Interviews

Interview With . . . Ace Austin

Ace Austin

IMPACT Wrestling is set to present its game-changing Rebellion PPV on April, 25th 2021 featuring a monumental clash between AEW World Champion Kenny Omega and IMPACT World Champion Rich Swann for the right to hold all the gold. Ahead of the event Inside the Ropes’ own Liam Alexander-Stewart sat down with one of IMPACT’s fastest rising stars, ‘The Inevitable’ Ace Austin.

The 24-year old sensation first arrived in IMPACT Wrestling back in 2019 and was quick to make a name for himself in the precious company becoming X-Division Champion for the first time just seven months after debuting on March 8th, 2019. Since then Ace Austin has gone on to achieve an impressive amount in IMPACT Wrestling including two end of year awards for Match of the Year [Five-Way Elimination Match, Slammiversary 2020] and X-Division Star of the Year [2020] respectively.

Currently, Ace Austin is on a focused path to making IMPACT history as he aims to become the youngest IMPACT World Champion in the titles near fifteen-year history, an opportunity he can claim at any point due to his current status as IMPACT Wrestling X-Division Champion. During this interview, Austin discussed the importance of ‘Option C’ in helping him achieve his dream but also discussed how, should he be unsuccessful in his title defence at Rebellion, his future as IMPACT World Champion remains inevitable.

It’s Liam Alexander-Stewart from ITR Wrestling, joined today by the star of Impact Wrestling’s iconic X Division, the second youngest X Division champion in history, the 2021 Super Cup champion and two time impact end of year award winner for match of the year & X division star of the year it’s none other than the inevitable Austin Ace. How are you doing today?

I’m great. I don’t even have to rattle off any of my accolades. You just took care of them. Usually you go down the list and people try to shorten it. There’s no reason to shorten it. All right.

Exactly. I think the way that your career is going just now, give it another year or two and the full interview will be taken up by just listing off your accolades. You know, we’re racking them up left, right and center. But it’s interesting that we mentioned accolades there because one of the things I want to talk about, and I think it might actually be up on that wall somewhere behind you, is winning the Rookie of the Year award back in the wXw.

Yeah, that one is right up there!

I want to talk a little bit about the beginning of your career, because we know you’re doing fantastic stuff. And just now, you know, you’ve got a big title defence coming up, at Rebellion that we’re going to talk about in a little bit. But early on you’re wrestling for the legendary Anoaʻi family. What was it like working with them and wrestling with them in such an intense environment? Because we’ve heard a lot about, you know, some crazy stories coming out there and how how tough it was. Do you think that really helped shape you become the incredible performer you are?

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.

You talked a little bit about your career initially and what you had planned and how the exposure to the independents changed all that. We mentioned there when we rattled off all your achievements, you know, three time X Division champion and such. You’ve achieved a lot. In IMPACT Wrestling your currently the X division champion and this Sunday at rebellion, you’re going to defend that title against Josh Alexander and TJP, assuming you successfully defend that title. We’ll say we say you do. We’ll say it’s inevitable. We say it’s happening, we don’t want to get off on a bad foot here. What’s next for Ace Austin? What is your plan for IMPACT Wrestling in 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.

Well, I think that is something that a lot of the fans around the world are going to hope to see. But to get there, to keep that plan, to keep that ace up your sleeve, you do have to get past two very tough opponents that you know very, very well. In fact, you’ve got a very storied history with TJP. But today want to talk about Josh Alexander a bit because you have a history with him as well. But a lot of it’s taken place in sort of tag team action with yourself and Fulton vs him on Ethan Page. He’s obviously an incredible athlete. I just want to know, how far do you think he can go as a single star breaking out? And if he’s possibly one of the toughest challengers you’ve had for your X-Division title just due to simply his incredible size and power?

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.

Let’s talk a little bit more about rebellion, because it’s one of the biggest shows of the year and we’ve got a monumental, main event but elsewhere on the card we’ve got the Impacts Knockouts Championship being defended. Deonna Purrazzo, similarly to you, the cornerstone of her division, despite her young age at just 26, we’ve got yourself holding down the X-Division championship, Deonna holding down the Knockouts Championship at both such young ages. Just how impressed have you been with her since her return to IMPACT wrestling in 2020? Do you see that sort of similarity between the two of you?

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.

The big main event for Rebellion, you’ve got a little bit more interest in this than a lot of other people on the roster. We mentioned that option C, but also you recently sat down with Chris Van Vliet and talked about your dream opponents and one name that came up then, and came up when my colleague Gary Cassidy talked to you back in February is Kenny Omega. At Rebellion we’ve got Kenny Omega vs. Rich Swann, title versus title. You’ve got you’ve got that ability to to affect the future following that march, first of all, who do you see walking out of that match victorious? You backing your roster member – Rich Swann or do you think Kenny Omega’s got it, additionally if Kenny Omega’s leaves Rebellion IMPACT World Champion – can you ,Ace Austin, beat him?

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.

If Kenny comes out the other side, well, then same thing you’re going to see the youngest, brightest star of the twenty first century in me going up against the person who many argue is the greatest to ever do, the person who is and after Rebellion could potentially still be at the very top of the industry. So. It’s it’s a it’s a win win scenario for me either way, it’s a big money match. It’s bright lights, it’s millions of viewers and it’s the space where Ace Austin thrives, as I’ve said before, and those lights turn on. Nobody does it like I do. I don’t bend to pressure, I don’t get nervous before my matches, I don’t get little butterflies in my stomach like this is what I do. This is what I live for. And every ounce of me bleeds pro-wrestling. I am at my most natural state when I’m in front of the camera, when the lights are on.

Thanks so much to Ace Austin for taking the time, and to IMPACT UK & Ireland for facilitating the interview. Fans in the UK & Ireland can catch IMPACT! every week on IMPACT Plus and catch all IMPACT PPVs via IMPACT Plus and Fite TV worldwide.

IMPACT’s Rebellion PPV airs live Sunday, April 25th and is available in the UK via FITE including through Virgin Media for the very first time! ITRWrestling will have full coverage of the results from IMPACT Rebellion including the outcome of Ace Austin’s X-Division title defence against Josh Alexander and TJP.

If you use any quotes from this interview please prove a h/t and link back to Inside The Ropes.