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By Mike Johnson on 2021-10-27 12:15:00

On tonight's episode of AEW Dynamite on TNT, Bobby Fish will be facing CM Punk.  The world traveled veteran sat down with to reflect on the recent shift in his life from WWE NXT to All Elite Wrestling, Punk, Bryan Danielson and much more.

Mike Johnson: Obviously, the beginning of this summer, things probably didn't go as you might have expected them to, but by the fall you've settled into AEW. Tomorrow you're wrestling, CM Punk. What's it like at this stage of your career being the newer person in the locker room for most of your career you've always been sort of the veteran presence? What's it like kind of flipping the hourglass?

Bobby Fish I think pro wrestling is one of those industries where it's never goodbye forever. So there's always faces that you get accustomed to seeing daily, monthly, weekly, and then you'll go a few years and not see them because you've veered in a different direction. But those paths always seem to cross again down the road. So I feel like that's really what I've walked into at AEW and then there's obviously the new faces as well, but it's all good. I'm up for all of it, to be honest, Mike.

Mike Johnson:   You're going to be wrestling CM Punk in Boston live on Dynamite on TNT Thoughts on getting the chance to test yourself against CM Punk and what your expectations are stepping into the ring with him?

Bobby Fish: Hell yeah!  I mean, I couldn't be more excited. He's definitely a guy that I've known of for years upon years. And we've been similar places, we've been different places. Similarly, to Bryan Danielson and these are guys I've watched their careers. I've like I said, crossed their paths here and there. And then just to be on this stage and have these sort of opportunities. Yeah, man, it's just a breath of fresh air. It's been a long career. I've been doing this a while.

Mike Johnson: You have been doing this a while. I want to talk about the transition from WWE to AEW. When that call comes in and they say, "Well, you're going to be released." Like we said, you've done this a while. You've gone to Japan. You wrestled for NOAH for quite a bit. You worked for all these different companies. When that call comes, is it something that's easier to deal with given all the experience that you've had or is it still sort of a gut punch? Like obviously things worked out, you landed on your feet, but in that moment, when that call comes, there still has to be a level of disappointment, especially everything that you gave physically to the NXT brand. What's it like for you in that moment and is it easier to deal with the transition and the turmoil of something like that with more experience in the business?

Bobby Fish: I think it's always a little bit of, I'll use your words, gut punch in that like you're not necessarily expecting it and you got to reshuffle the deck and figure out what's next. And that is like having a door slammed in your face or ripped wide open and you're not expecting, whatever you want to call it. But what I will say is I think it's just my time in life really. Just having enough in the rear-view mirror that you expect these sort of things and you know that in that moment when you're present in that moment like, yeah, you kind of don't know what's next. It is unsettling and it's anxiety-inducing, but I think more than anything it's with that life in the rear-view, you realize or you come to understand with time like, "Okay, things are going to be okay."  I don't know what that's going to look like and you stop trying to figure it out right away. So I think I gave myself a little bit of time and I practiced having some patience that the 25-year-old, 30-year-old me probably didn't even have. And I think that that patience, my girlfriend was, God, she was such a blessing. Immediately from the moment that phone call hit my ear, she was sitting right next to me and she just kept me focused and kept me on track to understand like, "We don't need to know today what the progression of this looks like, but it will progress, and it will be better or it will work itself out."

Mike Johnson: What's your message to those who have found themselves, especially since the pandemic started in sort of this tumultuous role of not knowing what their future may be day-to-day? Not just in pro wrestling where you're working for one specific company, but in life. We've seen a lot of turmoil in life as someone whose kind of gone through that in the last couple of months before coming to AEW, what's your advice to others who are dealing with that sort of uncertainty?

Bobby Fish: This question reminds me a bit of a poem that I read in Matthew McConaughey's book, I'm reading it presently called Greenlights. And I'm not going to quote it because I'll fail, but this poem alludes to just things, whether it's pleasure or pain, it's temporary. That's what the journey is that we're not ever in a ... It's very rarely like destination. You travel through these times, good or bad. And once you've had enough of them, you have to take stock in that and realize that there is... And again, I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but it's faith like have that faith and your faith can be in whatever, whether it be a higher power, it be yourself, it be whatever, but try to have that faith and even through this pandemic and everything like rest assure like things are never going to stay as bad as they are and they're never going to remain as good as they are. It is a constant evolution and a progression, and just enjoy that. Like learning to enjoy that and celebrate the highs and ride out the lows, man, that is a skill that I think to the day we die we'll be working on. I know I will.

Mike Johnson: So for the last two and a half years, it's been this narrative of competition. You are one of very few talents who at this point at this juncture can say that they started on one side of that Wednesday night competition with WWE NXT. And over the course of time, you've now landed although they're now on different nights, the company's still competing on the NXT side.  Can you compare Triple H to Tony Khan in terms of day-to-day and how they deal with talent and how they've sort of navigated and strategized their version of professional wrestling?

Bobby Fish: I mean, both men are ubertalented when it comes to creativity in pro wrestling and in very different ways. And obviously, Triple H having been a former professional wrestler himself and it feels weird to say former because he's still going to lace up the boots every once and again, but they're both different, but very similar and a lot of common thread throughout. And I would say the one commonality that they both kind of reek of, it's just passion for what they're doing.  I can remember having conversations with Triple H early when we got there and he was laying out kind of what he saw for what would end up being us, not just me because it would be along with Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly obviously before Roddy was added and there was just a passion and an excitement that came off of Triple H for what he was doing. So you as a performer couldn't help, but be kind of swept up in it yourself because at the end of the day he's talking about what they're going to do with you. And we all love this industry or we wouldn't be here.

Tony, it's been very similar. My time with Tony so far has been much briefer than my time with NXT, but so far I couldn't ask for better. And he's got that same sort of excitement as he's putting stuff together or when you talk the industry just wrestling with him in general, you can't help but get swept up in it. You can't help but want to. I love feeling as if I want to perform well for myself, but also for someone else in that sort of, I don't want to say hierarchy, but I grew up playing organized sports my whole life and there were certain coaches that I had that I just jived with them so well that I not only wanted to play well for myself, but I wanted to play well for them. And I feel something similar with Tony and felt that way with Hunter as well and guys like Shawn Michaels. And it just adds an extra layer to what we do that makes it that much more rewarding.

Mike Johnson: How do you compare the behind the scenes between the two companies?   II feel like with AEW, there's just this robust vibrancy of a mix of veterans like yourself or Bryan Danielson and CM Punk. And this sort of next generation group that this is their first chance on national TV, but they're being prepped and presented in a completely different way than national television might have allowed them to perform or present themselves over the last 15, 20 years.  As someone who's got a very unique advantage of having been in both companies and even in the Ring of Honor behind the scenes for so many years, how do you compare the behind the scenes of AEW to other promotions that you've been to?

Bobby Fish: I know with AEW it really feels like a team, which I couldn't ask for something better. Because like I said, I played organized sports since I was a kid and I love feeling that camaraderie and it's definitely present here in AEW. I've felt at other places as well. When we were in NXT and we were running hard, it felt very team-oriented as well. And I think that anyone who walks into the AEW locker room right now, the time that I've spent there so far, like that would be their first takeaway is like, "Okay, it just seems like there's a common goal here."  Like nobody's out necessarily for them themselves and there's like healthy competition too, And how can you not feel competitive with guys like Bryan Danielson and PAC and Punk and Jon Moxley and the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega? And please stop me, Mike, because I could go on for a couple hours.

Mike Johnson: Well, let's talk Bryan Danielson for a second. The entire great oak of professional wrestling over the last, let's say 10, 12 years sprouts from a number of very specific, special, independent promotions. When Evolve started, you were wrestling Bryan Danielson in the main event of I believe EVOLVE 1 back in Rahway, New Jersey.  Here we are many years later and you guys get to collide again live on television on TNT. What was it like having that opportunity to wrestle Bryan again and have that sort of spotlight on you of such an important moment for Dynamite in the last couple of weeks?

Bobby Fish: Yeah, to do it on that platform and it was whatever some 10 or more years later because Bryan and I, I'm almost positive we have not been in a ring together since that Evolve show. And I think at that time too, Evolve was a company that was trying to highlight some of what now I think a lot of people would look at in pro wrestling as "MMA influenced" blah, blah, blah. For it to be 10, 11 years later, I really first met Bryan before that working in Japan for a company called Pro Wrestling NOAH and Bryan and I, the commonalities between us at that time when we didn't know each other was that we both enjoyed martial arts, did martial arts. And for that to have come full circle in the way that it has now and then for Tony Khan to book that on this platform for us to do it on frigging TNT. Yeah. I mean, I truly could not have asked for a better opportunity. I couldn't have asked for a better opponent. I look forward to locking it up with Bryan again. It's that kind of thing where it sparks my desire to do this, the thought of it and the creativity once that starts to flow and you're bouncing off of ... Yeah, I mean, I look forward to the rematch.

Mike Johnson: When you debuted in AEW there were a lot of fans pleasantly surprised by your theme music, which was the music previously used in the Ring of Honor era. How did that come about and what did it mean to you to kind of bring some of the old school Bobby Fish back as you were entering a new plane?

Bobby Fish: I don't know that I necessarily would have like sought that out immediately because I really didn't know which direction this was going to go in, but I couldn't have asked for anything better. It was like putting on a good pair of jeans. Once that came through, there's a gentleman that works for AEW by the name of Jeff Jones who was also in Ring of Honor when I was there and it was Jeff who was pursuing that and everything kind of worked out.  If there was any trepidation on my part, which there really wasn't if I'm being honest. But if there were, as soon as that hit the speaker and I walked out the tunnel, like I said, it was a like putting an old pair of jeans. It just felt right and it continues to feel right and I really, I dare I say, it's part of what's kind of shaping the direction I'm going in here.

Mike Johnson: A two part question.  You've had a chance to wrestle a lot of different talents in AEW so far, not just veterans like Bryan Danielson or see I'm Punk who you're going to wrestle tomorrow, but some of the younger stars like Lee Moriarty. When you look around that locker room and there's so many new faces and names that you haven't wrestled with, are there like dream opponents at this point where you're like, "Ooh, can't wait to do this"?  At the same time, I also want to ask you since you've been so proficient at tag teams in the past, is there maybe someone you look at and you go, "It would be fun to tag with them because I know our chemistry and what we do in the ring would be unique"? So I'm kind of curious if there's anyone you're really looking forward to wrestling and also anyone you'd really like to have the chance to tag with?

Bobby Fish: You brought up Lee. I will bring up Sammy Guevara. I really, really can't state enough how much I enjoyed both of those matches. And the younger talent like this, that's the lifeblood of this industry. And I look forward to mixing it up with numerous members of the AEW roster that fit that bill. I'm really looking forward to those opportunities. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed [inaudible 00:17:44] and Sammy, both super talented guys who I say wise beyond their years in some ways too, which is a nice thing to see. Just super talented guys.

As far as part two of that question, Mike, I don't know. It's hard to say. I look at a guy like Bryan and Bryan and I are so similar and yet so different in a very similar way. I know as opponents, we have some chemistry there that I won't deny and that I'm very appreciative of. I don't know. Could it be the same in a tag situation? I'm sure at some point for Pro Wrestling NOAH, we may have tagged. I don't quite remember, but I guess off the top of my head I could kind of go there out of curiosity, but you bring up my tag experience in the past and I got to be honest, I don't know.

There's a certain dance partner who most people would equate me to, and it would be difficult to think of myself in a tag scenario long-term and not see that dance partner. So there's nobody in particular, but I mean I'd be up for a tag situation whatever is required of me. Like I'm just enjoying all of this and everything that AEW brings and the opportunities just keep presenting themselves and I got to thank Tony Khan for that. And I hope that they just keep coming. Whatever they are like I'm ready to roll.

Mike Johnson: The easiest question of the day. Why should fans make sure they're tuning it to TNT tomorrow at 8:00 PM when you wrestle CM Punk?

Bobby Fish: I'm going to put it on CM Punk in a way that he has yet to experience in his long career. It doesn't really matter to me who he's faced in the past and who he thinks he is. I will show him tomorrow night exactly who I am and CM Punk is going to come out the other side of this a changed man so tune in. Tune in and make sure you don't miss it.

Mike Johnson: If you have a message to everybody who supported you over the last year through the highs and lows and now back in the trenches with AEW, if you've got a message for them I'd love to close this out with that message.

Bobby Fish: For those people, I hope they're enjoying this glimpse into who I am. I feel like there was a while that I wasn't able to put forth necessarily what I am now. I know that I am thoroughly enjoying this opportunity and this chance to be creatively fulfilled the way that I am today. And the best is yet to come. I can promise you that.

AEW Dynamite will air live on TNT tonight on in all time zones at 8 PM Eastern, 5 Pacific for the first time.

If you enjoy you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more by clicking here!

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