At the recent Wrestling MediaCon, I was honoured to be invited by IMPACT Wrestling to attend their IMPACT vs. UK show as a member of the press. Whilst I was there, I got to sit down with former IMPACT Champion, Eddie Edwards, and chat all things pro wrestling.
Please note: As I’d never conducted interviews prior to this weekend, I had no plans of publishing the audio for this interview, but because the sound quality turned out better than expected, I’ve decided to include it along with a transcript. I may be stumbling my words in places so please forgive any mistakes. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy.
HWF: Eddie, you’re here for the IMPACT vs. UK show – how’ve you found the experience so far?
Eddie: The UK has a deep connection to me as far as wrestling goes because this is where The American Wolves were born. Any time I’m able to come back means something special, especially bringing IMPACT back. When I first started in IMPACT, one of the biggest things of the year was coming over here for the IMPACT tour, but unfortunately the last few years we haven’t been able to do that, so it’s a chance to bring a big part of the IMPACT roster over and show the fans in person what we’ve been doing lately. It’s nice to show the UK fans a little bit of thanks, they’ve stuck by us and been there all along.
HWF: A lot has changed since you were last in the UK over the last few years. Is there anybody in the UK scene that you look at and think, “I need to get in the ring with them”?
Eddie: The thing about wrestling, especially in the UK, is that it’s such a hot market right now. There’s so much good talent it’s hard to single out anyone. When I go to independent shows and see what talent there is, I like to step in there with anyone and see what we can create, that’s why I think it’s good IMPACT is working with UK talent for this event. It’s pretty interesting to see the UK talent meshes with the IMPACT talent and see some different matches just a few years ago people never thought we would see. I’m open to anything different for the fans, and to challenge myself against some of the best guys over here.
HWF: You’ve been in IMPACT for quite a few years now. Over the last year or so, IMPACT has made some big changes, and are creating a lot of buzz right now. You’ve got to be involved in some really interesting stuff, like the Unsanctioned Match in the woods. How was it trying to choreograph that whole thing as opposed to a standard wrestling match?
Eddie: It was unique. As much as it looked unique, it was very unique to be a part of. I was lucky enough to be involved in one of the features at the Hardy Compound. We did some stuff out there like wrestle on volcanoes and stuff, so this time, it’s not a typical wrestling match, it’s more like a thriller, action type movie scene. There wasn’t a lot of wrestling moves going on, it was more about the emotion, and what my feud with Sami was built on, which was him hitting me in the face with a baseball bat. We had the chance to capitalise on the emotion from there, which I think at times is lost in professional wrestling, especially on the independent scene. People just look at matches as exhibitions, but if you can tap into the emotions that everybody feels, I think people can relate.
When I was whipping Sami’s ass in the woods or beating him with a kendo stick, and people were behind me for that, that’s a different thing. You tell somebody out of the blue, “Oh, this guy’s gonna beat the hell out of somebody with a kendo stick.” Most times he’d be the bad guy, but in this situation because of everything he’d put me and my wife through, people were behind me. It was interesting to tap into the pure anger and emotion involved in that. That was the culmination of everything we had worked to, it was cool to do a whole completely different thing, and I was very happy with how it turned out.
HWF: One of the biggest things you got to do because of IMPACT was go over to NOAH in Japan. You’ve wrestled KENTA, you’ve wrestling Marufuji, you won the GHC Championship – that’s pretty cool. What’s the biggest thing you’ve taken away, or the biggest moment from that whole experience?
Eddie: The moment I was on my knees holding that belt above my head and they were announcing me the winner. That was something I never knew I’d get the chance to do, let alone win it. I went over to NOAH in 2005 when I first started to train, I was just 21 years old. I grew up in NOAH and Japan, I started from the very bottom so to climb that mountain and reach the top, even talking about it now gives me chills because that was a dream I held onto for so long, I was lucky enough that it came true.
HWF: What hurts more – getting hit in the face by a baseball bat or getting kicked by KENTA and Marufuji?
Eddie: I’d say for pure shock, the baseball bat, but knowing that it’s coming, the kicks.
HWF: While you were with NOAH, you got to compete in the legendary Korakuen Hall. How was that given how much history that building has? Does it rank number one or does something beat it?
Eddie: Oh man, all the tapes I’ve watched from that place. It’s definitely number one, but Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, I really like too. It’s also buildings like Manhattan Centre that hold a special place in my heart because of what happened there. I won the ROH Title in Manhattan Centre, Korakuen Hall I won the GHC Title there, but regardless of if I won a title there or not, it’s definitely one of the best, if not the best venue to perform in.
HWF: Speaking of venues, at the moment we’re sat in a bar made to look like the cantina from Star Wars. It’s a pretty weird place to do an interview in, but where’s the weirdest place you’ve had a wrestling match?
Eddie: A barn with hay and animals outside. Legit old school red barn with a wrestling ring in. I’ve wrestled in the tiniest of bars too.
HWF: Obviously you’ve got a strong connection with NOAH, so with IMPACT’s relationship with the company, who would you love to see IMPACT bring over from their roster for a good stint?
Eddie: Marufuji would be my number one pick if we hadn’t have brought him over already. Nakajima, or Kenoh, the man that beat me for the GHC Title, to bring them over would be a wake up call for the fans and the wrestlers. With them throwing those hard kicks, they bring that NOAH fighting spirit style, that’d be a cool thing.
HWF: Somewhere else people might remember you wrestling was when you had a couple of matches in NXT alongside Davey Richards. Which two guys, they don’t have to be in a tag team at the moment, in an ideal world would you bring over from NXT to IMPACT?
Eddie: I’m gonna have to go with one of my best friends, the man I won the ROH Title from, Roderick Strong, and then bring Undisputed Era too. Guys that are my good friends and are unbelievably talented in the ring. I know they could do something special and they could do it with anybody.
HWF: You mentioned it earlier, you’ve become pretty fond of carrying a kendo stick around lately – how tempted are you to do The Sandman’s entrance every time you’ve got it?
Eddie: Basically every time I talk to Tommy Dreamer or something and I’m holding the kendo stick, for some reason I’ll raise the stick up like Sandman, and they’re just like, “Don’t do that.” Every time you have a kendo stick, you wanna listen to Metallica and go through the crowd drinking beer.
HWF: So the kendo stick came about because you got hit in the face by that baseball bat. Obviously that’s a horrific thing to happen, but how did your career change when that happened?
Eddie: If there’s ever a case of turning a negative into a positive, it’s this situation.
HWF: I think that sums up wrestling in general really.
Eddie: Yeah, it’s kinda like taking what you’re given and running with it. This incident happened, and when it aired, it caught all this media attention and everyone had an opinion on it, so it would have been foolish of us to not try to capitalise on it. For myself as a pro wrestler and as a character, it gave me a chance to evolve. I was the wrestler, the good guy, but it gave me a chance to get in touch with those emotions and become what I am today, this kendo stick wielding crazy type guy. It’s been fun for me to play with things to push the limit and figuring out what this character would do, and the simple answer is he could do anything because he’s crazy!
I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity IMPACT has given me with this, and as crappy as that situation was, knock on wood no long term injuries so I’m happy things have turned out the way they have. If anything, it gave IMPACT a bit of buzz, and I’m ecstatic to see how the thing progressed, from Sami to Tommy, from Tommy to Moose, and I’m happy with the way things are going. It’s a lot of fun.
HWF: You’re a huge Boston Celtics fan. In the world of basketball, who do you think would make the best transition to pro wrestling?
Eddie: Oh, man. That’s a great question… I think Kyrie Irving, the Point Guard for the Celtics, he does some stuff in movies and I think as a character he could come over and do some stuff. Obviously he’s an unbelievable athlete, but I think he’d have the character and aura for pro wrestling.
HWF: I’m sure over the years you’ve played a wrestling video game or two. What’s the best game and who’s your go-to to play as on that game?
Eddie: I’m gonna go old school here, I can’t tell you the last time I played a video game in general, but I’m going with WrestleMania The Arcade Game. Shawn Michaels had the hearts flying out, kicking Yokozuna and having hams flying out, that is my favourite. It wasn’t too complicated which was nice and it was always a good time.
HWF: So back in your childhood when you’re playing as HBK, throwing hams all over the place, what’s the moment where you thought, “This is for me. I’m crazy enough to do this”?
Eddie: I think it was when I first started watching wrestling, I just wanted everything wrestling, then thinking I could be a part of a video game if I was a wrestler, but I just fell in love with the whole world of professional wrestling. When people ask what got me into it or who got me into it, it was just the whole thing, the whole production. This is amazing and I needed to be a part of it.
HWF: We spoke earlier about how things are changing in IMPACT, what do you think is the biggest reason people need to check it out at the moment?
Eddie: First of all, for the fans who turned away or new fans that haven’t watched, just give IMPACT a chance. It is an alternative, it’s something different. With the stuff with me and Sami, or Sami and Pentagon, we’ve had a chance to push the limit in a very PG world. Right now, if you want something a little more hard-hitting and cutting edge, this is what we’re gonna do, and also with the fight in the woods and LAX fighting in the streets, this is stuff you’re not going to see anywhere else. It’s a very unique thing going on here.
Also, we use footage from independent shows and stuff going on here in the UK, from our talent travelling all over. It’s a show that will have something for you, no matter what it is, hot girls, hard-hitting wrestling, hardcore wrestling, you want vignettes, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone.
HWF: At the moment you’re currently feuding with Moose, Killer Kross and Austin Aries, that’s one against three right now. You can bring in two guys to back you up from anywhere in the world and take over IMPACT – who are they and what big change would you make to the company?
Eddie: I’m going with the man that’s helped me throughout my career and more so recently, Tommy Dreamer, and since NOAH is on the top of my head I’ll bring in Marufuji. I feel like that’s not too bad of a team right there.
As for a change in IMPACT, I don’t know if it’s a change but more so doing more of what we’re doing, like this UK show and partnering with other companies, if we could do more of that and bring everyone together. It’s a strange time for pro wrestling right now, but it’s a great time because a lot of people are working together. I think the more IMPACT capitalise on that, working with other companies and talents, we’re gonna be able to bring in those unique match-ups and those things that people even last year never thought they’d see. I think if we go along these lines and push the limit a bit more, it’ll be interesting to see where IMPACT ends up.
HWF: Last question, what’s the one big reason that makes pro wrestling so great?
Eddie: Wrestling in general has something for everybody. Talk to wrestlers, talk to fans, everyone got into it for different reasons. Whether it’s the physicality, or the showmanship and production, there’s something for everybody. I myself am I a big fan of Japanese strong style, hard-hitting pro wrestling, but the rest of the roster might love the entrances and everything going on. But for some reason, in the locker room it works with everyone.
We were actually talking about this when we were hanging out last night, in the world of pro wrestling, for some reason we’ve all walked along this road and ended up here, something brought us together. So whatever it was, I’m very grateful for it, and we’re very happy to be where we are. The world of professional wrestling has a little bit of everybody. Give wrestling a chance and you’ll find something you like.
You can see Eddie on IMPACT Wrestling every Thursday Night on POP TV in the US, or Fight Network UK (also on 5Spike on Friday nights in the UK)
Photos courtesy of Beyond Gorilla
Please follow Eddie on Twitter @TheEddieEdwards
Follow me on Twitter @HairyWrestling