Observer Exclusive: Nick "Magnus" Aldis on why he left TNA for GFW
Posted On July 23, 2020
By Brian Rzeppa for WrestlingObserver.com
At 28 years old, Nick Aldis has more experience than many of the ring-hardened veterans that you will see on your TV screen every week. Before signing with TNA in 2008, Aldis had already been on the independent circuit in the United Kingdom for over five years.
While he experienced great success with TNA, he set his sights on a new opportunity once his contract with the company came to a close earlier this year. He is now one of the major building blocks of Jeff Jarrett’s new promotion Global Force Wrestling and he looks to help GFW become one of the go-to companies for professional wrestling.
He has taken a bit of an uncommon route to get to this point in his career and it all started with some wrestling action figures.
In an interview with Wrestling Observer, Aldis stated that his wrestling fandom didn’t begin with any work actually in the ring, “My first memories of wrestling were not watching it, but just being exposed to the WWF through their toys and merchandise. I grew up in England and we didn’t have satellite TV or SkySports, so the only time I saw it was when I was at my friends’ house. I was still completely familiar with everyone though, which is a credit to WWF’s marketing. Eventually I ended up getting VHS tapes and just became completely immersed with it.”
As he got older, he began to watch the product more frequently and was naturally attracted to some of the bigger names that the wrestling business has ever seen.
“Without a doubt I idolized Bret Hart more than anyone in the early days, then as a rebellious teen I was into Kevin Nash, Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels; along with those guys, I always awestruck by The Undertaker. I never really got into Hulk Hogan when he was at his peak because I didn’t really understand him, but I eventually started watching things like ‘The Best of Hulkamania’ and became a big fan later on.”
Aside from his interest in wrestling, he was a standout athlete throughout high school in multiple sports. While he could have pursued those interests further, there was one person that convinced him that wrestling was the business that he ultimately wanted to be a part of.
“Growing up I played all kinds of sports and was pretty good at them. I was invited to compete nationally in swimming and tennis and I held a couple of records in track. I always craved individual attention rather than team stuff, so there was a part of me that wanted to be an entertainer and that’s how wrestling kind of came to be for me. Wrestling came around and was peaking at the right time and I saw The Rock and he embodied all of things that I wanted to be as far as an entertainer and his success kind of just motivated me to follow that lead.”
Once he realized that wrestling was going to be the career path he wanted to go down, he began training with the Knight family in England, who are better known as WWE Diva Paige’s parents.
“My first actual appearance was in a battle royal, which is usually the right way to break rookies in. On the night of my first battle royal, Jake the Snake was on the card and I couldn’t believe how big he was. Back then he wasn’t portrayed as a big guy, but when I met him I just thought that he was a giant and I wondered how I would become a wrestler. I’m 6’4 and I saw him and thought that he was a monster.”
After a few battle royals and multi-man tag matches, Aldis finally had his chance to go it alone in the ring and have his first singles match. As he reflects on that first match around a decade later, he realized how lucky he was to start off with the opponent that he did.
“Throughout my first singles bout I was nervous, but I had a bit of comfort given that I had done some work prior to that. My first match was with Doug Williams, who had done training at our school. He came up to our instructor and said there’s this one kid who’s 18-years old and a good athlete and you should take a look at him, so the instructor told him that he wanted Doug to work with me. During the match, he basically held my hand through four or five rounds and it was a big help for me in getting booked on the UK scene.”
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After a few years of getting independent bookings scattered throughout a few different promotions, Aldis wanted to take the next step in his career. After multiple people had told him to reach out to All-Star Wrestling promoter Brian Dixon, he finally gave him a call.
“I realized I had to figure out that the way that you progress quickly is that you have to work for Brian Dixon. I gave him a call and I started working six days a week for him doing pretty much everything; wrestling, putting up the ring and taking it down, traveling and everything like that. It was pretty much my life for two years, along with some independent bookings that I took when I could.”
He had completely given himself to wrestling, but with his impressive physique he was given opportunities outside of the ring. He had appeared on a few TV shows, when a director of one of them informed him that Gladiators would be returning to TV and he would be a perfect fit.
“I auditioned for Gladiators and made it and that was really the big break for me. On the show, they mentioned in my bio that I was a wrestler and I became really popular because I would give all of these wrestling-style promos, which caught the attention of TNA.”
Playing a character by the name of Oblivion, he had caught the eye of TNA management, as well as one of the wrestlers with potentially the most pull in the company.
“The story goes that after a show that he worked, Kurt Angle watched the TV in his room and saw me cut a promo and said that I had to be a wrestler. He called Dixie and said she had to watch this British kid, that I talked too well not to be a wrestler. She responded, ‘is it Oblivion? We just talked to him and we’re going to sign him.”
One month after his signing, TNA began airing vignettes for his debut. He had become a popular character on Gladiators because of his personality, but he quickly realized that he wasn’t going to have the chance to display that off the bat with TNA.
“It was my understanding that Dixie [Carter] made the decision to hire me, and Terry Taylor handled the details. Vince Russo got this brief synopsis of me, but had never seen Gladiators the show and thought it was different than the American one because he must have been under the impression that I had played a Roman gladiator. They didn’t realize that I had gotten over on Gladiators because I had been acting like a wrestler.”
Aldis continued, “I showed up to TNA and I read over the stuff and it sounded very stoic and serious and I suggested that they check out the tapes so the UK viewers would be familiar with me, but they didn’t end up doing that so I showed up and was very boring. I was 22 though and wasn’t in any position to tell them to change anything.”
After a few months of being “Brutus Magnus”, Aldis had a character shift that did wonders for career.
“Obviously the Brutus Magnus character didn’t work at all and I was so green that I couldn’t make it work. Thankfully Jeff Jarrett, who teamed me up with Doug Williams and Rob Terry, saved me. That’s when I was able to bring my personality out.”
After five years with the company, Magnus was finally given the chance to be the top dog, defeating Jeff Hardy to become the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. It was a long road to get to that point and one that at times seemed like it wasn’t ever going to have a good ending for him.
“Winning the title was a great feeling because I had been there through loads of ups and downs and various regime changes. I felt like whenever I was getting anywhere, someone would be replaced and I would have to start all over again. All of the boys were saying that I was finally starting to get somewhere and even the insiders were, but every time a new boss came in it was like they’d never seen the show and I had to start all over again.”
Given Aldis’ background as an actor, many of the new leaders that came in had figured that was his primary interest, not wrestling.
“I had been a real student of the game and it seemed like they had just thought I was a guy who had come from a TV show. I eat, sleep and breathe this business and I told them that they were hiring guys who were older than me and were billing them as a new up and comer and was acting like I was old news. I had wrestled more in my first year than they had in their lives.”
The opportunity to become champion was a great one, but it is one that Aldis feels could have been magnified had it been put off for just a few more weeks.
“To finally get the title and to know that everyone was on the same page was a good feeling, unfortunately the way it panned out after that was out of my control and I certainly think there were some missed opportunities. I never understood why I won the title in December when I could’ve waited a month and won it England. They made such a big deal of me being the first British champion and it could have been the biggest moment in their history if I had just won it when we were over there.”
He may not have been happy with the way that TNA handled some things creatively, but the chance to work with so many talented wrestlers is something that Aldis cherishes immensely.
“Everything I got to do with Samoa Joe as a tag team partner and as an opponent was so great. It was so much fun and so easy because we had so much great ammunition offensively. We had such great momentum everywhere that we went; everyone just seemed to love us everywhere that we went. Anytime I got to work with Jeff Hardy was fantastic, too, he was probably my favorite opponent because our styles mix so well. I like being a ground-based wrestler and Jeff could fly around and we could always just tell such a great story.”
Aldis proceeded, “We had a match in North Carolina not long after I had lost the title and I thought I was going to show them why it should have been a title match; it was probably the best match I’ve ever had. I have to also mention Sting; the way that he went out endorsing me both internally and at Bound For Glory is not something to take lightly and it’s probably the greatest thing that anyone has ever done for me in my wrestling career.”
After losing to James Storm at Slammiversary on June 28th, it was announced on June 29th that Aldis would be joining the upstart Global Force Wrestling promotion. He considers it a great opportunity to grow as a wrestler and as a person, which is something that TNA didn’t offer.
“It wasn’t really about the decision to sign with GFW as much as it was to leave TNA. I had to just go with my gut instinct and it’s my gut instinct that things aren’t going right there anymore. As a talent I had done everything that I could do and there was nothing left to do that would be satisfying. In this business, it’s either about cash or creative and I had stayed once before for the money and I made a promise to myself that even though they paid me very well I would get out of my comfort zone and make a difference elsewhere. I sent them a notice before my deal was up and told them I didn’t want to discuss another contract.”
With Jeff Jarrett’s recent appearances on Destination America for TNA, it has led many to speculate that there will be a working relationship between the two companies. Aldis, however, doesn’t believe that will be the case.
“I think it’s just Jeff getting some closure and getting the credit for his business. TNA, with the exception of what I think have been a disastrous last couple of years, is Jeff’s company. The TNA that will be remembered as being the breeding ground for talent like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and the X Division, as well as the second go-around for guys like Kevin Nash and Kurt Angle; that was Jeff Jarrett. He never really got the chance to be acknowledged for that as the guy who was founder. He’s more than happy to let GFW be on it’s own.”
At 28, he was a free agent for the first time since he had become a major fixture in the American wrestling scene. Given that he signed with GFW so shortly after his contract with TNA had come to a close, it was clear that the offer with them was one he couldn’t pass up.
“I think that people don’t realize this, but Jeff Jarrett was a big advocate for me in TNA. When new management came in, they didn’t know about me because I wasn’t in WWE and they hadn’t watched our product even though they were going to be running it. Jeff would step up and tell them that I was going to be a great talent, and then they understood I was a long-term investment and that’s why I stayed loyal.”
He had seen Jarrett’s work first-hand in the past and that’s what convinced him that GFW was the right promotion for him.
“I saw Jeff Jarrett when he assembled a team in Ring Ka King and I realized he knew talent in the ring and behind the scenes. Ring Ka King was such a huge success when it had just had no business being one. Somehow Jeff was able to put it together and make it a really good TV product. Through that, I realized that he’s a boss, a leader, someone who gets the business and someone I could get behind. I’ve always had that in the back of my mind and I remembered it when my contract was up. In TNA, it always seemed like they were choosing the wrong guys for the wrong reasons and I know that won’t happen with Jeff, he’s going to pick the right guys for the right reasons.”
Beyond wrestling, Aldis hopes to play an active role in helping develop the GFW brand.
“I want to deliver as a talent but I also want to contribute on a deeper level. My abilities go beyond wrestling and Jeff is affording me a lot of opportunities to show that. He’s letting me expand my own entrepreneurial endeavors and helping me broaden my horizons outside of wrestling. I always wanted to do it things like that in TNA, but it kept getting put off. Overall, I think it’s going to be a very cool opportunity because Jeff realizes I have a lot to offer and I’m doing everything I can to help Global Force Wrestling grow.”
Along with his work for Global Force Wrestling, Aldis also has a book being released. Check it out at superstarbodybook.com or on Amazon.