Twenty years into the pro wrestling business, there is very little that Austin Aries hasn’t seen or done. From Ring of Honor to Impact Wrestling to the WWE, Aries has worked for the industry’s top promotions and worked with some of the sport’s top performers, and now he’s set to take on a new challenge.
Aries recently hooked up with former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir to help prepare Mir for his pro wrestling debut. In the process, the two, along with comedian Tom Garland, have begun to develop what they hope could be a breakout entertainment concept.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com from his new home base of Las Vegas, Aries discussed how he came to work with Mir, adapting the former MMA champion’s skills to the pro wrestling world, and how he hopes to combine sports with entertainment in a new way with his joint venture with Mir and Garland.
MMAWeekly.com: Firstly, Austin, tell us how you ended up working with Frank Mir for his foray into pro wrestling.
Austin Aries: So Frank Mir does a podcast called Phone Booth Fighting along with Richard Hunter, who is an MMA fan, comedian, host, and has also been in the music industry. Richard is also a vegan, and for those who don’t know me, I’m also a vegan, so that was my original introduction.
A year and a half ago I did their podcast, and then through the course of the year I kept in contact and had done some stuff for the podcast. I was talking with Frank and told him I would love to come in and train with him, that it had been a number of years, but I used to do it in Minneapolis here and there, and he expressed he had some interest in doing some pro wrestling.
Over the course of the last six months, we talked more about it, and I saw he was actually serious, so I kind of laid out what I thought my vision and realistic plan for him and if it was something he wanted to pursue, so we just kind of took it from there.
MMAWeekly.com: What was it like taking Frank’s MMA skills and helping adapt them to the world of pro wrestling?
Austin Aries: The thing with Frank, it’s easy for me, because he has a legitimate background. This guy is an elite athlete. Now we talk about the other part, which is theater, and with Frank in the MMA game you’re taught to not show any type of emotion in the Octagon, but in pro wrestling all we are selling is emotion. So for Frank it’s about loosening up (and showing that emotion). But everything translates as far as athletically and as far as his skills – he’s legitimate – that’s the easy part; it’s going to be all the other theatrics and stuff as we get out there that’s going to be the key for him.
Right now, the beauty of pro wrestling is that there’s a bunch of different flavors out there, no matter what you’re into. I think me and Frank are aligned in that we like the authenticity of pro wrestling and honoring the art of combat and making this real, and that’s going to fit right in with what we’re trying to do.
MMAWeekly.com: I understand you’re looking to branch out a bit from the pro wrestling world. Tell us about that.
Austin Aries: When you’re a high-level athlete or high-level entertainer or high-level thinker, for a guy like Frank and a guy like me, in our early 40s, you’re starting to look at what is probably at the tail of your competitive career. You start looking at what other endeavors you can get into that maybe now you can extend and kind of take your skillset and apply to something new, a new challenge. It’s funny, I say every MMA guy wants to become a pro wrestler, every pro wrestler is trying to become a comedian, and we’re all trying to find a way to get kicked in the face a little bit less and still get paid for it.
I’m getting into stand-up comedy, and working with Tom Garland here, as we start developing our entertainment company; representing Frank, myself, and other people getting out there and talking, comedy and spoken word. Because again, I’m an entertainer. I can get on a stage whether it’s a wrestling ring or whether with a microphone in my hand, I’m a natural entertainer, so I want to always evolve and use the platforms I have to do good things with.
MMAWeekly.com: Thanks for taking time out for us, Austin. In closing can you tell us what maybe we can come to expect from this new endeavor with Frank and Tom?
Austin Aries: I’ve been doing this now close to 20 years and I’ve been lucky to wear many different hats in my history… I think more importantly I’m very transparent and maybe honest to a fault, my reputation precedes me in some circles, but I think one thing that every man and woman would say is I’m not a bulls—ter. I think in the entertainment and the fight game and the pro wrestling game that’s needed. Helping young guys starting their career and helping those that are trying to better our product, we need to come in and bring some integrity back to the game, and that’s what this all about.
That’s what this is about. Tom is a hard worker, he’s been doing this for 10 years in his field, in comedy and entertainment, and we feel there’s a cool opportunity to branch out. We’re trying to put all of these pieces together and just kind of grow something cool.
We’re going to roll this out on Starrcast weekend; we’re going to be out on September 1 for Warrior Wrestling in Chicago, Illinois. Frank, myself, Tom, we’re going to be kind of rolling in and roll out the ISEA; Integrity Sports Entertainment and Arts. We’ll roll it out that weekend and having some cool events. We’re going to have a seminar September 1 with Frank, myself and Tom. We’ve been working on some stuff and we’re about ready to roll it out, and we’re pretty excited.