I always said to myself when I first started wrestling that I was gonna put absolutely everything into it - into becoming the absolute best pro wrestling that I could be.
When you look back at the former Ring of Honor world champions, whether it be Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Nigel McGuiness, the list goes on and on. These are the guys that built the lineage and importance of the Ring of Honor world championship.
For anyone watching Ring of Honor out of the gate, they knew when they were watching an ROH event that they were watching a different level of wrestler from what they had seen.
Aside from ROH, just getting a taste of Wrestle Kingdom at the Tokyo Dome with NJPW has me really excited at the prospect of furthering and developing my career in Japan.
With me, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O'Reilly, I know on-screen we are these brothers whose bond can't be broken, and we are this faction. I promise you, it's very real behind the scenes, too. I've known those guys for years. We travel together all the time; we talk every single day.
I've been in a lot of different factions my whole career, and all the guys who made up those factions are different performers. For example, if you look at the Undisputed Era as a whole, I'm very different than Roderick Strong, who's very different from Kyle O'Reilly, who's very different from Bobby Fish.
There is nothing that makes me more falsely arrogant, like, wanting to defend myself, than a TSA agent.
I think it's fun to fantasize about the idea of NXT and ROH butting heads and seeing which one will do better, especially with WWE looking at ROH guys to hire.
I do feel in 2018 that pro wrestling has gone in such a different direction. Before, things were so black and white; now, it's shades of grey. It's not so much good guys and bad guys: there are people who are put in situations who do the right or wrong things, but people react to them like they are stars.
Generally speaking, ROH championship matches are hard fought and grueling, and the fans are really into it. The ROH Championship means a lot to me for those reasons.
I'm really, really close with Kevin Owens. We talk practically every day. He was a guy who really, really helped me, both in Ring Of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
For me, it's always been a financial kind of scenario. I was actually the first one who signed the 'exclusive to Ring of Honor' contract. I was the first guy who ever signed one of those contracts. That was tough for me because I had no one to talk to. I had no examples to go on. I was the guinea pig.
I had a tryout when I was, like, 19 and totally not prepared. I was 170 pounds with homemade gear. At that point, I realized how far I had to go to even get looked at. Then, when I was 22 or 23, I was much more prepared, and that second tryout went way better.
When you're an independent wrestler, committing a lot of time and effort into honing your craft as much as possible in as many different places as possible will catch the WWE's interest as far as the independent level goes.
My two main trainers were John Dahmer and DJ Hyde. DJ Hyde mainly taught me how to be tough: I mean, the beatings that he used to give the students as far as wrestling initiations go were as tough as they come, and I'm thankful for it.
Seth Rollins was just leaving Ring Of Honor when I was coming in, so I've heard him say very nice things about me in interviews and stuff. I always say nice things about him because of that respect I have for him. I watched him when I was working the independents while he was wrestling at Ring Of Honor, and I used to be blown away by his work then.
My parents split up when I was nine years old, and I started taking karate lessons at that point. I was very dedicated to my karate, and I looked up to my karate instructor kind of like a second father.
There's so many cool things that happen, where you want to kind of sit back and smell the roses and say, 'Wow, this is awesome!' But then you're already thinking a mile ahead about what the next landmark is, what the next goal is.
So when you're following guys like Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish or The Young Bucks or Jay Lethal or The Briscoe Brothers, and you're going out and trying to really stick out and have a very memorable, talked-about main event, or the match of the night, like the main event should be, it's really challenging.
For me, my number one guy would be Tanahashi from New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Like, watching him, like, this guy is a bonafide rockstar over in Japan. He can't even walk down the street without getting stopped, the way that he carries himself.