeff, as a leader and he did a very good job. I was very proud to be a part of it.
To be in India and just be in a ridiculous country on both ends of the spectrum. So many people, were a living breathing mass of people who do some really amazing things and then do some really scary things. It was just so fascinating and yet such a bizarre country. I really enjoyed it but, just the life experience I would have never had without wrestling. I was very grateful for it. It was quite absolutely a complex situation there. For me from a geo-political perspective, there are things in India that really bothered me. The whole cast system, I don’t really believe in. That’s just me. Then it’s just amazing to a place where you can have servants, who would absolutely insist on it. I would be fine, I’ve got it and they would be, ‘no, I must carry your bags. I must, open this cooler for you. I must, open this door for you’. You know what I mean? It was so hard for me to deal with that. I just never forget me and Micki (James) being in a taxi cab zooming through like the outskirts of Mumbai and just being terrified and then be oh, we have to stop because there’s an elephant crossing the street.”
As part of Team Dixie. you joined them as the TNA World Heavyweight champion. Describe the reign, what worked well, what didn’t and what you would have liked to have done during your reign?
“I didn’t mind the build up so much. The wheels for that were set in motion much earlier than that. It was a culmination of a Bound for Glory series, where we had the final match with AJ which was one of my favorite matches. If someone was to say to me, show me one match that sums up what you are most proud of you and your career in TNA, I would probably send them that match of me and AJ (Styles) in the final of the Bound for Glory series. I just enjoyed the story we told. From an athletic sense, I think we did a lot of things that made sense. I loved the finish. Again, that was a Jeff Jarrett finish. He came up with the finish where AJ won with the spinal tap and I then sat on the apron just looking out longingly, I came so close. It made me. If I had won that match people wouldn’t have bought it. It wouldn’t have made me as much. Whether there were situations where I was more strongly established in a losing effort because that’s when the business is at its best is when it can make both guys look like a masterpiece.
But that led to me eventually working with Sting in what is probably the most significant thing to happen to me in my career to get to beat Sting with a submission. There is only one guy that gets to make that decision and that’s Sting and that’s what meant the most to me is was that yup, he was the one that said, ‘that’s what I want to do and I want to do it for you’. I’ll never forget that. I didn’t necessarily love that they made us do the handshake afterwards like, we didn’t like that but you’ve got to pick your battles in the business. That wasn’t a hill to die on. We went ahead and did this and then we were supposed to do this thing of me getting cocky. My whole thing was I didn’t think I was established enough as a babyface because I had been a heel for so long. I just wanted to be a babyface longer then when I did turn heel that I didn’t want to telegraph stuff. I think it only exists because of ratings. They have to make it that it’s obvious that something is going to happen because God forbid someone doesn’t tune in and like me think of the big picture. It’s better for someone to miss something really amazing that happened and go, ‘man, I can’t believe I missed that’ and then they’re never going to miss another episode. Then to be oh, I’m pretty sure he’s going to be a bad guy on the next episode so I’ll watch it. That’s just my philosophy.
So we did the match the combined cage and ladder match with Jeff which I thought was a cool concept. I don’t know if I would have called it Dixieland but there you go. And the finish? It was kinda cool. I can’t really remember. I know that Spud came and pushed the ladder and pushed Jeff off the ladder and he took a crazy bump. Then the whole idea was that they just wanted to show me, making the decision then and there in the moment. Shall I go and get it or shall I not? It was cool to do something different. To be given that trust to do it. Unfortunately, what happened after that I was a victim of circumstances. I had a concussion in which I wasn’t really able to recover even though they were taped shows. They just had to kind of work around it and AJ was leaving.
Then basically, I felt like I just got the dirty bathwater with AJ leaving. I just felt like a lot of that heat just got transferred and fed to me even though I had nothing to do with it. It was just that I was associated with a very dark period with it. I will say this, I worked really hard on my end and I had a great series of matches on live events for the people there to be seen in person with (Samoa) Joe. We took a lot of pride and we worked a lot of cage matches all over the country, when I had the title. I really enjoyed main eventing Lockdown with Joe in the cage as part of it. It was just a lot of different things. I would have a really good match and then we’d have some kind of weird finish that I wasn’t really thrilled about. It was a blessing and curse being a champion. For example two weeks before everyone is left to their own devices and then everyone goes that was really great and then as soon as you get the title everyone has to give their input and tinker with it. I think that was just the perfect example, of that there was never any real clean it was always tinkered with. It was a mess of things to have to deal with. It was very convoluted.
Then they thought that by EY having a mainstream television show, that EY (Eric Young) was going to do all this mainstream media and then they thought it was a good idea for him to be the world champion. Okay, I’m more than happy to do the honors for EY whose worked really hard and deserves it. He’s a great worker so I was more than happy to do it. That was the beginning and the end of it. I went it was a bit of a waste to spend all that time to get me to a point especially since I had just turned 27 I was like, that’s fine. I got a raise from just being off the title and that pretty much sums it up. It didn’t have any effect on me business wise.
While we are talking about business, I will say this when I had the title, there was no discussion about Spike (TV) dropping TNA. The ratings had been as good as they had been in two years and the live events were up consistently from the time when we were from that time to the time before. I made a point to stay very close with live events guy called Raffaele who has subsequently left and now works in professional soccer. He would make a point to say to me, hey, this house was up from last time, just that you’d like to know, champ. Everywhere we went he would just make sure to keep me aware of those things, he was another guy that made believed in me. He thought that it was just the right thing to do. When I did business and dropped the title to Eric, I said, I did business with the company and I did it the right way. I think it says a lot when, I guess the business has changed but look at me, speaking like a veteran but you know what I mean? There were only two people after I dropped the title who made a point to come up to me and saying thank you for doing business and thank you for increasing business as a champion. It was James Storm and Hector Guerrero. They were the two guys that said, business went up when you had the title and you did business with this guy and thank you for doing that. That meant a lot to me.”
During your time in TNA, you have had really long well drawn-out feuds. What would you attribute to the success of their longevity?
Then just recently, I’m probably most proud of the feud with Bram because he is legitimately my best friend and I did legitimately speak up for him and did help to get him an opportunity at TNA and a lot of that story was based in and weaved in reality which I figure is the best way to do it and it was a situation where it was an achievement because it was something where I felt I had been a part of it from the beginning. A lot of my ideas were used and it just worked. We gained a reaction and told some great stories and some compelling TV. I was very proud of it.”
On June 28th, both yourself and James Storm wrestled your last match for TNA. What were the feelings you both felt going into the match and after?
“I already knew that I was leaving. I gave my notice at the beginning of June. As my contract was laid out that’s what I had to do. I knew that whatever happens at Slammiversary it would be my last day, physical last day. We had done some tapes and shows that are still airing. None of us knew about James and I’m friends with James but we’re not that close where he’s going to share that kind of stuff with me. I just saw him one day at the show and then the next day I saw him again and he said, ‘I think I’m finishing up too’. I just went, ‘oh wow’, okay and that was the end of it. It was none of my business but okay, cool. Let’s go out with a bang and that was pretty much it. I was very proud of that match. It was a departure from a lot of the stuff I did before. It meant a lot to both of us.
I can’t speak for James and I don’t know what’s going on with him. I don’t know why he choose to leave or anything like that but I know that he’s very proud of his time in TNA and he’s very proud of being a big part of helping that company grow. So for both of us it was a situation where we said we want to go and give the audience that invested all their time in us over the years that we had something to remember. That was what we did.”
How did the decision to join GFW come about and what opportunities do you feel the promotion will provide you?
“Yes, I had an established relationship with Jeff (Jarrett) and with Sonjay (Dutt). It was just one of those things where when it ended it with TNA it was all very amicable. I had very good times with TNA. I hope that they pull through and I hope that things work out for them. I basically made the decision that I wanted to be afforded a little more latitude as somebody that had given a lot of time to the business. But because of my age, it was that seen as that oh, you’re just a wrestler. I’m not saying that I want to be a booker or anything like that it was just talking to Jeff and having an established relationship him and having him give me a lot of trust in India and in other times. I saw an opportunity to help something grow and be a part of it from its near start up.
Basically, what it allowed me to do is as a performer it gives me a chance to work with some new people and to gives me a chance to be a part of something with energy and buzz rather than with something with so much negativity always around it. As a person, I was nearing some opportunities from an entrepreneurial side which I can’t really elaborate on at this point but I’m a business man and I have interests outside of pro wrestling and this is a really nice way for me to explore some of those opportunities too. There are a lot of really exciting things coming up and I know it’s a really cliché thing that people say a lot but there is very imminent stuff on the horizon that I’m involved in on a macro level that will be really exciting for me personally.”
After becoming a father, has it put wrestling in perspective for you? Do you approach storylines differently?
“100%. Not necessarily for as much as how I approach storylines though. I’m sure that if I’m still in the business by the time he is older and is sort of digesting content, I might be a little more sensitive to what I might say or do as a role model. At this point, he’s an infant and even when I felt like it was right and helped up business wise for example when he showed up and we used him in a couple of pre-tapes just because everyone knew about it anyway and at the end of the day it’s a business and I’m a business man like when the offered to use Micki in the storyline with James and all of that stuff and everything it was financially rewarding. We were going to make more money by doing it that way. I’m not trying to sound like a sleazy wrestler or anything like that but we just went with it. It’s going to be a good storyline and to be a good to drive the car on it. I’m talking about Micki and I discussed it. Let’s face it from a financial standpoint we make twice as much money if we do it this way. So let’s just do it and have fun with it.
But getting back to your initial question, it does absolutely put things in perspective. There were times when I was a little bit vocal about and I’m not going to apologize to that. I think that the things that I was outspoken about were things that needed to be were things that needed to be spoken about. It wasn’t like I was saying, ‘this catering sucks’ I was saying thing like, ‘why could I beat Sting with a submission clear in the middle two months ago and now I need 10 guys to help me’? That was the kind of stuff. It was logic. Just trying to be protective that was all but then when Donovan was born it was like there were times where I said there is more to life than wrestling and wrestling storylines. I need to step back a little bit and refocus on what’s important. That’s one of the reasons once again more of my entrepreneurial side is coming out day by day, outside of wrestling.”
Being engaged with someone that is so entrenched in the business, does it make it easier or more challenging when work comes home?
“For the most part it’s been easy. It wasn’t necessarily something I expected, or something that I had planned on. I think we have a pretty healthy balance. We both love the business. That’s one of the reasons she good at it and exceptional at it because she’s a fan of the business and has a very good mind for the business, philosophically and mechanically. There will be times when one of us will be talking about something or we’ll be watching something. We DVR everything. We don’t necessarily watch it all as it happens but we do DVR everything, WWE, New Japan, Ring of Honor, TNA, Lucha Underground which I think is fantastic by the way. We’ll sit there and we’ll watch it and we’ll say what we like and what we don’t like and then other times we’ll get to a point where one of us will just say okay, no more wrestling. Let’s do something else. I think we have a pretty healthy balance.
Certainly now as we enter this era of new frontier where we are starting to delve in with some things with Global on a more than just wrestling level, we know you have to have that passion and interest in the genre in that respect we’re a good support system for each other. We’re a business and we’re a business together. Anything that we’re doing a business partnership at the same time. At the moment everything is very happy and healthy in that regard.”