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Observer Q & A: Nick "Magnus" Aldis on TNA departure, WWE, and his new book

Magnus

By Gary Mehaffy for WrestlingObserver.com

Friday, July 24, marks the first set of TV tapings for GFW Amped for Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling promotion. I had the opportunity to talk to Nick "Magnus" Aldis about why he joined the company, the reasons he left TNA, whether he has been in contact with WWE, he and MIckie juggling their careers now that they are parents, the UK influence in the wrestling industry, his new book (The Superstar Body) and much, much more. The full transcript is below. I hope you enjoy it!

Before we get into the wrestling side of things, Mickie and you have been parents now for 10 months. How’s it going? How are you finding parenthood?

It’s fantastic! It’s such a blessing. We do our best to work around it. He comes with us if he needs to come with us. It’s rewarding overall – it’s just really great!

How are you both finding juggling your wrestling and singing careers around it? How are you finding working that out?

Well, obviously we’re easing into it gently because he’s a baby and it’s not like he has to be anywhere – obviously, when he gets older, he’ll need to be in kindergarten and then school, and I’m sure things will be more challenging – but we both hope to be in a more stable and secure situation by that time.

We’re starting to explore more things outside of wrestling on an entrepreneurial sort of level. Certainly, for me, that has always been a passion of mine, and that’s one of the reasons why I was excited to start working with Jeff at Global. Jeff is allowing me some opportunities to allow me to explore more things as a businessman, not just as a wrestler. That’s a rewarding part of it for me. It’s that old saying: “When you love what you do, you don’t work a day in your life.” Everything we do we really like doing.

It is a lot of work. I mean, writing the book was a struggle, because finding time and making it good….You can’t just sit there and type whatever! There has to be content. So, it was challenging, but at the same time if you have a passion for it then you make it work. 

You talked about Jeff – he has been a big supporter of your across the years. Did it take much convincing from him to get you to throw your hat into the ring with him, so to speak?

No, not really. But also, it’s not really like it was a huge decision to make, because at this point I had already made the decision that whatever happened I was done with TNA. I had done everything I could do, there was nothing left for me to accomplish there.  I had worked with everybody I wanted to work with. There was nothing left I wanted to do there and I didn’t want to work for the current guys who were in control. So it was an easy decision on that front, although I felt a certain degree of loyalty to the promotion (TNA). But to me, the TNA I was loyal to didn’t exist anymore. To me, a lot of that disappeared with Jeff.

Jeff has always been an advocate for me and he has gone to bat for me before anybody else was and before I was being touted as the next guy – blah, blah, blah. Jeff was the guy who saw it before almost anyone, so I’ve always felt a degree of loyalty to Jeff and wanted to repay him – and I’ve always wanted to work with him again! I like working with Jeff because he’s a wrestling guy.

Was that the issue (with TNA) – was it more with “creative”? When we spoke in December 2014, you couldn’t talk about the contract situation, but now, as of the middle/end of June, you have left. Where those pure and simply the reasons that you left – issues with creative and with having done all that you wanted to do?

Well, it was kind of both.  If I was honest with myself, there were a few different instances over the last couple of years – and some of which occurred when I was World Champion – but there were a few different instances that just made me promise to myself that when you see this contract through that you don’t sign another one. I felt sometimes that the loyalty was kind of a one-way street – as it often can be in wrestling!

There were a few different instances where I felt like I was disrespected or thrown under the bus a little bit – there were things that weren’t really my fault that they were more than happy to let look like was my fault. Then I just looked at who they were grooming to put into these positions, and these are guys being rewarded for being suck ups basically. Even though they were talented, they were rewarded for taking low paid contracts and for sucking up. This was the wrong message and I didn’t want to be part of it!

At the time – or since you have finished (with TNA) – had there been overtures from WWE or have they been sounding you out?

Obviously there were no communications while I was under contract! There has been some brief contact – that’s about as much as I really want to say about it. They are a huge company and they have a hell of a lot of things going on – you can’t sit around waiting for them to decide. All I can do is keep working away.

On that front, part of me was looking forward to being a free agent, which I’m enjoying now. While working with Jeff, I’m doing everything I can to help him build Global into a company that can sign contracts and all that kind of stuff. I’m really enjoying being in on the ground floor (with GFW). It’s very embryonic, but it’s exciting too. Jeff is so busy, but between he, I and Sonjay and Kevin and all those guys, everyone is dialed in to make this work and offer all these things to help build a brand and find all these opportunities, which is exciting for me. 

They have had a few baseball shows, but next week begins the TV tapings schedule for the summer. Two parts to that: firstly, how excited are you to be getting in at the start for the beginning of the TV tapings and secondly, is there any more word of a TV outlet?

Jeff is only going to share a certain amount with me – and most of that is pretty privileged. I know it’s started to get tiresome with a lot of people when they say “Oh, there’s stuff in the works, there’s stuff in the works” but what I can say is that I think that within a there’s going to be television – and not just within the United States!

You have to remember that Jeff has always had a very good idea of how to make this business sustainable as far as television. The way you do that is by going after all of the international markets, and I know that I’m playing a little bit of a role in that as far as the UK is concerned, and I’m excited about that. On that front, there is very, very exciting prospects, but I don’t want to risk anything by saying more than that! 

Over this last year there has been a big UK and Irish influence on the US scene, between Finn and Becky in NXT, and Paige – who you would know from Ricky (Knight) – in WWE, and then there is yourself, Bram and Drew in TNA, and also the stuff that Drew was doing in Evolve and Dragon Gate USA. Do you hope to be another flag bearer for the UK in GFW?

Absolutely! And I know that that’s a big check mark with me as a talent and as an investment. I’m excited about that. You talk about the guys who are doing really well over here – and not forgetting….

Harry (Smith) in Japan?

Yea….And Wade (Barrett) is still doing so great and Neville is finally showing the world what a ridiculously talented guy he is. But not only that, it’s how thriving the scene is in the UK. You have these companies like PCW and ICW, Progress, Southside and Rev-Pro – they are all great promotions, doing great houses, bringing in great talent and showcasing the best of British talent. Now it’s not “Oh, well he’s good for a Brit!”, now the Brits are the best in the world! People are starting to understand that.

I’m not lying when I say that most of the Americans I hang out with here are going on about how much they wish they could go back to the UK or go and live there. It’s ironic that I spent my whole life trying to get here (America) and now they’re all trying to go there (UK)!

The Superstar Body 

Again another two part question. You are starting with GFW and also have a book which has come out. What do you think you future holds within Global and also with the other opportunities that you are pursuing outside it?

I’ve already started with Global, really. I did my first live events last week. I got to work with Tomasso Ciampa – we know each other but I’ve never got to work with him before, so that was fun and interesting – and I got to work with Kongo Kong, who is a great up-and-coming superheavyweight guy who I think has a tonne of potential. 

The book is called “The Superstar Body”. The hard copy version is available for pre-order through everything – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, bookdepository.com – and it’s available for download on Kindle and all those e-readers. It’s written by me and it has contributions from Kurt Angle, Rob Terry, Brooke Adams, Robbie E, Mickie has contributed to the book. There are top quality trainers who have trained NBA and NFL guys. There’s a guy called Nick Ehrlich who has contributed to the book, Ben Hebert from Natural Stacks has contributed to the book, David McIntosh who used to be on Gladiators with me, who a lot of guys in the UK will be familiar with – there’s a tonne of great quality people who have contributed to the book. 

You can read these books that are all science or you can read these magazines that are half – or basically all – adverts, but the reality is that guys that are in shape are constantly exchanging ideas and knowledge with each other, and this is hopefully what this book will give you – that trial and error straight from the horse’s mouth from guys who really get it.

Kurt was so generous with his contributions to the book. He is (in the book) all about focus and motivation and mental visualisation and intensity in the gym and all that kind of stuff. Imagine if you had to try and pay Kurt Angle to be your personal trainer, you know what I mean? So to be able to buy this book that has that and then has contributions from guys like Rob Terry and all these other great athletes. That’s what I wanted to put out.

Do you think people will be surprised with the book? Obviously, with wrestling books when they come out you have guys like Mick Foley or Chris Jericho who bring out the comedy books, but everybody else brings out a “Here are our stories from the road and funny things that happened” type of book – but all of a sudden this is a proper book about proper stuff to help people with their training. Do you think people will be…..surprised may be the wrong way to put it…..

I hope wrestling fans buy the book – that is the majority of my audience, wrestling fans – but for me part of it came organically, because I would get so many emails through and things like that at the website, asking for tips and stuff. I know that my column in FSM is well received, so it was the basis of both of those.

I want to try and shake some of that stigma that guys who are in shape are all meatheads – that it’s a culture of “I want to be jacked!” Anybody can benefit from being in better shape. Your ideal physique might be different to what my idea of an ideal physique is, so that’s why the book is called “The Superstar Body”. I want you to have whatever kind of body you want that makes you feel like a star, so that you have that confidence. Life is so much better when you’re in shape, I can promise you that!

I was a skinny, lacking in confidence kid, and I’ve achieved so many things that I’ve been able to achieve just through being in shape. That’s why I want to share it with people. But honestly, I’m trying to aim it at a mainstream audience too, so when it comes to wrestling…..it’s not a biography, not at all! There are a couple of accounts of different things that link in. I talk about what it was like going through the Gladiators audition and that sort of thing, but, ultimately, who wants to hear the story of a guy who’s not even 30? That’d be very pretentious! (laughs)

Bringing us back to GFW, with the TV tapings coming next week, what do think the fans can expect to see? 

From what I understand – and the conversations I’ve had with Jeff, Sonjay, Karen and others – I think there’ll be very good production values. The Orleans Arena has been a huge partner for Jeff. He’s got this lighting company on board who do really incredible lighting for concerts and events and stuff.  He understands that first and foremost it’s got to look the part. 

One of the criticisms that have been levied against Global a little bit is the roster. It’s like “Is it really your roster or is it just guys who are available now?” That’s the truth – he’s developing a roster based on who he has available to him, but I think some of it is that he’s seen guys who perhaps he saw more potential in and wants to bring out the rest of it. I think that you’ll see some talent who are showcased and you’ll see them in a while new light.

I think honestly the thing that’s going to differentiate it more than anything is the way that we present the product. It’s going to be much closer to what you might see from a New Japan or someone like that. It’s more about the competitiveness and the rivalries and the sort of sporting element that exists – with the production value – which, for me, was always what was best about pro wrestling, rather than so, so heavily story orientated.

When you mention the roster, it was something that people had said to me. But to me when I looked at it, yes, you had the name guys, but from speaking to Jeff in the early days when Global as a concept had just come out, he was always “Yes, we need name guys – but I want to bring in people from all across the world that people haven’t seen and showcase them.” There were guys even on the initial shows that I hadn’t heard of, or know much about. I think there’s going to be that good mix and combination.

You’re right…….Look here’s the thing. Jeff could have put together a roster of guys who already have a name from somewhere, and he would have been bashed for not giving any new talent a chance. He could have put a roster together of all new guys and been bashed for having a roster of nobodies. At the end of the day, those critics, that voice is small but it’s always going to be there. You don’t ignore it, but you have to understand what its value is in the big picture, which is perhaps as significant sometimes as we, in wrestling, make it out to be. By that I mean social media, the immediate online community and that feedback. I’m certainly not going to bash it and say it’s insignificant, because it’s not, but I don’t think it’s as significant as sometimes we make it out to be.

I think one of the reasons TNA went wrong was that they started treating that minority as the voice of everybody.  They forgot the fact that there was this casual audience, and what happened is that TNA had the biggest remaining slice of market share after WWE – which obviously has the huge majority – and then they ended up dividing it up between Ring of Honor and Lucha Underground, because they focussed too much on this minority that weren’t necessarily theirs. They started to go after what I think was Ring of Honor’s audience and in the process they lost the ones that they were retaining – who then decided to look for alternatives in Lucha Underground, which I think is a magnificent product, and in Ring of Honor.

Jeff is one of those guys who has enough of an idea of that audience but doesn’t get too wrapped up in their opinion that he forgets about going after the big fish. 

Good luck may be the wrong way to put it, but good luck with the tapings and I hope they go well for all involved. Any other plugs?

Right now I’m just focused on the book and getting as much awareness as possible. But I would say this as far as Global is concerned; there are some pretty cool announcements and news coming up in the next week or two, which I’m privy to. Obviously I can’t share it – and I’m not trying to be a worker and be all “Hey” There’s a big, huge announcement!” – but it is a pretty cool one. There is some pretty cool stuff coming up that people will be interested to hear from Global. 

I would urge wrestling fans to keep an open mind and remember how long it takes to forge a process like this. It’s been around for a year. We live in a world where people expect things to materialise on cue, but it doesn’t work like that. Stick with it and watch it, because there’s some pretty cool stuff coming up. I think it’s going to be a new player in the business, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone forward with it.