IMPACT World Champion Austin Aries isn’t convinced Johnny Impact can get the best of him at Bound For Glory after their controversial spat.
Aries defends his title at the company’s biggest event of the year, Bound For Glory, live on pay-per-view this Sunday at the Melrose Ballroom in New York City, New York.
The pair have engaged in a heated exchange of words on Twitter this week with the champion receiving negative comments for some of his language.
Aries, real name Daniel Solwold, used offensive terms and called Johnny’s real-life wife Taya Valkyrie "husky", in response to Impact poking fun at his 5ft 9in height.
He said: "Ahh, the form of discrimination that’s still super cool: Short Shaming. If I joked race, retards, your gay look…if I fat shamed your husky wife, INSTANT OUTRAGE!! But you can predictably cut on me over my height, genetics I don’t control, and it’s just FUNNY!"
Valkyrie responded: "I would rather be “husky” than a little bitch. Your tweet speaks volumes about your character and who you really are. Glad the world is seeing the real you “Austin”."
And Impact added: "I don’t know what’s more inappropriate, your homophobic shot at my tights or you fat shaming a woman who trains everyday like an athlete. But I know what p****s me off. You insulting my wife. Congrats bro, you took my mind off the title. All I want to do now is f*** you up."
But the 40-year-old from Milwaukee, Wisconsin believes the whole situation got out of hand and that both men will have to earn their victory in the ring on Sunday.
Speaking exclusively to Mirror Sport’s Morgan Richards, the self-proclaimed Greatest Man That Ever Lived opened up on the row, IMPACT’s growth and former WWE rival Neville’s shock return to the business.
It’s been an interesting road to Bound For Glory, where you’ll be defending your IMPACT World Championship against Johnny Impact. With this rivalry becoming very personal over recent weeks, what can we expect from this match on Sunday?
When you’re in the main event, you’re in New York City, the company’s biggest pay-per-view of the year, the stakes are raised and there’s a lot at stake in that match. Listen, whoever comes out on top, they’re going to have to earn it, just put it that way. If Johnny wants to become the new IMPACT World Champion, he’s going to have to earn it. He isn’t going to be able to sizzle his way to becoming champion, he’s going to have to show some substance. Let’s just see what type of substance John’s got.
This rivalry escalated to new heights with a pair of controversial Tweets from the two of you. What was your reaction to this situation? Do you think the whole thing got a little out of hand?
People say it’s controversial, but I just think everyone right now is over sensitive and has what I like to call deflective outrage. This isn’t the first guy or the last guy to call me out online, I’m guess I’m so great that all you really can go to when you try to cut down Austin Aries is you can talk about his attitude problems, which I think is more a reflection of society than I think it is myself, or my height. I’m not really tall. He took a personal swipe, I took one back at him, but he didn’t like it, so he got a little upset. If you want to run your mouth or whatever you got to understand it’s going to come back to you and running his mouth isn’t really one of John’s strong suits.
We’re in a society now where people read to react and reply. Everyone is rewarded to get their opinion out there, because everyone gets to have one now and they’re all supposed to get weighted equally, but they’re not. People weren’t really reading what I was saying. I wasn’t condoning those things, yeah I used the words. I used some sensitive words, I could say nicer words in a way that would’ve been just as derogatory or mean, but I was making a point that nowadays in society certain words – or if you’re making a joke about certain things – I’m a big comedy fan so my favorite comics nowadays wouldn’t have a chance to make fun of or talk about the things that they did 10 or 20 years ago. We haven’t deciphered, we don’t take nuance, we don’t take intent into account, we just look and we react.
But yet the one place that it’s still okay to tell people they’re less then, to still make fun of people, to cut them down, is the height thing. Now this isn’t something I’m boo-hooing about, I’m pointing out hypocrisy. I don’t like hypocrisy, I don’t like double standards, it’s probably why i’m vegan. It’s really hard in this day in age to put something out there without people seeing it and reacting before they even know what they’re reacting to.
Before you returned to IMPACT Wrestling in 2017, there was a stage where you were collecting titles across independent promotions and adding to your impressive package. How would you compare your current IMPACT World Championship reign to any gold you’ve held before?
Well I appreciate you appreciating my package, it’s a shame not more people get a chance to see it nowadays! When I was contacted about coming back to IMPACT they were obviously at a stage when they were really rebooting as a company. As I started talking to the guys that they were putting in charge in Don Callis, Scott DeMore, Sonjay, Jimmy Jacobs and Abyss, who I’ve known forever, there’s a great group of guys who I could get behind and thought had a great vision in how to do things the right way and how to build a company. Slowly but steadily based on all those things I just talked about, to come back and be put in a position with responsibility, to kinda be an anchor for that and help the company and individual talent start to really grow, yeah I take a lot of pride in that and this title reign.
I guess maybe that’s why when a guy like John comes in and this guys commitments are all over the place, I’ve been here for the last year while he’s been doing all these other projects. I’ve been building this on my back, on my knees, on my hips and this guy is going to come in here and now that he’s got his reality show, he thinks he gets to waltz in here and pretend this is the most important thing to him and I don’t believe him. So he’s going to have to prove it to me in the ring on Sunday.
IMPACT Wrestling is continuing to grow on all fronts. You’ve seen this company’s journey better than most people, having been involved since the days of TNA. What’s the biggest changes you’ve seen from then to now, in making it the place to compete?
I think it’s given the men and women a platform and an opportunity to be a part of the creative process and collaborate with people. Letting people’s ideas be heard and shared. I encourage that and I think we’re all working towards a common goal. We might all have some different ways and methods on how we get there in terms of our personal directions goes, but when we go out there for whatever time we’re allowed to go out there for, when we step into the ring we’re being given the ability and the freedom to go out there and do what we love to do and you don’t get that everywhere.
I think more than anything else, no matter what television show, no matter what sports team or type of entertainment you’re into, everything’s not a home run. Your team doesn’t come up winning every night, every week of the show isn’t the most thrilling 30 minutes, an hour, two hours you’ve ever seen, but I think by a large amount the steps we’re taking, we keep moving in the right direction. The foundation we’re building on is the passion and the creativity of the talent and allowing that to come through.
Your biggest rival from your time in WWE, Neville has been creating headlines with his surprise return to the business at DragonGate in Japan this week. If he was to compete for various promotions, would facing him one-on-one in IMPACT for your title be a dream match for you?
Neville is such a talented individual that if was having a one-on-one match with him where there were no restrictions, no parameters, no pieces of paper dictating what we’re going to do when we’re in there, I think that would obviously be something that not only myself, but a lot of wrestling fans would be really interested in. But who knows, maybe Neville teaming up with myself as a tag team could be interesting. When you’re as talented as that guy is and as passionate and dedicated to this artform… I’m just glad that he’s back doing it somewhere and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do as he moves forward in his career.
Bound For Glory takes place at the Melrose Ballroom in New York City, New York from 1am on Sunday, October 15.
It will air live in the UK via the FITE.tv app. Find out more information on how to order Bound For Glory here
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