Published on June 8th, 2015 | by Marc Madison0
FRANKIE KAZARIAN: TNA, Ring of Honor and What the Future Holds
Author: Marc Madison
Ring of Honor’s Frankie Kazarian recently took some time to participate in an interview. Kazarian reveals his past, his present and his future in professional wrestling. He opens up about his time with TNA, training under the legendary Killer Kowalski, his thoughts about working alongside Ric Flair and how to always appreciate what you have. Check out the complete interview below.
A number of wrestlers have been trained by the legendary Killer Kowalski. What can you say his teaching and growth taught you about the business when you first were getting into it?
“That fundamentals were more important than anything else, above all. There was a real respect for the business taught from day one. Like a lot of schools used to be, you weren’t even allowed in the ring until you learned the fundamentals until you learned holds, all the holds. I was told, and I don’t know if this was true or not, that I was the first guy ever allowed to get into the ring on the first day. But I don’t know if that was folklore or what. I came from California, and guys said ‘Usually we never see guys get into the ring the first day’. Respect for the business, and it was still really kayfabe, and it was, really, speak when spoken to and learn what I’m going to teach you, and learn at my pace. I thank God for it every day because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I was trained anywhere else.”
Prior to coming to TNA, you worked the independent circuit. Describe your experiences there and how that helped you develop.
“Everything was a learning experience. The early days of my career were different. Going to a different state, say going from California to New Jersey and Philly to wrestle, was like going to a different territory back in the days of the territories. There was a new crop of guys and new fans and new eyeballs on me. New experiences. So it was really cool picking up from California, Arizona, on to Philly and New York, New Jersey and Pittsburgh, and then down to the Carolinas and stuff like that.
It was picking up something from every wrestler and every area I worked in and putting it all into the repertoire, and it was a cool learning experience. Just getting to do that and travel around the country and learn different things. Which a lot of people, unfortunately, don’t get to do anymore”.
It’s been reported that you initially came to TNA through Jeff Jarrett and Scott D’Amore. In its initial growth, what had you foreseen for TNA at the time of first joining the promotion?
“I didn’t know. I just saw it as another opportunity. I came down there for a tryout in the Summer of 2003 and had my tryout match, and they brought me back the next week, and they brought me back the week after that. So I said, I guess I’m hired, and I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone back then was saying it could have lasted, and everyone back then was basically proclaiming TNA’s death from day 1, and they’re still doing it today and they’re still around.
I knew it was a great group of guys, a very, very talented group of guys, and I knew the X division was something that was new and different, and something I was happy to be a part of. And with the roster we had, I thought there was a potential for a lot of really, really good growth.”
Kaz has endured a great deal of reinvention during his time in TNA. At one time, you competed under a mask as the character ‘Suicide’. How did that come about? Was there a long term plan for that? How did you feel competing under a mask?
“That’s a lie. That’s only the internet. Suicide was played by Samoa Joe and Angelina Love, not me. Fans probably started that rumor. Where do any of these rumors start? That’s a terrible, terrible rumor. It would have been career suicide if I were to have done that.”
Being in TNA allowed you the opportunity to be a part of a few factions and to work with some incredible talent. Could you share those experiences?
“The Serotonin thing, looking back, was really good for me, but at the time I didn’t appreciate it. To learn underneath Raven was something I probably took for granted, but I did learn a lot from him. And it was a way for me to reinvent myself because it was a matter of me being just a good wrestler, and I didn’t necessarily have the personality, or at least I hadn’t been given the opportunity to express my personality. Doing that and putting us under his (Raven’s) wing was something that was good at the time and allowed me to break free from the other guys in the group, and eventually, go and do my own thing. Raven’s a guy that has an incredible mind for the business, so I was able to absorb as much as I could. I changed my look and tried to become comfortable with that, and something that was out of my sight. Looking back, I appreciate it more than I did when I was doing it, and I think that comes with just maturity as a human being.
With Fortune, with AJ and Bobby, and later on Chris, they were my friends, and being in a stable with guys like that, it was natural. A lot of the backstage stuff we did was us just being natural, and working with Ric Flair, what can you say? He was great! He was great to me. He always offered friendly advice. He was always complimentary and was up for anything that we would come up with. It was lovely to work with him. Not many people can say they’ve been in the ring with him, and been in a faction with him. A second coming of the Horsemen, or third or fourth, whatever you want to call it. It was fun for me, and another step forward to allow me to come out of my shell from a personality standpoint.”
In 2005, you joined the WWE for a brief period of time. How would you describe your experience and what are your thoughts on those auditioning for the current Tough Enough program?
“My time in WWE was less than a year, and all that had to do with me. I hadn’t matured enough as a wrestler or a man to be there. It was the first time that wrestling became a business and not something I loved because I saw the business side of it. Now I realize that what it is, but not then. I was like, wow, WWE is a giant machine that is the biggest company in the world and always will be. I just wasn’t ready to be there on a mental level, personally or professionally.
As for Tough Enough, part of it pains me to see guys coming on and cutting their promos and saying ‘I love this business’ and ‘I would do anything to be in this business’ – then why haven’t you done that yet? It always kind of bugs me to see that. There are a lot of us that took to the road, and did the indies, and went to Japan and Mexico and busted our ass just for a chance to get looked at somewhere, and all of a sudden a game show comes along where people can submit their tapes. I’m not going to fault anyone for the way they get a spot. If you love this business and you’re willing to work hard, then more power to you. At the end day, though, it’s a show, and they want to gather numbers or ratings for the network. So it’s entertainment. You have to take it with a grain of salt. People coming in and saying they love this business, they have no idea what this business is going to do to them. But if it works and the numbers are good enough for the network, that’s great. I’m happy for anything that enhances pro wrestling as a whole.”
Since the end of your time with TNA to present day, one wrestler has been synonymous with you. How can you say the professional relationship and personal friendship between yourself and Christopher Daniels have evolved?
“Our relationship is strictly professional, I hate his guts on a personal level. Nah, he’s my best friend, and I’ve known him 17 years, since I started in this business. We’ve been traveling together for the last 13 (years,) literally every weekend. Him, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and myself. It’s just a natural chemistry. I would liken it something like Nick and Matt Jackson, who are brothers. We just know what the other guy is thinking with just a look.
On the road it’s easy, we know each other’s schedules so well. It just makes everything easy. We both take a lot of pride in being tag team wrestlers, we both love being tag team wrestlers. We’ve found our niche as the act, or Bad Influence, or The Addiction. Just the act, I think, has gotten so over that fans love seeing us wherever we are. Of course, they loved Christopher Daniels, “The Fallen Angel,” but I think the act has given new life to both of our careers. Having him as a partner makes my life a lot easier, in the ring. On the road, that’s another story altogether.”
As part of ROH, you earned many credentials. How had your prior successes helped you as you face younger talent within the promotion?
“It’s great. I mean, being here has made us, me especially, raise my game because there are a lot of guys that you are only hearing about, reading about and watching that are getting a lot of notoriety. Guys like Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole and Michael Bennett and Matt Taven. Guys that I have just kind of seen from afar.
Now that I’ve been in the ring with all of them and seen what they are all about, they are all the real deal. It’s an incredible roster of young guys, mixed with a lot of veterans, and it’s been awesome. It’s been really fun just to reinvent ourselves again and raise our game, have these hard hitting and competitive matches, it’s one of the reasons why I love this company.”
As part of The Addiction, it was recently revealed that the team was, in fact, the KRD, thus capturing the ROH World Tag Team titles. How did that decision come about? Were you pleased with the choice of the direction for the Addiction?
“Yeah, absolutely. It came about because we’re the smartest guys in the room. It came about because we wanted to present a new way and fresh take on things, instead of just winning belts in a match, (we wanted to) present a story to go along with it. Being the smartest guys in the room, it’s what we did. I’m very happy with how it came about now, especially since we’re representing the company as its champions.”
While wrestling is a major part of your life, it isn’t your whole wife. How has being a father and having your wife part of the business affect you both personally and professionally? Would Tracy ever entertain the idea of competing or being involved in the business again?
“It’s great having somebody that has been there and done that, that knows what I’m going through. Being a wrestler’s wife is probably the hardest thing to do on this planet. I can’t imagine regular quote-unquote women having to endure and put up with what we put them through, but being somebody that did a lot in the business, she understands what I go through. So it makes my job a lot easier, and she’s very knowledgeable, and if I need to talk to somebody about something she’s there. It makes my life a lot easier; it probably makes her life miserable, so I’m sorry.
I don’t think she’d entertain the idea of coming back. She probably did more in this business than she ever thought she’d do. She had a very, very successful career, just being a farm girl from St. Mary’s, Ontario. She achieved a lot, and she still has friends in the business. Her days in the ring are probably done, but who knows if she might pop up for an appearance here or there. She has no regrets, she has her career, and she will always love the business, but there is a time when you move on. She’s happy with that. She’s just happy to ride off into the sunset.”
What does the future hold for Frankie Kazarian?
“If that (single’s run) comes about I’ll certainly stride forward with that. There really is no need to look beyond the tag team direction, because that’s our focus, we’re tag team champions defending the belts all around the world. We’re having a great time, and we really haven’t scratched the surface of what we can do as a team. So until that act isn’t presented as fun or entertaining anymore, we’re going to keep doing it. And I don’t see that happening for a very long time.”
Was there anything you’d like to promote or encourage fans to look out for?
“My Twitter is @FrankieKazarian, my band is @VexTemper. We just recorded the entrance music, “Get Addicted,” so you can check it out. We’re going to be adding stuff to our Soundcloud page coming up very soon, so if you’re into music, rock n’ roll/heavy metal, give us a follow. The first music you’ll hear from us is our entrance music, “Get Addicted.” I play bass in the band. Everything is brand new. We’re going to put some original songs up at our site VexTempermusic.com. I wrote the melody and the riff, and my band did it. Other than that, keep following, keep watching wrestling. Whatever wrestling it is, just keep watching.”