"Daniel is 6-3. Great genetics, great look, good athletic ability, kicks like a mule. Has a smile so obnoxious he makes you want to punch the television screen. He’s Brad Pitt in Fight Club,”
This is someone’s description about former WWE and MMA performer Daniel Puder.
Wrestling fans remember Daniel as the guy who almost broke Kurt Angle’s arm. They also remember him for being the winner of $1,000,000 Tough enough but not many WWE fans out there would remember Daniel as the guy who had a ton of potential.
How could I reach a conclusion that Daniel had a ton of potential? Well, it depends on the quote that we saw earlier. Such a quote would be insignificant if it came from a random wrestling fan, but when it comes from someone like Paul Heyman, the level of credibility in the argument goes sky high.
The ability that Heyman has to dig out stars is second to none in the wrestling business. With names like Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, and many more in his resume, Heyman clearly knew what makes or breaks a star in the business.
Daniel was one of those superstars that he took under his wing during his time in OVW. But unfortunately, the politics was not aligned in favor of Daniel and this probably degraded his time in WWE.
After having a fallout with WWE over contract negotiations in his second year, Daniel had spells in Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling before going on to have an 8-0 undefeated record in MMA.
But all these are in the past. Today, Daniel is an entirely different man. He is an entrepreneur that is out to help others and change the world with his venture “My Life My Power World”. I recently had a chance to catch up with Daniel.
He talked about his new career, his views on the current WWE product, offers he got from UFC, difference between Ring of Honor, NJPW and WWE, Conor McGregor, Roman Reigns, training with Shinsuke Nakamura, current relationship with Kurt Angle and much more.
Renjith Ravindran: How is your career with My Life My Power World going?
Daniel Puder: My Life My Power is one of my proudest successes. I have been blessed to be able to put together a dynamic team of people who share my same vision for positively impacting this world! What started as just an idea in my head has now grown to become a worldwide non-profit that is transforming lives daily! We are continuously expanding and this year, we just launched our University course where and are going to soon be launching our corporate training platform.
RR: Could you tell us a bit about the activities and operations of My Life My Power World?
DP: Yes, we have created 2 programs, GPS for Life and The International Red Ribbon Movement. Our vision is to provide children and teenager of all ages with a mentor who can use our program to help guide and direct these youth toward a successful future. Instead of telling kids what not to do, we help show them the right path so that they can come to the realization on their own. Both programs revolve around having a positive role model and can be implemented in schools, after-school programs, home school settings, you name it! Because of our unique approach, we have had an outpouring of celebrity involvement which helps spark the interest of the kids! You can check out more information about these programs at www.MyLifeMyPower.org.
RR: You had an eye for entrepreneurship, MMA and wrestling at a young age itself, how was it like to choose a path from these three?
DP: Well, I got into MMA and wrestling as a complete fluke. I had got in trouble for getting into a real fight and ended up spending time juvenile hall because of it! From there, I started to realize that I was actually pretty good at something - fighting, but instead of getting in trouble for it again I decided to give it a try at a local gym and it’s all history from there! As for being an entrepreneur, that too was somewhat of a fluke! I was out having dinner with a buddy of mine and TMZ came up to us and asked me what I thought about all of the kids being bullied around the country. I ended up saying that if you are being bullied, to email me and then I gave my personal email out on national television. In just 8 weeks I received 10,000 emails from over 12 different countries and I knew that a program like My Life My Power needed to be created! I mention all of that to say that you should always be open and prepared for a different path to present itself, even when you least expect it!
RR: Have you ever thought about getting into UFC?
DP: Yes, I was offered a contract a few times, but it wasn’t the right fit at the time. I think Dana White is an amazing guy and I want to thank him for those offers when they were presented to me.
RR: Do you follow UFC? If yes, who is the current best fighter according to you?
DP: I do! Cane Velasquez and Luke Rockhold are two of my favorite fighters right now. We all trained together at AKA and they are really continuing to kick butt!
RR: What is your take on Conor McGregor, would you get in the Octagon with him if given a chance?
DP: I would have back in the day. He is a tough guy and has a ton of potential.
RR: You worked with ROH, NJPW, and WWE, how were the three promotions different?
DP: ROH has more close-knit dynamics between the wrestlers and for the most part, we looked out for one another and worked together as a team. Within the Asian culture, NJPW has a tremendous amount of respect among the wrestlers and they have different viewpoints of pro wrestling and martial arts. WWE is definitely more entertainment driven.
RR: How was Vince McMahon as a person?
DP: I didn’t get to know him very well. I talked to him a few time and he was always cordial and pleasant.
RR: What is the best memory from your time in WWE?
DP: The night that I won Tough Enough! I actually thought that I was going to lose based on a promo that they have me cut up as a bad guy and some of the things that were going on backstage. So, I figured they would have me lose and then play the promo with me as the heel. Needless to say, when I won, I was so excited and it took me by surprise which was the best part!
RR: Who were the wrestlers that you looked up to during your time in WWE?
DP: Al Snow is by far the best coach in the pro wrestling world. He became somewhat of a father figure to me and played a big role in the man that I am today. I’d also have to say Richie Steamboat and Stephanie McMahon.
RR: Could you shed some light into the relationship you had or still have with Paul Heyman?
DP: Paul Heyman is the #1 guy in the world for promos and setting up storylines out of anyone else in the wrestling world! He was one of my favorite guys to work with to create my character and he gave me a lot of good advice for being in the wrestling world.
RR: You worked with Shinsuke Nakamura during your time in Japan, now that he is in WWE, do you have any advice for him?
DP: When I was 17 years old, Nakamura came to America and I trained with him to get him ready for his fighting. A year later, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Japan and have him train me and tag team with me in Japan. As for advice, he’s a superstar, he’s got this!
RR: Do you follow the current WWE product? If yes, is it going in the right direction and your take on WWE’s attempt to push Roman Reigns?
DP: I try to watch it around my schedule. I’ll admit, though, I don’t think it is going in the right direction. It has become too commercialized and over the top. I’d say they could improve their content to become better role models for the kids that watch. Roman Reigns, he is a nice guy, I think that whoever WWE pushes becomes superstars long term and at this point, they need someone like him.
RR: Have you ever thought about returning to the wrestling business?
DP: Yes, but at this point, I have dedicated my life to helping others. So, unless the wrestling business began to have the same vision of helping change lives, then it’s not something that I would be interested in returning to at this point.
RR: Your current relationship status with Kurt Angle?
DP: Any day that Kurt Angle wants to step into a cage with me, I’m ready! He has always been disrespectful to me and I honestly feel sorry for him that he never stepped up to the plate when I was ready to.
RR: Have you ever visited India?
DP: I haven’t, but I would love to visit India and would be honored to have an opportunity to wrestle there one day if I ever got back into it! And of course, it would be awesome to launch the My Life My Power Program out there with your kids and teenagers!