Former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Magnus recently spoke with The Bleacher Report on a variety of subjects including TNA’s recent youth movement, his world title loss to Eric Young and much more. Below are some highlights:
On losing the title to Eric Young:
“It’s a different story once you’ve tasted the success of being Champion. It doesn’t make you want it any less; if anything it just makes you want it even more. I’m looking forward to locking up with EY again. I know a lot of people were surprised at the outcome, but it’s nice to be able to surprise people sometimes. I think that the viewing figures all through my reign as champion can kind of point to the fact that people are just interested in what we’re doing now and that it’s fresh and exciting. If I can be a small part in that as the champion, then great. Honestly yeah, it’s never fun to lose a championship, but at the same time, this is a business and we’re in this to generate interest in what we’re doing. If we can do some good business then that’s what it’s all about and that’s a very exciting thing. I’m looking forward to doing more.
With EY, he’s a great competitor and in a lot of ways he has had to wait his turn and has gotten the crappy end of the stick many, many times over the years and through different regimes in this company. I was glad he was able to be portrayed in the right light and was able to get where he needs to be. I’m sure there has been a lot of criticism against me for many things, like there is against anyone especially when they become a top guy, but I think one thing that no one can deny is that while I’ve been on top, anyone who’s been in there with me has come out looking better on the other end.”
On TNA’s recent youth movement:
“I love this ‘Youth Movement’ thing. I find it humorous and I actually wrote about it in my last column for FSM that a group of guys predominantly in their late 20’s, some in their early 30’s, can be described as a ‘Youth Movement’. I think in any other genre, especially sports, that would not be considered a youth movement at all. In pro wrestling, obviously, we play by a slightly different set of rules. I think that speaks more to the mentality of wrestling fans, or certainly the mentality of wrestling fans who, perhaps, over analyze things a bit or somehow think that their opinion is more valuable than any other fan’s. I think that the reality of the situation is that the Rock was on top in the WWF at 27, Triple H began moving into the upper echelon in his late 20’s, and I could go back and point to no end of guys who went on to become icons in the business, like the last two names I just mentioned, who all reached that level in their late 20’s because I think that’s the time when people gravitated to them.
But for some reason now, it seems to be more of an important thing to identify their age and that’s something I’ve had to deal with my entire career because I got picked up young. But I’m 6’4”, 250 pounds, so it’s almost like a curse these days to have that because it’s almost like the opposite of not having the right look back in the day. Now, if you look a certain way and you have a certain background, suddenly it doesn’t matter if you go out and have a good match or not it’s ‘oh, he can’t do this, he can’t do that’. Overrated, that’s another great one that gets thrown around a lot, but I think that you gravitate to whoever you’re on the same kind of platform with in terms of mindset, not the level or anything like that because there’s certainly very little of that that goes on in TNA. There is a real sort of team feel to everything. Everybody just gets along and is treated equally.
I can take pride in the fact that I spoke up many times for Sam (Samuel) Shaw, we’ve known each other a long time, and I’ve also been a huge fan of Robbie and Jessie’s work, and I certainly think Robbie is easily the most underrated talent on our roster. I think EC3 has been doing great, Rockstar Spud has been doing great, and they’re all friends of mine, but I also have a huge amount of affection and respect for Joe, Bobby and James and A.J when he was here and many other guys like EY. Abyss is another guy, he wears a lot of hats in the company, he helps out with a lot of stuff behind the scenes aside from being a great talent on screen and always delivers and works hard and has an awesome attitude.
So, really, I believe in a good mix of veterans, guys in their prime, and youth, but to me, your age shouldn’t define you and your age shouldn’t put you in one of those categories, your work should put you in one of those categories. If you happen to be young and you happen to be ready to be a top guy, that doesn’t mean you’re changing the whole philosophy, it means you in particular have proven yourself in one way or another. I think sometimes people are too quick to analyze every decision and take it to mean more that it does. The reality is that we’re all judged on merit. That’s the way that it should be.”
On TNA’s recent European Tour:
“Those tours are always important to us because we do great business over there. It was a tough schedule this time because we had so many TV’s to do, but I don’t think that there was any more pressure put on me by anybody in particular, as in ‘oh you really have to deliver because you’re the champion now.’ I think that’s just one of those things when it’s decided that you’re going to be champion, that goes without saying. I put pressure on myself to make sure that I was a strong enough villain that we could do the right business when we went over there. I was glad that we did because I certainly didn’t want, especially so quickly into my run as a heel with the title, to ruin that with positive reactions so I was very pleased with that, from the business standpoint.
It’s amazing to me that people are asking a lot lately ‘oh man, he got booed when he went to England, that sucks’, but it doesn’t, it’s fantastic, and that’s our job. The year before when we were there I got arguably the biggest baby face reaction on the show, and if you don’t believe me go back and watch it, and then this time I went out and got arguably the biggest heel reactions. In terms of work, that’s the best you can hope for, that’s me doing my job correctly. I will argue this point to the death with ‘smart fans’ who often tend to point their finger at certain talents who are perceived to be the best workers, with the best work rate, and I will argue that if their job is to go out and to get people to boo and then they take another step that makes people cheer or laugh or clap. That’s not doing their job correctly. And the same way if your job is for them to like you and they boo you then that’s not doing your job correctly, either. Overall, you have to try and find the common ground in your work to get the right reaction out of not only the fans who are trying to go against the grain, but the traditional fans who still make up the majority of our audience. So I was happy that I was able to get a uniform response for everybody regardless of where they fell.”
“I’m as grateful to Sting as anybody in the wrestling business for the benefit he has had in my career. Steve is a great guy and very, very smart and just a model citizen as far as the way he conducts himself and how much respect he commands. There are some people who seem to be obsessed with respect and seem to be obsessed with guys not showing them enough respect, but Sting is a guy who has never had to pull any stunts, never had to bully anyone, never had to throw his weight around or pull rank. He commands respect. The same could be said about Kurt Angle.Working with Steve was a pleasure every time, especially in San Diego. Not just for the fact that I got to be on that level or stage, but that he trusted me a lot and deferred a lot of it to me every time we worked together. Whether it be promos or in a match, he’s always deferred to me a lot and said ‘what do you think, I want to know what you think we should do here and I’m going to trust you on this because I think that you’ll be right.’ That goes a long way and certainly goes a long way with the other talent too.
I remember distinctly that day going through different scenarios and he brought Kurt over to bounce some things off of him and that was when Steve went ‘you know, I think I want you to beat me with a submission. We can do it all of these other ways but I want you to get me with the cloverleaf in the middle and I want to submit’. And I just sat there and said ‘okay, that’s a tremendous thing to do for me’. So then we talked about a few more things and then went to go get a coffee and Kurt was just sitting there looking at me and said, ‘did he just say that? What just happened here?’ It was just one of those things and he just goes, ‘you’ve never even done that for me.’ So that was the kind of guy Sting had been to me, so obviously when you have that level of relationship and admiration for somebody, I would always love to see him back and he’s over to a degree that is very rare in this business. From a business standpoint of course, I would love to have him back any time.”
Whether TNA should have more than one European Tour per year:
“That’s an interesting question. I think that, internally, we’ve had that conversation a lot. I personally think that you do have to be cognizant of oversaturating, but I also think that there’s probably room for a second tour for us in a year perhaps working in smaller venues and doing a more intimate kind of show. I don’t think that would oversaturate or kill our arena business. The thing that a lot of people don’t realize, especially Americans, about the U.K is that just because it’s a small country geographically, it is very densely populated and there are still a lot of towns within the towns that we hit. We hit, this time, Dublin, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and London and they’re all major markets. There are so many towns, particularly sort of coastal towns down along the west coast with places like Bristol and places like that and in the South. You’ve got towns like Portsmouth which are always great wrestling towns. Then where I was born, along the East, to get to any of those big towns we run the arena shows at it’s at least a 4 or 5 hour drive which to Brits that’s a significant distance. It’s not like America where a 4 or 5 hour drive isn’t as big of a deal. I think that there is potential there for us to run a secondary tour.”