After a 15-year career working for every major wrestling promotion in the world, Austin Aries signed with the WWE and made his debut for the company’s developmental promotion, NXT. Moving forward, he’s expected to be a huge part of the brand, but for a long time, he thought his size would hold him back.
In a recent interview on Jim Ross’ podcast The Ross Report, Aries spoke about his decorated career. While he was initially trying to break into the business, he never gave thought to his five-foot, nine-inch, 200-pound frame.
“When I first started training, I guess the fact that I was undersized, it just didn’t register initially,” Aries said, via Wrestling Inc. “Obviously, I knew I wasn’t huge and there were some bigger guys in the territories at the time, but I guess I never looked at it as a hinderance. I just took it as all different.”
— PodcastOne (@PodcastOne) April 21, 2016
Working for promotions such as Ring of Honor (ROH) and Total Nonstop Action (TNA), Aries had no reason to feel that his size would hold him back. He engaged in several classic matches with the likes of Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Christopher Daniels, and several others.
However, it wasn’t until Aries got a few opportunities with WWE earlier in his career that the reality of not being accepted hit him. Yet, he did not view it as a death sentence to his career and more of a challenge to succeed in other places.
“Obviously then, fast forward a few years when I had some dark matches with WWE. Basically, I found out in a roundabout way that I wasn’t big enough. And that was really the first time that concept kind of hit me, like, ‘oh wow! Like, I might not be big enough to get certain opportunities’, but it really didn’t deter me.”
Then, on the March 2 edition of NXT (taped on January 22), Aries made his WWE debut when general manager William Regal introduced him to the Full Sail University crowd. Moments later, Aries was assaulted by “The Lone Wolf” Baron Corbin, setting in motion Aries’ first NXT feud.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) April 21, 2016
Following Aries’ victory over Corbin at NXT Takeover: Dallas, Corbin was called up to the main roster at WrestleMania 32, winning the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Since that win, he has become a staple on the main roster. Moving forward, Aries has an interest in working with several of NXT’s top stars.
“I have some history with some of the guys that are there. It would be fun to revisit some of that whether Sami Zayn, obviously just got called up [to WWE’s main roster]. Me and Samoa Joe have had some real classic battles over the years,” Aries said.
“I’ve actually never really competed with Finn Bálor, so I think that right now, considering his position in NXT, I think that our skill sets match up and I think he’s a guy who I haven’t wrestled who I think would be fun to get in there with and give the fans some excitement.”
If that opportunity ever arises, Aries also has a few names in mind on the main roster he’d like to compete against.
“Chris Jericho is a guy who I grew up really appreciating what he did in the ring. Again, maybe it’s a similar skill set to mine and he’s still going strong, so that’s a guy who would be fun to get in there with who I haven’t had the opportunity to. Seth Rollins when he comes back [from injury]. We did some stuff back in the Ring Of Honor days, but he [has] grown so much as a performer. I’m in a lot different point in my career, so that might be fun to kind of revisit and see what kind of matchup that would give us now.”
[Featured Image via WWE]