A recent episode of “Talk is Jericho” with Chris Jericho features former Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champions—the “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian—the Addiction!
Jericho begins by saying both Daniels and Kazarian are grizzled vets. He says that they’ve all known one another for a very long time, but they’ve never really worked together because Jericho’s been exclusive to WWE since 1999. Frankie says the closest they’ve ever come to working together was when he and was a jobber in WWE. He remembers coming into the company around 2000, and bonding with Jericho and Bob Holly over music—particularly Metallica and Quiet Riot. Christopher Daniels hasn’t had as much face-time with Jericho, and says it’s because he signed with WCW in 2000 after Jericho already moved to WWE. Jericho says that Daniels and Kazarian are at the top of the mountain in terms of working on the independents, adding that they don’t need a company like WWE to make a living and feed their families. Frankie says that this has been the most exciting part of his career, and most certainly the most fun. Daniels says that their longevity is owed to their schedule. He says they probably wouldn’t be working the way they are now if they were committed to a fulltime WWE schedule. “I mean you talk about someone like Daniel Bryan,” he says, “Who just retired at 34. I started before him, and I’m still wrestling, but I never had the schedule that he had.”
Jericho asks Chris and Frankie what they considered to be the “Peak of TNA?” They agree that things really got moving when they transitioned to Spike TV, and say that AJ Style’s departure was the beginning of the end. They cite 2006 as a particularly important period, for a number of reasons, but most importantly because it was the year Kurt Angle signed with TNA. Chris asks what else—aside from AJ’s departure—lead to the downfall of TNA? Frankie admits Jeff Jarrett leaving was a red flag, and says, “You can’t win the Super Bowl if you switch head coaches every year.” He says there was a steady cycle of office workers getting hired and then fired, replaced soon thereafter by someone else who then would be terminated themselves. This was a problem in talent relations, in creative, and in terms of making sure the talent was getting paid. “The end of 2013,” Frankie says, “I kind of saw the writing on the wall.” Daniels jumps in and says that nobody was having fun anymore. “We tried to make our own fun,” he says, “But it seemed like we were the only ones on our side with that.”
Jericho asks how Frankie and Chris began teaming together. Frankie says it was after Fortune had run it’s course. The Motor City Machine Guns split because Chris Sabin tore his ACL, and the company was at a loss for main event level tag team combinations. Frankie and Chris got together with the idea to team and brought it to the office. Creative agreed with the concept, but altered the idea until it morphed into the infamous “Claire Lynch” storyline. The original idea was for Frankie and Chris to split off and feud with each other, but—with the help of Eric Bischoff—they convinced creative that it was a bad idea. Jericho asks both men to explain their fandom and how they came to love the wrestling business. Frankie says that he grew up in Southern California, so the only wrestling he ever saw was courtesy of the World Wrestling Federation. He says the only time he ever saw anything else was in the “Apter Mags.” He names a variety of Superstars he became enamored with, including Tito Santana Ricky Steamboat, and the British Bulldogs. He says he always liked the smaller-sized wrestlers, and was a big fan of both Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. He says the first live event he ever attended was in 1986—a WWF house show main-evented by an extremely rare one-on-one between Hulk Hogan and Terry Funk. Christopher Daniels grew up in the Carolinas, and was far more familiar with Crockett Promotions and Georgia Championship Wrestling. Chris says his first live event was headlined by Blackjack Mulligan and Jim Brunzell versus the Masked Superstars. He says one of his favorite wrestlers growing up was Magnum TA, and still remembers watching Magnum hit Kamala with the belly-to-belly suplex.
Jericho asks Daniels if he ever spent any time in WWE. Daniels says that he was never there officially; he worked Heat, Velocity, Jakked, and occasional dark matches, but was never approached to join the fold fulltime. He says, “I never had one of those instances where they came to me and said, ‘Alright kid, here’s your shot. It was like, ‘Hey are you available to wrestle?’” Daniels trained with Windy City Pro Wrestling in Chicago with veterans of the AWA beginning in 1993. He says that he was only 180 pounds, but the trainers embraced the size discrepancy by breaking everyone off into weight classes. Jericho turns the conversation over to Frankie Kazarian, and asks who taught him to wrestle. Kazarian was trained by Killer Kowalski and says he found his school on the other side of the country thanks to a mail-away manual written by WWE Hall of Famer Percy Pringle AKA Paul Bearer. The manual was purported to teach wannabe wrestlers how to break into the business, and included a list of reputable wrestling schools inside the back cover. He sent letters to the Hart Camp, the Killer Kowalski, and to the WCW Power Plant. He says WCW was charging too much money for a try-out so it was down to the Hart Camp and Kowalski. While deciding, he met Bret Hart at an autograph signing, and asked him if he had any recommendations regarding wrestling schools. Bret didn’t even mention his family’s camp, and said, “Killer Kowalski’s got a great school.”
Jericho wants to know more about Christopher Daniels’ time with WCW. Chris was hired in January of 2000 by then-booker Kevin Sullivan. He had to finish the rest of his dates in Japan, but was excited to begin working for WCW. In the interim—before Daniels returned stateside—the company went though a massive restructuring, with Vince Russo positioned at the top of the pyramid. Christopher Daniels was originally scheduled to debut on the same Monday Nitro wherein Russo and Bischoff stripped every champion of their title belt. Vince Russo pitched Daniels on being “Vampiro’s Boss.” According to Daniels, Russo said: “If he’s Darth Vader, you’re the Emperor.” They shot a backstage segment with Daniels wearing a hood covering his face. When the segment aired live Jeff Jarrett exclaimed, “What the hell was that?!” He traveled with WCW for six months and only wrestled once—against Chris Candido on Thunder—before he was released from his contract.
Kazarian never worked for WCW, but he was signed to WWE for a short period. Frankie used to team with Mike Bucci AKA Nova AKA Simon Dean, who worked in the Stamford office. He helped introduce Frankie to Tommy Dreamer, who offered him a contract. Frankie was hired in February and sat home for several months before he was ever brought to television. Jericho asks if there’s any truth to the rumor that Kazarian was fired before he refused to cut his hair. “The suggestion was to cut my hair,” he says, “And at that point I wasn’t mature enough to be there. All I knew about wrestling was some Japan, TNA, and indies. And I didn’t know how to treat it like a business. And that’s a hundred percent on me. They could have suggested that I switch my tights and it would have been the same thing.” Frankie says he has a rebellious spirit, and knows it wouldn’t have lasted: “If I would have stayed I wouldn’t have lasted long anyway, just because I wasn’t mentally ready to treat it like a business. And—in the back of my mind—I knew I could go back to TNA. Because they told me: ‘If it doesn’t work out you can always come back.’”
Jericho asks if Kazarian and Daniels are exclusive to Ring of Honor, or if they have the freedom to work elsewhere. Frankie says that they’ve both signed—and then re-signed—with ROH. Their contracts permit them to perform internationally, but they’re not allowed to work for any other promotion in the United States. Jericho—who sounds hammered by the way—says he didn’t know that they were signed to ROH: “Let’s talk about Ring of Honor, because they’re becoming like a real—a real thing. Right? Like a real thing? They’re number two in America, right?” Kazarian says that it’s debatable but they think so. Daniels notes that he was actually signed to both Ring of Honor and TNA at one point. He says he was originally supposed to appear as Suicide, but TNA creative changed gears—much to the chagrin of Cary Silken at Ring of Honor. He left ROH in 2010 after dropping the belt to El Generico AKA Sami Zayn. When he returned four years later, he asked if he could bring Kazarian and ROH graciously offered them both contracts.
Like this article? You can follow Mark Haggerty and B+ Player Radio on Facebook and Twitter. B+ Player Radio is a network of professional wrestling podcasts produced by writers, comedians, musicians, and most importantly—professional wrestlers! Listen to hours of exclusive content available every single week on iTunes – TuneIn Radio – SoundCloud – YourListen – Cheap-Heat.com and B+ Player Radio!