Magnus No More: Nick Aldis on TNA Turmoil and Joining Jeff Jarrett
Nick Aldis – formerly known as Magnus – just wrestled his final match for TNA at last month’s Slammiversary, ending a six-and-a-half year run with the company that saw him rise from generic enforcer to World Champion. His departure comes during a time of turmoil for TNA, which has been rocked by rumors of canceled TV deals and an exodus of top stars, including James Storm and Austin Aries.
I had the chance to speak with Aldis about his decision to leave the company on my podcast – and he didn’t hold back, describing a “turbulent” locker room and a promotion lacking the leadership of a traditional wrestling booker. He also spoke about his final feud with James Storm (and the controversial “train tracks” angle involving his real-life fiancée, Mickie James), his new deal with Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling and how the future of wrestling might involve unions.
What led to your decision to leave TNA?
I’ve been with TNA for six-and-a-half years, which has been incredible for me. I’ve seen a lot of changes in that time, just like you would with any company. I’ve seen a lot of resets, and all the while I’ve always somehow managed to stay the course and develop and grow as a talent. I reached what I thought was the pinnacle of my career at the end of 2013 [when he won the TNA World Title].
I came to the decision, if I’m honest with myself, about six months ago, maybe a bit before that, that I would leave the company when my contract was up. I’ve done everything that I can do, and I appreciated everything. It’s just time for me now, at 28 years old, to do something else to renew my focus and my energy. I just feel like I maxed out what I can do at TNA. Some people call it the seven-year itch, and I can totally relate to that.
You just signed with Global Force, but all of a sudden, Global Force might be involved with TNA. Will that be weird for you?
There is something I have to clear up. It’s not so much that I’m leaving TNA for GFW, that’s just a coincidence that I’m going there immediately. I had let TNA know that I was going to leave on June 30, and we left on good terms. We agreed to wrap things up the right way, and I loved the way that we did. Then Jeff showed up on TV, and I looked at him and just said, “What the hell?” I was backstage at the TV tapings, and little Kody [Angle] came running up to me and gave me a big hug. I didn’t put two-and-two together, because I thought maybe Kurt had the kids. Then I saw Jeff’s kids, and then I saw this SUV. Suddenly the window rolls down and Jeff is there. I just told him, “I don’t even want to know.” I had no idea he was going to show up, and I’m still not sure what is going on completely.
Despite that, how does it feel to be done with TNA?
You’re not going to find me saying anything but positives about my time in TNA. They have given me everything up to this point. I’ve earned it, and sometimes I’ve made my mark in spite of their decisions, but they gave me the platform and the income, and I made something of myself with them. That being said, I have to tell the truth. When I gave my notice, and had a conversation with John Gaburick – “Big,” as people like to call him – by the time we got off the phone I felt like a 100-pound weight had been lifted off my back. There was always something. Every week there was a new rumor. I do sometimes think some of it was unfair to TNA. It became en vogue to just rip on TNA. If some of those things that had been reported about TNA had been reported about, say, Ring of Honor, everyone would have just talked about how much it sucks for them. But because it was TNA, it turned into how terrible they were and how they were run by about a bunch of idiots
I hope that everything works out for them. I don’t know what the hell is going on with Global and everything, but I had to trust my gut. I’ve been in the business for 10 years. I’m a student of the game. I love the business. I feel like I’ve been involved in every facet of the business. I sat with the camera guys, and back in the truck, sitting on the headsets, just to get a feel for the whole business. I’ve really run the gauntlet of the business. My gut told me that the thing that had been missing was what Jeff had in the company – the experience as a real wrestling guy. He knows the business, and loves the business and knows talent. And I think that, for me, is the number-one thing. Jeff has a much better idea of talent and who to trust in important positions, and that might be the issue that I have with TNA right now. But I hope they haven’t reached critical mass and everything can work out.
You talk about all the rumors and how they weighed you down – what was the locker room like over the past few months?
To be honest, it was very turbulent. I’m sure you’re aware of the conference call that took place not too long ago. There were things said in that conference call that were a long time coming. I’m not about to throw any talent under the bus, but there were certain things that I heard in that conference call, like talent saying, “I’m disgusted by this” or, “We have a right to know.” Anyone that’s been involved with TNA knows that at times, I’ve been very outspoken. There was a point where I just sat there and thought that what everyone has to remember is that as an independent contractor in wrestling, nobody owes you a living. You don’t have a right to be guaranteed a living just because you signed a contract somewhere. Most contracts, with exceptions, can just be canceled anyways. I just kind of went, “Nobody owes you a living.” Every day that I get to put on a pair of tights and boots and get to feed my son, that’s a good day.