Austin Aries: “You Can Start Calling me The Bridge Builder” (Interview)

Two months ago, during a previous conference call, Austin Aries was interested in coming to Impact Wrestling to help the company, but also to square off with 3 guys he had never wrestled before.  Eli Drake,  Johnny Impact, and  Alberto El Patron. He offered great matches with Drake and Impact and was supposed to take on El Patron at the upcoming Impact PPV Redemption. Something that’s not going to happen as Impact and the wrestler parted ways.

But at the same time, as El Patron was leaving, new opponents showed up, thanks to Impact Wrestling vs. Lucha Underground event. “I’m extremely disappointed that I’m not going to be able to get in there with Alberto because I was really looking forward to that. But switching gears moving forward, I’m really excited for this new match-up. We’re moving forward, we’re looking forward to the 22nd and really trying to capitalize on some things that maybe a year or two ago we wouldn’t be talking about in the wrestling landscape”

The new match-up includes Lucha Underground Champion Pentagon Junior, a bone-breaking machine, and Fénix, a high-flying sensation. After a fantastic match at Impact Wrestling vs. Lucha Underground event, Aries decided to give them a chance for his Impact World Title. A great way to cement a brand new partnership The Belt Collector is proud to be the Ambassador of. Last week, during another Impact media call, Austin Aries detailed how his path as a wrestler allows him now to build bridges between wrestling promotions not only in the USA but all around the world.

The Belt Collector

This weekend, Austin Aries added a 6th belt to his already well-provided collection. He defeated Shane Strickland to become DEFY Champion. The DEFIANT Champion in the UK, IPW: UK World Champion, WSW Heavyweight Champion in Australia and IMPACT World and Grand Champion in the USA seems not ready to stop there yet. He appeared at ROH 16th Anniversary show and challenged then-ROH TV Champion Kenny King for this title he has never won. This moniker of Belt Collector, that was at first not supposed to be a thing, has now become a state of mind, wrestling wise. “I’m looking to work with any company that’s interested. Obviously to see me pop up other places like Ring of Honor that has discussions with the NWA and some with new Japan. But that being said I can’t represent so many companies at once. Right now my focus is on representing Impact Wrestling the best that I can.”

At Redemption, if he’s the only one to put his title on the line, he would not be against the idea of challenging Pentagon for the Lucha title. When I asked him about, he was pretty keen on it. But not right now. “You make an interesting point that Pentagon is the Lucha Underground champion and maybe make him put up his title in this Three-Way would be fair right or at least somewhat fair. I’m interested to work with Lucha Underground and secure relationship to both companies and, as Lucha Champion, that would put me in the mix to work with them. Sure I would challenge Pentagon Junior for the title in the right scenario. But right now my job is to make sure I keep mine on the 22nd of April. If Pentagon wanted to put up his title, I wouldn’t be opposed, I certainly would like to collect another belt.”

Pentagon Junior and Fénix are “Lucha Brothers”. If Aries lost the match at WrestleCon, he considered the guys deserved an opportunity in the Impact Zone for the Impact title. “They both have different styles and obviously they both know each other very well. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m a bit concerned that they are brothers. I know they don’t always see eye to eye, but in some ways, I may feel like I’m a bit outnumbered. I’m used to having a target on my back, but here I’m going to have two guys who know each other very well, bringing two different styles, and I’m sure both of them would like to walk away Impact World Champion.” But Aries is sure he will get out of the PPV as Champion and main-event one of the best Impact has ever produced. “I think this pay-could be hopefully for Impact one of these events that we look back and say this was definitely a moment where we said we’re headed in the right direction and we started gaining some momentum for that.”

The Wrestling Ambassador 

Every belt Austin Aries is wearing around his waist and arms is every proof companies can work together and create something new. Wherever he wrestles, Aries represents 5 companies because of all these belts. I always appreciate the opportunity to be someone who is a key figure in a promotion, to be someone who can be an ambassador. So right now I’m very lucky to be in a position that especially with the landscape that wrestling is in right now to find myself in a spot to be representing a number of companies and also trying to represent just the mindset of companies working together to continue to build on this momentum that the professional wrestling world has right now.” 

At WrestleCon, he was involved in 4 different shows in 3 days. And each of them was a unique experience for him like he told me. “It was my first time working with Crash Lucha Libre, I haven’t really worked a lot of lucha shows so that was some kind of cool to see a different style and see what they do. It was the first time that I got to step in the ring with Pentagon. In the moving forward we did the Impact/Lucha joint show, which obviously was a really cool experience. The locker room was great and guys wanted to go out there and really show what they had. Then I did a little something with Ring of Honor, the crowd was hot all night, they had a who’s who list of people there. And then House of Hardcore, a kind of heart and soul of the pro wrestling right now. Right now what you’re seeing is more and more common threads that are running throughout all these different promotions that are thriving and are successful and that’s what I like to see.”

And when it comes to Impact, a whole locker room of hungry guys is waiting for him. Like he’s waiting for some of them. “Obviously Brian Cage has stepped in and it’s hard not to notice that guy, a guy that I’ve been in the ring with now a number of times. If you look at his toolbox, it’s overflowing, so he’s a guy that with opportunity and time could make a huge impact. Looking at the X-Division, I think of Trevor Lee, Ishimori, Dezmond Xavier. There are guys I’m missing, like Sami Callihan or Eli Drake. That just shows right now that there are a good collection of talent there. Right now, there’s a landscape in Impact where a lot of these guys made their names that opportunities are now opening up for a whole new generation of guys and there’s a lot of talent right there that’s going to step up and be the next generation of household names that we’re talking about.”

The Bridge Builder

When Austin Aries appears on Ring of Honor, with all his belts, he’s like stirring a brand new pot. Representing that many companies could be an opportunity to merge all the belts into a unique and global title like NWA belt is representing different territories in the USA. “Maybe I should just melt him down and make one big one and but who knows? That concept could happen or not. Right now I think, with the companies working together, I could foster something like that in the future and obviously right now NWA is trying to make a resurgence. Who knows? Maybe at some point, ten years down the road, they could bring themselves back up to maybe being something like that.”

Going back to Ring of Honor is also a way to show people and wrestlers everything is possible now. You can work everywhere, be successful and prove it to the world. “Right now I’m just trying to go around and do what I can do and it’s been cool to have an opportunity to kind of do some stuff with Ring of Honor to kind of make people scratch their head a little bit wondering what’s going on. I think that’s good for wrestling. As far as how much they do or don’t do business, now we’re in the future. I’m sure those companies, Impact and ROH, will discuss that and figure out what’s in the best interest for both of them. If I can kind of be a common thread that helps maybe build some bridges, then that’s what I’d like to do. So you can start calling me the bridge builder.”

Representing Impact has become a mission for him. “I think I’m showing I could do that because I think I’ve had a history with this company. People know that I’m a pretty straight shooter. For most regards, I give people a pretty unbiased opinion of what I think is happening right now in Impact Wrestling. This might be the best locker room in wrestling. You have a mix of guys like myself that have kind of ‘been there and done that’, who are hungry for their own reasons to prove themselves and you have a bunch of younger and hungry guys who are getting their first taste of the national spotlight. And then you have a whole new team coming in, they really want to prove themselves and really make this different and something that can be great. We’re going to create our own culture in our own structure here. Our own way to do business and to have relationships with companies and talent can create something appealing and unique. I want to keep building that so that this is the place to be to give people an opportunity.”

As Belt Collector, Wrestling Ambassador, Bridge Builder, Austin Aries has built something absolutely unique in Impact and the business. He may be representing this link the wrestling business was not even aware he was in need of to be as strong as the giant WWE. In fact, everything that makes Austin Aries that unique, his experience, talent and wit, could change the way the industry is currently working. And change is good…