One half of TNA’s Tag Team champs, Davey Richards talks about his journey through the indies and his brief time in the WWE system.
Being inspired by Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu combat, Davey Richards was more glued to the television when Royce Gracie was on the screen than Hulk Hogan. In fact, he did not grow up watching wrestling, being much more interested in martial arts. Richards stated that he “wanted to be in Kumite more than WrestleMania” growing up as a kid.
“I watched a little bit [of wrestling]. I wasn’t a huge fan of it. I didn’t watch any of the [WWE] back then. We got Stampede and Portland Wrestling where I was from, so I got to see Dynamite Kid and [he] was a really big influence on me, and still is to this day.”
Despite not watching much professional wrestling, he still fell right into the business, becoming interested as he grew older. His first opportunity to wrestle for a notable promotion came from Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, where he had the opportunity to wrestle names such as El Generico (Sami Zayn), Austin Aries, Kevin Owens (née Steen).
“I got my start in [PWG] after they saw me wrestle some smaller promotions in the Los Angeles area. They said I could get on their show if I’d find a way down there, but I was too poor to buy a plane ticket so I spent 36 hours on a Greyhound bus to go down to their show. Then we worked out a deal to where we would split flights or they would fly me down, but not pay me. And at that point, they were still doing me a favor, because I was extremely unheard of, so they cut me a break. So I worked my way up into being a permanent part of the roster, and earning my keep. I owe those guys a lot in giving me my experience in wrestling.”
Just a couple of years after his pro wrestling debut, Richards was favorably positioned when he started his career in Ring of Honor. Working as the protégé for Japanese wrestling star KENTA (now working in NXT as Hideo Itami), he used this opportunity to draw more interest in him as a competitor in ROH.
“The booker at the time, Gabe Sapolsky, saw a lot of similarity between me and KENTA. I’ve always been a much bigger fan of Japanese-style wrestling than I have American wrestling. So he wanted to help me out, and KENTA was the hottest thing at the time, so he put me with him and said that he wanted me to have bright future with Ring of Honor. It was really an honor (for lack of a better term). I learned a lot, the pressure was on me, so I learned grace under fire. So it was good, I really liked it that we wrestled a similar style.”
Richards would be a part of numerous tag teams and stables in ROH before finding his niche in teaming with Eddie Edwards as the American Wolves in 2008 in which they would become one of the most popular teams in the company winning the tag team titles on multiple occasions.
During his early years as a singles wrestler, he had the opportunity to compete in a series of matches against Tyler Black, now known as Seth Rollins, former WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Richards was thankful for the rivalry he had with Rollins as his career developed.
“He’s a great guy, and a very motivating person to be around. Definitely deserves all the success he’s had so far in wrestling. A really great guy.”
Unfortunately, both of them are currently out of action with a similar knee injury that many believe has a 6-9 month recovery timeline. However, Richards, currently a medical student, vies to create awareness to professional wrestlers and other athletes that there are procedures that can cut the full recovery in half.
“Every single pro wrestler has been trained the wrong way. I’m not speaking in terms of how they throw punches and bumps or hit the ropes. The biomechanics, the science of sports when it pertains to professional wrestling has not been figured out and understood. If you look at how me and Tyler [Black] and [Matt] Taven and B.J. Whitmer and all these other guys hurt their knee, it’s literally the exact same way. No one is training right, because the science hasn’t been done. We’re just figuring it out. I will remedy it.”
Richards stated that while he does not watch the WWE product, he and Rollins still keep in contact, especially now since they are dealing with similar injuries.
“He and I go back and forth [about rehab and training], because he’s like me; he likes to go out there and train hard, he’s a very active person. Me, him, and Matt Taven are going through this knee thing together.”
Regarding a timeline on his return, Richards stated that seeing people report 6-9 months on Twitter makes him laugh, and projected a return in the summer. “They’re ignorant to it, but it’s understandable because that has typically been the time that people are out, 6-9 months. I’m changing all of that; I’m not everyone else. The day before I had surgery, I was able to do 500 squats, and [now I am] three weeks post-op and I worked out twice today. I can walk, I can go up and down the stairs. Massive, massive acceleration rate. It all just comes down to science, and that is one thing in wrestling that I’d like to focus on more going forward. There is a side of wrestling where I’d really like to train people because I can kinda fuse my love for wrestling with science to basically just build better athletes.”
Richards and Edwards joined the Total Nonstop Action (TNA) brand in 2014, as The Wolves, and has since had multiple reigns as TNA Tag Team Champions. Richards gave very positive regards towards his treatment from the company, expressing that it is like “a family there,” “nothing but professional and easy to work with,” and it is the best schedule possible to maintain his love for competing in a professional wrestling ring and go to medical school. Before their time in TNA, however, the team had an opportunity to sign with WWE under the company’s NXT brand. Donned the “American Pitbulls,” Richards and Edwards only had a short stint before leaving the promotion. Different from their “Wolves” character, Richards stated the person behind the name change.
“Jamie Noble. They just chose the name for us. I think they just chose it that night. I understand, because they couldn’t choose anything Wolves because of intellectual property.” In describing his time there, Richards stated that “it was fun” and “they were good people who treated us well” during the week that they were involved with WWE. When asked why a deal was never finalized with WWE, Richards stated, “I just don’t have any interest in going to WWE as a wrestler, just because it’s not congruent with my schedule. I want to finish school, I have a job outside of wrestling that I really like, and I really don’t like traveling; that’s why I stopped going to Japan. To me, to just quit everything and move [to Florida] just doesn’t work for me. I operate best when I do my wrestling thing and then come home and do my real life thing.” Richards concluded, for that primary reason, The Wolves are with TNA rather than WWE.