How does it feel to have survived all your drama in recent years - such as legal issues, leaving WWE, and the fire that destroyed your home - and work you way back into the main event level and compete for the TNA title? It feels great because going through the dark days was...scary. A lot of people think I got fired from WWE. I didn't. I left there a top guy in a great position and had such a good run over that course of three years. But, yeah, things like the fire, the suspensions, the arrests, the charges...all of that is very mentally draining. It's been over a year now since I've been back and had my "one more shot." Around this time last year was when all that was going on and everything's just been real solid and real good. And now it's all about one more match. Basically I'm forgetting all that stuff, the demons and the dark days and I'm focusing on my biggest payoff. And redemption is to become world champion again.
Your final match for WWE was here in Phoenix in August 2009 against C.M. Punk for the their World Heavyweight Title. Three years later you're competing for TNA's World Championship in our city. Do you think that's sorta synchronous? It is, isn't it? I think I thought about that one or two times, but that's pretty cool when you think about it when you look back and everything that's happened in between. And if I can be successful in Phoenix, it is weird how things work, the way this world blows. Who knows? To think about what happened three years ago and I had to leave WWE because of a Punk and now to be able to win the world championship against a breakthrough talent in our business in Austin Aries would be great.
Are you looking forward to working with an athletic high-flyer like Austin Aries? And are you guys planning on stealing the show? Yeah, for sure, because I've been watching him for about the last year, even when he was the X-Division champion. From the elbow [drop] that he does and all the innovative things he does. Like wow,this guy's standing out big time. He's out there doing some stuff I've never seen before and I've never thought of and that inspires me. Oh my god, you put our minds together and yet who knows what's going to happen.
Without giving anything away, if you win the TNA title at Bound For Glory, would it be more important than either of your previous world title runs? Yeah, I think so. It was great when I was champion for the first time. That's like the ultimate goal in anybody's dream. That's the thing you always dream about. Just seeing how good the talent is here at TNA and especially to have such freedom to be different and do different things here. I'm really excited about what it's going to be like if I'm able to win at Bound for Glory.