New Impact Wrestling Champ Eddie Edwards Wants to Be One of the Greatest Ever
The buzz is deafening right now for Impact Wrestling, and that renewed excitement comes thanks to its recent Slammiversary pay-per-view and the hard work of loyal soldiers like Eddie Edwards. His reward: winning the vacated heavyweight championship in a five-way main event.
It’s the second time the accomplished 36-year-old has reached the top of the Impact mountain. His first reign came after an upset over Bobby Lashley in 2016—but he says this victory felt different and may even signify the start of a new era.
“The last time was more of a surprise—more of reaching this accomplishment, a bucket list-type thing,” Edwards says. "Obviously, the goal is to be world champion, and to be able to do that against Lashley was quite the accomplishment. Now with the excitement, the momentum and the hype around Impact, [this victory] was more about showing what I can do as a champion: how I can represent the company, how I can represent the championship to the best of my ability and really cement myself as one of the greatest champions ever."
Here, Edwards talks earning Impact’s top prize and the promotion’s big acquisitions ahead of his first title defense.
How does it feel to see Slammiversary be so successful, helping bring fans old and new?
Eddie Edwards: It’s a great feeling. For Impact, we’ve had a lot of detractors for a long time. We’ve kind of been the underdogs. That attitude has led us to where we are and [will] take us to the next level. There is a true excitement between the fans and also [among those in] the locker room. It’s an unprecedented time for me—a page turned over. We’re getting ready to roll, and we're going to see if we can capitalize on this momentum. I know for myself and people I talk to in the locker room, it’s a great victory. But this is just the beginning. This is not a time to get complacent and comfortable. This is when we show the world what we can do.
There was so much unpredictability when it came to the main event. Rich Swann filled the mystery slot, and the returning Eric Young was added to the mix. How far in advance did you know the final lineup?
I knew just a little bit ahead, but with everything going on and all the changes, I find pro wrestling a very much believe-it-when-I-see-it type of deal. There were so many moving parts, so many people coming in and the match being changed and opponents being changed. It became more of a wait-and-see. With the excitement of the event as a whole, I was looking forward to what we could do with it. I was just happy to be part of it, and to be in that main event and win the world championship, [that] means everything to me.
How did you celebrate?
It’s always a cool feeling to come to the back, and the locker room is cheering. Not only that but my wife was there and friends and some family. We got to go back to the hotel and hang out and enjoy that moment. We also knew we had to do it again the next day and the day after that. It’s like any victory: You can’t sit on it too long because you have to go out there and do it again. Slammiversary was a great success, but now is where the real work starts.
How has it been wrestling when there are no fans or really anyone in the audience besides the production crew?
It’s a very strange time, but Impact has done a good job of doing what we can with what we have. I’ve been a wrestler for upwards of 18 years now. I’ve done shows with pretty much the same amount of people in a studio. For me, once you get in the ring, it’s business as usual. You go out there. You know where the cameras are. You handle your business. People aren’t in the building, but people are still watching. They are still spending their time tuning in to see what Impact is going to do. You have to go out there and represent yourself and the company. You can’t half-ass it. If anything, you bust your ass harder because you know people are watching. You want them to come back to the buildings when we run shows again, to buy tickets in the future. So you need to go out there and deliver.
In between tapings, what have you been up to these days?
Spending time with my wife and the little one. I’m used to doing so much traveling. When this first happened, it was a culture shock for sure. But we wanted to make the most of it. Spending time at home and having us together—we [hadn't been] able to do that basically ever. It was pretty cool to relax and chill and live in the moment watching movies, playing with the little one and making dinners. Enjoying this time while we can.
Your wife, Alisha, is an Impact Wrestling Knockout. What is it like to have each other to lean on and celebrate accomplishments with?
As first, you never know how it’s going to go when you start working with your wife or husband. We spend time at home together and now at work we’re going to be with each other 24/7. For us, it was a pleasant surprise and great opportunity to travel together. I’m used to these 4 a.m. trips to the airport, long flights by myself. So it’s awesome to have her by my side and also have someone to go through the difficult stuff between injuries. Now at home, it’s nice to have her by my side and also have her there for the victories. I couldn’t do all this without her because I wouldn't be as comfortable and happy as I am in life. Having her by my side is a very special blessing. Working with her in storylines and angles is a whole different level. We really never thought we’d be able to do that. We tried to make the most of it and enjoy it in the moment because who knows how long all of it will last.
The great thing about Impact is the back and forth between creative and talent. For us, it was the same way. We would come up with ideas together. We’d bounce these ideas [off each other] and go to creative with [the results]. We’re a team, so to be able to do that together and [achieve the] success [we've had] is a great thing.
We got to see a lot of new faces and returns at Slammiversary. How do you think this influx of talent has meshed with the veterans so far?
In my eyes, it has been nothing but positive. The Good Brothers [Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson] and everyone who came on board or returned, [they're] bringing new fans and ones that haven’t watched in a while. It’s bringing eyes to our product, so that’s always a great thing. Maybe these fans would have never tuned in if it wasn’t for the Good Brothers, EC3 or Eric Young or Heath or Brian Myers. As far as the locker room, they fit right in. I feel like they know coming into Impact that we are the underdog. We’re that little brother fighting for our scraps. That is the allure of Impact. You come here, we’ll battle together. They fit right in. It’ll be interesting to see where we go from here.
Is there anyone you were particularly excited to see come into the fold?
For me personally, I’m friends with EC3. To see him to come back and be himself and be EC3, that’s pretty cool. I talked to him leading up to it a bit. He never divulged whether or not he was going to be part of it. I guess I don’t know how [close] we are, then. To see him return, that gets me excited because I know it will give us a chance to work together as well.
You mentioned EC3. You think about him, Eric Young. When they were in Impact, they had these huge opportunities but for whatever reason went to WWE. Now that they've returned, does that make you leery about ever going there in the future? Does it affirm your decision to remain loyal to Impact?
There are success stories. Then there are guys like EC3 and Eric Young who don’t get their chance. For me, regardless of what happens to other guys out there, Impact is where I want to be. It’s not about the possibilities of something negative happening elsewhere. It’s about the positive aspects of Impact—the freedom, the relationship I have with the front office, the total package. It wouldn't deter me, but [considering] where I am in my mind and in my heart, I am Impact Wrestling. There is a reason I’ve been here for six years. I want to continue growing with this company.
Aside from the recognizable names, we’ve seen emerging stars getting time to shine including Ace Austin and, in your first title defense coming up, Trey Miguel. What can we expect from this young talent?
With Trey and Ace, these guys being in the main event of Slammiversary and [getting their] first shot—that’s a lot of pressure, but I feel like they both deserved it and delivered. As far as me and Trey and my title defense, I’m going to see what he is capable of. In the five-way, you can only do so much, but this is a singles match. I want to push him to the limit. I think he does belong, but let’s test him. Let’s see if he truly does belong and what he can bring to the table. It’s been exciting to watch Ace, Trey and the Rascalz in general and see them take that next step. Every time they’ve been given the ball, they’ve run with it. I’m looking forward to facing Trey and what our roster does in general. Between the new faces and young guys coming up, it’s like this perfect storm right now. I’m looking forward to where we go from here.
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