Heading into this Sunday’s Lockdown pay-per-view, TNA / IMPACT Wrestling star and former World champion Austin Aries made his return to IN THE ROOM with Brady Hicks and his crew last night to talk about his success with the company and the traction his career has gained since he was last IN THE ROOM. Austin, who is a great friend of the show as well as one of our favorite performers of all time, last appeared IN THE ROOM almost three years ago, so the hour and 10 minutes he gave us was a real treat!

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Check it out as “A-Double” talks TNA’s recent tour of Japan and excitement of other international tours … his own creative input … the importance of his X Division title and attaching the #1 Contender stipulation to it … the role that fans have played in his career … Hulk Hogan’s influence, both on himself and on TNA … teaming and feuding with another shooting star in Bobby Roode … the “art” of tag wrestling … the concept of private contractors and how that could affect CM Punk’s situation … misconceptions about independent wrestlers … his vegan lifestyle … and his new band. All that, and so much more! Thanks to Austin Aries for so generously giving us his time and to everyone else for their support.

On TNA’s Health as a Company:
I think TNA’s fine. I think people get a little wrapped up in the day-to-day operations, per se. They like to maybe read into things without really having the knowledge of everything that’s going on behind the scenes. … My paychecks are coming. I’m working consistently … There’s a lot of good things on the horizon. [TNA has] some fresh talent coming in that’s going to inject some new excitement to the fans … A lot of the US wrestling fans, especially the ones who make their money by creating controversy, they like to get wrapped up in the Nielsen ratings, and try to use that as a gauge to how good TNA is doing … We are very strong globally … Every company goes through ebbs and flows, as they say. Every company has to continually reassess their business plan. Continually keep things fresh and exciting so things don’t get stagnant. This company is no different.

On Promotions Taking Better Care of their Wrestlers:
When you treat your employees with respect, you take care of them, and they’re proud to come to work, they’re going to work hard. They’re not going to find ways to get back [what] they feel like they’re being cheated out of. From that simple standpoint, I think if wrestlers came to work, not feeling like the [were] being taken advantage of, I think the output would increase. I think the morale would increase across the board, and I think the dog-eat-dog mentality would improve … The wrestling business could greatly thrive. Would there be a financial component in the short run that might hurt [the industry's] bottom line? Sure. But, again, if you’re thinking about long-term success of how you do in your business, it could be a great change in this industry … I see both sides of it, but I think that there’s a better medium than what we have right now.

On Having One of TNA’s More Successful Pushes:
I’m going to give myself more credit and say that [I've] figured out ways to keep myself relevant, and take whatever opportunity, big or small, that they put in front of me, and go make it meaningful. I’m grateful for the platform, for the opportunities that they’ve given me. But at the end of the day it’s my job to take those [opportunities] and hit home runs with them. That’s what separates good talent from great talent. Some guys know how to take a good opportunity and turn it into something bigger. As you know, my opportunity to come back to TNA was for one match. No promises, for all intents and purposes one match, and then I was going to be gone. And I took that one opportunity and parlayed it into a pretty successful run I’d say. I want to give[TNA] some credit but I have to give myself some credit too for that … There have been a lot of opportunities handed out in TNA. Some guys have made the most of them, and other guys weren’t able to do it. And that’s what kind of separates the guys who can carry the ball and those that can’t.

On if TNA Originally Planned to Push Austin Aries:
I honestly don’t know what was in the plans. I don’t know how far, especially in this industry, how far plans are really made. I think any good creative team would always keep their options open and be able to change things if the circumstances dictate it … My opinion, again [is] I walked in there for one match. So it isn’t like when they brought me in for that X Division showcase match they said “In a year, we’re going to put the heavyweight title on him and give him an opportunity to be the guy.” So, in that regard, the answer would be no. I don’t think that this is something that you plan out for two or three years ahead of time