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Davey Richards: our exclusive interview with Impact’s Lone Wolf

RealSport speaks with Davey Richards ahead of Impact's highly-anticipated Slammiversary XV


In the world of Impact Wrestling, there is no hotter feud right now than that between the former Wolves, Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards. Earlier this year, we interviewed Edwards, before Richards had returned from knee injury. Now, with Impact’s biggest PPV of the summer, Slammiversary, just around the corner, RealSport spoke with the 13-year veteran of the squared circle about his rivalry with Edwards, his career in the ring and his life outside wrestling.

 

When Wolves go to war

RealSport: Before we talk about your feud with Eddie Edwards, how does it feel to have been part of the most successful tagteam in Impact history?

Davey Richards: I feel probably even more so proud of the fact that nothing was ever handed to me and Eddie. Regardless of my personal feelings towards him now, it was me and him combined with the fans that made the American Wolves and then the Wolves. It was a very organic thing, I think that’s why we touched so many people on an organic level. It was for the fans, by the fans. We were never made in a factory somewhere so that’s definitely the thing we’re most proud of in both of our careers.

RS: Do you have any regrets about the Wolves breaking up?

DR: No, not at all. It was definitely time for both of us to venture into single waters and see what happened. Eddie’s been very successful and since I’ve returned, I’ve been very successful on our own. You never know what will happen in future but we’re both enjoying what we’re doing now and it’s something that we created and that the fans helped us create, and will never truly die as long as the fans believe in it and we believe in it.

RS: At Slammiversary, you and your wife, Angelina Love, will take on Eddie and Alisha Edwards in an Intergender Full Metal Mayhem match. How much are you looking forward to that match?

DR: That was actually my idea. I’m really happy that they trusted me creatively enough to follow my idea. Me and Eddie had a lot of input on this feud, and we thought that it was something new, it’s something that’s not been done before, and the girls, man they can both bring it. There’s a lot to prove there because Alicia wants to prove that she belongs in there with a competitor as decorated as Angelina Love, and for Angelina Love, she’s a veteran and wants to prove that she can stay on top. Me and Eddie pretty much just want to kill each other and prove that we’re the best wrestlers in the process, so with those elements combined, it’s sure to be magic.

RS: Who’s the better tagteam partner – Eddie or Angelina?

DR: *laughing* in the ring? Eddie Edwards. In the home? Angelina Love.

RS: If you hadn’t been injured for much of 2016, do you think you would have been in the main event picture for Slammiversary?

For me personally, whatever they promote on a piece of paper and promote on the internet, it’s irrelevant to me. As I always have, I go out there to steal the show. I believe every match I’m in is the main event. I don’t treat it any differently, I’m not going to go any harder because I’m the last match on the card or the most promoted match. I’m very protective of my spot, I’m very protective of my stature in wrestling, and my reputation has been built on having the best match regardless of where I am on the card, so in my eyes, I am the main event.

A global icon

RS: Impact disappeared from British screens for a few months earlier this year, but has found a new home on Spike UK. How important is it to you to be back on UK television?

DR: It’s extremely important. There’s really no difference in importance between India, the UK and the US for us because we’re not just an American brand, were a global brand. Especially for me, being part of the Wolves and before that the American Wolves, and now the Lone Wolf, that all came from my time wrestling in Wolverhampton, England, so the UK is very near and dear to me. I like a second home to me, so it’s very important to me and very important to the company.

RS: How do British wrestling fans compare to other fans you’ve performed in front of around the world?

DR: Every country has its own distinct flavour in what they bring to the table. The British fans are very loud, very energetic, it’s almost like going to a punk rock show. They’re very passionate, and they’re also very opinionated. It’s a lot different to Japan, where they’re very quiet and reserved and respectful. British fans are respectful, but not so much quiet and reserved which is good in its own right. It’s like we give energy to the crowd and they give energy back to us. I’s like a cycle, a synergy. It’s something we always look forward to when we go to perform live over there.

RS: Impact recently recorded some episodes in India, the first major American wrestling promotion to do so. What was that experience like?

DR: It was fantastic, just breaking new ground with such a virgin audience. It was something I was really thankful to be a part of because it really was a once in a lifetime thing. The Indian crowds were just amazing, they were passionate, they were loud, they gave us all their energy so I think it was a home run on both fronts.

RS: In every promotion that you’ve been in, you’ve won their world title – how long until we see Davey Richards, Impact World Heavyweight Champion?

DR: I don’t know man, you’d think soon, right? But we’ll see what happens. We’ve got some tough competition in Impact! I’ve won the world title in every promotion I’ve ever been in but I’ve also never face the level of competition that I do here. It’s something that is going to take time. I took Lashley to the limit, I’d love to take [Alberto] El Patron to the limit and possibly beat him or submit him. I want another crack at Lashley and after I do away with the former World Champion Eddie Edwards, I want to face them all, I want to take them all out. For me, being champion is great but it pales in comparison to being known and respected as the best wrestler on the roster, and I think once you’re the best the championship comes along with that, so my time will come.

RS: Take us through a night at the Impact Zone – how do you prepare for a night’s action?

DR: Usually we start by going out to the Gold’s Gym. I live about a mile from the venue, and then we get there and the usually have a nice little catering, and for me personally, I’m in medical school so I spend from catering to showtime studying. We then have our PR promos and promotional things we need to film, and once it’s showtime, it’s like there’s a certain electricity that gets in that air. You hear the rumbling of the fans coming in, the fake smoke starts going and the music starts playing, and once you hear Jeremy Borash’s voice getting that crowd pumped up, you’re ready to go. Everyone from the guys in Gorilla to the agents in the back to [Jeff] Jarrett himself, everyone’s pumped. It’s like an adrenaline shot, it’s a very unique atmosphere and I’m very fortunate to be able to experience it.

RS: And what is your typical day-to-day routine when you’re not wrestling?

DR: Well, I’m a full-time firefighter and flight paramedic so I do that, I’m actually here right now in the firehouse. I also compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so I do a lot of that, and I’m also in medical school right now, so I’m in school fool time, and I’m also a father, so I basically do everything but sleep.

RS: What lessons have you learnt from BJJ that you take into the wrestling ring?

DR: I just learn a lot about life from Jiu Jitsu. I like Jiu Jitsu because it’s very honest. Something about pro wrestling that I’ve always had a hard time grasping coming from my amateur background is sometimes the best guy doesn’t always win in pro wrestling, just because it is entertainment in the end. I like Jiu Jitsu because it’s very honest, the better man always wins. He may be better all around, he may better just for a day, but in Jiu Jitsu the better man always wins and I need that balance in my life.

RS: And is there anything you take from wrestling that helps you in BJJ?

DR: Just to slow down and enjoy the ride.

A changing industry

RS: How have things changed since Anthem took over Impact?

DR: For me personally, I never really noticed the change. I know there’s a lot of things people have said about Impact over the years with different management, but when I first came there it was more Big John Gaburick in charge and I was treated very well. They took care of me and my family when I was out hurt. Since Jeff Jarrett & Anthem have taken over, I’ve been treated fairly and they too take care of my family. I guess I’m kind of boring in that sense as I’ve never had any complaints against that company, they’ve never done me wrong. It seems the storylines are a little less rushed now, we take our time a little bit more, which I personally like, but “Big” was very creative too, and both heads of management have always come to me and asked for my input on ideas. I feel like I’ve always had a lot of creative control. That question might better be asked of someone else as I look at both ownerships as having been positive and don’t have anything bad to say about either one. 

RS: Has the merger with Global Force Wrestling made any difference?

DR: I’ve been involved in this feud with Eddie which, I guess for lack of a better term, is “Impact organic”. It’s been deep rooted in our history in Impact Wrestling. But as far as Global Force goes, I enjoy seeing the new [talent]. It brought Magnus back to us, and that’s awesome, he’s always a great performer. It’s brought some new tag teams like Reno Scum - it’s brought a lot of good talent, I don’t want to leave any names out though I know I’m going to. Any new influence and talent is good, and if it brings more eyes to the promotion that’s good. Things like that are just fun for the fans, so I see the whole thing as a positive.

RS: With fans buying less into kayfabe and becoming wiser about the industry, how do you see wrestling evolving over the next few years?

DR: I think it’s more like how music evolves. I’m from Seattle so we had that underground music vibe that become extremely mainstream. I’m seeing a lot of the same thing, where it’s kind of like they feel part of something. If you’re having a bad day, or you’re getting bullied at school or feel like you don’t belong, or something happened at work, you can go to pro wrestling, you feel like you belong, you feel like you fit in. It’s kind of like almost like a safe place you can go, like a concert you can just go and release, we’re giving energy to the crowd and they’re giving energy back and it’s mutual respect. I think it’s more just become, I don’t want to say a club, but kind of like a subculture.

RS: It may be a subculture, but wrestling is definitely growing in popularity. After wrestling popularity hit its peak around the millennium, and then went into decline for a while, how can the industry maintain its current resurgence?

DR: I think one of the reasons wrestling declined for a while was because it was almost like being cookie-cutter out of the same factory. The amount of wrestlers who were pretty much the exact same, or their styles the exact same, was alarming. But now you’ve got guys that have all these incredible styles. Even in WWE, to give them props, they take notice of all those different styles. People like a TJP, to like a Jack Gallagher, to even a Roman Reigns. You can sway what you want about their styles but they’re very different, there’s a flavour for everything. That’s like music or movies. And the independent scene is like that too, and so is Impact, you have guys from all over and the company has done a really good job of incorporating styles from all over the globe, so it’s kind of a melting pot. I think you need to have something for everyone and I think wrestling’s doing a really good job of that.

RS: Impact wrestlers often say that one of the things they love working for the company, compared to other promotions, is that they’re still able to go out and perform on the independent circuit. How important is it to you that you’re able to do that?

DR: Very, because I’m first and foremost always an independent wrestler. That’s where I cut my teeth, that’s where I made my name. My loyalty lies with Impact but I always feel very near and dear [to the independents].

A life in wrestling

RS: In the last twelve years, you’ve had a lot of accomplishments, but what would you consider your greatest achievement?

DR: I think as I look at my career it’s more giving back, and being able to inspire people with my story and inspire younger wrestlers to work hard and helping my students, the few that I’ve trained and take credit for training. That’s pretty much my biggest accomplishment. I’ve won all the belts, travelled the world and all that kind of stuff, and I think it’s more so just inspiring people at this point, that’s pretty much the accomplishment I feel most proud of.

RS: Back in November last year, you tweeted that 2017 might be your final year. Is that still the plan?

DR: I’ve said it a couple of times, and I’ve realised that I don’t have that much longer left. I don’t know how long, because sometimes I wake up and just love wrestling and want to be part of it forever. Sometimes I wake up and I just hate it, because it’s such an intimate passion for me, it’s like a marriage. I know that I’m getting further along in my school and in my career outside of wrestling, to where I won’t be able to wrestle as much anymore, and soon I won’t be able to wrestle at all because of time constraints, and on top of that being a father. I feel good, I feel healthy, and as long as I can keep producing the quality of matches that I hold myself to, which is a very high standard, and as long as I’m having fun and the fans want to see me, I’ll keep it up, but I don’t see myself wrestling for another five years by any means. Plus, I don’t want to be that guy who, when people come to see me, people talk and sit in the crowd and go, “well, you know he used to be really good”, I want to go out on top, I think the fans deserve that. So we’ll see what happens, maybe not the end of this year, but I might have a couple left. We’ll see what happens.

RS: What matches do you hope to be remembered for?

DR: I don’t know if there’s any one match. For me it’s not about that one, because anyone can have a great match on any given night. I want to be remembered as someone who always gave you your money’s worth, whether I was a good guy or a bad guy, or the match stole the show or was a mediocre match, you always know I was out there giving 100%, and I think that’s more respectful to the fans. If I said this was my best match, ten might agree with me and twenty might not agree with me, but I want everyone to agree that, yeah, that guy always gave me my money’s worth, he always worked hard.

RS: What legacy would you want to leave behind as a wrestler?

DR: Just as someone who gave back, someone who didn’t do it for the money but did it for the love it. Didn’t care about the fame, just wanted to help people and just better the scene for everyone.

Impact airs in the UK on Spike every Friday night at 9pm. Slammiversary will be aired on Spike UK at 9pm on Monday July 3rd.

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Gur Samuel

Hi! I'm Gur and I'm RealSport's Editor-in-Chief. I'm also currently the site's tennis editor, and contribute to our NFL, wrestling and Formula 1 coverage as well. I'm also an NFL analyst for CNN International and contributor to SB Nation, and have contributed to, or been interviewed by, various print, broadcast and online media, including Sky News, the BBC, Mail Online, ABC, NBC, CBS, the Boston Globe, and Yahoo! Sports.

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Davey Richards: our exclusive interview with Impact’s Lone Wolf

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