For 20 years, Christopher Daniels has been bringing entertainment to many as a professional wrestler. The tradition continues as TNA Impact Wrestling’s The Road to Slammiversary World Tour makes a stop in Baton Rouge on Saturday, May 4, at the Baton Rouge River Center.
Growing up in North Carolina, Daniels was an avid fan of wrestling as a child. His passion only grew stronger as an adult.
“I grew up in mid-Atlantic wrestling territory,” Daniels said. “I watched guys like Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes and The Road Warriors. I think that’s how people become wrestling fans — they start out as kids, get hooked and some continue to be fans when they’re adults. I was one of those.”
After earning a degree in theater from Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., Daniels tried his hand at acting. A lull in his acting career led him to take a chance that would change his life.
“I found a wrestling school in Chicago, and because I grew up watching wrestling, I had a frame of reference,” Daniels said. “I went through the training very quickly and did better than I thought I would going in.”
Daniels has been extremely successful as a professional wrestler. In his 20 years in the business, he has worked for every major professional wrestling organization including World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and World Wrestling Council (WCW).
“I’ve been very fortunate,” Daniels said. “I’ve had the opportunity to tour the world. I’ve literally wrestled in every state in the United States and probably about 13 different countries like England, Ireland and Germany.”
In 2002, Daniels found a new home in the professional wrestling world with Total Nonstop Action (TNA). Founded by Jeff and Jerry Jarrett, TNA is the second largest professional wrestling promotion in the world.
“TNA is different in that we put a premium on the in-ring action,” Daniels explained. “We’ve been very specific in the guys we’ve hired. We looked for guys that were hungry and hadn’t had the chance to be in the national spotlight.”
Guys like Daniels, AJ Styles, Amazing Red, Low Ki, and Jerry Lynn were all ready, and wanted to make a name for themselves. According to Daniels, TNA gave them that opportunity.
“With such a premium on the in-ring action and the precedent we set, we were able to lure guys like Kurt Angle, Sting, Hulk Hogan and Bully Ray away from WWE, retirement or whatever their plans were,” Daniels said. “From 2002 to now, they have come along and helped us grow as a company.”
Daniels has continued to find success with TNA as half of the tag team Bad Influence. Along with his best friend Frankie Kazarian, Bad Influence has become one of the most successful tag teams in wrestling.
“Frankie and I have been with TNA from the very beginning,” Daniels said. “Over the course of 15 years, we’ve become best friends and traveled all over. Because we are such close friends and got such great chemistry, it’s translated into our wrestling. It’s a lot of fun to enjoy the success of your hard work, especially when you are doing it with your best friend.”
“One of the things TNA does to make our shows different is the idea of always being very fan-friendly,” Daniels said. “There are opportunities for fans to meet the wrestlers before the show, shake hands and get autographs.”
In keeping with this idea, Daniels also wants wrestling fans to know that the best way to enjoy professional wrestling is live.
“To really get that atmosphere, to really feel that electricity of the action that you see, you have to be live,” Daniels said. “It’s one thing to watch it on television where you’ve got that barrier between you and the action, but when it’s live, you sort of get caught up in everything.”
Daniels and Kazarian will wrestle against Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Hernandez. Other matches include Bully Ray vs. James Storm, Devon vs. Joseph Park, Bobby Roode vs. Chris Sabin, Anderson vs. Magnus and Velvet vs. Gail Kim.
Fans can also meet Daniels and Kazarian from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Direct Auto Insurance, 8350 Florida Blvd.