EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTOPHER DANIELS

Christoper Daniels, one of the “founding fathers” of Ring of Honor, granted an exclusive interview recently to ROHwrestling.com to discuss his desire to be ROH World Champion, why he and Addiction tag team partner Frankie Kazarian took issue with Cody’s actions at Final Battle last month, whether he is nearing the end of his career and more.

Daniels has advanced to the finals of the Decade of Excellence tournament on Jan. 14 in Atlanta, where he will face the winner of that night’s semifinal match between former ROH World Champions Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe. The winner of the tournament will receive a shot at the ROH World Title, currently held by Adam Cole,
 
ROH: What was your mind-set heading into the Decade of Excellence tournament, knowing that the winner will get a shot at the ROH World Title?
 
CD: I’ve been part of a team with Frankie for so long that the idea of getting an opportunity for the World Championship is new to me again. I always said that if I got the opportunity to wrestle for the World Title, I would take it, but I didn’t necessarily think that opportunity would arise. I put so much effort into The Addiction being World Tag Team Champions that I’ve had to rethink my game. I’ve had to get back to the idea of just depending on myself in the ring, so it’s been a bit of an acclimation process. 
 
ROH: You competed in the very first main event in ROH history and have been ROH World Television Champion and a multi-time co-holder of the ROH World Tag Team Title. The ROH World Title has eluded you, however. How much do you think about that, and do you feel like you need to win the World Title to put a stamp on your career?
 
CD: I feel like I’ve done enough in my career where people will respect my contributions, so I don’t know if I need the world championship, but I certainly do want it. I put the idea of being world champion aside for a while in concentrating on the tag team with Frankie. I do have that pang of regrets sometimes. I feel like I’m being a little selfish, but at the same time, we’re all a little selfish when it comes to being World Champion. I’m sure Frankie would feel the same way. 
 
ROH: Ring of Honor has the best wrestlers on the planet. Many of those wrestlers are in their 20’s and 30’s and are either in their prime or haven’t yet reached their prime. How difficult is it for you at 46, with about 25 years of wear and tear on your body, to compete with them on a nightly basis?
 
CD: It’s a huge challenge. Every match I have with someone like Jay White or Lio Rush or Dalton Castle, I’m well aware of it. It’s certainly part of my game plan knowing that when it comes to speed or stamina or strength, a lot of times I’m going to be at a disadvantage. But no matter who I’m in the ring with, my experience is what has carried me through the past couple years. I’m able to think my way out of difficult situations and use my brain to offset that my opponent is stronger or faster or has more in the gas tank. That’s why I’m such a dangerous competitor. I think sometimes these young guys look at me as someone who possibly is past his prime, but they don’t realize that, mentally speaking, I’m at the top of my game and they’re the ones that are at a disadvantage. 
 
ROH: You and Frankie aren’t known for being guys who wear the proverbial white hats, so it was surprising when you two came to Jay Lethal’s aid after he had been cheap-shotted by Cody at Final Battle. Why did you do it?
 
CD: At this point in my career, I feel like a proud parent when it comes to this company. I say that because of the amount of blood I’ve shed in a Ring of Honor ring, the amount of time I’ve put in to try to make Ring of Honor stand out as the best wrestling on the planet. I saw a situation where somebody was taking advantage of Ring of Honor’s open-door policy to guys that want to prove they’re the best in the world. I saw Cody taking advantage of that open-door policy and spitting in the face of what Jay Lethal has done for Ring of Honor and what this company has done for pro wrestling. Cody is someone I respect, or I did respect. I’m still at odds about how I feel about Cody, but I certainly wasn’t going to let him continue to spit in the face of Ring of Honor and spit in the face of Jay Lethal after Lethal went in there with his hands up, his head high and wrestled a great match. For Cody to win the way he did and then add insult to injury, Frankie and I weren’t comfortable watching that happen. Jay, Frankie and I have known each other for a long time, and we may not always see eye to eye with Jay, but we certainly respect him and what he’s done for this company and professional wrestling, 
 
ROH: The three-way Ladder War between The Addiction, The Young Bucks and The Motor City Machine Guns at All Star Extravaganza VIII was chosen at the Match of the Year by Honor Nation. What was it liked being involved in such a grueling, dangerous match?
 
CD: They say that guys who go through Ladder Wars, their lives change and their careers change, and I thought that was just hyperbole. I’ve been in ladder matches before and I’ve come out banged up but sort of ready to go again, but after this one I was just drained. And not just physically drained. The physical part of it healed a lot quicker for me than the mental part of it. Personally, I felt a little bit of shame knowing that I had all these plans and all these strategies -- the things that I pride myself on in terms of being the ring general -- and all those plans and ideas that I had backfired on me. It took its toll on me and made me question a lot of the things I’d been doing. I feel like Frankie and I weren’t on our game. There were times when I was questioning if I was doing the right thing, questioning the plans I had made. I think that was one thing that led to Kamaitachi leaving The Addiction. It was just a misstep on my part and I regret that because I felt like Kamaitachi was a great addition to our crew. It took me a while to get my confidence back.
 
ROH: You’ve had many great moments during your career in ROH. Is there one that stands out above the rest?
 
CD: It’s difficult for me to give just one moment. I’m certainly proud of the titles I’ve won. Being World Tag Team Champions twice with Frankie and beating reDRagon and War Machine -- two of the best tag teams in our company -- to win those titles stands outm as does being the second World Television Champion in this company’s history and beating someone like Eddie Edwards, whom I respect greatly, for it. Walking out to the ring at Best in the World 2014 in Nashville with Frankie for the first time in Nashville wrestling reDRagon after being gone for almost four years stands out for me as well. 
 
ROH: Can you see the finish line to your career approaching, and have you given any thought to life after your in-ring career is over?
 
CD: I haven’t given any concrete thought to it. I don’t know if I see it yet from where I’m at, but I know it’s closer now than it’s ever been. It’s still hard to put a date on it or say, “Oh, I’ve got two years or six months or five years.” I certainly feel some of the matches a lot more than I did even three years ago. But at the same time, I know I’m one win away from being a champion again. If Frankie and I are given the opportunity, I feel like we can be World Tag Team Champions. And now with the Decade of Excellence tournament final, I could get an opportunity to be world champion finally after 15 years of Ring of Honor’s existence and 24 years of being in this business. This could be my shot, and so when things like this happen, it’s hard to say, “Oh well, I’m only going to do this another year or two years.” This opportunity clouds the finish line for me.