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By Mike Johnson on 2023-01-17 09:15:00

Yesterday, sat down with Frankie Kazarian to discuss his decision to leave AEW and sign a multi-year deal with Impact Wrestling.  Here are some excerpts from the conversation:

Mike Johnson: I reported on Friday that the word that was going around was that coming out of the match with Josh Alexander, you had gone to AEW and said, I want to have a chance to kind of control my career and make sure that as I get towards the latter end of my career, I'm being used in a more prominent position and I'd like to have the opportunity to go elsewhere.  So how accurate is what I heard?  So let's talk about what made you make this decision to make the jump.

Frankie Kazarian: Okay. So timing wise, you're you're pretty accurate. So I believe the match against Josh Alexander was November 18th.  I still have two years left on my contract, two years to get rolled over.  AEW management had contacted me early December, which was only a few weeks after this match. So it's just kind of a coincidence timing wise. But they contacted me 30 days out, which is what they're supposed to do, and they had basically talked about rolling me over and said you wanted to get the process going on that, and I mean, I basically said simply kind of, you know, thanks, but no thanks.  i had kind of voiced, you know, concerns and frustrations and goals and aspirations, and had a really good talk with management AND kind of left it there for a while.  I still was going to TVs and the last television I was at was in San Antonio, Texas. And I sat down with Megha who, if people don't know, that's the head legal in AEW, a very, very bright, brilliant woman, very nice, and had a long conversation in person and gave her the list of the reasons why I wanted to, you know, kind of move on bet on myself.   That's kind of the recurring theme here and that now was the time to do it.  I wanted to do it so we could...I've always done business the right way. I wanted to be amicable about it. I wanted to get out before there was feelings of resistance or bitterness or any of that. So, that message was relayed and they wanted to do right by me, which I respect the hell out of and the deal was done. So, as of January 1st of this year, I was, quote unquote free agent.

Mike Johnson: So was Impact Wrestling, was that always the idea when January 1st comes around?  Obviously you have a huge history there, but what made you decide Impact was gonna be your home in 2023 going forward?

Frankie Kazarian: Well, in the spirit of transparency. I had several great talks with people at WWE and I want ti say those talks could not have been better, more positive, more professional.  I have nothing but great things to say about everybody in that organization, especially all the people I spoke to and texted with, but ultimately this was just the best fit for me at this stage of my career, at this point in my life, at this time.  I have a great relationship with Scott D'Amore.  I've known him for over two decades. Obviously, I have history there. A lot of my legacy is there.  Some of Frankie Kazarian's greatest moments happened at Impact Wrestling, and at this state of the game, I just think I was the best fit for Impact and Impact was the best fit for me for a variety of reasons  I look at the locker room and, and I'm amazed at the amount of talent. Um, I have the utmost confidence in the management there. I have the utmost confidence in the, in the creative team there. And, um, I want to help this company grow. Uh, I want to help the brand of Frankie Cerian grow, and I'm probably more motivated than I've ever been in my career at this point.

Mike Johnson: That match with Josh Alexander is a 40 minute plus match.  I feel like it's almost a perfect moment in time for your career.  Coming out of that match, how much did that change your perspective on who Frankie Kazarian could be versus where you had been mentally, emotionally, spiritually, whatever, before that?

Frankie Kazarian:  I mean, that, that match certainly renewed my confidence in myself.   I've always, I've always been confident in my abilities. I've never questioned that, but not being able to showcase those abilities other than in a few five and 10 minute matches here and there, quite honestly gets frustrating. So having that opportunity in Impact Wrestling and having the matches with guys like Speedball Mike Bailey and Josh Alexander, justt...I kind of reminded myself, but I think more importantly, I reminded the viewing audience, the wrestling fans, that I'm <laugh>, I'm as good of as I've ever been, if not better. So it was  it was great, and it did give me that boost of reduced confidence, and it did let a portion of the audience see that I can go, maybe people that have only seen me on AEW in these, in these short matches...they can say,wow, this guy is a guy that can go and a guy that can be a player. So, that's all I ever want to do. I just want to tell great stories and have great matches and maybe have a little fun while I'm doing it.

Mike Johnson: You were first trained by Killer Kowalski, so I would assume some of this are things that he's instilled in you, but how scary is it to make that decision? You've got a family, you've got a wife, you've got a son, you know, it's not like you're a 20 year old kid who can just make that decision and go, I'm gonna pull up roots and move halfway across the country like you have before.  How hard is it as a veteran in wrestling and as someone who's had those roots put down to make that decision to bet on yourself?  What was that process like, figuring out that you've got to do this for yourself?

Frankie Kazarian: Well, you're right, it is a very scary decision to make, but you know what, it's an even scarier decision not to make.   Those "What If?'' questions are null and void because I took the leap of faith, and I did bet on myself, and I have a great support team - that team's my wife and my son -  and she's completely behind me. She, you know, from being in the business, gets it and understands everything.   We've been talking about this for a long time.  It wasn't something that had just happened.  We've been discussing this internally for months and months and months.   You reach the point where it's kind of like I alluded to in my promo on Friday night [at the Hard to Kill PPV]...I don't do well with complacency and, if if you're not going forward, you're going backwards. That's always been my kind of my mindset. So this was an opportunity to take that bet on myself and I'm glad that everything, all the pieces, all, you know, fell together and, and I was able toa do it.  <laugh>  It's a very liberating feeling   if anybody out there is listening and you're on the fence about anything in your life in terms of betting on yourself, man, take that bet. I'm just, I'm telling you, man, take that bet.

Elite subscribers can listen to the entire 40 minute conversation by clicking here.

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