– During his interview with Chris Van Vliet, Austin Aries went into depth on his exit from Impact Wrestling after a controversial moment at Bound For Glory 2018. Aries was the Impact Wrestling World Champion at the time and was in the middle of a feud with Johnny Impact (Morrison). The feud got attention after Impact and Aries took personal shots at each other on social media and suggested in interviews that it was a legit personal issue.
That all led into their match at Bound For Glory, which saw Austin lose the title. Aries, however, seemed to no-sell the finish and got up quickly after taking the pinfall loss, shouted at Don Callis who was on commentary, flipped off the crowd and left. All the talent around the ring seemed legitimately confused, and Aries exited the company soon after.
Highlights from the lengthy discussion, and the full video, are below:
On if the whole thing was a work: A lot of people were hitting me up after, asking ‘Is it a work or a shoot?’ And I was like, ‘Yes.’ Listen, the best parts of wrestling is when you pull from realism. The part where I got up and walked off, and f**ked everyone off and s**t? I didnt go into business for myself. There were other people that were aware that was going to happen. There was a plan for me to return. There was a — it was my idea, an idea I pitched for a reason and that those people knew of, that needed to know. [It got approved] by the people that needed to approve it and needed to know, yes.
On whether Morrison knew: At the end? Im not sure. I dont know if I told him that or not. But it didnt matter for him … I do believe he knew. And to be fair, — and I’ll say this, we’ll get to the whole story, but watching it back I can see I could have done a couple of things that would have maybe had it play a little different, that maybe would have been more to my liking. But it garnered the reaction and result that I wanted … I just had to think about who knew everything. Im pretty sure John knew. I wasn’t specific about — I pretty much I said, Listen dude. Post-match: 1, 2, 3 4, 5, 6, Im gonna get up and Im gonna fuck everybody off and walk to the back and you can kind of sit there like, What the f**k? That wasnt supposed to be end scene.’
On the original plan for the match and his contract talks at the time: The original finish for that match was me [going] over. They called and told me that months before. I had been only doing — and here was what I was doing there, signing three, six month deals. Staying in that honeymoon phase, wine and dine me. Maybe a little promise ring, but not the real thing … My whole thing was, I told them, I dont want to work for you. Ill work with you, and I want to keep keep my flexibility.’ And here was the other thing too, and I said this to them. I was able to get more traction in other companies working as their champion because I wasnt under a deal where they had to f**king deal with [Impact]. They had such a bad reputation that it was a godsend for these other companies to go, Oh, I can have you on there and only have to deal with you?’ ‘Yeah dude, you’re good. It’s good Im spreading goodwill for the company, by them not having to go through all the normal channels they used to have to deal with this bulls**t … So I said, Listen guys. I will take less money to keep my flexibility, because I can do more for you and for me having that flexibility. When I lock myself in and become another salary, Im not interested in that. And that number is not one you want to pay. It’s just not.
“So I was signing these short deals and I never planned on going anywhere as long as things were cool, which means communicating, and you’re using me in places I can be a difference maker … So they called me before and said, We want to keep this [the title] on you, we want to keep some continuity. We want to keep you long-term, offer you a long-term deal. You know, this and that. And I said, ‘I think oVe eventually could be babyfaces, we got the me and Moose thing and Kevin [Killer] Kross, I thought we could get traction as heels, and eventually those guys flip … and I mentioned in the call, which was funny, I said, ‘Hey, there’d be nothing wrong with giving it [the title] to John, kinda like the Pentagon run. Give it to him to kind of just freshen it up.’ I said, ‘The guy looks like a million dollars, youre trying to get a TV deal, hes on Survivor, hes good to put on a poster when you’re trying to negotiate s**t, way better than me. Give it to him for a little bit, and if you want to put it back on me and f**king heat me up for Sami, we can do that.’ It’s cool.”
On Impact changing their plans at the last minute: “When I found out — less than a week or so before [the show], I was doing some media and intuition, as they say, kicks in. I made a phone call to make sure, ‘I’m doing a bunch of media to promote this. Everything was still as planned?’ Well actually, champ, we think were gonna do a title switch at the PPV. And I was just like, Motherf**kers. And I dont give a f**k about dropping the belt. I don’t give two s**ts. I do care about the fact that A, youre deciding this after we did eight weeks of TV and now you just made me a liar for probably like the first time in my career. Secondly, I wasnt let into this whole change of plans. You had some long meeting to change it and didn’t feel the need to bring me in. Which was fine, but communication was an important part of our process. And now, instead of having a good match, Im put off by whats becoming a lack of transparency and communication, which was most important in our relationship.”
On Impact stalling on his contract: Meanwhile, my contract stuff. They send me an extension, instead of the long-term deal like they said. They send it last minute when Im flying over. Its an old negotiating tactic that I’ve been a party to. Wait until the 48th hour, put him in a corner and now you’ve gotta make a decision, right? Unfortunately, this time I wasnt blinking. And so I sent something back and said, Hey, just draw something up that gets us through TV. Because Im not gonna sign on for the same terms for another three or six months.’ I said, ‘We waited all this time and all this s**t’s changed.”
On what his intention was for the match: “So my intention was basically, I have no problem dropping the title. But I need to create a moment for this dude. We have a lot of good matches, I’ve got 15 years worth of matches … A lot of guys are focused on good matches, and I want to create moments. I want to pull on people’s emotions, and I want to make them believe. And a lot of times, when I think of a match like this, a title change, I’m thinking — I want to pick what I think is my opponents weakness, the chink in his armor, and I want to strengthen it. So when I thought about John, this guy has everything. Looks great, super athletic, he’s got a quirky, charming personality. But the one thing I’ll say is like, is he mean? If I go spit in his wifes face, whats he going to do? ‘Hey man, that’s not cool,’ or is he gonna f**king fight me? What happens when the s**t hits the fan? Is he tough? Can he fight? Ive never seen that side. Let me see if I can pull that s**t out. So my whole thing was, I make this personal. And now, we’re not gonna have a wrestling match, but like, ‘Can you fight me?’
On being off TV after: “We have disagreements on television creative and what they wanted me to do and what the follow-up was. I just didn’t think it was beneficial for me, for the guys they had behind me, I didn’t think it was well thought out. I didn’t think they had a very good plan and I didn’t feel obligated to sign anything to do those television (dates) if I didn’t feel comfortable. So I just kind of said, ‘Listen guys, if I lose the title after talking s**t, I shouldn’t show up a week later anyway and talk more s**t. I need to disappear for awhile. The show could probably use some freshening up. Just get me off TV for a bit, let this these guys carry this s**t for a few weeks, let me go lick my wounds and come back. So I can not be there Monday.’ I was like, ‘Honestly, just keep me off for a month. Or at least two weeks, have me come back week three or week four.'”
On leaving the company: “So now, we’re going into this without having a contract in place. So effectively, when this match is done, I don’t have anything. So my idea was, I want to leave with some buzz and controversy. I wanna do something that gets people’s attention and so that there’s a payoff here … the plan was for me to come back. ‘Hey good, guys. We’ve got a month now before you guys come to my hometown in Vegas. Let’s figure out this f**king contract deal, let’s figure out the right way to have me come back and do this … We have a month now, instead of putting me in a corner.’ And they just dropped the ball. They just waited waited until the last minute to basically put the same offer in front of me that had been in front of me before.
“And with everything that had gone down, I just — my counter was ‘Let me come and be in creative. You guys are undermanned. You got guys like Sonjay [Dutt]’s leaving, Abyss is leaving. Let me come be in creative.’ I said, ‘No offense, but I did more in a week with a f**king tweet than you guys did in eight weeks with TV’ … But they passed on that for a conflict of interest. And that’s cool, so it’s like, if I’m offering my time as a compromise top you not being able to pay me what I’m worth, and you don’t think that’s valuable? Then I just kindly, around December or whatever, I just declined on the contract. And I gotta be honest. With all due respect to the talent there, nothing they’ve done as a company since has made me regret the decision. And if anything, I made the right one, and how much, in a lot of ways, I think I was holding some of that shit together. ”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to 411mania.com for the transcription.