Manik recently spoke to The Shining Wizards. Here are some highlights from the interview.
On the of the X-Division to a Triple-Threat format: “The only thing that bothers me sometimes, every single time you have a match like that, one guy is going to be painted as the dark horse, when in actuality they’re as much a number one contender as any other person in the match. It’s kind of a double-edged sword, because guys are fighting for their individuality which provides for them to put out better performances, but it can complicate it because I think guys feel like they need to compensate more in order to stay relevant. It’s a constructive format in the sense of creating more competition, in every sense, I mean, mentally, professionally, everything, it makes you feel a lot more competitive when you know you have to share the spotlight like that. I mean, in relation to the way that the division has always been, it’s not all that different altogether from any other time in history. Just now, there’s an actual rulebook that says it’s official. We’ve been seeing it for years, it was just never written on a piece of paper.”
On whether or not the Triple-Threat format has the same feel as singles competition: “I kinda feel that it’s not on the shoulders of the format as much as on the shoulders of the individuals competing. There are personal things people are drawn into, they’re there, but if you are not staying relevant as an individual, then people are going to refuse to see it. Recent history is a good example. Myself, Kenny King, and Chris Sabin shared a spotlight for several weeks. Initially, Sabin was on a tear, so a lot of people were drawn to him. So it was my job to make sure that I’m making a statement, vying for the same exact spot he is. And it ended up being a pretty equal share as far as… we all have individual stories, but people were drawn into each direction. There were a lot a people that look to Kenny as a guy that they’re hoping to hang onto his spot, and they can relate to that. There are a lot of guys… obviously the entire world can relate to Chris Sabin and him having such a comeback story. And me, having made a splash out of nowhere, I had to fight to stay relevant. In other cases you don’t see guys holding on to their… they don’t handle themselves well enough to keep that up. It goes back to the competitive nature of it. Although I do think that they are probably going to keep an open book as to how the format will continue. If we are to see headline-style matches… I mean I’m gonna wrestle the World champ in a singles match. If they can see the draw and interest in special occasions, I think the format isn’t exactly set in stone.”
On working with the legendary Hulk Hogan: “I could’ve done without having appeared after beaten within an inch of my life. But outside of limping across the stage, it’s a pretty big moment, and it’s one of those things that you have to take a double-take to appreciate it. This is a guy that my mom had him sign one of my head-shots when I was a kid, and I had his autograph on my wall since before I became a wrestler. Who doesn’t know Hulk Hogan? Ten years from now a new wrestling fan will be created that maybe isn’t even born yet, and they will know who Hulk Hogan is. It’s insane to think know much impact he’s had on the world, that’s how far he reaches. Being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the guy is a pretty powerful thing.”
On smaller guys getting a chance in the main event spot: “Personally, it’s a case of… look at another company, like WWE, and there’s guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, and people firmly believe that they’re doing such revolutionary things. But if you look back through history, there’s been somebody doing that every few years. We’re talking Guerrero and Jericho, Michaels and Hart, we go back as far as the days of Sammartino, and some of those heavyweight main eventers are like 5’10”, 5’11”, and they might be heavier guys but they don’t fit the mold… I think people assume they have a roster of seventy people that look like Batista, and that’s never been the case. But in this case I really feel like the people you mentioned, with myself, and Chris Sabin and Austin Aries, I think that it’s a situation opposite of that where the world is kind of seeing us carry the ball better than previous people who are the exact opposite mold of us within TNA. I think the fact that we’re able to build more momentum and do more with less; I think that’s where you see the transition, as opposed to older stars coming in and being handed the same ball that they’ve had previously, and maybe they can’t carry it the same way, but there was always faith in them. I think now we’re showing there can be faith given across the board because there’s a lot of people that can do just as well.”
On the current state of TNA: “I think things are great. People say this, and it’s not even about wrestling but just about a lot of things, when you’re on the inside or on the outside of things looking in, and how different it can be when you’re not present for everything, and this really fits one of those cases. As far as I can see, everything is about as positive as it can be. When I was like 18 years old, I first came into TNA in 2004, and from then until now, I’ve been back intermittently, and I feel like the changes have been progressively good; I’ve never seen them take a step back, and I think the professional changes that have gone on in formats and, you know, taking the show on the road, and the touring schedule, stuff like that, everything has been a positive transition. And I think they’ve handled it really well. As far as cuts and things like that, I think that a lot of people make a big deal out of making something out of nothing. It sucks when difficult decisions have to be made, but this really isn’t anything new and not anything that you don’t see anywhere else. WWE cuts like fifty people like clockwork the same time every year. It’s just part of being… it’s with anything. If you run a professional sports team, sometimes half the roster is gone at the end of the season, that’s just the way it is. You’d like to see some guys stay. You understand when some guys go. It’s a tough situation, but I think if you look at it in a different way, professional wrestling… you could be a CEO or an executive somewhere, and if you lose your job there there’s no public announcement to the world “hey, we wish the best of luck to this guy, he’s available now,” there’s no validation, so to speak. If you work some other job, it’s more cutthroat. If you’re an executive somewhere and your contract is up or you get fired, you’re done. They don’t put it out in public that you’ve been a great employee, good luck to this guy or anything like that, you’re just out. I don’t see why people think it’s so harsh in wrestling when I feel like we do a lot for each other when ties are cut to maintain careers and such… [Emotion as a fan], something like that will never change, as with anything. You hate to see something you’ve become so attached to go… I didn’t want to see Metta World Peace get amnesty. Sometimes I hate him and want him to go to the bench, but at the same time he gets cut, you’re like, that sucks, but… Any organization, especially in entertainment, they have to make these exact same changes routinely. I think it’s not anything out of the ordinary. I think if anybody sees it that way, I think it’s a case of them trying to see it in a negative way. Then sometimes there’s tough cuts with people, where you feel like they should’ve been given a bigger chance or something like that. Maybe because of the course their career has taken, something like that, or something that’s happened to them within their personal life, or whatever their story is. But at the end of the day we all signed up for this knowing all the negatives, so I don’t see why it should be such a surprise if the ball doesn’t always bounce exactly the way we think. I mean, I’ve been homeless, I’ve been bankrupt, I’ve been cut a million times from a million places, and I’ve had opportunities taken from me that were completely beyond my control, never once did I say “man, I hate this place,” wherever I was. I signed up for this. When I was thirteen years old, I knew what I was getting into. We all do. It’s hard for the fans to understand that, but at the same time, I think if you do see the bigger picture, you would see that it’s just a tough part of any job in the world. As far as morale, not everybody has the luxury of being able to walk the halls of the locker room, but I think morale, to me, especially because I know so many people that I work with, it’s as high as it’s ever been. I think people, whether it’s WWE or here, or a Japanese company, or CMLL, sometimes negative people want… they’ll only want to see a certain reality in their head, like people walking around with their heads down, and that’s never been the case. In fact, I’ve never, ever once seen that be the case from 2004 until now.”