Christopher Daniels Interview Transcript

The show featured newly signed WCW superstar star Christopher Daniels. Chris talked about his career up to that point, getting into WCW, ECW, wrestling in Japan, WWE tryouts in the Dojo, and much more. This interview with the current TNA Wrestling star was recorded on April 8, 2000 and broadcast live on Pro Wrestling Radio.

Eric: He is a new addition to World Championship Wrestling, and a combatant in the Super J Cup, Christopher Daniels. Chris, are you there?

Chris: I am. Hey, Eric, how are you?

Eric: Good. How are you doing?

Chris: I’m doing fine, thank you.

Eric: Are you back now from the J Cup?

Chris: I, actually, am back. I’m at my house right now in Pasadena, California.

Eric: So how did the J Cup go?

Chris: It was good. It was a lot of fun to be a part of – big ceremony, lots of people, and it was just honor to be involved in that. It was great.

Eric: Who did you wind up wrestling in the J Cup?

Chris: I wrestled a guy named Onryo, who wrestles for a company called Wrestle Dream Factory. It’s one of the smaller promotions in Japan. He does a sort of a ghost gimmick. It was a lot of fun. I had a good time wrestling.

Eric: That’s awesome. Who’s your early pick for the winner?

Chris: Well, it would have to be [Jushin Thunder] Liger. You know, he’s Liger. One of the dark horses would have to be CIMA, he’s one of the few guys left out of the Crazy Mex Crew that participated in the J Cup. He won his first round match, so hopefully tomorrow, he’ll go all the way. That would be my personal favorite. It would be great to see him win it. As far as realistically, I have to say Liger is the favorite.

Eric: For anybody out there who doesn’t know what we’re talking about, it’s a tournament in Japan of the best super junior-heavyweights in the world right now and the last two tournaments featured a who’s who in wrestling that went on to be big superstars. It’s a real honor, I would think, to be involved in that.

Chris: Definitely. When they were starting up the promotion for the J Cup this year, I had a chance to look at the last two tapes and it’s a who’s who of professional wrestling, not only here in the States, but also in Japan, so it was a honor to be grouped into that elite group.

Eric: Are you going to start with WCW this Monday?

Chris: I’m not quite sure what the plan is now. That was the plan previous to the big shakeup. I was supposed to start Monday, but now with the big shakeup, I may wait a week, but it should be within in the next couple weeks that I start.

Eric: What are your expectations going in there?

Chris: This is my opportunity. I hope I get a fair shake, an opportunity to perform at my best on television and go from there. Right now, I think they are in the position where they will give guys an opportunity to shine. I think they’re trying anything they can do to offset the differential in ratings. I think right now, it’s a great time to be in WCW. If you’re a young talent, you’re more likely to get an opportunity than you would in the WWF, because they’ve got proven talent that they put on television night in and night out. Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to show my stuff and I’ll be able to connect with the fan base and go from there.

Eric: It’s funny that you mention that, because I’ve had a few guests on from WCW, recently, and the one thing that I pointed out, that I feel very strongly about, with all the hot, young, the key [word] is young, free agents, right now, the place to go, as you said, would be WCW, because that is where the most opportunity lies you would think.

Chris: Yeah, I’ve spoken to people in the last couple months regarding it, I think there’s pros and cons to each federation. The pros to WCW, like I said, right now they’re giving guys the opportunity, young talent, unproven talent, they’re getting their television time. You look at someone like Shane Helms and Shannon Moore. They got their television time in spades in the last couple months. Six months ago, who knew who Shane Helms and Shannon Moore were? They’re getting an opportunity to show the world their talent, and they’re just great wrestlers. Hopefully, I can get the type of opportunity they’ve gotten.

Eric: Look at a couple weeks ago, when Mike Modest came in and defeated the Cruiserweight Champion in his very first night in.

Chris: Exactly. It’s the type of thing where, you get your spot and you run with it, if you can. Hopefully, good things come from that for Mike Modest, as well.

Eric: Right. I had Terry Taylor on the program here last week. I had brought up your name, being that you were coming on here this week, and I asked, ‘What were the plans? What was he expecting out of you?’ He had made mention that Kevin Sullivan was key into recruiting you for World Championship Wrestling and not him.

Chris: Right.

Eric: He wasn’t sure what the plans were for you. That was then, and anything could change in a week. Does it worry you, the change in management from the time you signed to now? Or do you look at it as refreshing with the amount of opportunity?

Chris: To be honest with you, I was a little worried, only because, it was like you said, Kevin Sullivan was key into getting me in, and now Kevin Sullivan is pretty much gone. I don’t know what his status is with company. Working out in here in California, a long time ago, I worked for a company, not a wrestling company, but a regular job, and their corporate stand was once management had changed, everything they touched also went.

Eric: Right.

Chris: I was afraid I would get ‘oh, he’s one of Kevin Sullivan’s projects and now that Kevin’s gone, let’s get rid of it and start new.’ I was a little worried about that, but I have to be honest and say that I really hadn’t made any kind of concrete connection to anyone in WCW. Kevin had only seen my work one time, live. Whatever tapes he’s seen or whatever mentions other people have given him towards me, favorable or not, the one time he saw me was when in January when I did the dark match for WCW Nitro. It wasn’t like we established a big relationship and then he left; I haven’t really had the opportunity to establish any type of relationship with any management there. The opportunity to start fresh with Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff is pretty much the opportunity I had before, when I would have to go and prove myself to Kevin Sullivan and the people that were there when he was in power. Now, I’m just going to have to prove myself to Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo.

Eric: Have you had the opportunity to speak to either of them?

Chris: I met Vince Russo in passing somewhat when I did WWF television, but I never had the opportunity to meet Eric Bischoff. I think Vince is aware of what I can do, but he’s a busy man, and I understand he’s got 100 guys he’s got to straighten in his mind, so I’m aware I’m kind of low on priority list, but the opportunity for me to go there, hopefully, I’ll be able to climb up that priority list right away.

Eric: Definitely. You had just mentioned you worked the dark match in January, at the time, for the last couple months, and Terry Taylor was very honest about it, morale hasn’t exactly been to par in the WCW locker-room. What were your experiences as far as taking in the atmosphere in the WCW locker-room?

Chris: It’s funny, all the things you read in the sheets, and all the speculation that people have in terms of the power struggles and the back-stabbings, and all the things you read about, I didn’t get a sense of that, at all, in the locker-room. Everybody that I met seemed to have a positive attitude towards the work, towards the product. It wasn’t a sense of ‘we’re in second place or last place.’ It was nothing like that at all. They were out there to put on their television show, and give the best product they were able to give, and it wasn’t like a sort of Damocles was hanging over anybody’s head there. They were there to do their job and do the best they could. I wasn’t aware of any somber mood in the locker-room, at all. That was just my viewpoint. Who knows what could have been going on behind closed doors?

Eric: Right. We talked a little bit about the fact that you met Vince Russo when you were in the WWF, and a real standout match of yours, which you talk about on your website, was the match you had with Taka Michinoku from Shotgun Saturday Night. What are your memories from that match?

Chris: I always consider my career to be split up into two sections. It’s kind of before Taka and after Taka. Before I wrestled Taka and before I got onto television, really, I had no contact with the broad wrestling public. Promoters didn’t know who I was. The biggest thing I had done before that was wrestling for Carlos Colon in WWC in Puerto Rico. The opportunity to wrestle Taka was a great opportunity to me and I was very lucky in the sense that Taka was very generous; he was very giving in terms of what he did in the ring together. Someone had mentioned to me after that match, it wasn’t supposed to be a tryout, but because it was so good, it ended up being my tryout, so because of that match, I got a lot of things, not only from the WWF, but from promoters around the world. They saw that match and that was kind of the thing that put me on the wrestling map. My memory of it is spectacular. I usually say it’s one of my best matches I ever wrestled. Not because of what happened in the ring, but because of what happened to my career after the fact.

Eric: Now, you’ve been wrestling since 1993, and these days, especially, it’s not uncommon for a guy to break into the business an d within a year or two, to be signed by one of the big two in a developmental deal and be brought along. I’m sure you had to face frustration at some point, since you’ve been wrestling since 1993, and [did you ever] want to hang it up or what motivated you to keep going?

Chris: I guess it’s just stubbornness. […] I wasn’t really looking to break into the WWF in 1994 or 1995, when I was starting. I knew I needed to learn and I had friends that were ready to teach me and I listened to them and I tried to learn everything that I could every time I wrestled. Then after I wrestled Taka, I figured, now is the time, people know who I am, people are starting to learn who I am, and that’s when I started to do a lot of the world traveling. I got to go to London; I got to go to Japan. This was the time I felt I was pushing to break somewhere, pushing to go somewhere. In the last two years, there was the pressure of ‘man, I got to break in, I got to do something to get on the national scale.’ I was never really without work in those two years. There was always something going on for me, whether it was Japan or doing stuff here in the States. I got the opportunity to go the WWF Dojo in ’98. Things were positive enough for me where I felt I was on the verge somehow and if I could just keep my product at a high level quality, if I could keep doing stuff that people were like ‘that was very good, that was very good stuff.’ With that level of quality in my work, I figured that in some point my break was going to come. It was just a matter of keeping my nose to the grindstone and trying to keep doing good work wherever I was at. I think that was the key.

Eric: I don’t want to jinx you here, but a lot of guys compare you to Chris Benoit in that Chris Benoit is one of the few guys you can put into any style in any promotion and he’s got it, whether it’s Lucha, Japan, America, and you’re the same. You’re one of the few guys who can list on a resume just about every single promotion. How hard it is to go to an ECW, where the fans are looking for something different than if you got to a WWF, and then go to a Michinoku Pro, which is completely different?

Chris: How hard is it to adapt?

Eric: Yeah, to adapt? To adjust?

Chris: You’d be surprised how similar all that is. It’s not apples and oranges, as you would think. I’ve always kind of wrestled my style and that’s been the thing that got people to notice me. Michinoku Pro emphasized very much the high-flying and the quick movement. ECW was the same way. They have a variety of styles within ECW, but when they asked me to work for them, they were obviously looking for this type of wrestler. All the things that I’ve done, all the different styles that I’ve had a chance to work, you just have to apply the best of all that to each person you wrestle with. When I wrestled with Super Crazy, I tried to doing a little more Lucha than I would when I was wrestling in Japan, when I wrestling for guys like the Great Sasuke or wrestling Jinsei Shinzaki. It’s just different stuff. You try to take the best of what you’ve learned in every place you’ve gone and put on the best match you can.

Eric: Now, Chris, you had a pretty short stint working in ECW. What were your experiences like working there?

Chris: I actually had a really good time in ECW. One of my good friends, Steve Corino, helped me get into the federation and my talks with Paul Heyman…it was very cool to finally meet him and have a chance to work with him and the atmosphere backstage was very supportive. The guys are just a great bunch of guys and right now, I think they’ve got one of the most talented crews that they’ve had in the past ten years. I was real happy to get an opportunity to go and work with those guys. I think I was a victim of scheduling because the time I went was right before a tour of Japan I was scheduled for. The tour of Japan was six weeks. I was in ECW for three weeks, then I was gone for six weeks, and it was right around the time, the TNN thing was coming through for them. I think I was something that just fell through the cracks, in terms of coming back. I tried calling Paul E. and getting booked again, but things didn’t work out that way. It was a good opportunity for me. I felt I had a lot of fun working with guys like Super Crazy and Rhyno, Danny Doring, Roadkill, and I had a lot of fun.

Eric: Cool.

Chris: Maybe sometime in the future I’ll have a chance to work with them again.

Eric: Now, going into WCW, you’ve already touched on the fact that they have a lot of hot, young talent, that I have put over on the show for the past couple of weeks, is there anybody or any people in particular that you’re looking forward to wrestling over there?

Chris: My first target would definitely be Billy Kidman. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time and I think, right now, pound for pound, he’s the best talent WCW has to offer. I think working with him would definitely be a notch in my belt. [He’s] just an incredible talent [with] incredible moves. I’m definitely looking forward to working with him. I’m looking forward to work with guys like Vampiro, Shane [Helms], Shannon [Moore], there’s just an endless list of young guys going in there now. I want to work with Chris Candido; I want to work with Chavo Guerrero Jr., these are guys that are the focus of the cruiserweight division. I definitely want to get into that mix.

Eric: And than you have Rey Mysterio coming back in a couple weeks, also.

Chris: Definitely. The opportunity to be able to work with him is astonishing for me. Someone I respected for a long time, and to think within the next couple months, I could be across the ring from him. It’s kind of a daunting thought.

Eric: As we’ve touched on before, and as I’ve touched on in the past couple of weeks having some different guests from WCW, right now, as far as the cruiserweight division, pound for pound, WCW has by far the deepest talent roster when it comes to that, and if given the opportunity, the cruiserweights, yourself and anyone else there, can really set everything on fire.

Chris: I think that’s one of the aspects that WCW has always had the upper hand, in terms of the WWF, their emphasis in cruiserweight wrestling. For one reason or another, the stuff in WWF hasn’t taken off like it has and maybe now that they’ve got Dean Malenko and those guys, maybe it’ll pick up. WCW has always been the place to look for great cruiserweight talent. Now that I’m a part of it, I hope to make an impact and be a part of that mix.

Eric: That would very cool. What was your Dojo experience like for WWF?

Chris: It was really great. I had an excellent time. That was where I had the opportunity to meet Devon Storm and Steve Corino. At the time, there were thirteen guys in the Dojo, and Steve, Devon, and myself were the only three who were currently under contract. We got together on the first night and we were all very excited because we thought the Dojo was the steps to get the contract we were looking for. That was where we made our friendship. We also got a chance to work with guys like Kurt Angle, Test, Steve Williams, Tiger Ali Singh, just a lot of talent in that Dojo and they treated us like gold. The opportunity to work with Tom Prichard and Dory Funk Jr. was definitely a plus. I think I learned a lot in those nine days. I feel it’s made me a better wrestle. I had a great time there.

Eric: As a matter of fact, when Dory was on here, we were talking about some standouts from the Dojo, and he was very high on you.

Chris: Great. Like I said, the opportunity to meet him and work with him- when you are growing up, you here the names that stand out in history, and Dory Funk Jr. is definitely one of them. Then you spend nine days learning from him, it’s just one of those things you go to yourself, ‘Wow! I’m in the ring with Dory Funk, Jr., a legend in the sport.’ For Dory Funk, Jr. to mention my name, it’s really an honor. It’s nice to hear.

Eric: I wish I had more time with you. Thanks for checking in and I wish you the best of luck and we’ll be pulling for. I’m a big fan of yours.

Chris: Thank you very much, Eric. I appreciate you having me on and hopefully we get a chance to do this again sometime.

Eric: I would love it. Christopher Daniels, the Fallen Angel, good luck to you out there.

Chris: Thank you very much.

TNA Wrestling: The Best of Christopher Daniels – Heaven Sent, Hell Bound

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