Interview with Frankie Kazarian
February 21, 2005 -- by Alan Wojcik -- http://www.alanwojcik.com
Frankie Kazarian: It was TNA's idea. AJ (Styles) had come back into the X Division, beat me for MY title and the three of us had publicly voiced our opinions when everyone else was fine with it. Then we wrestled each other as part of a six way X title match (w/Styles, Elix Skipper, Amazing Red and Chris Sabin) and we worked together well. So we had that common goal and that led to our teaming up.
This interview was supposed to have also included Michael Shane and Tracy Brooks, Frankie Kazarian's partners in crime for the past several months in TNA Wrestling. However this past Tuesday after Impact, Kazarian dropped a bombshell on his fellow TNA wrestlers. Kazarian had given notice of resignation to TNA Wrestling management. The bigger shock was Kazarian had not been under contract to the promotion since September 2004. This interview was conducted via telephone as Kazarian resides in California. We will discuss the past several happy months as part of "Shazarian" and what led to the current situation.
Alan Wojcik: Thank you for speaking to me in this difficult time in your life. Before we get to everyone wants to read about. Let's talk about some of the recent past that brought us to this interview. During 2003 you, Chris Sabin and Michael Shane feuded over the X Division title, including being the original Ultimate X competitors. What led to the formation of a tag team with Michael and Tracy Brooks as the manager, was it you or TNA that brought it to fruition?
AW: What was the big issue with AJ Styles since he had held the X title before winning NWA World Heavyweight title? You two pulled a Chris Jericho and invoked a supposedly unknown clause in the TNA rulebook, bylaw 8426-A according to the PPV I viewed, that stated since Styles had wrestled as a heavyweight he couldn't return to the X Division. Was Jerry Lynn right by saying you two were afraid of Styles, or give me a reason or better excuse?
Frankie Kazarian: We were tired of guys being able to do what they wanted. Some guys were being held in place and we voiced our opinions on it.
AW: During this time period Jeff Hardy joined TNA Wrestling. What was your initial reaction to him joining the promotion and did you have any interaction with him?
Frankie Kazarian: I had known Jeff a bit before he joined TNA and we had gotten along. I was glad to see him join since he was a hot free agent at the time since it would benefit the company; to this day he adds something special to the promotion.
AW: The TNA taping schedule used to be live PPV in Nashville on Wednesday's and the Impact show the day after in Orlando. What was your relationship like with Michael and Tracy in and of the locker room?
Frankie Kazarian: You have seen it after shows Alan; they are two of my best friends in wrestling. Michael and I are similar in many ways. I try to get to Orlando early so we can hang out before the TV tapings. The three of us hang out after the Ale House and when you work with people like closely that friendship evolves. I have friendships with many on the TNA roster but they were the best friends.
AW: In our last interview you had spoken about losing YOUR X Division title to AJ Styles on an Impact TV show. On July 28th in Nashville you regained it, well half of it. You and Michael Shane wrestled Styles in an Ultimate X match where both of you came down with the title belt in your hands. What is it like to be in the X a second time and winning the belt in the fashion you did?
Frankie Kazarian: Well I was really psyched to be back in the Ultimate X match since I wanted to do another right after the original. I wanted to raise the bar higher and do more innovative things. The wires were higher this time out and its real scary being that high up dangling. That is not a soft landing from that height (laughs.) One thing I regret is I won't do another one. I love the concept but I feel it is being overused now. As far as the co-champions idea I thought it was cool since it had never been done with the X title. But subsequently they ended the angle not long after it began. It's their decision but they could have done more with the angle.
AW: That angle ended on the August 11th PPV when you and Michael had to put the title on the line in a Gauntlet for the Gold. You ended up losing the title to Petey Williams as a final four competitor. How hard is it to prepare for a match like this where friends and enemies can eliminate you in a second?
Frankie Kazarian: You have nineteen other guys coming at you from all angles. That night I was number one and Michael Shane was number twenty. In between were eighteen other guys gunning for our title. It is survival of the fittest. Actually I was in the final three when Amazing Red eliminated me to face off with Petey. When you go in there early like I did you have to bring your "A" game. Petey won that night and had a great title run.
AW: On August 25th you and Michael faced off with two Mexican superstars in LA Park and Psicosis. What was it like to wrestle two men have international experience and used to be on WCW's roster?
Frankie Kazarian: I was looking forward to it since I used to see them on TV and they are unpredictable as can be. They bring a new style and it meshed with what Michael and I bring to the match. We mixed it up and it worked great. I have wrestled them a few times in California since that night. I had a good time and I like to wrestle with as many different styles as I can.
AW: On September 8th TNA stopped producing their weekly PPV's in Nashville and moved into a monthly three-hour PPV format that is done in Orlando, Florida. What was your reaction that day when TNA informed the talent of the transition?
Frankie Kazarian: It was brought to us in a positive manner by the office. We agreed it was something that would lead to the growth of the company. I thought the weekly PPV concept was played out. People weren't going to spend their money on it when they can watch wrestling on free TV. The Impact show was great and move to the three hour PPV was excellent to allow storylines to grow and end on the PPV's. I was psyched.
AW: On the last show you and Michael were part of an X Division Tag Team dominance match and were one of the final two teams but you upset by the team of (former NWA Florida Tag Team champions) Mikey Batts and "Mr. 630" Jerrelle Clark. From seeing them all the time in the ring, I know they are good but the TNA audience didn't know it. What happened that night?
Frankie Kazarian: Upsets happen in sports and that night they got lucky. We took them too lightly, they were hot for a while upsetting teams like the Naturals. I guess our confidence or arrogance, if you call it that got the best of us and we came up on the short end of the stick and left Nashville on a downer.
AW: Having lived in Nashville and experienced the PPV, several friends voiced their displeasure how TNA left for Orlando and called the Orlando fans the best in wrestling. Having wrestled in both cities is there anything comforting you can say for the Nashville fans?
Frankie Kazarian: I don't think the Nashville crowd should take it personally. I know firsthand since I've had to make difficult decisions in the last few weeks, as an individual or a company you have to make moves that are going to hurt people and the move to Orlando was to help TNA grow. The cities of Orlando and Nashville have great fans and I don't think either towns is better then the other.
AW: From talking online as friends over the past few weeks, you told me around that time your contract expired and you worked without one until this past Tuesday. Was it something that someone in the TNA overlooked and why did you never mention it to the office?
Frankie Kazarian: Honestly it was something that slipped through the cracks. I signed my contract around the same time as Chris Sabin, Michael Shane and a few other guys. Before they expired I talked to Sabin to see if he was being renewed because I hadn't heard from the office. He said he was in Nashville and he signed an extension, due to legalities I won't discuss other people's deals. The two weeks all of the extensions were being issued was when we were still doing PPV's on Wednesday and TV in Orlando on Thursday. I was only being booked for the Orlando TV during that time and quite honestly Alan honestly I think it was an oversight and the blame doesn't fall on anyone. I could have chosen to address it by saying something but because I tend to stay below the radar I didn't. I could have addressed it but I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason.
AW: On November 7, 2004 TNA embarked into the realm of the three hour PPV with Victory Road. You and Michael were part of the opening match an X Division Gauntlet match where you were the last man with the eventual winner Hector Garza. What was the backstage atmosphere that night and memories of the match?
Frankie Kazarian: It was a very emotional night and we all worked hard to get there. Dave Sahadi who is an amazing producer did the show opening and it gave everyone there (the interviewer included) goosebumps. To this day when I watch the tape it makes me emotional. We were all ready to prove we belonged on PPV. I felt that night was one of the few where TNA gave me the ball to run with it since I was the first person the fans would see on the PPV. I thought everyone in the match gave their all to make it a great start to an excellent show. I was and am very proud to have been part of Victory Road.
AW: Let's step away from TNA to talk about the promotion Pro Wrestling Guerilla where you held the heavyweight title until losing the title to Super Dragon.
Frankie Kazarian: Super Dragon and I have only been in the ring a few times and I must say he is talented. He was professional and our chemistry blended well. That last match ended my second PWG Heavyweight title reign and I passed the reigns to Super Dragon. It has been a pleasant working environment despite what other wrestlers have told me about him.
AW: After Victory Road TNA changed around the writing staff to move in a different direction. Were there any conversations with the new staff about the direction you and Michael Shane would be going?
Frankie Kazarian: Yeah there was a meeting with Dusty (Rhodes) when he first took over with all of the X Division talent where he claimed we would be getting mic time to develop our characters. Which we thought was good. As far as Michael Shane and I specifically, after the AJ Styles storyline which Vince Russo had a big hand in writing, and I must say Vince Russo is a friend who I respect and he always had our best interest in mind, we were never told anything from mid-November until the last PPV what we were doing. I am a company guy but we were never given a specific angle we were just told go out and wrestle. We were sitting on the bench waiting to be put in to play.
AW: You and Michael were put back in the game at the Turning Point PPV when you were paired with Kid Kash to take on Sonny Siaki, Sonjay Dutt and Hector Garza. The match wasn't really hyped to the viewing audience. Do you prefer a match with a storyline and how do you get the fans into a match that is put together?
Frankie Kazarian: Well if I am in a match with little or no storyline I tell the story in the ring. If it's a match with two guys the fans aren't exposed to they need to tell their own story to get the fans interested. Our match told a great story because of the other talent beside me and Michael. Sonjay Dutt is another guy I respect and it worked out for what we were given before going to the ring.
AW: At the next PPV which was Final Resolution you and Michael were teamed with the "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels to take on the 3 Live Kru. What's it like to take on a trio that have held the NWA World Tag Team titles with interchangeable partners?
Frankie Kazarian: It was fun and all three of them are veterans we can learn from every time they get in the ring. Christopher Daniels is one of the best wrestlers in the world as well as a great friend. The three of us have great chemistry, which seems to be the most overused word in this interview (laughs.) I was psyched to mix it up with 3 Live Kru.
AW: Before moving into the next angle we will speak about in a second you and Michael met up with another NWA World Tag Team championship team, Andy Douglas and Chase Stevens AKA The Naturals. Talk about working with them and were they a team you guys would have liked to have been with more?
Frankie Kazarian: We only worked them one time in a short match. We talked to them and America's Most Wanted about doing a storyline. In my honest opinion Michael Shane and I could have done great business with AMW. It's a shame that it never happened.
AW: After the Final Resolution PPV at an Impact taping the live audience saw a video where you and Michael came to the ring as 3LK and TNA analyst Jeff Hammond worked out in the ring. It wasn't until we saw it on Friday afternoon we knew you two had issues with Mr. Hammond being in a wrestling ring. What was your initial reaction to being asked to take part in the storyline that led to Against All Odds?
Frankie Kazarian: I tried to look at it as a positive chance for a crossover since Jeff Hammond is respected on the NASCAR circuit and is part of the FSN TV announcer teams. I did feel good that they asked us to be part of it. That first spot could have been done better since you couldn't hear what we were saying to him and 3 Live Kru. I thought the build up was decent and we did the best we could.
AW: Before the PPV we had some conversations that now are going to become public about your dissatisfaction with the promotion as to where your character was going. Was it just the lack of direction the character Frankie Kazarian was going in that led you to have thoughts of leaving TNA?
Frankie Kazarian: I am not sure it was just the direction of the character per say since I am not one to say I think my character should be doing this or I should be in that spot. I'm not in a spot on the roster because TNA was busy in other areas. I am sure we would have gotten our shot. I mention to you I thought if Michael and I could have been given the ball by TNA and not only would we have scored the touchdown we would have won the game. There was a sense of urgency in me to get that done; I wanted to have some weight put on me. I thought I was stuck in neutral.
AW: I wish to sidetrack from TNA one more time to mention your recent debut with Cyber Space Wrestling Federation. What was it like to be there and with business ties to TNA; do you see any more trips to work with CSWF?
Frankie Kazarian: I am booked on their next show but I haven't heard much recently. It was awesome to work up there and wrestle the amazing Chris Candido. I had a fun time and you mentioned some of my TNA buddies were there. It was great to be back in front of the New Jersey fans and I hope to be there again soon.
Time to play rumor killer, how much of this incident is true or fiction?
AW: In regards to the match between the duo of Shazarian against Jeff Hammond and BG James, several newsletters brought up the following item: "There was one major incident backstage stemming from the planned Jeff Hammond & B.G. James vs. Michael Shane & Frankie Kazarian match. Shane & Kazarian were really upset about having to get pinned by Hammond. They complained a lot. Management blamed a lot of it on Shane Douglas, who is considered Michael Shane's mentor, as they believe he made a bad situation worse by telling them it was b.s. for either of them get pinned by a 48-year-old race car announcer. It got bad enough that Jeff Jarrett was considering firing Douglas and maybe even Shane & Kazarian. The feeling is that Hammond is a major player at FSN, knows the president of the network and this is something to win brownie points with the network in the quest to get that Monday night TV show which is their big dream. Other wrestlers told them that in wrestling, this wasn't a big deal and it's just part of the business."
Frankie Kazarian: Not only will I kill the rumor, I will cremate it, bury it or whatever be needed to end it. It's silly since I don't know who started that one. There was some discussion as to the direction the match should go in. we had lots of laughs about it. Jeff wasn't there until late due to other business. So we talked it out with BG who is a good friend and human being. When Jeff arrived he came to us and asked us what he should do in the match since he was nervous. We did business and afterwards he shook my hand. I did some interviews and went to the hotel. The angle and that match had nothing to do with my decision. That rumor is just hysterical.
AW: I have to ask being a non-racing fan, who had the idea to wear the Daytona 500 shirts and what did you think of the fans chanting "NASCAR Sucks" and "NASCAR is Fake" during the match?
Frankie Kazarian: I came up with the shirts but we had ideas of driving go-karts to the ring to mock NASCAR, then we wanted to wear the firesuits that the drivers wear to race. We didn't have any chance to get that in since most of the match was written already. I would have liked to have been given a chance to have gotten more heat on Michael and me. We wore the shirts and subsequently ripped them off and I don't think TNA was expecting the fans chanting "NASCAR Sucks" or chanting to me and Michael "You're the Coolest." The fans have a mind of their own and the crowd that night was not filled with NASCAR fans. Honestly it was kind of funny.
AW: Before either of us arrived in Orlando for the Against All Odds PPV you said you were going to speak with TNA management about your situation. Was there anyone in TNA or other promotions you spoke to as to what you should do with your career path?
Frankie Kazarian: I kept things very hush hush and with the exceptions of our talks, I spoke with my family and some real close friends for some perspective on the career options. I spoke to Konnan who I have known since we met on a tour of Lebanon a few years ago. Konnan has been everywhere and I respect his views of life and wrestling. I am going to miss him. Another person I talked to and who I respect is Christopher Daniels, he was my roommate and travel partner in TNA. He is probably my best friend in wrestling and has a huge wealth of knowledge. As it got closer to the PPV I spoke to some of the great agents in TNA like Scott D'amore and Terry Taylor for their prospective. I can't express my gratitude to all of them to help me through this.
AW: You told everyone in the locker room that went to the Orlando Ale House after the Tuesday TV taping what I knew was going on. Without blowing it out of proportion please talk about the conversation you had with the Jarrett's and the wrestlers after you resigned?
Frankie Kazarian: I had discussed it with those people and there were some rumblings backstage about my decision. I took the talent bus transport back to the Double Tree Hotel where we stay. I talked to Shane Douglas since he is part of the talent relations staff as well as someone else. I had this on my shoulders so I went down to the lobby, found Jerry Jarrett and asked for a moment of his time. I discussed it with him and I had everything in writing. I handed it to him and thanked him for all the opportunities he and Jeff had given me. You saw me that night so you know it was sad look on my face. Jerry thanked me and after shaking my hand, wished me good luck in wrestling and life. I went back up to my room to gather my thoughts before joining my friends at the Ale House. I had told everyone and it was difficult to say good bye.
AW: There were several reports that said something to the effect you were saying you didn't need TNA since you had a WWE deal in place. In an interview with your webmistress this morning she asked if this was "an Abyss situation." To kill another rumor did any of this take place after I left the Ale House?
Frankie Kazarian: I never said that and I will never say anything negative about TNA regardless what people may think of their booking scheme not being up to par. The fact is they are another promotion that gives men and women a chance to grow. I never said anything like that and I think they will have continued success. Leaving TNA was a risk and I wanted to take my wrestling career in another direction.
AW: Another rumor killer question revolves around our mutual friend Bob Ryder who works for TNA Wrestling. Internet sites were saying it was Bob who among other things let your contract slip through the cracks. I know I could kill the rumor but this is your interview so kill it.
Frankie Kazarian: I don't know who was handling the contracts but Bob Ryder was not responsible. I am not sure if TNA know whose shoulders that responsibility. I knew and I should have told someone. Bob Ryder is not responsible for my exit from TNA, the person responsible for that is Frankie Kazarian.
AW: And he is still the coolest man in wrestling. In the last couple of days both Michael land Tracy have used the internet to express their feelings on your departure from TNA.
Michael Shane comments from www.michael-shane.com :Due to the mass emails and phone calls I have received concerning the situation concerning Frankie Kazarian, I thought it be appropriate for me to post my thoughts on his decision to hand in his resignation to TNA Wrestling. This past Tuesday I was informed by Frankie Kazarian that he was indeed going to hand in his resignation with TNA Wrestling to pursue other options. Frankie had been wrestling for TNA for almost a year without a contract and was simply free to do whatever he chose to do. Frankie asked me for my opinion on what he should do and I simply told him that it was his decision and his decision alone and he should do whatever is going to make him happy. One of the biggest loses to the TNA locker room in my opinion is the loss of Frankie and the end to our tag team. Some of my best times in TNA has always been tagging with him and he will truly be missed by both me and the whole locker room. Now what is going to happen with me? Now I can tell you that, that was one of Frankie's biggest concerns. But as I told him, that fate is not going to lie in his hands or anybody else's. The only one who can determine what happens to me is me. So to Frankie don't worry about me, I will get the job done, just as well as I know you will in wherever you end up. Somewhere down the road we will meet again!!!
From Tracy Brooks' diary on www.tnawrestling.com knockout area: I am writing this diary entry with a heavy heart. I just want to take time to say goodbye to Frankie Kazarian. Frankie is one of my best friends and one of my favorite wrestlers. I got to know Frankie when I managed Michael Shane and him for an amazing 7 month run...He is one of the most talented, charismatic, and athletic wrestlers around today and I know whatever he does in the future he will succeed. I can't begin to tell you how much fun the three of us had together, as much fun as we had in the ring it was doubled outside the ring...the three of us were inseparable at TNA, hell we even wore the same colors (thanks for picking lime green as one of your colors boys, booo!) In this business the people you work with become your family and the most important people in your life, whether you have known them for days, weeks, or years they are they people you love, trust, and count on. You spend holidays with them, birthdays, and go through good times and bad times and when one of them leaves its not like losing a buddy its losing a part of your family. in my case my closet family member.. Frankie will be missed at TNA and but I know we all wish him the best.. Thanks for all the good times Frankie and I will miss you and so will the TNA fans. You are the coolest. Hugs and Kisses, Tracy.
Having read them talk about what they wrote you and knowing your life attitude of "Never Say Never" is there any chance between now and next Tuesday of TNA making you the offer you can't refuse?
Frankie Kazarian: Well like you said Never Say Never, stranger things have happened in life. I believe all things are possible. As far as what they wrote it made me sad to think about all the good time we had over the past months. They are both such wonderful human beings. I am not off the face of the earth so I will see these people again soon.
AW: Time to kill or confirm one more rumor, you have a developmental deal with WWE.
Frankie Kazarian: As of this time I do not have any kind of deal with WWE.
AW: What would you like to say to the fans that you haven't had the chance to express to them?
Frankie Kazarian: I can't thank all of you enough for the e-mails and calls. It is overwhelming and nice to see how many people I have touched. Hopefully I will have an announcement or two in the coming days about the life and times of Frankie Kazarian, so stay tuned to my site and Alan's.
Best wishes and thanks to Frankie for choosing me to do this interview. Please be sure to see his wonderfully produced site http://frankiekazarian.temp.powweb.com/index.shtml and praise her for the work she puts into that cool site
by Alan Wojcik --- For More Interviews, go to http://www.alanwojcik.com..
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