Eddie Edwards talks Tommy Dreamer, mental toughness

Former IMPACT Wrestling tag team, X-division, and world champion Eddie Edwards has had a career that has spanned nearly two decades. Edwards has racked up sterling achievements regardless of which promotion he has been a part of.

Since his transition from Ring of Honor to IMPACT Wrestling, Edwards has worked alongside his longtime tag team partner Davey Richards and has been a very successful singles competitor. He certainly isn’t one to rest on his laurels.

During our discussion, Edwards shared how his training and development has shaped him as both a competitor and a champion. He explains how he had had to overcome injuries, which earned the respect of those watching him. He continues to demonstrate athleticism against everyone and anyone in not just North America but around the world.

Eddie Edwards
image courtesy of wrestling-edge.com

Of late, he has pushed the boundaries, reaching into a darker part of his psyche that has shown a whole new part of ‘diehard’ that fans hadn’t seen before. He recently competed in Impact Wrestling’s Slammaversary against the ‘Innovator of Violence’ Tommy Dreamer in what was nothing short of a bloodbath.

Edwards has big plans for himself moving forward and is excited about the new direction his character has taken. He shares the similarities and differences in competing as part of a tag team, and what fans could have expected going into his match with Dreamer.

Fans can communicate with him on social media such as Twitter, where he can be reached at @TheEddieEdwards.

In a career that has spanned over 15 years, what can you say has been the biggest challenges over that time and the greatest triumphs?

Eddie Edwards: Throughout my career, there have been numerous injuries, but one of the major injuries was when I broke my elbow when I was part of Ring of Honor. I broke my elbow in a match against Kevin Steen, who is now Kevin Owens. Then the next night, I actually had a match with myself and Davey Richards against Kevin and Sami Zayn.

Basically, I had to wrestle a match with my arm in a straight cast. I couldn’t really do much, but that was something I had to get through and survive. It is funny how it worked out, because in the end the fans respected me for doing that, and it helped in elevating me to the next level.

Every time you get an injury you have to overcome it. I broke my heel when I was part of Impact Wrestling and hit in the eyeball with a baseball bat. I don’t know if you happened to know about that? (laughs) These are things that we as professional wrestlers have to deal with. It’s part of the game and part of the territory.

But any time it happens, and any time you see it happen, it sucks. But it’s something that you have to use, and if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger. I have a Rocky quote tattooed on my arm for a reason. It isn’t about how hard you’re hit, it’s about keep moving forward. It was always part of the mentality that I had in wrestling, and I try to use that in my persona.

How did your early training prepare you and give you that mental toughness needed to achieve?

Eddie Edwards: I first got started training under Killer Kowalski, and it was something you have to completely immerse yourself in. That is what you have to do. Obviously, when you first start training, everything hurts, everything you do hurts.

But its something that, you know that if you stick with it that you’re going to get through it and you are going to get better. It is going to get easier. When I first started, in my mind this was all that I wanted to do. No matter what, no one was going to stop me. The reason that I wanted to use the moniker ‘Diehard’ wasn’t for the movie. It was for the attitude and a type of feeling.

I will get beat up and I will get hurt but I am going to get up again. I was going to use that through numerous matches throughout my career, and I was just the type of guy that I wanted to be, the type of guy that I respect, and I want to be that for somebody else. It is something I have always wanted to say. It isn’t just a nickname using it.

Even if I am not using it at the time or using it now, it is still ‘diehard’ Eddie Edwards, that same mentality I have. I just want to leave it out there in the ring and I want to feel that when I come back from a match, not just that I wrestled a big match. But I want to feel not just the pain but I want to feel like I left it all out there.

I just want to be drained of emotion and drained of my physical abilities when I get to the back. It means that you are doing what you love.

Competing in both North America and Japan has lent itself to some interesting challenges. From both places which have been the most rewarding ones?

Eddie Edwards: I have always been a fan of Noah. That is why I went over there to train with Pro Wrestling Noah, to train in their dojo and work my way up that company and work my way up that card. When I first got over there, it is just a different mindset over there. There is a very strong sense of respect for guys over there, for guys that came before you.

They make you earn a shot. If you are going to be given a match on the show, you truly are going to have to earn that through training, through everything you do. You are going to have to earn that. That is something I walked away with. I went over there when I was in my early twenties and it helped me grow not just as a professional wrestler but as a person.

It is something that still sticks with me today. That is something that I am very grateful to have done. To have that sense of respect instilled in me, and it’s still something that I liked and tried to give to other people. That was the biggest difference.

In the United States you can find wrestling schools and train and pay whomever and train wherever, but over there they scout you. They bring you in, you have to try out to earn a spot in the dojo to train. That was really cool, to see the sense of respect that they have for the sport of professional wrestling.

We would wake up and we would go out and we would clean the dojo, clean the weights, clean the ring, and then we would train. We would do the 500 squats, the 50 bumps, and however many sit-ups and 300 pushups and all that. Then we go downstairs and make some food and the veterans would come down and eat.

That’s how it would go every single day. If we went out on the road we would help out and go out and get supplies and all that. We would set up the arena, and then before the show, we would go out there and do that same training.

It was something that, when I first went over there, I couldn’t do and I couldn’t go through. It was the type of training that I had never done before. I am trying to do it and I couldn’t get through it, I felt awful. I felt I made a mistake, and I couldn’t even do this. Then, slowly but surely you get through it.

Slowly but surely I am doing better and better, and then I can get through it and then I am on the card and I am wrestling matches. It’s a sense of earning a spot and earning something. It is so much better than to be given something. You have to earn it, and that’s what I did over there. It makes everything I have done feel so much better in the end.

It is impossible to ignore your tag team success as well. What have you found to be the biggest difference?

Eddie Edwards: Not having someone in the corner to tag definitely is a different feeling. (laughs) I think one of the good things about myself and Davey (Richards) was when we were tagging, we could split off at any point and do our own thing. We could split up and go out and do singles and come back and do tag.

And I think that we could succeed either way we went. I think that’s pretty unique for a tag team. On so many occasions you see teams break up or go their separate ways. One may sink, and one may swim, and both may drift off. I think we would succeed either way we went. Of course, the good thing about tagging is, aside from getting to take a break every once in a while on the apron, it is so much more collaborative.

This could be a good thing or a bad thing as you have four minds going into a match and you are trying to create things. Davey and I could come up with a new idea and different ways to go about doing things. Then there are decisions about new gear and a new look and that all went into it. It really helped us grow as friends and as a team.

Those were cool things going on behind the scenes. We could do great things as a tag team, whatever makes us work, whatever makes the match the best. Whatever makes the story the best, just go out there and do it.

That is just what our team was based on. It was why we both came together in the first place. We both had a very similar mentality in regard to pro wrestling style and pro wrestling mentality.

Both you and Davey had a couple of different programs with one another. What would you say were the differences between both programs when you broke apart and came back together?

Eddie Edwards: Davey and I, without making it sound cliché, is the type of thing where you break up and things go astray and you feud, and you try to get past that and you try to move on. Last year’s Slammaversary was myself and my wife Alisha, Angelina and Davey, and surprisingly it was a hardcore full metal mayhem match.

We got through that and we moved on. But the situation and the feuding going on now between myself and Sami (Callihan) and myself and Tommy (Dreamer), it is a new feeling for me because it is a new direction for me, it is a new character for me.

I am not necessarily looking like the good guy, whereas before I had always been the guy on the other side, and I was either the one that had been wronged or the one that had been that good guy who tried to get through that situation. Now, I am throwing myself into it. It doesn’t matter what happens to me.

It doesn’t matter what happens. As long as I put someone through some pain and punishment, then that’s all that matters. It’s something completely different for me. Its something very new to me. I have enjoyed the opportunity that I have been getting.

There is a new level of intensity in Eddie Edwards that fans weren’t privy to before. How you were able to tap into this newly displayed aggression.

image courtesy of thechairshot.com

It’s just the emotion that is behind it all. I tried to get myself immersed in the actual story of what was going on. Sami Callihan hit me in the eye with the baseball bat, and was stalking my wife, and tried to turn people against me and attack my friends and stuff.

If you think about that if you lived that moment and if you lived through that, it is going to affect you. It is going to affect you mentally and It is going to affect you emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is just going to affect you and it was a new opportunity for me and something I was ready to dive into and see. I was ‘Okay, let’s get crazy. Do you want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts!’

At IMPACT, we can do different things, let’s see what we can do. Let’s push the envelope here. Let’s try and do this. Maybe I try to do this or maybe I try to do that. It gives the opportunity to do very different things. I enjoyed getting the people to maybe squirm a bit and just get to feel uncomfortable.

That is okay. You don’t have to be happy and love everything that is going on. But I like that moment where this may be just a little bit too much, I don’t know. I like trying to push the envelope and maybe get creative with what we can do. It has very much been a collaborative effort and they just gave me the opportunity to run with this now. It is just something that I am fully enjoying right now.

Was this always a something that was a part of Eddie Edwards and we just didn’t see it?

I think its something that is a part of everybody. The people-watching can relate. Everyone has been through this type of thing or something that makes you angrier than you could ever imagine. That would make you blood-red mad. It’s something that is inside everybody and I just had to try and find it.

I have gone throughout my whole career as someone that has just been the good guy, going out there and wrestling and trying to please everyone. But that was obviously something that was inside of me and now I feel that I was able to find it, something just clicked and I was able to run with it.

At the Redemption pay per view, where I finally got my hands-on Sami and got to beat him with the kendo stick, you could feel the emotion in the crowd and here I am taping a man to the ropes and he can’t defend himself.

Here I am basically beating a lifeless body with a kendo stick and people were behind it, cheering for me. So, okay, this is something completely new to me that I could see where I could go with it. Then I came to the back after that and it was just incredible.

You could feel the emotion and it was draining for me. I could feel like I left all those emotions out there and something just clicked between everyone involved. Between the office and I, I feel like, let’s see what we can run with here. The emotion of pro wrestling is sometimes lost, but if you can find it and you can connect, that’s a whole new story.

With Slammiversary taking place, was what took place exactly what fans expected to see from Eddie Edwards against Tommy Dreamer?

image courtesy of impactwrestling.com

To simplify it, violence. It is going to be a violent affair. That is what this is about. This is about violence. This is about pain and anger. We kind of expect everything but expect the unexpected. This is the type of match where anything can happen.

That is the beauty of this House of Hardcore match. Anything can happen and hopefully, anything can and will happen in this situation. People may be uncomfortable at certain points. I’ll put this disclaimer out here now: it is going to be violent. So, if you are squeamish you may want to look away.

It is going to be like a car crash where you can’t quite look away. At Slammiversary and then the following tapings, we are going to see how things progress. Hopefully, people will be able to come out and check it out. It is always interesting to see after a pay per view how things are going to unfold and I, myself, am interested in seeing what will happen. I am looking forward to it.

To listen to the Pro Wrestling Post Podcast edition of this interview please click here.