Donald Wood: You make your triumphant return to the ring on Friday night’s episode of Impact Wrestling. What has the transition from Spike TV to Destination America been like for you personally and what is the backstage feeling after early success on the new channel?
Mr. Anderson: Nothing but positivity. At first it went from a network that was pretty large, to a network that was smaller and didn’t have the reach of Spike TV. You’re always sort of tentative and don’t know what the future holds. You look at cases across the board of startup networks and when they get programming that people enjoy, those people call up their cable providers and ask for the packages that include that channel. I’m looking forward to it and it’s a great fit for us. I got a chance to go up to LA a few weeks ago and spend some time with the folks from Destination America. They are phenomenal people and are excited to have us on their network.
Mike Chiari: TNA has always been really well received in the UK, and that’s been evident during the recent episodes of Impact. And since your return to television you’ve formed an alliance with a pair of Brits in Rockstar Spud and Mandrews. In your opinion, what do you think it is about TNA that makes it so hugely popular in Europe and also attracts so many international stars to the roster as well?
Mr. Anderson: I think the obvious thing is we have a broader reach over there. WWE is on paid TV over there and we are on free TV so we reach more homes. When we go over there, it is my favorite place to wrestle. The crowds are so much fun and so into every match. The last few years we have put on shows that are three and a half hours long, and sometimes that can get tiresome for the crowd. That’s not the case with the UK, they stick with us and it’s a lot of fun. Also I think as far as drawing in more UK fans, the fact we have been doing the British Boot Camp for the past two years helps. Rockstar Spud he is just on fire and the sky is the limit for him. He gets it, he loves wrestling, he is passionate about the business, entertaining, and always coming up with new ideas.
Brandon Galvin: You’ve always been one of the most entertaining, outspoken and unapologetic wrestlers on the mic. How do you know when to draw the line and have you ever thought about doing commentary or starting your own podcast?
Mr. Anderson: Yes I have and I actually have my own podcast. I started it about eight months ago on DVMPE.com, ITunes, Stitcher, and it’s called “Push the Button”. The interesting thing about is it’s not about wrestling, it is it has nothing to do with wrestling. It’s the things that interest me outside of the wrestling world. Things like politics and religion, things that are supposed to be the most important things in peoples’ lives but for some reason were not supposed to talk about these things. I always wanted to sort of have an open discussion, be able to talk about them, not get mad or upset, and walk away as friends. My co-host happens to be a Christian and I am not. We talk about and delve into all sorts of different topics.
Donald Wood: As a two-time world heavyweight champion in TNA, you are one of the most decorated wrestlers on the roster. Unfortunately, you haven’t held the world title since 2011. As one of the top stars in the company, do you feel this is your year to return to the heavyweight championship scene and where does winning another world title fall on your list of priorities?
Mr. Anderson: That is always something in the back of every wrestler’s head I think. I don’t think you should get into this business if it’s not your ultimate goal. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say that, everybody has different goals but that’s always been my goal. I think I went through some transitions in the last few years, and this last year I really focused my energy back into the business. I have done this for 15, almost 16 years now, and you go through those weaning periods. I’ve fallen in love with the business again and that’s definitely on my list of goals to achieve this year.
Mike Chiari: One the biggest angles you’ve taken part in during your time in TNA was your involvement in Aces & Eights. It dominated TNA programming for the better part of a year and definitely caught people’s attention, but how do you view it looking back? Do you believe it played out exactly as it should have in terms of length and impact? Is there anything you wish you could go back and change?
Mr. Anderson: Creatively, you’re dealing with a group of ten guys that all have different ideas, people who are writing stuff behind the scenes, and at the end of the day you all have to agree on certain things. I think in every situation and match I have been in in the wrestling business, I never looked backed and said, “that was awesome, boy I just loved that match I was involved in”. Usually it’s actually the opposite. I ignore all the positive things that happened in the match and focus on the little things that irritate me that somebody else might not even notice. There is certain things I wish I could change. I wish we could of played some things out a little longer, but I also feel at some point the Aces and Eights segments were eating up so much time on TV. That would be my only regret or criticism. We would come out four times a night and it would lose its luster after you already heard the song three times, by the fourth time it means even less.
Brandon Galvin: You’ve been involved in some highly entertaining and elaborate storylines throughout your career. Has there ever been an idea that you wanted to go through with, but weren’t able to execute?
Mr. Anderson: There was a program I pitched in the WWE for a character idea. It was a heel and had to do with laying guys out back stage with the camera never seeing who it was. I was a baby face on TV but all these people would be laid out backstage. Back in Vietnam, they would lay ace of spades cards on the dead bodies of the killed. It was an idea that was given to me by Steve Austin at one point. So that would be my calling card and then at some point I would come out to make the big save and turn on who I was saving to reveal myself. Throw an ace of spades card on them after. After pitching in WWE it got turned down, so I pitched it in TNA and they liked it but nothing came of it. I try to as much as I can stay out of that aspect of the business. I don’t involve myself in story lines and angles. I take what is given to me and make the most of it.
Donald Wood: Over your long career in wrestling, you have fought legends like Shawn Michaels, Sting and Kurt Angle. Looking back, who did you enjoy working against the most and who in the industry now would you most like to step in the ring against?
Mr. Anderson: Who did I enjoy the most? I enjoyed working with Taker. He was amazing to work with and so helpful. He took MYP and myself under his wings. I always felt like in the WWE that there were two mountain tops. There was the SmackDown mountain with Taker, Batista, Kane, Booker T, and Rey Mysterio on top of the mountain, and they were throwing rope ladders down. Lending helping hands, saying, “Come on up here, the weather is fine, we can all breathe up here, and we can all make money together”. On the other mountain, you had people who shall remain nameless, who were pushing boulders and hot pots of oil down the mountain to get you off. I remember Taker being enormously helpful in my career and really gave me some fantastic advice. Some of it I took, some of it I didn’t. Who would I like to work most with today? In TNA, I have yet to get my hands on Gunner and he is the total package. He has a tremendous look, his work is amazing, what he does in the ring looks believable, great on the mic, and passionate about the business. So I would really like to get my hands on him. I’m getting ready to do something with EC3 that I’m really looking forward to. He has been one of my favorite people to watch the last few years. MVP and I have never had a chance to wrestle each other. We tagged when we were in the WWE and have been friends for several years, but have never had the chance to do anything in the ring against each other.
Mike Chiari: One of the biggest pieces of news in wrestling right now is Samoa Joe’s announcement that he’s leaving TNA after so many great years with the company. As a veteran guy who has some tenure in TNA, what type of impact does Joe’s departure have on you personally and also on the locker room as a whole?
Mr. Anderson: Joe was a locker room leader, no question about it. Not a locker room leader that raised his hand and says, “I want to be the leader, I want to be your leader, I want you to look up to me”. People just naturally gravitated to him and his respect is all earned. When a guy like that leaves it impacts the locker room. In the business, we have come accustomed to people coming and going all the time, that’s just how this industry operate. Were still friends and still all connected. You can go five, ten years without talking to somebody, and then bump into them and pick up like it was yesterday. Joe, whatever he does, even if it’s just indies, he will be just fine.
Brandon Galvin: Before TNA made its debut on Destination America, we spoke with Dixie Carter who mentioned fans would notice several changes to the product and its presentation. Is there any change to the product over the past two months that stands out to you or something that you would like to see done moving forward?
Mr. Anderson: I’ve always seen things in wrestling that made me scratch my head ever since I was a little kid. Why everything has to take place inside the arena? I understand it’s a financial deal and it’s expensive to send camera crews out on the road. With modern technology, we all have pretty good cameras on our phones with editing equipment. Some of the best stuff that happens in the business is when we’re traveling between cities. When were stopped and out and about that’s when the really interesting stuff happens. I’ve always wanted to peel back the curtain a little bit and show that side of the business. In-ring promos have always sort of irritated me a little bit. I don’t understand why if I want to talk to Samoa Joe whey I need a microphone when I can just text him and talk to him in the locker room. In wrestling, you have to sort of suspend your disbelief. There are things we just accept about the business that we love and sort of like it.