TNA Impact Wrestling brings its talents to the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center for its Lockdown pay-per-view on Sunday, March 9.
The all steel cage event is headlined by heavyweight champion Magnus defending the gold against former tag team partner Samoa Joe. The two took time from preparing for the big confrontation to take questions from media via conference call.
Ever since becoming the champion in December, Magnus has worn the TNA championship proudly and fulfilled the obligations that have come with it. The 27-year-old has represented the company well the last few months at events not only in the United States, but in the United Kingdom and Japan. Magnus exudes confidence these days as he walks the aisle in his fitted suits and gold resting on his shoulders. This is the moment he has worked for during his more than five years with TNA.
“There is a lot more responsibility on every level when you have the championship,” Magnus said. “With the media responsibilities, I tend to say yes to everything because I believe that is the responsibility of the champion. As far as more work load, but obviously with that comes more reward. There are times where you think, ‘God, I wish I had an easy day.’ But you have to remind yourself that this is what you got into this job to do.
“To go up as high up as you can go. To be the world champion is the highest you can get in that organization. To be put in that position at my age and with the time that I still have in front of me, it’s great. Its hard work, but it’s a good kind of pressure.”
Standing on the opposite side of the ring will be his opponent the “Samoan Submission Machine”. Joe is no stranger to big main event matches in TNA, but they have been few and far between for the talented performer. Joe’s first and only heavyweight title win came in 2008 at Lockdown when he defeated Kurt Angle. He is looking for a similar result this year.
“It’s a tremendous honor and a great place to be in right now,” Joe said. “It’s one I’ve always strive for and not shied away from. I always welcome the opportunity to be in this position and looking forward to capitalizing on it this weekend.”
If you’ve perused the internet over the years, you would see a consensus of frustration as it relates to the way the TNA has used Joe. However, his current standing should appease even the harshest of critics.
“A lot of times I felt in the company those agents who didn’t want to see me at the top of the card,” Joes said. “Now a lot of those people have kind of fallen to the waist side, and I’m kind of strong and have stayed very consistent in my ability in what I am able to do in the ring. I was always in it for the long haul, so the wait hasn’t really bothered me as much as it has the fan base…”
Magnus didn’t just reach a milestone for himself when he won the richest prize in TNA. He became the first world champion for an American promotion to come from the United Kingdom in 108 years.
“I have to say the fact that I was the first British world champion wasn’t something I ever thought about because I wasn’t aware of that until people brought it up when I was coming close to winning the title,” Magnus said. “It was just one of those things that I never really thought about. I’m very proud of where I’m from, but I’m not overly patriotic. For me, I’ve always been about me and reaching the top of the business. I never really thought, ‘Well, I’m going to do it for the Brits and all that.’…”
Magnus’ first defense on the big stage of a live pay-per-view comes at Lockdown against someone he has won the tag team titles with and learned so much from. The two have a lot of history with a new chapter in their story being written this Sunday.
“Joe and I crossed paths more than once on both sides of the fence,” Magnus said. “We’ve been opponents many times and we’ve been teammates many times. There’s an undeniable chemistry physically between our styles. They sort of mesh or clash depending on how you look at it and the day of the week it is. It just makes for good wrestling whether we are teammates or opponents.
“Right now we’re opponents. That is when you get the best out of Joe and I is as opponents. I think it’s going to be the most physically intense and brutal encounter of all of our rivalry with each other.”
If Joe takes the championship inside the cage, he would see it as reconfirmation of what he always believed.
“I’m the deadliest professional wrestler in professional wrestling,” Joe said. “Nobody ever wants to step into the ring with me. Nobody looks forward to wrestling me. I’m trouble on all ends and always have been. Winning that championship will be affirmation of that. I’m looking forward to proving to the world that I’m still the very best.”
Magnus is currently at the top of the TNA mountain during an era where the company is seeing an emergence of new talent. The Wolves and MVP are just some who have made an impact in the early part of 2014.
“I think we sometimes have a tendency to forget the fact the entire media landscape has changed,” Magnus said. “None of the television shows of today, even the big hits, get anywhere near the numbers the records show of the 90s or before that because there is simply more choice. As far as our genre is concerned, with on-demand and things of that nature, the landscape has changed. I think sometimes we look at the raw numbers and go, ‘Ugh, there is nowhere near as many people watching.’
“I think that we’ve become more of a global genre, and I think that is one of the things where wrestling stands the test of time as well. It transcends languages and cultures because it’s a simple kind of live theater that plays out in front of your eyes. I think for us to continue to further explore our international opportunities is a big thing.
“I think that momentum and some wise investments and smart moves. All it takes is a spark. Obviously, there is a market leader, and we are not it, but we can continue to develop things that we are doing. Things like our relationship with Wrestle-1 and our new deals overseas. We can continue to develop our product and our stars, and the whole industry benefits.
“I think not as many people will watch at one specific time, but if you combine all the times people are buying on-demand or watching it online and stuff like that there is still a very hungry audience for pro wrestling and we are always cultivating new ones.”
Listening to Magnus speak and seeing him in action, you see he has the presence of a world champion. The title holder also has strong opinions when it comes to the evolution of the business and the way it is perceived.
“Anything I do or say on TV is fictional,” Magnus said. “If I happen to deliver something in a realistic way, then that’s great. That’s what I’m looking to do. We are in the business, now more than ever, on television we’re required to do more and more acting as opposed to wrestling. I think the way the product has evolved that’s what people are more used to is that more realistic delivery of things. I don’t necessarily like that. I sometimes I like the idea of going a little bit more 100 miles per hour with stuff and kind of being over-the-top.
“That’s the product. We don’t produce the show. We don’t write the show. We perform what is given to us. I interpret the direction that is given to me and performing in a way that I interpret it as what they want. Sometimes it makes me laugh that the ‘smart fans’ or people that write on the websites or do the podcasts or whatever who spend more time watching wrestling than anybody else, but also seem to be the ones who have blurred the lines between reality and fiction more than anyone…”
The Magnus on TV convincingly talks ill of AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy and Sting, but when the cameras aren’t rolling his real thoughts are the complete opposite. In fact, the impressive athlete is grateful for Sting for his support and going to bat for him on more than one occasion.
“Sometimes a lot of the wrestling media, and I use that term loosely, they want to find something deeper than it actually is,” Magnus said. “They want to find some kind of motivation behind things. Is he doing this because he is upset with his creative direction? Did they make him do that because he has heat? So it’s that kind of stuff. There is nothing there or no basis to it other than this is what they decided to do. Sometimes it’s frustrating when there is this implication that there is a deeper meaning to it on a real level when it’s not.
“We’re making a two-hour movie every week and we have a day to put it together and execute. We are just entertaining and trying to do it the best way we can. If it comes off as realistic, then great, I’m glad you do so.”
All eyes will be on South Florida when a worldwide audience tunes in to watch Lockdown. The event caps off a weekend of festivities including the Fan InterAction on Saturday , March 8 at the Miami Airpot Hilton Hotel Ballroom.
“I’ve only been there a couple of times, but very briefly,” Magnus said. “They were both for a day shooting stuff, so I didn’t get to see much. I spent most of the day in a warehouse shooting scenes, but I’m looking forward to experiencing it on a real level. Getting a whole weekend there and maybe getting a bit of exploring there if I get the chance.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to travel down to Miami several times throughout my life,” Joe added. “It’s a very fun city. I have many fond memories there that probably aren’t fit for this conference call from Miami. It’s a town that is filled with very exuberant people. I think they will bring that energy to Lockdown.”
• Follow Magnus on Twitter @MagnusOfficial. Follow Samoa Joe on Twitter @SamoaJoe.
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN during Lockdown Weekend for tweet-by-tweet coverage from all the events.
• Miami on Lockdown
The TNA Lockdown pay-per-view, with each match in a steel cage, is 8 p.m. EST Sunday, March 9 from the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami in Coral Gables.
TNA champ Magnus vs. Samoa Joe.
Team MVP (Jeff Hardy, team captain MVP and The Wolves Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards) vs. Team Dixie (Austin Aries, team captain Bobby Roode and The BroMans Robbie E and Jessie Godderz).
TNA Knockouts champ Madison Rayne vs. Gail Kim.
Kurt Angle vs. Ethan Carter III.
The Great Muta, Seiya Sanada and Tigre Uno vs. Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels and Kazarian) and Chris Sabin.
Mr. Anderson vs. Samuel Shaw.
Cowboy James Storm vs. Gunner.
Your referees are Brian Hebner, Brian Stiffler and Earl Hebner.
For information on Lockdown visit www.impactwrestling.com.
Follow TNA’s social channels including @IMPACTWRESTLING and @TNADixie on Twitter and on Facebook at www.fb.com/IMPACTWRESTLING .
• Making an Impact
TNA Impact Wrestling is 9 p.m. EST Thursdays on Spike TV.