Christopher Daniels is one of the hardest working men in the wrestling business. Known as 'The King of Indies' Daniels has worked with independent promotions all around the world but has really made his name with TNA.
'The Fallen Angel' is one of the TNA Originals having been with the company since 2002 and has enjoyed many stand-out matches and title reigns including being a four-time X-Division champion.
We caught up with Daniels to talk about getting into the industry, working with Hulk Hogan, and comic books.
Q. First of all how did you first get into the world of professional wrestling?
I grew up in North Carolina, so I grew up watching the likes of Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes. I have always been a massive fan of wrestling. Once I had got into college I did some acting for a little bit, that is what my degree was in. That wasn't going so well for me so I found a wrestling school in Chicago and just decided to give it a try just to say I did it, even if I failed. But you know what, I didn't fail.
Having watched wrestling as a kid, I kinda had a frame of reference, so the training was really easy for me and I started wrestling about three months after I started training.
Q. Who were some of the wrestlers that inspired you to get into the sport?
Once I got out of college, I saw what the scope of wrestling was at that point. Guys that inspired me and made me think I could do this were guys like Sean Waltman and Shawn Michaels. They were guys that were about 220lbs, they weren't 6'5 and 300lbs, but they were still successful and they played to their strengths.
Q. During the early part of your career you had a couple of matches with the WWE and even had a shot at the Light Heavyweight Championship - what was that whole experience like?
The match with Taka Michinoku for the Light Heavyweight title was in fact my first match with the WWE, but I didn't know about it until I got to the building. The person that was taking care of Taka's contract and negations in the WWE was a guy called Victor who I knew from my time in Porto Rico. He knew I was a good wrestler and he knew that Taka needed guys like me to have good matches with to succeed at being the Light Heavyweight champion.
When I got there they told me I would be working Taka that night. That match brought me a lot of attention not just in the United States but around the world as well.
Q. You had a single match towards the later days of WCW, before being given a 90-day contract but never stepped foot inside a WCW ring again due to the company being brought by the WWE. What was that like with all those emotions in such a short spell of time?
It was actually the second time I was under contract with WCW, so I was hopefully that the second run was going to go better than the first, but of course the company closed when the WWE bought them out. I was disappointed the WWE never gave me an opportunity to build or grow with them, but those things happen and I didn't have to wait long before Ring of Honor and TNA came along.
Q. During your time in ROH you worked with both current champions in WWE, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. What was it like working with those two?
They were both great guys to work with, I had an amazing time working with Bryan. Not only did we work together in ROH but we actually wrestled each other quite a bit before that as well. Bryan is a great learner and teacher and it is great working with him in that respect as well.
I talk to Bryan every now and again to tell him I'm watching his stuff and I'm very happy for the run he is having in the WWE. Both Bryan and Punk worked so hard on the Indy circuit and in ROH. It's great seeing them both have the success they are having and it shows that hard work does pay off.
Q. Both TNA and ROH are celebrating 10 years this year, how far would you say ROH is behind TNA?
I think right now they a focusing on different avenues. I think TNA have had Spike TV in their corner for such a long time now, and the IMPACT! television show has become the crown jewel in their arsenal.
ROH on the other hand are all about the live events and this television deal they have just signed with SPG will set them in good stead.
Q. You've been with TNA since 2002 on and off, how have you seen the company grow in that time?
Everybody that has been here since the beginning, guys like AJ Styles and James Storm, we always knew it was only going to be a matter of time before TNA was going to grow to a certain size and I think right now, with the last couple of months and even in the last couple of years.
Grabbing the attention of guys like Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, being able to go overseas and doing numerous tours and filming IMPACT! in London this past January, these are all steps in the right direction. We always knew the talent was there it was just about getting those breaks in order to show what the talent could do.
Q. During the ten years you have been with TNA what have been some of your personal highlights?
I think the big one was the first three-way between AJ, Samoa Joe and myself. It was the main event and I was defending the X-Division title for the first time in a main event. There is never going to be another first so that is always going to be a big deal and it still stands up today, people always talk to me about that match and it shows me at a time when TNA needed a home run, and we delivered.
It has been a great pleasure to tag with guys like Elix Skipper and AJ to hold the tag titles
Q. Could we ever see the return of Suicide or Curryman?
It was all just a matter of portraying other characters and I took a bit of a left turn doing something different for the company. It was a lot of fun going under the mask but I don't know if I'll get a chance to do that again in the future, but I never say never and I will keep the door open. A lot of people still ask me about Curryman and I tell them he is Japan right now, but he is always happy to come back to the US, and if he ever does I'll let him know TNA is a good place for him.
Q. You're a big comic fan. Could we ever see you do a Shane Helms and become a comic book character?
I don't know if I will ever get to the level that Shane has, because he is a bit of a mad man. I do enjoy comic books and I'm reading a lot of stuff and I've dabbled with the idea of writing some things, so it's very possible in the future you'll be reading stories by Christopher Daniels.
I'm a big Marvel fan so I'm really in to Wolverine and X-Men at the moment, along with Daredevil and Captain America. They both have new series with new creative teams which is very interesting and makes for very good reading, but I'll just about read anything. I've had the pleasure of fans bringing me stuff that has turned me onto different characters and stories.
Q. What has it been like working with the likes of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff?
It's been great. I've had very good experiences talking to Eric and Hulk about me personally and the new direction that my character has taken. They are both very big fans of my work and I'm looking forward to getting more feedback from the both of them as I continue to grow into this character that I am portraying on television.
I use to watch him when I was a kid and I'm getting to the point now where I actually consider him pure almost. It would be silly of me to think that I was on his level but the fact that we're working together and creating this product means a lot to me. He's got a positive outlook on my attitude, my career and my work. That is the kind of feedback that is firing me to continuing growing and to excel. When I get good feedback from Hulk or Eric it's a big deal to me, I know I'm catching the attention of the right people.
Q. TNA and Vince Russo recently parted company, what are your thoughts on his departure?
I'm sorry to see somebody lose their position and I'm sure Vince will land on his feet. I feel with him leaving it gives us an opportunity to try a different direction and we'll see if it is positive or not, but I'm very confident in the current creative team with guys like Eric, Matt Conway and Bruce Prichard, and I look forward to seeing what they're going to do and hopefully it's going to be something that helps IMPACT! wrestling in the long run.
Catch Daniels in action on Challenge TV FREEview 46, Sky 125 and Virgin Media 139 this Wednesday at 9pm for TNA Victory Road. For more information on Daniels visit www.fallenangelchristopherdaniels.com and follow @facdaniels