"Honestly, man, the biggest miss is not taking the contract offer after Bound for Glory in 2018 with John Morrison. We had that great match. We had a lot of buzz and created a lot of controversy, which was the whole point of how that match ended."
"For some personal reasons that I've never really talked about, I passed on the contract. It was a multi-year contract. It was a nice contract that they put in front of me. I was just dealing with some personal stuff at the time where I decided not to take the contract, thinking I would still have an opportunity to come back or at least, you know, I offered to still come back and do the rematch to kind of finish up that storyline, because I thought we still had some steam there."
"But, you know, we just never got back together. That's something that is a regret of mine because it painted a certain picture that people believe about me that isn't true. But with me never showing up and that being the lasting image that Impact fans have of me walking out the way I did, I understand why they believe that. Maybe at some point, I will get the opportunity to come back and leave in a different way. But until that happens, that for me is a big miss.”
Aries was asked why he feels he wasn’t allowed to come back and finish the program with Morrison:
"One thing I was told was, I don't think they expected the amount of backlash that they got. There was a lot of online heat. A lot of companies, especially nowadays, are afraid of that vocal portion of the fan base. If they get too vocal and they're too upset, the company feels like they need to cater to them a little bit and change course. That's happened in a lot of companies over a lot of years. This cancel culture has become a thing, but I'm not sure exactly. That would be a question for the men that were in charge there. Maybe they didn't trust me not being under contract to come and do business the right way”.
“I mean, I've always done business. I never said I wouldn't put anybody over. I've never sabotaged a match intentionally. I've never not done business, whether I liked it or not. I've always gone out there and worked my ass off and done whatever was asked to me even if I disagreed with it.”
“The end of that Bound for Glory match was giving everybody what they expected from what they've thought and heard about Austin Aries. So it was easy to work everyone because I did exactly what people thought Austin Aries would do because he was angry he had to lose the title.”
“The reality was, I was the one who suggested putting the title on John in the first place. It was my idea. They originally weren't going to switch it and I said, 'I think you should because he's a lot better guy to put on your poster. The guy is coming off Survivor. You guys are looking for a TV deal. I would much rather put John Morrison on the poster as my champion than me.' So I mean, it was my idea to do the switch.”
“We just have people really biting so hard at this animosity we built through the Twitter exchange and the pull apart at the Hall of Fame. Then we weren't settled with a contract situation and that was unsettling for me because of everything I'd gone through with that company over the years with the wonky contract negotiations and how they dealt with their business. So this was a different regime, but there was still some residual bad taste in my mouth from that.”
“So I wanted to go out in a way that created a controversy and a buzz because I really thought we had people invested and we would be able to get one more hot rematch out of it and then and then really finish up the storyline that way. It just never happened.”
“I remember I offered, I think the next pay-per-view they had was in Nashville, like the Homecoming pay-per-view. I think they were doing a three way for the title with maybe Brian Cage and Morrison, and I can't remember who the third guy was, maybe Sami or Moose. I don't remember. But I said 'Even though I'm not under contract, I'll come to Nashville, and at the end of the main event, after the match is over, John wins, and he's in the middle of the ring. I hop the guardrail, I hit the rig, and I assault him.' I said, 'Don't tell anybody, just John.' I said, 'Tell the cops to come and haul me away and arrest me like they would a fan who got in the ring. Just bail bail me out afterwards.' This is the crazy level of commitment I had to this work.”
“Because when people bite on it's so hard, especially in this day and age where everyone is like, 'Oh, kayfabe is dead. Everyone knows wrestling is not real', it's like, 'Well, if that's not true, we just keep reminding them and we don't know how to work them now with the new set of parameters they think they understand. So when you understand the things that they think they know, you can still use that against them to work them. I think Bound for Glory was an example of that because till this day, four years later, people still talk about it and they're still insistent that I went into business for myself and I was unprofessional.”
“Part of me takes pride in that because I love the art of pro wrestling and working people. But the other part of me is I hate this idea that people think I would be that unprofessional at my job, something that I gave 20-plus years to. There were plenty of opportunities over my career, if that was the kind of person I was, there were a lot of situations where I disagreed with what was happening in the ring where I could have acted that way, but it's just never been how I've gone about my business."
Aries talking about trying to adapt to not being a wrestler:
"I stepped away from wrestling after Bound for Glory and parted ways with Impact. Then we had the COVID situation which obviously shut down a lot of wrestling. I mentally checked out of wrestling for the first time in my adult life. I've lived firmly in the bubble of pro wrestling since I was 22 and lived it. It was everything, and so with that, you can lose your sense of self of like, well, who's Daniel? You're not Austin Aries, this wrestling figure you've created. All your accolades aren't necessarily quote, unquote, real. The pro wrestling bubble is fiction. It's made up. Most of the world is made up of fiction if you really think about it. It's all man-made constructs.”
“So I had this opportunity, and it was at a point in my life where I decided to really just emotionally and mentally leave that bubble and figure out who I am outside of this world of pro wrestling. I went to Mexico for a year. I was on this spiritual journey. I did some plant medicine ceremonies just like my friend Aaron Rodgers. I did not get two MVP seasons after it, unfortunately.”
“This place I'm in now, I know I'm meant to transition into a new part of my life that maybe doesn't have pro wrestling as a central part of it. But the struggle now is letting that go, so you're still trying to be who you've been. You're still trying to be this pro wrestler, Austin Aries, world champion, all these labels that we put on ourselves. That right now is causing a little bit of the internal struggle with really embracing who I feel like I've become and becoming, because I'm not sure that the person I'm becoming and the things that I'm interested in pursuing, are going to match with the person that I've been for the last 20 years.”
“So I'm at this place where wrestling is keeping me attached just enough, because I still love a lot of things about it. It still pays the bills, but I'm not sure it's fulfilling me anymore. So sometimes, if you want to be able to fully embrace something new, you have to fully let go of what the old thing is that you're holding on to."