If you scrounge around the internet, you’ll find videos of current NWA star Nick Aldis dancing on a riverboat as part of a fan interaction event held in 2011 back when he competed for TNA Wrestling under the name Magnus. Reflecting back on that moment, Aldis isn’t necessarily proud of his dancing – but he is proud of being part of a memorable event for those who saw it, live or on YouTube.
“Probably not my most professional hour,” he laughed, during a sit-down interview with SlamWrestling.net at last month’s NWA Crockett Cup show. “The thing is, that everyone who was there still remembers it. And at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing: making moments for fans.”
Making those memories is what Aldis wants to do, whether he’s dancing or – more comfortably for him – competing in the ring, as he did at the Crockett Cup in an unsuccessful attempt to regain the NWA World title from Matt Cardona. Moreover, he’s glad to be doing it for NWA, which allows him to be more hands-on than ever before in every aspect of his character and storylines.
“It’s great to have fun – if you’re having fun, then the audience is having fun. But for me, (what’s important) is doing what’s rewarding,” he said. “And (NWA) is far and away the most rewarding stuff I’ve done. Because I’m so deeply involved in every element – soup to nuts, the angles and the matches and the show itself.”
The evolution of the NWA in the five years since Billy Corgan purchased the company has been significant, and Aldis has been involved in every aspect of it, he said proudly. “I remember when the NWA wasn’t really cool to see how we’ve been able to slowly grow the operation. I remember when the NWA was me and the camera. And whenever you’re in control of your own stuff, as much as I am, there’s no better feeling than that.”
He contrasts his NWA experience from places where he’s worked previously, including during his stint as TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
“Most people who work for a bigger company will tell you what the hardest part is. It’s when you have an idea that would work, or you have a way of doing something that will work, but you basically get told, ‘We’ve already decided, and we don’t care what you think.’ It’s frustrating, because you’re thinking, ‘Can I have at least one shot to do it my way and see what happens?’”
“You know, that’s kind of how I felt about TNA. If you look at my stuff that I was doing in TNA, even when I had the world title, everything was a compromise. This is what they want, and this is what I want, so we sort of meet in the middle. And then of course, you never fully get there, and so nobody’s happy.”
That said, he appreciates that the timing may not have been right back then for them to entrust him as much as Corgan does today.
“Look, I know that I wasn’t fully mature yet as a performer either,” he acknowledged. “I look back on some of that stuff now, and some if it feels so unfinished, you know, not polished, not refined yet. And then I think, ‘God, (what could have been) if I were the me that exists now if I had the resources I did back then?”
But, having developed into the seasoned performer he is now, Aldis not only enjoys additional freedom – but is confident that, when given the ball, he can run with it every time.
“For the last sort of three or four years, I’ve felt very comfortable,” he said. “Give me anything, and I’ll find a way to make it work. There are often times where I get stuff dumped in my lap with very little notice, you know, like at the last set of tapings. Stuff was going a little late on a pre-show, and Pat (Kenney) came up to me and asked ‘Can you go out there right now and do a three-minute promo?’ It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, you’re up in five minutes, can you think up something?’ This was quite literally, go now.”
“That’s a matter of trust,” he explained. “The trust that Billy has in me that I can go do that. And that trust is a two-way street, you know? I trust him and he trusts me.”
That trust doesn’t mean that the two of them necessarily agree on everything, but for Aldis, disagreements come with the territory – and they actually make the creative process better.
“That’s what being an independent contractor is all about,” he maintained. “There’s always a debate about wrestlers, and whether they should be independent contractors or should be employees. But here, I think you see a very healthy example of why we’re independent contractors.”
“He has a lot of ideas. I don’t agree with all of them – and I don’t need to. But when it comes to my stuff, his first question is ‘What do you think?’ which is a very cool place to be. And if we disagree on things, we can just go, ‘All right, we’ll try it your way.’ And there’s no sense of ‘I told you so,’ afterwards – it’s more, let’s do it, let’s commit. It’s certainly the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had with a booker or promoter, simply for the reason that I’m allowed to disagree.”
Aldis believes that Corgan has a unique understanding of how to collaborate with talent from his life in music.
“Billy has had that dynamic,” he said by means of comparison. “For Billy (when he’s making music), his recording is first and foremost. He’s had that dynamic of dealing with record executives and suits. They didn’t write the music, they’re not playing the music. But they have all these ideas. But, it’s like football, if I can use the analogy: Billy’s the head coach, and I’m the QB. We work together to win the game.”
By that analogy, Aldis is hoping not just to win games, but he’s looking to win championships, and his quest to regain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. While some people – and promotions – somewhat discount the importance of holding a title, considering them simply as props for the storyline, Aldis disagrees.
“Anyone who says that,” he argued, “means they haven’t held it yet. I mean, it’s all BS until you have it.”
He feels that’s particularly true in NWA, as the company has done its best to protect the legacy of the championship, and thus, its importance.
“The belt is only as important as you make it,” he explained. “It’s all in the way you present it. (We’ve) invested a lot of time and energy into making that belt the most valuable asset that the company has. We made the decision from jump that we’re going to make this belt as important as the people that have held it. One of the things that Billy and I talk about is that we’ll reinforce that the title is the ‘protect at all costs’ asset, you know, the guiding light of the ship.”
With that mentality, it’s no surprise that Aldis is proud to have done his part to keep the legacy of the title strong.
“As a world champion, if you’re doing a good job, it should be a big deal when you lose it. If you look back at the two times that I’ve lost, they’ve both been big deals, big reactions, sold out house,” he noted, “And there was an emotional reaction from the (audience), and that’s as much as you can hope for.”
As for what he hopes comes next, Aldis is looking to continue with some high-profile feuds. Since losing the title last August to Trevor Murdoch, Aldis had been in a prominent feud with his former faction Strictly Business (Thom Latimer, Chris Adonis and Kamille), before challenging current champion Matt Cardona for the title. Along the way, he did reunite briefly with his former British Invasion partner Doug Williams – though being in a tag team again isn’t something he’s looking to do at this point.
“I was happy to do the reunion,” he clarified, “but it’s not something I would want to do all the time. Because it wouldn’t be the best use of me for this company. We’ve invested so much time as me as a singles wrestler, it would almost be going back to square one. I can be more useful helping elevate people as a singles guy. As much as teaming with Doug (Williams) is like a night off, I want to be in control of my own destiny. I want to tell my story, either in a title picture or in a meaningful rivalry.”
When asked about longer-term goals, Aldis was quick to point out that he is in no way ready to hang up the boots, looking to dissuade any speculation to that effect that he’s seen in various reports.
“It’s funny,” he observed,” that in the last few weeks, that kind of (question) has come up. I’m only 35 years old. I mean, I know I’ve been at this a long time, but I started young. Plus, thanks to the schedule here, I feel very, very good, my body feels great.”
Some of those questions may have to do with the success of his LegacySupps.com sports nutrition company. But Aldis notes that being involved in those ventures shouldn’t be misconstrued as anything else.
“In wrestling, everyone is always looking for the angle,” he wryly noted. “No, I just like having multiple income streams. Wrestling isn’t the most secure profession in the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a nice living on a fairly regular basis for quite a long time. But at any given time, (Corgan) could just say, ‘I’m done with this, I’m gonna shut the whole thing down.’ Right? Like, again, we are (independent contractors). So I like being a business owner, and I like having other things to do.”
“But wrestling is what I’ve devoted my 10,000 hours to. So I’ve never thought about (retirement) at all. I don’t see myself wrestling much past 40, but does anyone? Everyone who is wrestling past 40, I’m sure they all thought that they weren’t going to. But it all depends on how your body’s feeling and whether you’re making money.”
That said, he has been taking on backstage roles – possibly planting seeds for the day when he eventually does hang up the boots.
“I love working behind the scenes, working on production. I made use of the pandemic lockdown to teach myself how to edit and direct. I’m still very green,” he quickly clarified. “Like I’m sure real professionals who edit TV and movies and stuff will probably look at my work and (tell me) it’s a bit sloppy and that I use really basic effects or whatever. But I’ve also had feedback from guys who I trust who have made things for ESPN and worked on TV shows and movies, and they have told me that I have some talent there, that I’m green, but to keep developing (the skill).”
“For me, watching those build pieces, like the 10 Pounds of Gold pieces in the video packages, that was always a big part of my wrestling fandom along with watching the matches themselves. I was talking with (Impact Wrestling producer) Dave Sahadi the other day, just picking his brain. Because he made a lot of the stuff that I watched that I look at to help me with my own stuff. He made a lot of those great packages that resonate with so many (wrestling fans).”
“Again, having those kinds of opportunities is another reason why I like being here in NWA. Which isn’t a knock on any other company, but I know that’s not an option anywhere else. They’re not saying, ‘Yeah, come on in and work in production, and help develop the talent, and help me scout people.’ Here, it’s all hands on deck.”
As opposed to all feet on the deck of a riverboat, say?
“No further comment,” he laughed.
TOP PHOTO: NWA announcer Kyle Davis interviews Nick Aldis early in 2022. NWA photo
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