As a former two-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, Ken Anderson is looking to ascend back to the top of the mountain in TNA.
That starts Sunday at Sacrifice when he meets Jeff Hardy in a match that could have major implications on the title picture.
Anderson held the world title for a little more than two months combined in 2011 before losing it to Sting in July and never, as he so famously reminded everyone on almost every occasion, got his rematch.
After sitting on the sidelines to take care of some personal issues for about four months, Anderson returned in March and will get the first chance to take a big step forward in the rankings when he and Hardy collide yet again Sunday.
“I think every encounter I have with Jeff is significant,” Anderson said Wednesday on a TNA conference call. “I’m dealing with a guy who is, in my opinion, a living legend and is probably one of the youngest living legends we have in our business. He’s somebody I completely looked up to when I was coming up through the ranks and I still do. We’re all still fans of the wrestling business, we’re the biggest fans out there. I’m a fan of Jeff Hardy. We’re very competitive. We like each other, so that’s always a challenge to wrestle each other when you’re getting along, but I always enjoy getting in the ring with Jeff.”
Last year, these two feuded over the world title. At Genesis, Anderson defeated Matt Morgan to become the No. 1 contender and went back-to-back, defeating Hardy in the next match to win his first world championship.
A little more than a month later, Hardy reclaimed the gold in a ladder match at Against All Odds.
The loss kicked off a turbulent 2011 for Anderson that saw him flip flop more than a politician in an big election.
“There are things I wish could’ve been done a little bit differently,” he said. “I probably wouldn’t have chosen to make the switch so many times. I think last year I turned four or five times, maybe. It was a little hard for me to wrap my head around, but things have changed.”
Still, Anderson doesn’t have any regrets about his TNA run, which started in early 2010.
“It’s the wrestling business, you never know what to expect,” he said. “You never expect anything and I came to learn that pretty early on in my career. They say believe half of what you see and none of what you hear in the wrestling business and I think that’s pretty true. I’ve been pretty happy with the way things have gone in TNA. There’s always room for improvement and I always look back at every single match and I don’t recall a single one in the history of my career where I’ve sat back and said, ‘That match was great, I love that match.’ There’s always something I’m critical of and I think you’ll find that with most actors, athletes and most people who are just competitive in nature.”
Even though he thinks maybe he could’ve been handled differently in 2011, Anderson makes no bones about it that those decisions aren’t his to make, nor does he want any part of it.
“It was frustrating, but I don’t take part in any of the creative,” he said. “I don’t want to be a part of that. I don’t want to be one of those guys that sits in on the meetings and then books himself to do certain things. I try to just do what I’m told to the best of my ability. I’m a performer. I take what they give me and try to make the most out of it. I can always be better.”
What it comes down to for Anderson is constantly trying to prove himself to management, even if he’s in the good graces. He constantly tries to evolve himself and stay at the top of his game.
“I just try to go out there and give them the best show possible and the best performance,” he said. “And hopefully they see, through my work and my work ethic, that I’m somebody they can put their faith in and put the company behind.”