Christopher Daniels talks ROH, ‘Higher Power’ in WWE idea and comics

ROH star Christopher Daniels sat down with FanSided to talk about wrestling and one of his latest projects.

Over the years, Christopher Daniels has become one of the most well-known faces on the wrestling scene. From TNA to his current stint in Ring of Honor, Daniels has wrestled some of the biggest names in the industry, winning championships almost anywhere he went.

The Fallen Angel has now expanded from not only being a wrestler, but becoming a comic book writer. He has written two comics for publication that tells the adventures of him and other wrestlers like fellow ROH star Frankie Kazarian.

Daniels took the time to sit down and speak with FanSided about wrestling, if he knew about the idea of him as the “Higher Power” in WWE and his love of comic books.

FanSided: Your match from All-Star Extravaganza received plenty of acclaim from fans as one of the top matches from 2016. How’d you feel emotionally and physically afterward?

Christopher Daniels: Well, definitely physically I was beat up. But, I mean — you know, emotionally, I felt fine, honestly. I did what I set out to do. You know, I went out there and did my best , and it didn’t go my way. You know, that’s part of what we signed up for. As a pro wrestler, we know we’re not going to one every one of them. We just go out there and do the best we can. I was banged up for a little bit, but now the last couple of months have been a lot better for me and I’m ready to go again.

FS: Does that rank for you among the favorite matches you’ve been in?

Daniels: Yeah, definitely. In the last couple of years it’s been one of my favorites. I feel like the three teams, you know, we’ve got a great rivalry and we work so well with both of those guys. We had a chip on our shoulder to try and go out there and make something memorable. I know for a fact Frankie was watching old TLC matches with Edge and Christian and the Hardyz and the Dudleyz, and he’s actually real close with Christian. Both of us are friends with him from our TNA days and we wanted to make something that those guys could look at and say “yeah, that was definitely a match that fits in the genre,” you know what I mean? To live up to the hype of the previous stuff that guys like them did in pro wrestling.

FS: Would there be a lot of planning going into this?

Daniels: It wasn’t the idea of what could we do that’s similar? It was more like what could we do that we haven’t seen yet out of the six of us. So, I mean, it wasn’t like let’s do this because they did this. It was more like let’s do this because they haven’t done that, or they did it this way so let’s go a different direction. Let’s try and do different stuff. I think the six of us got together and put together a match that’s going to stand the test where people five years from now might be watching that as a high mark in those types of matches.

FS. Ring of Honor has a close relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling and they recently announced that the G1 Climax will be coming to Los Angeles, or part of it. What are your thoughts on New Japan and ROH’s relationship potentially being a competitor to WWE in 2017 and beyond?

Daniels: Well, I definitely think it benefits New Japan to have the saturation by coming into Ring of Honor and making some of their guys familiar to American audiences in the same way that the television show on AXS sort of does the same thing. It sort of primes the pump for the American audience to see a New Japan show. So I think that’s definitely beneficial. And then the other side of that is being able to work with some of the best wrestlers in the world from New Japan. It certainly benefits the Ring of Honor roster to have that experience.

So, I think that the semiotic relationship between the two companies should be something that in the future helps New Japan sort of break into doing shows in the United States and the G1 Climax shows that you were talking about in California. I think that’s the first step in that to get New Japan to sort of broaden their worldwide — their spotlight. I don’t know if it’s a competitor relationship that they’re trying to have with WWE. I think that they’re just trying to do the best that they think they can do for themselves. I think it’s hard to look at any one company and say, “oh these guys will be competitors to WWE.” I think it’s healthier for companies to sort of look at how could we be an alternative — how could we be something that a pro wrestling fan, even if they love WWE, would be interested in watching? And I think that’s more beneficial for a company to sort of look at a relationship with their fanbase as that than trying to be something that replaces WWE in the eyes of a pro wrestling fan. It should be, how could they be an alternative or how could they be a different flavor than a WWE might be?

FS: What are your thoughts on the Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada match that a respected journalist such as Dave Meltzer gave six stars?

Daniels: I haven’t seen it yet. I’m looking forward to watching it on AXS Television on January 13. I heard all the hype, and I assume that it’s going to be that good. I know Kenny [Omega] is on a tear right now and Okada is one of the best in the world. To hear that they went 45 minutes — it’s astounding, man. I’m looking forward to watching it. I’m sure it’s as good as everybody says and I congratulate guys when they’re in the position of main eventing a show with tens of thousands of people. There’s a pressure there. There’s a pressure of being the main event of the Tokyo Dome show, and it sounds like those guys exceeded their own expectations. So, I’m looking forward to watching it.

FS: Are you aware of comments that Bruce Prichard recently made on his podcast about you being the “Higher Power” in the WWE angle from about 18 years ago?

Daniels: Yeah, I heard – someone told me about that. I didn’t hear the podcast myself. There’s been enough Twitter mentions and another interviewer asked me about it. Yeah, this was the first I’ve heard of it. I appreciate Bruce. If Bruce was the guy that brought my name up, I appreciate that. Bruce was someone back in the day when I was in UPW — when I came out to California, UPW was one of the companies that I was working for. Then when they got a WWE developmental deal with the company itself, there were a lot of WWE guys –like Jim Ross and Bruce– coming through and taking a look at talent. I had a good relationship with Bruce there and I was honest with him and he was honest with me about my chances with WWE at that point. I appreciate the fact that be brought my name up, if that was how it went down.

But yeah, it’s funny, like when I first heard of this, I sort of likened it to my actual experience with WCW. When they brought me in, originally the plan was for me to be Vampiro’s boss. When Vampiro was in the midst of his feud with Sting, they wanted me to be Vampiro’s superior, which, to me felt like it was going to be a letdown because I hadn’t been established on television yet. Vampiro was in this feud with the top star of the company and they wanted the mystery of who was Vampiro’s boss. Then to reveal it was me — I hadn’t been on television and I had no name value to the WCW audience.

So, like, to me it would have fallen flat. I feel it was the wrong position to debut an unknown in. And looking back on the higher power thing too, like, if all of this this had gone down with the Undertaker and all of this stuff, and you find out it’s a guy who’s never been on national television for WWE before, a complete unknown guy — if that was the reveal, it seems like it would have fallen flat, like “who’s this guy?” So, I mean, I sort of understand why it didn’t work and I don’t blame anybody for thinking maybe that’s not the direction to go. Conceivably, I’m sure somebody would’ve tried a way to make it work. Yeah, I heard about it. I heard Bruce talk about it. People have told me that Bruce mentioned that it was me, but I sort of see why it didn’t work.

FS: You spent plenty of time with TNA, and recently they’ve been going through an ownership situation, along with lawsuits involving Billy Corgan and Dixie Carter. What are your thoughts on this ownership situation with them and the potential rebranding that they’re doing under Anthem?

Daniels: Well, I really don’t have any in-depth stuff. I haven’t watched TNA for a while. My hope is that all the tumultuous nature of their ownership ends now that Anthem is in charge. I hope that they get their feet underneath them and I certainly hope that the guys in the locker room can sort of put that behind them and get back to the stuff that’s important, which is the in-ring stuff for them. You know, there’s a lot of talented guys there. My friends still work there and I hope that they can sort of out all this nonsense that they can’t control in terms of the ownership and the management. That’s something that the wrestlers have no say in. They’re just sort of victims of the storm that results from that sort of upheaval, and so, hopefully now that it’s all settled, they can get back into the business of putting out great wrestling.

FS: If your final match could be against anyone, singles match or tag team match, who would it be?

Daniels: Well, I don’t know, man. The three best friends in this world I have are Frankie Kazarian, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. Right now, AJ and Joe are doing different things in different companies. I think one of them is doing pretty well, I’m not sure. I haven’t been keeping up with his career lately. But it would be cool if I had the opportunity to work with any of those guys. It would be a good end that I worked with one of my best friends in the ring and they got to send me off. Conceivably, I’d have to go to WWE, wrestle my tag team partner and my best friend, and probably only one of those is likely.

FS: You have the comic book coming out with Aw Yeah Comics, “Aw Yeah Comics Team-Up #1”. How did you originally get into the comic book business, or comics in general?

Daniels: Well, I’ve read comics for as long as I remember. The two things in my life that I can’t remember not having be a part of me is wrestling and comic books. I grew up reading them, I grew up collecting them and I worked in a comic shop for a short period of time. It’s always been something that I’ve done whether it was reading, or collecting or both.

As far as writing the comic book, in 2011 I was at the San Diego Comic-Con and I got a chance to meet Art Baltazar and Franco, who are big wrestling fans and are also Eisner Award-winning artists and cartoonists. At that point, they had already done “Tiny Titans” and “Superman Family Adventures”. Since then, they’ve done “Itty Bitty Mask” and “Itty Bitty Hellboy” for Dark Horse, and they’re currently doing “Superpowers” for DC, which is great. Maybe a year after I met them, they had a Kickstarter to start their own self-publishing company called, “Aw Yeah Comics”. I contributed to that, and tried to help them along. When they put out their first Aw Yeah Comics, that was the first I ever heard of Action Cat, and Adventure Bug and Awesome Bear, which are the main characters. After I read a couple of the books, I had an idea to write a story about me and Frankie interacting with those guys. And completely unsolicited, I wrote the story and sent it to Art, just like “Hey, would you be interested in doing something like this?” I was surprised to find out that they were both really interested in doing it and because they had their own publishing thing going on, all that I needed was their approval. We didn’t have to go above them. They just decided to publish themselves.

My original thought process was their forte is all ages comics. To me, they’re like the Pixar or all ages comics. They’re the tops. My idea was if I wrote a story sort of in that vein, we could put something on the merchandise tables at the wrestling shows that I was at that appealed to a younger audience. Today’s wrestling, in terms of the merchandise, is aimed toward the 18-34-year-old demographic. It’s all t-shirts, and DVDs, and stuff like that. There’s not a whole lot of stuff that’s out there for like a 10-year-old or a 12-year-old, you what I mean?  I thought, well, this would be something that parents could buy their kids at the wrestling show and something they would be interested in and taking from a wrestling show. Especially starring two of their favorite wrestlers, I hope, in me and Frankie.

So, that was the idea. We had the book made, and Frankie and I brought it. Two years ago, we had Christopher Daniels and Kazarian wrestle Aw Yeah Comics. That book was released in 2014. We brought that book around and had a great success selling that and, most recently, the last year we’ve been selling it at Ring of Honor shows. I had written a sequel, which is Aw Yeah Comics Team-up. We’re just waiting schedule for Art and Franco’s schedule to sort of open up because they’re so popular, they’re so in-demand right now. This particular book kept getting pushed back, and finally, Art had a window in his schedule to be able to finish the first issue and hopefully by next week, we should have it at the Ring of Honor shows, awyeahcomics.com, rohwrestling.com, and at the live events.

FS: How much time goes into writing a comic book story like this? Do you need to sit down for a week, two weeks, a month or two, or anything like that?

Daniels: Well, not for these books specifically. Basically, what happened was I sort of had the idea and the entire story pop in my head. I sat and wrote a lot of it on a plane ride from the east coast, back home to LA.

So, it took me, like this Aw Yeah Comics Team-up that probably took me maybe two or three days to write. I just recently wrote an epilogue for the next issue or the backup story, I’m not sure how it’s going to be released. I literally wrote a story with myself and Frankie and two other wrestlers from Ring of Honor whose names I’ll withhold until I can announce. But I wrote a backup story and it took me literally four hours to write because I had the idea. It just sort of popped into my head. I had the idea and just, the four-and-a-half hour flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, I had it done. I was very fortunate. It’s not like if you put a gun to my head and said, “I need 22 pages of a story in a month,” I’d probably be screwed. I got lucky that I was inspired, and had this story in my head and got a chance to get it out on paper before it fell back into the deep abyss that is my brain, you know what I mean? I was just real fortunate.

I tip my hat to guys like Brian Michael Bendis who writes anywhere from three to six books a month, and just the depth of his creativity, I don’t know how they do it. I’ve written three comics at this point and I don’t know if I’ve got a fourth in me, and hopefully I’ll come up with another idea and be able to do more in the future.

FS: What are some of your favorite superheroes and villains?

Daniels: My first love in terms of superheroes was the “X-Men”. Wolverine has been my favorite character for probably close to 30 years at this point. In the most recent stuff, I’ve really enjoyed the new stuff coming from Marvel. Miles Morales as the new “Spiderman” is a very great character. I’ve enjoyed the versions of “Guardians of the Galaxy” as a new comic book and sort of revisiting characters that were created more than 20 years ago, and with the resurgence of the movie, the comic book has sort of come back into play and become very popular. I’m reading stuff like “Moon Knight”, and “Power Man”, and “Iron Fist”. There’s a lot of great stuff out there. Marvel puts out a lot of great stuff. I’m fortunate to be able to read all of it and enjoy all the stuff, you know?

FS: How about your favorite comic book film or TV show?

Daniels: I certainly enjoyed “Deadpool”. I was a big fan of “The Avengers” stuff. I really enjoyed “Captain America: Civil War” when it came out last year. I really dug how that went, and am looking forward to the upcoming “Logan” movie and I’m looking forward to “Iron Fist” coming out on Netflix in March. There’s a lot of stuff coming out. The trailer for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2″ is real cool. So, there’s a lot of good stuff coming out from Marvel in television and movies. I watch “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and enjoy that a lot. It’s a good time to be a comic book fan, like when I was younger, there wasn’t anything like this. You might have the Hulk on television, but that was so different from the comic books. In these days, it seems like the TV shows are trying to be a bit more like the comic books than just inspired by comics books. They’re trying to be more like the comic books and the comic books seem to be following the TV shows as well. It’s a good time to be a comic book in terms of your media and entertainment that you can find.

FS: Is there anything you would like to plug?

Daniels: You can follow me on Twitter @facdaniels. That’s usually how everybody can figure out what’s going on with me. You can follow Ring of Honor at rohwrestling.com. They’re @ringofhonor on Twitter. The comic book, “Aw Yeah Comics Team-up #1” should be available within the week. We’ll have them available at rohwrestling.com and awyeahcomics.com. You can find Ring of Honor on your local syndicated network or watch it on the FITE TV app every Monday.

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