IMPACT’s X Division Champion, Ace Austin, recently spoke with Liam Stewart on Inside the Ropes. Here are the topics discussed during the interview:
On training with The Wild Samoans and how it led to working with the WWE.
I was originally trained by the Anoaʻi family by the Wild Samoans. So that’s where my roots are. That’s where my foundation is and I have always said that it was the perfect foundation. Training with the wild Samoans is I truly believe is what set me up for such great success. The foundation that they gave me was just unbelievable. Working with CZW after that is what then got me kind of broke into the Indies and like really exploring the world of Wrestling outside the WWE.
Yeah, I started training with the Wild Samoans. I was training with WWE in mind as a kid. That’s all I really knew growing up. You know that that’s all that really, that was the mainstream stream. So that was that was just at the forefront of my mind. So when I was looking for training schools and I found the Samoans, I thought it was going to be as simple as sign up for training bust my ass and then get a job at the WWE that was going to be it. And that very well could have been the route I took if I would have stayed with the Samoans.
But it was it was the time that I spent traveling on the East Coast with CZW then is what really opened my eyes to what wrestling can be outside of WWE just how much I was meeting all these guys that were such successful independent wrestlers. Like CZW is still a big deal in 2016 when I had first showed up. So meeting those guys and seeing them make a living on their own and then learning about like all these other routes into like IMPACT and stuff with ROH. I knew of IMPACT’s existence, obviously, when I was a little older, but that’s not something I watch regularly growing up, like unless my unless Jeff Hardy was involved, it’s not something that I really like that I really like noticed. And I was never like an Internet kid. So even when the Internet was a big deal growing up, I didn’t spend a lot of time surfing and like looking those things out. The only thing I was exposed to was WWE pretty much so my love for wrestling has only really grown in such a deep way since I started training because of the way that my eyes have been opened.
My goals completely changed when I started getting out there and really experiencing this for myself. And and so, yeah, that foundation with the Samoans is really like bar none. Just the perfect Professional Wrestling Foundation is like they teach you not only the basic movements that you need to know, but the way that they teach you everything is in such a way. You learn to pay your dues. You learn to respect the business and respect those that came before you.
You learn how to carry yourself in professional settings and you learn how to talk to people. And just working under that lineage really makes you feel like you’re you’re a part of something and that and once you’re in with that family, it’s like those are connections that you can have for the rest of your life. They’re such important connections, just because I trained with the Samoans years later in 2018, then after I had moved to the Midwest and I hadn’t been around in a while, I just get a phone call one day, hey, do you want to do extra work for WWE just because I was a Samoan kid and they knew that I was doing well and that I was living in the Midwest, WWE was coming to the Midwest. So Samoans gave me a call and they were like, hey, WWE’s coming to Midwest if you do extra work, we can set it up for you.
So that’s how I got in, that’s how I got to do the two 205 live gig in 2018. Well, I mean, that’s how I got into into the extra work I do in a trial match and then the trial matches what got me to 205. Yeah, but that was all because of my connection with the Samoans. So that’s so, so being able to tell people I was trained by the Samoans will always get me just a little bit extra nod of trust and respect from people in the industry.
On his IMPACT Wrestling plans for 2021
I haven’t forgotten and I certainly hope you haven’t either, and I certainly hope that anyone watching has not forgotten. I vowed to become the youngest world champion in this company’s history and I have until August to do that. The way I see it, the stars are lining up OK. The X-Division title is The Ace Up My Sleeve, Option C Is going to give me that last chance to make that youngest world champion thing happen. So that’s so whether I retain the X Division title, if I retain the X Division title, then I’ve got my ticket. If I don’t, I’m going to have to work a little harder, but inevitably I’m going to vie for that world championship at least one more time before my time is up to become the youngest.
On Josh Alexander’s transitioning to a singles star and revealing his toughest opponent yet
I’m glad you used the word toughest, because that really is what I think of when I think of Josh Alexander even looking past his, I mean, you can’t look past his technical prowess like he is, he and TJP both are like strategically, mechanically, some of the absolute best ever do it. And the thing about Josh Alexander is what sets him apart from everybody else besides that technical ability even is that toughness that he has. Him and Ethan Page were so successful together. And it’s really easy to just think that he’ll flounder in a singles setting because Ethan Page was the the mouthpiece, Ethan Page was the voice of the North, but. Josh is you can’t look past how damn tough he is, he was the marathon man of that team. He was the one that could go, go, go and just not be stopped. So so I think that is that is going to be I think my biggest threat in this match is what will it take to keep Josh Alexander down? Because I’ve seen him go through I mean, his just his his career, the things that he’s been through, the broken neck being so close to retirement and having to just give it up and then fighting back from that, you know, I can’t compare anything I’ve been through to that yet.
You know, he is he has a longer career than I do. And he’s been through those kinds of injuries more so than I have. But. I think I have the superstar edge. I think that Josh Alexander doesn’t know, doesn’t know what it’s like to be underneath the lights and under the pressure that I’ve been under. And I know how to I know how to operate in those spaces. He relies on his toughness and his technical prowess. I rely on my ability to adapt around those things. I don’t put myself in any sort of box I leave myself totally open to. Whatever it’s going to take to win, you know, there’s no such thing, A, there’s no such thing as a fair fight, if you ask me, there’s no such thing as a fair fight. It’s the win or the lose however you get there, it’s how you get there. So, yeah, I mean, that’s that’s what I got to do, definitely.
We talked a little bit about obviously toughest challenger and such. When it comes to X Division competition, you’ve faced off against some of the biggest names around. You know, you’ve taken on the likes of Alex Shelly Chris Sabin, you’ve taken on Petey Williams. You’ve taken on all of these names. But one X Division champion we’ve never seen you take on who recently has become available is Samoa Joe. I think for many Ace Austin vs Samoa Joe is the match that they want to see. Is Samoa Joe someone you’d be interested in seeing back in impact and facing off against?
No doubt about it. I’ve been compared to AJ Styles for the entirety of my career so far. So to have that twenty first century Samoa Joe versus modern day AJ, I think would be a marquee for sure. One hundred percent.
On comparisons with Deonna Purrazzo and why they have “beef”
Absolutely. I mean, I didn’t even I, I mean, I definitely stay focused on my own lane, so like, I didn’t really like think of that comparison. But you saying it it’s totally there. I can see it matters it for sure. I got a little, I guess, beef, to be honest with you. I got I got some beef with Purrazo okay. She I don’t think she should have won wrestler of the year over me. So we’re going to have to fight about it.
On why he believes Kenny Omega will leave Rebellion IMPACT World Champion and if he believes he can defeat Omega to become the youngest World Champion in IMPACT history.
Well say yes, I don’t go into any match situation thinking I can’t do it, you know, so me versus Kenny Omega make it one on one? I have to say, inevitably it’s Ace Austin. But the thing about Kenny Omega, it’s never going to be one on one, is it? You know, the odds are heavily stacked against Rich. And as much as I respect, admire and really have love for Rich Swann. I don’t know if he’s going to be able to, like, overcome this numbers game.
I mean, it’s like we’re on home turf here with Impact, but we’ve got a mole. I think everybody’s kind of forgetting about that. We’ve got Don Callis, who is one of the people in charge of impact wrestling. And he’s a mole, right? He’s he’s on the other side of that. Well, not on the other side of this. He’s on his own side of this. And we don’t know what that means. We don’t know what the outcome of this match Don Callis wants, because whatever Don Callis wants, I’m sure he’s going to have Sunday at Rebellion, so. Really? This is a win win for us Ace Austin, regardless of who comes out of this, if it’s Rich Swan, then you’re going to have.
I’ve been saying this forever is. Ace Austin vs. Rich Swann is the kind of match that defines generations. It’s a match that hasn’t happened in IMPACT Wrestling yet. So if he keeps the World Championship, you’re going to see a once in a lifetime match up between two athletes like myself and Rich Swann for the World Championship. It’s going to be huge.
Credit to Liam Alexander-Stewart of Inside The Ropes for the quotes.