Correction to the headline: World Champion of the World.
After almost a quarter century of crisscrossing the globe, competing in the Super 8 and X-Division and in tag teams and main events, donning masks and leading factions and breaking the Code of Honor, Christopher Daniels has finally done it.
The Fallen Angel has risen to the top of the mountain, winning the ROH World Championship at the 15th Anniversary Show in March. A deluge of support and congratulations burst onto social media following Daniels’ victory: It’s a feel-good story for not only fans who followed his illustrious career but also fellow wrestlers who, whether by teaming by his side or facing off from the opposite corner, improved their game by just sharing a ring and locker room with the veteran.
Although he reached the pinnacle of his profession, his work is far from done. As many former champions can attest, it’s harder to stay on top than it is to reach it.
Daniels defends the ROH World Championship against Jay Lethal and Cody in a triple threat main event tonight at War of the Worlds in New York City. The pay-per-view starts at 9 p.m. EST and you can find the lineup here.
If Daniels retains the gold, he’ll then come to Philadelphia for ROH’s TV tapings on Mother’s Day. Standing Room Only tickets are available for ROH’s War of the Worlds show in Philly at 2300arena. For a list of matches scheduled and stars available for signings and photos, check out www.rohwrestling.com.
Daniels joined Wrestledelphia Radio this week to discuss winning the world title, War of the Worlds, Aw Yeah Comics, winding down his career and more. You can listen to that interview here. Below are excerpts from the conversation.
We last spoke before the Decade of Excellence tournament which you won, earning the coveted ROH World Championship match against Adam Cole at the 15th Anniversary Show. Take me back to that night. What was going through your mind?
Christopher Daniels: “Just the idea of a long journey, really. I felt like the weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders when I heard that three count and the bell ring and they announce me as the champ. It was surreal, man. It was something I’ll always remember and something I’ll always be proud of.”
How did you celebrate?
Daniels: “I was up all night, man. I didn’t go to sleep. I actually went down and played a little blackjack, just trying to come down from that high. It was tough, man. The next day I was feeling like I was up all night and I was.”
Was there ever a moment in your career where you thought you wouldn’t win the world title?
Daniels: “Absolutely. Especially once I started to concentrate on the tag team with Frankie, I felt like single’s greatness probably wasn’t going to come around. I thought I was okay with it, but honestly, now that I became champion, I understand now that I was just trying to see the silver lining in what would have been a bad situation, I guess. Honestly, I’m very proud of what I did before I became world champion: Being tag team champion as often as I have been, holding the tag team titles in two different companies with Frankie. I felt like we established ourselves as being one of the best teams in the world. Being able to be world champion, too, certainly is icing on the cake. I’m lucky to look at it like, I don’t have to worry about how I would feel if I never won it. That’s nice.”
You explained that feeling in vivid detail in a promo before the title match – one of the greatest promos I’ve ever seen. In this age of scripted promos, you came across as so real. How did that come to you?
Daniels: “It’s just me and the way I feel. All that is 100% real, man. I put myself through the ringer. I look at the health of my body right now. There are things that will never be 100% healed. Especially as I continue to wrestle there are parts of me that won’t be 100%. Because that’s pro wrestling. It’s a grind. It’s one of the most physical things you’ll ever do. And I’ve done it for almost two and a half decades. So yeah, there’s going to be wear and tear and that’s something I think about every day.
All of that promo was 100% real. It wasn’t manufactured. It’s how I felt, it’s how I feel today. I’m fortunate now to be able to look at the Ring of Honor World Championship as the fruits of the labors of almost 25 years of work. I don’t take it for granted. I certainly realize it was hard work and it’s still hard work. Being champion is a very difficult endeavor especially with such a talented roster. The weight of the crown, so to speak, it weighs heavy on you.”
Let’s talk about the War of the Worlds pay-per-view and your triple threat with Jay Lethal and Cody. Just having Cody make the jump to ROH is a testament to the talent and growth of the company.
Daniels: “Absolutely, man. Cody came to Ring of Honor having an itch that he wasn’t able to scratch in WWE. He wanted to go out and prove that he was a top talent. WWE wasn’t really giving him that opportunity. They took him for granted, I feel. Since he’s come to Ring of Honor, he’s really opened up and really shown that he belongs in that upper echelon of wrestling.
At the end of my match with Dalton Castle at Supercard of Honor, Cody made it clear he wants to be mentioned when it comes to world title contenders. I went to ROH officials and said let’s make this happen as soon as possible. They decided to add him to a match I was scheduled to have with the winner of a four way, and that winner ended up being Jay Lethal.
Everybody wants to be Ring of Honor World Champion. Jay Lethal held that title for a year. It’s one of the things he defines his career by. He’s hungry to be champion again. And Cody, for all his success in professional wrestling, has yet to be a world champion. So he’s very hungry.
But I’ve worked 24+ years to get the title that I have right now. It’s going to take a lot for either one of those guys to win this match and beat me for the championship that I’m finally holding onto.”
I’m not sure what to ask about it, so feel free to plug Aw Yeah Comics.
Daniels: “The origin of this basically is Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani, who are the proprietors of Awe Yeah Comics, these guys are award-winning cartoonists. They worked on Tiny Titans for D.C. Comics, Itty Bitty Hellboy for Darkhorse Comics. They’re currently working with Archie Comics doing an Itty Bitty Archie and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch series. I wrote a comic book for them in 2014 that was basically a story of me and Frankie interacting with the stars of the Awe Yeah universe. That book was called Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics. We received a great response from the wrestling fan base and the comic fan base.
The book we have now is called Aw Yeah Comics Team Up, part one. It’s available at ROHwrestling.com and AwYeahComics.com. It’s also available at the live events. Frankie and I will be at the tables signing the comic books for the fans.
It was just something I wanted to make available to that younger fan. So much wrestling merchandise is tailored to the 18-34 year old. You know, DVDs and T-shirts. I wanted to give that 8-year-old wrestling fan, that 10-year-old wrestling fan, who is getting the chance to see us live for the first time, I wanted to give him something to remember that night by. Now he can get a comic book written by the world champion.”
That’s a brilliant idea because ROH definitely caters to the 18-34 demographic, but I have seen some kids at the shows.
Daniels: “Absolutely. I see so many young kids come to the tables and they’re interested in the comic book. I’ve always been a comic book fan. Comic books were one of the ways that I started to excel at reading and got the wacky vocabulary that I have now. If I can get kids interested in comic books, great. If I can get them interested in our wrestling, awesome. It’s all part of the plan. If I can get them invested in wrestling, reading, comic books, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, then it’s all a win for me.”
As you wind down your career, because I’m seeing you leave all these hints in interviews, is comic book writing something you’re looking to do after you leave the ring for good?
Daniels: “I would love to. I tip my hat to the writers that write more than one or two books a month. I feel like I’ve been very blessed and lucky that I’ve had two good ideas for these books I’ve written. If I can come up with more ideas that I think I can flesh out and put down on paper and would be worth publishing, I’d love to.
You talk about the hints I’m leaving, you know, I’m honest. 24 years is a long time and I don’t think I have a whole lot longer left in pro wrestling. I’m going to keep wrestling as long as I’m having fun and as long as I’m healthy, as long as I can perform at that top level Ring of Honor requires to be a member of that roster. But I know it’s not long for me. I’m just going to keep going out there, having fun and trying to entertain. I’m still probably going to be involved with wrestling in some way, shape or form behind the scenes.”
Did finally winning the world title make you feel like you’re ready to hang it up?
Daniels: “No, there will come a time when I won’t be able to perform at that top level and I’ll know it. So far, I’ve been fortunate that I’m still having fun and I’ve been really healthy compared to a lot of guys. And I still love doing what I’m doing. So I’m not going to give it up lightly. It will be a very hard decision when I decide to hang it up.
But you know, the human body, there’s only so much you can take. There will come a time when it will be too much for me. I understand that and every wrestler should understand that. I’m going into it knowing I want to get out ahead of the game, before I take too much punishment. The quality of life after wrestling for me is important. This is all stuff that I weigh every day when I get ready to wrestle.
Right now I’m still healthy, I’m still having fun and I’m still the world champion of the world so I’m not looking to hang up the boots just yet.”
For Daniels’ thoughts on the current ROH roster, listen to the full interview below.
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