When I spoke with you almost a year ago, as TNA made its way to Macon, you were clearly unhappy with the way things were going for you under the Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff regime at that time. But you've since found yourself back in the spotlight as TNA moves in a much different direction. How do you feel about your place in the company and the new direction things have been going overall?
I think the new direction's good, man. We've done a lot of good stuff and the ratings are good, so there's not much to complain about.
You're returning to Georgia this Friday and Saturday before going into the No Surrender pay-per-view on Sunday, including a show in your hometown of Gainesville. What are some of your favorite things about coming back to wrestle in your home state?
It's always nice to hear the Georgia people get behind the hometown guys, and always nice to hear those fans going crazy for you. And when I'm directly in my hometown of Gainesville, we're just upping it a little bit more. And the fact that I get to go home and sleep in my own bed is fabulous.
At Saturday's show TNA will be allowing some local guys from your old stomping grounds of NWA Wildside/Anarchy to participate in the Gut Check for a shot at getting signed with the company. Do you know any of the guys participating in that or see potential in any of the local indie wrestlers?
I've heard of one or two of the guys coming up for the Gut Check. Hopefully it will all work out for them. Timing is always important and hopefully their timing is right and they'll get some people to look at them. I know there's definitely some great talent up at Anarchy, they've just got to get them seen.
I haven't really had the opportunity to be on the independent scene too much. Honestly, the only time I've had a chance to do that was on a trip overseas. So I haven't really had the opportunity to check out much on the independents, which stinks. That's where you get started and cut your teeth and to not be around it is kind of weird. But at the same time, work calls and you've got to be on television, you've got to be on the road with the company you're with. But I know there's some talent out there.
It's a great little place, man. It's the perfect atmosphere for wrestling.
You're in Orlando on Thursday, Atlanta on Friday, Gainesville on Saturday and back in Orlando for No Surrender on Sunday. Do you know who your opponents will be at any of these events?
Not a clue. Your guess is as good as mine. Austin Aries, James Storm, Sonjay Dutt, Christopher Daniels and tons of other guys are on these shows, so who knows who I'm going to wrestle? But I can guarantee you it's going to be a good one. I'm not sure who I'm wrestling on Sunday, but I do know I'm on the show.
TNA has grown to become one of the world's biggest wrestling promotions and this string of Georgia shows is a perfect example of how wide its reach is. From a big-city show in Atlanta to a small-town show in Gainesville the next night, how do the crowds compare in these different environments?
In smaller towns there's less to do, which means more people come out and watch wrestling. So it sounds different, but it's really all the same as far as the crowd goes and how many people come out to the shows. There's not much of a big difference to be honest with you.
Over the past several weeks you've been bogged down with this soap opera-like fiasco with Christopher Daniels and Kazarian accusing you of having an affair with TNA president Dixie Carter, then of being the father of Claire Lynch's child. It seems like you finally cleared your name last Thursday, but do you think that is completely behind you now?
I definitely hope Claire Lynch is behind us and wrestling Christopher Daniels is behind us since you guys have seen that so many times. The only person that I really haven't wrestled one-on-one is Frankie Kazarian and I need to get my hands on him before this whole thing ends. Hopefully that will happen this Sunday because this guy's gone unscathed through the whole thing. He's turned his back on me, he's literally hit me from behind, so there's a lot that I need to take out on him. We've been in tag matches, but no one-on-one stuff.
Follow all of Jonathan's TNA coverage this weekend at www.wrestlingwithpopculture.com.
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