Chris Hero recently spoke to The Masked Man for a piece on Grantland.com. The article focuses on if indy wrestling can survive with WWE.
The following are some highlights of the conversation:
On the pressure of going back to the indies:
I'm the prettiest girl at the dance for the moment. I know it's not going to last forever. I have to be on my toes. One very real thing is people asking, "Does he still have it in him? Can he bring to the table what he brought to the table years ago?" It's inspiring for me. I want to show people that I have as much to offer as anyone in the history of wrestling. That sounds a little grandiose, but I feel like I have something different.
On his role in returning to the indie circuit:
I think I serve that level of importance on the independent scene, because a lot of the guys — Punk, Bryan, Generico, Samoa Joe — are gone. I'm more than happy to assist and guide and be the glue that keeps the companies together.
If you watch a Dragon Gate show, you see a match and you think, Wow, these guys are crazy athletic. Then two and a half hours later you don't want to still be thinking, These guys are … crazy athletic. You have to have someone you can identify with. The wrestling nerds, and I'm one, we pick up on little things and appreciate them, but who are they going to connect with? I'm familiar because I've been around. You Google Punk or Cesaro or Bryan and matches with me come up. And now when people see guys who they're maybe not familiar with, they can establish a connection with them based on their interaction with me.
On whether WWE prefers homegrown talent to hiring wrestlers with indie buzz:
I don't think they give a shit about buzz. They only care about their own buzz, which makes sense. You can't solely cater to the niche fan base — it's a tricky demographic to deal with. But you can see somebody get over with those fans and think maybe they can do it in WWE, too. And they see someone who has the passion to chase the dream, traveling around the world. If you have passion, if you're a good performer, those are two of the most important things in wrestling, and they're things you can't manufacture. Some people are naturals. Take Big E Langston; he has such a perfect match of athleticism and charisma, and he looks like an action figure.
On being released by WWE:
I'd been employed for 21 months. They knew what I was. They had a certain perception of what I brought to the table, and I guess they thought I wasn't going to be called up anytime soon. They had a pecking order, and certain guys who were going to be the next ones called up, and I wasn't in that group. It was a little vague, but I was told, "This isn't good-bye forever; this is good-bye for now." Getting fired sucks for anybody, even if it's a job you hate. So the gut instinct is to be mad, but none of that will serve me. None of that will put any money in my bank account. It's not hard to be positive because I do what I love. When I was 8 or 9 years old my mom would take me to Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio, to see Ultimate Warrior versus Andre the Giant or to watch Demolition versus the Rockers or to see the very first Survivor Series in Richfield. It would be completely different if I landed on my head and got injured so I couldn't wrestle anymore — that would be hard to deal with. But what was taken from me? A weekly paycheck?
To read the full piece which includes more from Hero on topics such as advice to indy wrestlers who want to make it to WWE, click here.