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Wrestling / Frankie Kazarian

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Frankie Kazarian (born Frank Benedict Gerdelman on August 4, 1977 in Palm Springs, California) is an American professional wrestler of Armenian descent best known for his years of work in TNA and Ring of Honor, and currently wrestling for All Elite Wrestling.

First trained by Killer Kowalski in 1998, Kazarian started out on the independent scene in California, with notable companies including the Empire Wrestling Federation, Millennium Pro Wrestling, Ultimate Pro Wrestling (where he trained alongside friends such as Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, and John Cena, as well as teamed with former ECW alumnus Mike "Nova" Bucci as Evolution (not to be mistaken with a certain faction whose leader was also a Kowalski alumnus), and especially Pro Wrestling Guerilla, winning titles in many of these promotions. Notable brushes with the mainstream during this time include a match with he and Nova against star WWF tag team Edge and Christian and a prophetic run-in with Mike Tenay at a WCW event.

Speaking of which. In 2003, then-TNA President Jeff Jarrett and road agent Scott D'Amore invited him for a tryout, as they knew him from a previous World Wrestling Association show, and decided they liked him enough to start booking him with the company and having him as one of the star competitors for the X-Division Championship. He ended up becoming X-Division Champion the first time in March of 2004, losing the belt to AJ Styles three months later and forming an alliance with Michael Shane to take the title from AJ, which eventually formed into a tag team known by fans as Shazarian and managed by Shane's on-screen valet (and Kazarian's future wife) Traci Brooks.

He briefly left TNA to see if WWE possessed greener pastures, but ended up returning with only a month's worth of a Velocity winning streak under his belt when they tried to get him to cut his hair and he refused (in addition to him realizing that they had no plans on revamping their Cruiserweight division). He returned to the indies, then to TNA and his team with Michael Shane (now going by his real name Matt Bentley due to trademark issues), before the two were repackaged as part of a gothic faction also involving Johnny Devine, revealed to have become understudies to Raven. As part of the gimmick, while Devine and Bentley were renamed Havok and Martyr, Kazarian simply had his name shortened to Kaz. This was a significant hint that he'd retained some sense of his individuality and that the angle was mostly meant to get him over as he would rebel against Raven, turn face, and overcome Serotonin. He would embark on the biggest push of his TNA career, being marketed as a fearless competitor and athlete, defeating Christian Cage in a ladder match for a shot at Kurt Angle's TNA World Heavyweight Championship, and even coming just short of defeating Angle. Other angles included a tag team with Eric Young and his superhero alter ego, usually to fight against James Mitchell's team of monsters, and a stint in the World X Cup in which he failed to get the victory for Team TNA, which was used to write him out as having fallen out of love with wrestling so that he could be used as the masked video game character Suicide.

He ended up exchanging the Suicide role back and forth with good friend Christopher Daniels due to injury, including during an X-Division Championship run, which was used in a storyline where other X-Division competitors tried to unmask Suicide thinking it was Daniels. After losing the title, he later entered both a feud and an alliance with "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero, before eventually being taken out of the Suicide role to compete as himself again early on into Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff's tenure basically running TNA.

After briefly competing as a face in the X-Division again, Kazarian ended in an angle with Ric Flair and his recently-turned heel protégé AJ Styles in which Flair started shifting his favor towards Kaz instead of AJ, though it turned out he actually wanted them both under his wing—which turned out to be the start of the faction Fortune, TNA Originals intent on taking their company back from outsider forces while acting as successors to the legacy of Flair's legendary faction, the Four Horsemen. Both as heels against EV2.0 (ECW wrestlers in favor with Dixie Carter) and as faces against Immortal (Hogan and Bischoff's conspiracy, which Flair initially had them acting as a part of until they turned behind his back), Fortune remained true to their mission and were one of the most well-liked factions in the history of TNA. During this time, Kaz once again claimed a few months with the X-Division title.

When the group imploded due to the turns of both Christopher Daniels and Bobby Roode, Kazarian and Styles stuck together as a tag team until Daniels convinced Kazarian to turn on AJ Styles over a series of illicit secrets, creating a months-long drama which was ultimately resolved with each "secret" being revealed as being fabricated in a plan meant to ruin AJ's reputation. For Kaz and Daniels, this ultimately resulted in the creation of their tag team Bad Influencenote , who won the TNA World Tag Team Championship twice over the years and engaged in various stories with their former Fortune stablemates, Austin Aries, and Joseph Park/Abyss, before eventually leaving TNA in spring/summer 2014.

Upon leaving TNA, Daniels took Kazarian with him back to Ring of Honor, where they have resumed their tag team under the name of The Addiction. While first presenting themselves as faces due to Daniels' homecoming and feuding with the ROH-purist Decade group (with ironically a similar mission to Fortune), they eventually turned heel after being revealed as the masterminds behind an "invasion" scheme called the Knights of the Rising Dawn, meant to create misdirection as well as bring in ex-TNA ally Chris Sabin so they could steal the ROH World Tag Team Titles from reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly). In 2017, he became the newest member of the Bullet Club. And then he didn't. That same year, Scorpio Sky would join The Addiction with the group being named SoCal Uncensored (SCU).

Along with Daniels, Sky, and The Elite, Kazarian would leave ROH in 2019 after Final Battle in order to join AEW, where he and Sky would become the promotion's inaugural World Tag Team Champions.

"The Coolest Tropes in Wrestling":

  • Ascended Extra: Despite being a part of the King of Indies tournament which inspired the creation of ROH, he was initially rejected at a Do Or Die show. Kazarian would later return as one of half of ROH's most celebrated tag team in years, eleven years later.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit/Man of Wealth and Taste: Graduated to this as part of Ric Flair's Fortune.
  • Bash Brothers: Nova, Michael Shane, AJ Styles, and Christopher Daniels are the most notable of these (see Tag Team below).
  • Batman Gambit: At the 2015 Best In The World No DQ match they taped Bobby Fish to the ropes and then allowed Kyle O'Reilly to fight them off before setting up a table behind his back while O'Reilly tried to find something that could cut Fish free. It would have worked except they didn't count on Fish freeing himself, though timely interference from Chris Sabin still allowed The Addiction to retain, despite the failed gambit.
  • Best Served Cold: At the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles, he became the first victim of what came to be known as The Meltzer Driver. Two years later they were in ROH and The Addiction had something for The Young Bucks they called "The Best Meltzer Ever".
  • Bounty Hunter: During his feud with Jay Lethal, Kazarian claimed to be hunting bounties Fourtune had put on TNA's title belts.
  • Book Ends: The first and final matches that could be considered part of Fortune involved AJ and Kazarian tagging up against Samoa Joe and a partner from the UK.
  • Brass Balls: When Kaz was being pushed strong as a face between 2007-08, he was notorious even among other X-Division wrestlers for taking dangerous high dives when necessary and being utterly unafraid to take on TNA's major acquired superstars and Wrestling Monster characters. This sometimes bordered on Fearless Fool during Kaz's team with Eric Young, as a contrast to the neurotic Young and his Herculean "Super Eric" alter ego.
  • Canon Name: Frankie was this in TNA, where it was frequently dropped from his actual ring name.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: To Antonio Banderas when he had his long hair. It was lampshaded frequently.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Repeatedly fined in ROH for refusing to apologize for use of excessive profanity
  • Combat Pragmatist: A fine example of this trope, especially as a heel, even without the Manipulative Bastard stuff.
  • Combination Attack:
    • With Nova, had both the Spanish Fly and a diving leg drop/splash combo called the EZ Splash.
    • With Shane/Bentley, had two different combinations centered around Bentley's superkick: Modern Art (in which Frankie followed up with a bridging German suplex) and Xtreme Elimination (in which Frankie did a leg sweep at the same time, a nod to Perry Saturn and John Kronus' Total Elimination).
  • Conspiracy Theorist: He and Daniels covertly formed the Knights of the Rising Dawn, so when things ended up not going their way it was natural they would claim there was a conspiracy in ROH against them. Funnily enough they were correct, and Chris Sabin got a face pop for revealing he had been in on it!
  • Continuity Nod: Three years after his Serotonin angle, on an episode of Xplosion heading into the Fortune vs. EV2 tag match at Turning Point 2010 where a member of the losing team will be fired, Kaz comments that he hates Raven's guts and would love for him to get fired.
  • The Corrupter/Toxic Friend Influence: His was Christopher Daniels. What exactly Daniels blackmailed him with was never revealed but it got to the point it wasn't necessary anyway.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Whenever he and Daniels are Tag Team Champions, they refer to themselves as "The World Tag Team Champions of the World".
  • Diabolus ex Machina: TNA's Bad Influence owes its existence to this trope. He and Daniels had issues with each other after Fortune's breakup and were pretty much thrown back together just to make AJ Styles's life more difficult…hey, tropes are not bad.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: His and Daniels' current/heel ROH theme, "Get Addicted", was created by Frankie's newly formed band VexTemper.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Chris Sabin, in that they were both owe their ROH careers to their tag team partners Christopher Daniels and Alex Shelley. While Shelley has been a good influence on Sabin, Daniels hasn't been such in Frankie's case. Frankie himself took it further, taking their mirrored career paths back to 2002 in Australia, New Zealand and The Super Eight, saying they could have been friends if not for Alex Shelley.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Abyss had marching orders to "soften" the reigning X Division Champion before Genesis 2011, which lead to him purposefully avoiding pin falls to inflict the maximum amount of damage to Jay Lethal. After the match had concluded though, Kazarian showed his "respect" for Lethal by having Abyss hold up his limp body so they could shake hands.
  • Fighting Your Friend: With the reunion of The Motor City Machine Guns, The Addiction still obviously had some respect for Chris Sabin and a lot more animosity for the Jackson brothers.
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: He and Daniels painting their faces blue, wearing kilts, and imitating William Wallace to get Cheap Heat from English fans.
  • For Want Of A Nail: You could argue that if it wasn't for what Kazarian and Daniels did to AJ Styles, he would've never become the Darker and Edgier AJ of today, left TNA, and ended up fitting right at home in the Bullet Club, and thus they probably would've lost a ton of steam after losing Prince Devitt. Doubles as Unwitting Instigator of Doom for New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Nice Job Fixing It, Villain for everyone else. For what it's worth, Kaz ended up reaping the benefits of this, betraying Daniels to join the Bullet Club himself, albeit a year after AJ had already left the main branch to start an offshoot in WWE. Only for Daniels to benefit as well because the betrayal was a ruse to draw Adam Cole into overconfidence so that Daniels could catch him off guard and beat him for the ROH World Heavyweight Title.
  • Gratuitous French: Christopher Daniels keeps calling him "Francois Kazarian".
  • Groin Attack: Accidentally one to Dalton Castle at Supercard Of Honor X, who was attempting a sunset flip on Donovan Dijak, after taking a drop toe hold from Page and landing his for head in Castle's crotch, who then sat up into Dijak's. Kazarian then intentionally gave one to Page while he was performing a standing switch, causing him to stumble into the middle ropes and cause it to hit Daddiego and Cheeseburger in their groins as they're entering. Kazarian mocks them all, who all in turn kick him below the belt simultaneously.
    Kevin Kelly:"I didn't see a thing, did you, 3?"
  • Ink-Suit Actor: In Awe Yeah Comics with Christopher Daniels.
  • Jack of All Stats: While he isn't the freakish athlete AJ Styles is, Kazarian can mat wrestle, fly and even throw out some power moves, making one of the most balanced members of the X-Division during his tenure in TNA.
  • Large Ham: Christopher Daniels' hamminess rubbed off on him.
  • Legion of Doom: Bad Influence joined forces with Dixie Land, the Bromans, Bobby Roode and Brian Stiffler to finally rid TNA of AJ Styles in 2014. That's roughly eleven on one, or 11 on 2 when Sting tried to help AJ. Then they did it again to get rid of Sting when Samoa Joe tried to help.
  • Leitmotif: "Your Sexy Beast" with Christopher Daniels in The Addiction.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • In TNA, this is how Bad Influence essentially earned their name. Daniels and Kazarian took advantage of TNA President Dixie Carter's faux-Mrs. Robinson tendencies in order to frame her and AJ Styles into an affair situation. This forced a mutual friend of who they knew AJ and Dixie were helping to kick a drug addiction to come out of the woodwork and reveal herself. Then they convinced her somehow to turn the rumor around and accuse AJ of getting her pregnant after a drunken romp, creating a dent in his wholesome Christian reputation and possibly disrupting his marriage. This whole series of concentrated rumors meant to throw AJ off his game by attacking his reputation ended up accomplishing two things: they retained their relevance in TNA, became two-time World Tag Team Champions of the World, and Daniels won the final one-on-one match between him and AJ in TNA.
    • In ROH, after having closed out their feud with the Decade (a poor man's imitation of Fortune), the Addiction started to go after the ROH Tag Team Championship titles being held at the time by reDRagon. Around the same time frame, an invading force in red masks called the Knights of the Rising Dawn started attacking longtime ROH mainstays in run-ins and speaking out against the idea that company longevity and politics should supercede talent. All eyes pointed to Maria Kanellis and Adam Cole's stable, the Kingdom, as being responsible for this, meanwhile Kazarian and Daniels were able to appeal to Daniels' old friend, ROH Commissioner Nigel McGuinness, to score themselves one last tag title shot after wearing out the opportunities they'd actually earned in competition. Then the title shot came, and one of the red-masked KRD invaders interfered by attacking reDRagon, who fended him off, though this allowed the Addiction to take advantage and beat them for the titles. Then the masked man was unmasked as Chris Sabin. Then Kaz and Daniels hit reDRagon with the belts. The entire KRD plot was an intentional misdirection with a hint of truth Hidden in Plain Sight by the Addiction and Sabin for the sole purpose of becoming World Tag Team Champions of the World once again.
    • Shortly after Daniels won the Decade of Excellence tournament in 2017 to earn a ROH World Championship title match, Kazarian turned on him and joined Bullet Club, one of whose leaders was the champion Adam Cole. He even went out of his way to block Daniels from Twitter while tweeting disrespect towards his very existence. Then came the ROH 15th Anniversary show and Cole vs. Daniels, during which the Bullet Club was nowhere to be seen…until Kazarian came running down the ramp and shoved Daniels into the ring, holding him open for Cole to hit him with the title. Daniels broke free and ducked out of the way before Cole got into his swing, and then Kazarian decided he wanted to hit Daniels with the belt himself…only to throw the belt to the ground and rip up his Bullet Club shirt to reveal a winged Destiny shirt right in front of Cole, stunning him and leaving him prone for a standing ura-nage and a triad of Best Moonsaults Ever leading to the three-count and the ultimate victory for @facdaniels.
  • Metal Head: A gimmick he wanted to use in TNA that was turned down for various reasons. Coming into ROH he decided he was going to make everyone call him a "heavy metal rebel" whether they liked it or not.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Lampshaded to the point of Informed Attractiveness. Kazarian is an attractive guy, but the way everybody talked about him at one point you'd think he was the only attractive male in TNA. One of Christopher Daniels' nicknames for him is actually "the Physical Fascination". Hasn't caught on yet. The Addiction's first ROH theme was even titled "Your Sexy Beast" in reference to his status as such. This was mocked by Doc Gallows, who held his IWGP Tag Team Title in between his legs while stating his intention to pound the asses of The Addiction (and The Kingdom) in a then-upcoming three-way tag team match. (Doc, oddly enough, ended up snowed in and couldn't make it to the arena, but that's another story.)
  • The Nicknamer: He and Daniels thrive in this department, having nicknames and titles galore for not only themselves but for everyone else around them.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Well, it is called the Extraordinary Gentlemen's Organization, after all.
  • Old-School Chivalry: To go with his fan service push Kazarian used to be especially chivalrous when it came to women. Even in his early to mid TNA career when Traci Brooks was not only his enemy but also The Vamp, he couldn't resist coming to her rescue when Robert Roode was mistreating her within Kazarian's earshot. And unlike everyone else up to that point, she didn't use this as an opportunity to help Roode, being genuinely appreciative of Kazarian's romantics.
  • Pet the Dog: The Addiction took issue with Cody's post match attack on Jay Lethal at Final Battle. As it's something they were guilty of themselves in the past it hinted at either respect for Jay (which would be consistent with their role in post-Heel–Face Turn Fortune as well as the fact that they'd recently teamed up with Jay earlier in 2016 before his face turn fully kicked in) or that The Addiction was softening. (Then again, there was usually some kind of reasoning, however flawed, behind the Addiction's actions, so maybe they just hate "pointless" violence.) Eventually this became a harbinger of their beef with the Bullet Club as a whole, who Cody's Face–Heel Turn was made to join.
  • Power Stable:
    • Serotonin with Raven, HavokAKA , and MartyrAKA .
    • Fortune (and briefly Immortal when they acted as part of it).
  • Power Trio:
    • Whenever Shazarian aligned with Kid Kash.
    • The Extraordinary Gentlemen's Organization (EGO) with Christopher Daniels and Bobby Roode, which they insisted was an entirely new alliance rather than the offshoot of Fortune that it was in the eyes of fans.
    • The Knights of the Rising Dawn turned out to be Chris Sabin joining him and Daniels.
    • SoCal Uncensored (SCU) with Daniels and Scorpio Sky.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": He and Daniels had a tantrum consisting of these after discovering Nigel's planned end for The Addiction, Young Bucks and Motor City Machine Guns feud was a ladder war.
  • Red Baron: The Future, The Coolest Man in Wrestling, The Notorious K-A-Z, The Physical Fascination (courtesy of Daniels), The Secretary of Offense (also Daniels), The Heavy Metal Rebel (in ROH since forming VexTemper). He was willing to give up the first when KUSHIDA of the Time Splitters asked for permission to call his small package driver "Back To The Future".
  • Shaking the Rump: Christopher Daniels and Kazarian resolved to put some T&A back into TNA pay per views at Genesis 2013. Daniels would do this more often, but Kazarian has occasionally gyrated or thrust to the beat of the Bad Influence theme during entrances.
  • Ship Tease: Invoked this trope maliciously along with Daniels when they tried to slander AJ Styles' name by claiming he was having an affair with President Dixie Carter. He wasn't, thankfully, but it still worked for their ends.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Kaz and Daniels' Bad Influence name was one to Kaz's old Bad Influence tag team with Josh Galaxy in the EWF.
    • Daniels' "Physical Fascination" Red Baron for him is a reference to one of Chris's own students, Brandon Bishop.
  • Slimeball: Allowed Christopher Daniels to drag him down every rung to this trope.
  • Smug Snake: Heel. This was really helped along at Aftershock as Daniels insisted all of Kazarian(and Kamaitachi's) losses were invalid and thus he was still undefeated and unstoppable.
  • Start My Own: In protest to Kurt Angle being inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame during his feud with Bobby Roode, Bad Influence decided to start their own EGO Hall of Fame just to induct Roode.
  • Tag Team:
    • The original Bad Influence with Josh Galaxy in the Empire Wrestling Federation.
    • Evolution with Nova in UPW.
    • Shazarian with Michael Shane/Matt Bentley in TNA.
    • Brief post-Fortune team-up with AJ Styles for a brief time in TNA.
    • The Bad Influence of TNA aka The Addiction with Christopher Daniels.
  • Totally Radical: On the last Impact of 2010 he called Jay Lethal's mother "fugly".
  • Undying Loyalty: Was thought to have this with TNA and Fortune, but with a bit of convincing, the only part of it that really applied to turned out to be Daniels.
  • Ur-Example: The first Millennium Pro Wrestling, PWG Champion, and one-half of the first AEW World Tag Team Champion, alongside fellow SCU member Scorpio Sky.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Following in Jay Lethal's wake the Addiction also go invitations to throw the first pitch at baseball games, Frankie at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino, CA as Inland Empire 66ers hosted the Modesto Nuts.

Alternative Title(s): Kazarian, Kaz