Though any wrestling fan can tell you that we’re on the Road to Wrestemania right now, WWE isn’t the only game in town anymore. Companies like TNA Wrestling, Lucha Underground, Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and many other independent and international federations are providing different alternatives to Vince McMahon’s sports entertainment. And in all those organizations, very few individuals have the name recognition of “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels.
Formerly known as “The King of the Indies”, Daniels is a 22-year veteran of the squared circle. Though he’s never made it to the grand stage of Wrestlemania (yet), the Ring General is a well-traveled journeyman of professional wrestling and he has found success just about everywhere that he goes. And while he has built quite an impressive resume as a singles competitor, these days he’s mostly associated with The Addiction and his partner Frankie Kazarian. However, the duo formerly known as Bad Influence has recently taken their partnership outside of the ring and into the pages of ‘Aw Yeah Comics’.
Last week, we learned that Daniels and Kazarian would be appearing on this week’s episode of AMC’s ‘Comic Book Men’ with their new independent comic book ‘Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics.’ But before the tag team stands face to face with the men of Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, I had the privilege of speaking with the Fallen Angel about the book and their experience at The Stash. We also covered his love of Marvel Comics and touched on the hard-hitting match-ups in his near future at Ring of Honor’s 13th Anniversary in Las Vegas and House of Hardcore’s upcoming event in South Philadelphia.
ScienceFiction.com (SF): I think it was at House of Hardcore V at the National Guard Armory in Philadelphia where I saw Bad Influence vs. Tony Nese & Petey Williams. In that match, you were wearing S.H.I.E.L.D. tights.
Christopher Daniels (CD): That’s right!
SF: Based on your ring gear, it’s no secret that you’re a comic book fan. I think I know the answer to this, but here’s the big question: Are you a Marvel or a DC?
CD: Marvel. I’m definitely a Marvel guy. I get more access to DC than I used to back in the day, but Marvel is my first and foremost. I’ve been reading their stuff since sixth or seventh grade and that was a long time ago.
SF: What do you think about the current state of the Marvel Universe? Are you excited for ‘Secret Wars’?
CD: Absolutely! I’ve been following all the stuff since Marvel NOW debuted, so some of the biggest books for me were Jonathan Hickman’s runs on ‘Avengers’ and ‘New Avengers.’ Just looking at the scope of how long he’s taken to tell this story and how many different aspects, different characters, and different people were involved, it’s just mind-boggling. To know that it was all for a certain point and a certain reason to get to this story… It’s incredible, man. You can’t just skim over Jonathan Hickman’s stuff. You have dive into it feet first and just get in it. It’s just enjoyable. I really dig it.
SF: For sure. Hickman is incredible. Are there any other creators out there right now that you’re particularly paying attention to?
CD: I’ve been a [Brian Michael] Bendis fan ever since he was on ‘Daredevil.’ I was a huge fan of his stuff on ‘Avengers.’. Then when the Marvel NOW stuff came around and he jumped over to ‘All-New X-Men,’ that title and the stuff that he’s been doing there is so insane. He brought back the original X-Men and put them in the continuity today. Just the ramifications of that and everything that’s happened since then and ‘Uncanny X-Men’ as a sister book and what’s going on with the modern day Cyclops… All that has just been so awesome and I’ve been impressed by how much he’s been willing to risk in terms of continuity by taking the characters and putting them in the present day. It just boggles the mind.
One of the things that I said when the book came out that I was interested to see how long that book could last. I felt like at some point they’d go back to the status quo where the original X-Men would go back to their time and things would be back to normal. It’s been a couple of years now and it doesn’t seem like it’s going in that direction at all. It’s just astonishing to see how much more he could add to this canon by having these characters stay where they are and doing what they’re doing.
SF: Man, I need to read more of those X-books. My pull list is already making me poor, but I have to pick those up.
CD: I hear you, man. It’ll put a hole in your pocket getting everything that’s good and worth buying. One of the things that I’m reading right now is the ‘Black Vortex’ thing they’re doing with the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s another book that [Bendis] has brought back into prominence. But all the tie-ins to that have been pretty cool. It’s a really good story so far and I’m looking forward to it all.
SF: Did you have a chance to read CM Punk’s story in ‘Thor Annual’ #1 yet? Does his Best in the World moniker carry over to comics?
CD: I did! I just read it this week and it was really cool. He’s a fan of Jason Aaron and he hasn’t been quiet about it either. He’s been a fan since Aaron was on ‘Scalped.’ It’s cool that he had the chance to meet someone that influenced his reading like Jason Aaron did and then have the chance to collaborate with him on a character. I’m glad that he got the opportunity to dip his toe in the water and hopefully it’s something that he gets to do more often.
SF: But Punk isn’t the only wrestler to get into comics. You were actually a published comic book writer well before him. How did the opportunity to write an issue of ‘Aw Yeah Comics’ come about?
CD: Well Art Baltazar and Franco are the guys who do ‘Aw Yeah Comics,’ ‘Tiny Titans’ for DC, and ‘Itty Bitty Hellboy’ and ‘Itty Bitty Mask’ for Dark Horse. Frankie [Kazarian] and I met them in San Diego at the comic convention in 2011. They’re wrestling fans and I was a big fan of their work. We got to talking and stayed in touch. Then when they did their Kickstarter for ‘Aw Yeah Comics,’ I got the first couple issues of that and read the stories of Action Cat and Adventure Bug and Awesome Bear and one day I had the idea to write a story where Frankie and I interacted with those guys. I wrote it up completely unsolicited and sent it to them and asked them if they’d be interested in publishing it. I was just thrilled and overwhelmed that they were interested in doing it and we had it published two or three months after I sent it to them.
For me, it was… I don’t want to say a labor of love because it wasn’t something that I toiled over for months and months, but it’s just so cool that I wrote this story and these guys were such fans of it that they gave that book the opportunity to be made. Ever since it’s been out, I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from comic fans and wrestling fans. Now no matter what happens in my career, I can say that I had the chance to write a comic book. As a comic fan, that is such a big deal.
SF: Was it always going to be the Fallen Angel & Kaz starring in a comic book or was there ever talk of Curry Man making an appearance with Action Cat and Adventure Bug?
CD: No, it was always me and Frankie. Curry Man’s schedule is hard. It’s tough to get him to stand still long enough to have pictures taken for reference for the artist.
SF: Of course.
CD: But I’m not averse to writing a Curry Man story. I don’t think that there’s anyone more qualified to write a Curry Man story than me. Maybe Samoa Joe. He was Curry Man for a long time. Not a lot of people know. But we have talked about doing that. I’ve talked to them about doing more things. We’re actually announcing something coming up this Monday. I don’t want to say too much, but we’re in talks and hopefully there’s an opportunity for a Curry Man story or other nonsense from my brain in the near future.
SF: Are there any characters that you’re hoping to write in the future outside of ‘Aw Yeah Comics’?
CD: I would love to, but I don’t have any ideas right at this moment. I’ve thought about it and seeing what Punk did with the ‘Thor Annual,’ I’d love the opportunity to write a short story and present it to Marvel. Being printed in a Marvel comic book would definitely be a big deal for me. I’ve got a lot of friends at Marvel who talk to me about the possibility of doing something, but it all starts with the idea. I haven’t been struck with inspiration yet, but hopefully that’s not a permanent situation.
SF: This weekend, we’ll get to see you bring your ‘Aw Yeah Comics’ issue to the world of Kevin Smith on ‘Comic Book Men.’ What was your experience on that show like?
CD: It was great man! We got the opportunity to pitch to Walt [Flanagan], Ming [Chen], and Mike Zapcic. They were really cool. You go into the shop and these guys have seen everything. We wanted to bring the comic book to them to see if they’d be interested in selling it in the store. There are so many people with independent comics out there, but they took a look at our stuff and we had the chance to have a good conversation with them. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but it was definitely a good experience for me and Frankie. I’m looking forward to seeing how it comes out on TV.
SF: In your experience with the comic book industry, would you say that there are similarities between the worlds of comics and professional wrestling in terms of getting your work out there to the fans?
CD: Hmmm… I dunno, man. I’ve never looked at that aspect of it. I’ve always looked at it like pro-wrestling and comic books are similar in the sense that they’re the never-ending story. 52 weeks a year there’s a wrestling program on and every month barring cancellation we have new comics. The characters in comic books and the characters in wrestling are relatable in the respect because of the ongoing saga that each one is having. The heroes and villains of both intertwine through each other’s lives and experiences. As far as getting stuff out there, I think the availability of comic books these days, especially on the digital platform, is a big deal. It’s a lot easier for people to get a hold of them now because it’s just a matter of getting on your ipad and downloading them. You can get wrestling streaming to your ipad or your phone now, so I guess it’s similar there too.
SF: I guess what I was thinking of was more along the lines of the old days of professional wrestling with tape trading and things like that. Had I not lived in Philly when I was younger, I probably wouldn’t have known what Ring of Honor was. Similarly, I probably wouldn’t have read some of the comics that I’ve read if it wasn’t for the certain people before I got the internet.
CD: That definitely makes sense. I was around a little bit before the internet became as big as it is now. Back in the day when I wanted someone to find out about my work, I’d have to send them a tape. At this point now, you can search me on YouTube and you could see hundreds of matches that I’ve done. I didn’t really think about it, but they’re completely similar in that respect. In terms of how that’s all changed since the internet really came about, it’s true about everything. It’s easier now to get people to look at something if they don’t have to wait for it in the mail. They just click on a link or check their email or look at Instagram.
SF: Speaking of wrestling, ‘Comic Book Men’ isn’t the only big thing happening for The Addiction this Sunday as you guys are taking on The Kingdom and The Bullet Club. Since the name Christopher Daniels is one that is synonymous with Ring of Honor to many people, is it a safe bet that you and Kaz are likely to steal the show in Vegas for the 13th Anniversary?
CD: Absolutely man. That’s part of the game in pro-wrestling. Being the thing that people talk about when they leave the show. One thing about Ring of Honor is that that’s the mentality of everybody in the locker room. They’re all looking to make an impact, make a statement, and get noticed. I think that’s why ROH is on such a high right now in terms of their momentum. There’s so much good talent there and everyone is working towards making Ring of Honor a bigger deal than it is and making more people aware of it. And the fact that we’ve started doing live Pay-Per-Views instead of just iPPVs gives us that opportunity to reach a wider audience and turn them on to what Ring of Honor is doing.
SF: I’m really excited for your match because it features three of the best teams in the business right now.
CD: Yeah, the guys from Bullet Club are coming over from Japan. This will be the first time that we’ll get to work with Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows and I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a dark horse [for match of the night] because people are expecting AJ Styles vs. ACH or the main event with Jay Briscoe [defending the ROH World Championship] against Hanson, Tommaso Ciampa, and Michael Elgin or even reDragon vs. the Young Bucks to carry the card. But this match that we’ve got doesn’t have a whole lot of hype going into it, but going out of it, people will be aware of what we’re bringing to the table.
SF: After the ROH Anniversary, you move on from facing some of the best tag teams today to facing one of the best tag teams of all time in the Dudley Boyz at Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore. Are you intimidated at all that you’ll be fighting on Bubba and Devon in the hallowed halls of the ECW Arena?
CD: I’m not intimidated. It is a daunting task to go into their backyard where they made their name, but it won’t be the first time that Frankie and I are in the ring with them. It’ll just be the first time that it’s a one on one tag team match between our two teams. It’s not an unknown commodity that we’re going in the ring against, but there’s a little trepidation knowing that hundreds and hundreds of Philadelphia fans will be in attendance backing [The Dudleys]. But this isn’t the first time that people have counted us out. Beating them in their hometown will be a big deal for us and we’re looking forward to doing it.
SF: I cannot wait. House of Hardcore never disappoints.
CD: I’m a big fan of Tommy Dreamer and his company, so we love the opportunity to get to work with them and face, like you said, one of the best teams of all time and face them in the building that they helped make famous.
SF: Moving back to comics for a second, you mentioned that announcement coming up on Monday that you can’t talk about fully yet, but can we expect to see the name Christopher Daniels grace another comic book cover any time soon? Or have you guys been approached for a comic book movie? Are there any superheroes that you think would be perfect for you and Kazarian?
CD: I would’ve thought Deadpool was good for me, but that Ryan Reynolds cat has that locked down, so they’re not doing auditions for that. But to me, any opportunity to do a comic book movie would be cool, especially if it’s something that Marvel Studios is doing in the next couple of years. It’s a good time to be a comic book fan.
SF: OH! I just thought of this: Christopher Daniels as Bullseye in ‘Daredevil’ on Netflix.
CD: I’d be down for that in a heartbeat. I’ll get my resume ready and send it on down.
CD: Ever since ‘Secret Wars’ was announced, we’ve seen teasers for different storylines like ‘Old Man Logan’ or ‘Planet Hulk,’ so I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen with those. I’m not sure what the deal is there. I’m excited to see what exactly comes out of ‘Secret Wars.’ The core story first of all, but then all the offshoots. There are just so many possibilities and I’m sure that Marvel hasn’t even announced the lion’s share of them yet. I’m just looking forward to seeing everything that ‘Secret Wars’ has going on.
SF: I know that some fans are worried that it might end up being like a New 52-esque reboot. Do you share these concerns?
CD: No not really. To me, even if it was something like that I wasn’t too disappointed with the way that turned out. There were some books that were good and some books that weren’t, but I think that the New 52 served DC well. It got a lot of people interested and involved. We got Scott Snyder’s ‘Batman’ and Geoff Johns’ ‘Aquaman’ and the Batgirl series. There was a lot of good stuff that came out of it. If Marvel tried to reboot everything, it would be interesting to see where everybody ended up and what happened. I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen anyway. I don’t think there will be a restarts. I think there will be a definitive event and the future will branch off from that. But I could be wrong! We’ll all find out together I guess.
SF: Finally, if our readers want to check you out, where’s the best place to find you?
CD: I’m on Twitter at @facdaniels and my website is fallenangelchristopherdaniels.com. I try to keep everybody abreast of where I’ll be through those two channels. If you haven’t had the chance to see ‘Christopher Daniels and Kazarian Wrestle Aw Yeah Comics,’ you can get that at awyeahcomics.com. Stay tuned, man. There are some big things coming up in the future for me, for Frankie, and for Aw Yeah Comics, so we’ll try to keep everyone aware of what’s going on as soon as we can.
Be sure to tune in to catch Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian on ‘Comic Book Men’ this Sunday, March 1st at 12:00am after Ring of Honor’s 13th Anniversary live on PPV and iPPV at 7:30pm EST. And if you’re in the Philadelphia area on March 7th, head to the former ECW Arena for House of Hardcore VIII to see The Addiction live and in person.