Austin Ares on his broken eye socket: “We’ll just add it to the list of sacrifices that anyone who has done this for a length of time has made, physically, with our bodies."
Austin Aries just released his new memoir, FOOD FIGHT: My Plant Powered Journey from the Bingo Halls to the Big Time, but admitted he has yet to debate the vegan lifestyle with venerated steak eater–and WWE chairman–Vince McMahon.
“Haven’t really brought that subject up to this point,” said Aries. “It’s probably in my best interest not to go down that road at this point.”
The book outlines Aries’ journey, which began as a cheese-eating, grit-devouring red blooded American from Wisconsin.
“Once I took the step of becoming a vegetarian, I decided that my diet was a priority,” said Aries. “I kept learning more and more about the corporate food system. I was shocked at how bad most of the choices are for us, and how little we’re educated about it.”
Aries has been embroiled in a feud over the WWE cruiserweight championship with Neville, and the two opened the WrestleMania 33 pre-show with an exciting affair under the heat of the Florida sun.
“WrestleMania is the pinnacle,” said Aries. “My music was the very first thing that hit that night, and there was an energy when I walked out there that was unlike anything I’ve ever walked out in front of. The enormity hit me, and it was a very special moment.”
As for a pre-match meal, Aries admitted he was too amped up to even eat a meal.
“I know I went through a few bananas that day and a few cups of coffee,” said Aries. “I didn’t have too much else to eat that day.”
Aries is also still healing from a broken eye socket suffered by a kick from Shinsuke Nakamura last October during a match in NXT. Despite the gruesome appearance of his eye, Aries admitted that Nakamura did not even kick him that hard.
“Nakamura didn’t kick me that hard, or at least not as hard as he kicked me other times,” noted Aries. “It just happened to catch me at the right spot, and I didn’t protect as I would have liked.”
Aries’ left eye will never fully recover, as there is a small titanium plate there now, but he is grateful that he can still pursue his lifelong journey as a pro wrestler.
“We’ll just add it to the list of sacrifices that anyone who has done this for a length of time has made, physically, with our bodies,” said the 39-year-old Aries. “We accept that because we love what we do. In some ways, it may be a blessing in disguise.
“I don’t know where my path would have taken me had that not happened. I do know where it took me after it did – to go into commentary on 205 Live, then transition onto Raw, which led to my opportunity at WrestleMania and a great series of matches with Neville. If that came out of the broken eye hole, it’s a fair trade-off.”
Food Fight is a bit of a deceptive title, as the memoir shares Aries’ journeys and willingness to stand up for his own diverse beliefs in the sometimes overtly assimilated world of wrestling.
“This book isn’t about trying to turn people vegan,” said Aries. “It’s about making your own decisions and your own choice, and how someone like me ended up becoming a plant-based professional wrestler. This is about people asking their own questions and finding their own answers.”
Although Aries has wrestled professionally for the past 17 years, this marks his first opportunity with WWE. He recognizes most of the locker room from his time in Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling, where he served as world champion in both companies and was the first-ever two-time ROH champ.
“A lot of us began in Ring of Honor,” said Aries. “There is Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, as well as Bobby Roode, Roddy Strong, and Eric Young in NXT. That’s the old adage about the cream rising to the top. It took a little different path to rise, but it’s nice to look around the locker room and see a bunch of guys who worked hard and deserve to be where they are. This is a group of guys who are going to keep professional wrestling alive and well.”
Aries has witnessed Joe’s greatest work in both ROH and TNA, and reassured readers that you can count him as one of the many excited to see Joe tangle with WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar at Great Balls of Fire of July 9 in Dallas, Texas.
“Joe is a man who doesn’t fear Brock Lesnar,” said Aries. “He has been doing this a long time, and he’s been in the ring with legends, main eventers, and Hall of Famers. Joe is a cool cat and a cool customer. I’m sure he’s preparing, but I don’t think he’s sweating it. I think he’s looking forward to it as much as I’m looking forward to watching.”
The Joe-Lesnar pairing is a matchup first dreamed up over a decade ago by fans. The same thoughts exist for Aries in a variety of different fantasy encounters on a WWE canvas, including matches with John Cena, Dean Ambrose, and AJ Styles.
“I just focus on what they put in front of me and doing the best I can with that,” said Aries. “Hopefully these opportunities lead to other opportunities. I know my value and I know what I bring to the table. I pride myself in being versatile and able to fit in in a number of different places.”
The aforementioned goal was capturing Neville’s cruiserweight championship, which Aries failed to accomplish at Extreme Rules two weeks ago in a submission match.
“Neville is operating at another level,” admitted Aries. “He’s really finding himself in the mental aspect in and out of the ring, and he’s a guy who has really impressed me. I would have liked a different outcome, but I’m very proud of what he and I accomplished on 205 Live in terms of bringing out the competition and passion in one another.”
Aries hit a sublime stretch from 2011-13 where his physical peak matched up with his mental peak, but he is now even more refined and polished in the ring and on the microphone.
“I attribute my longevity and feeling as good as I do at my age to a plant-based diet,” said Aries. “The things I do with my diet are things I hope are going to help me ten, twenty years down the road, not necessarily tomorrow.”
While some certainties remain–Aries will continue to educate himself and fight against the corporate food chain–his future in WWE remains unwritten.
“I’ve been really focused since WrestleMania on capturing the WWE cruiserweight championship, and doing it a certain way,” said Aries. “What can I say? I came up short, and I wasn’t willing to do the things that were necessary. Now I’m at a crossroads, and I am going to take a step back and re-evaluate the landscape. The exciting part is to see exactly what my next move will be.”