A year ago, Eddie Edwards won the Impact title at Slammiversary. This year he will make his return to the ring at the event for the first time since his appendix burst in May.
Universally respected and beloved throughout the industry, Edwards has a carefree spirit that helps him remain fearless in the ring. It is also the source of intermittent trouble, as that willingness to try anything in the ring relates directly to a stubborn belief that he is never too injured to work. And that was the exact situation he found himself in this spring during Impact tapings in Nashville, when he suffered through the pain of an appendectomy.
“It was the second-to-last day of tapings, and my stomach just didn’t feel right,” Edwards says. “But me, with my mentality, I just hoped it would take care of itself if I ignored it. Not the best approach to take, I know, but there was a get-together that night for the locker room. We hadn’t really chilled out together in a long while, I really wanted to be there. I thought I’d have a couple hard seltzers and I’d feel fine.”
Edwards was unable to enjoy himself at the gathering, as the pain continued to intensify.
“I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, so I did a little kayfabe powder out of the party,” says Edwards, who never lost his sense of humor throughout the ordeal. “I exited stage left, and I tried to sleep it off. The pain kept getting more severe, but I thought it would be silly if I went to the hospital for a stomachache. But a few of the boys came upstairs, they saw how I looked and they encouraged me to go to the hospital.”
Tommy Dreamer rushed Edwards to the hospital. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only Edwards was allowed inside. He arrived just in time. The pain reached its peak while he was waiting to be seen.
“The pain just got worse and worse,” Edwards says. “When I saw the doctor, he quickly could tell I had appendicitis. So I had surgery and stayed in the hospital for a night. I was willing to fly home right away, but Tommy didn’t think I should be flying so soon after the surgery. Impact extended my stay in the hotel for six days, and then I flew home a week later. I’ve been back in the gym, and now I’m good to go.”
The appendectomy came at a price. Edwards missed the final television taping, where he was scheduled to share the ring in a singles match against wrestling legend Satoshi Kojima. For Edwards, missing the match with Kojima was even more painful than the appendectomy.
“I’m still pretty hot over it,” Edwards says. “I really enjoy working with him. We’d worked together years ago in NOAH, and I was so happy we got to tag together in Impact, but it definitely irks me that we weren’t able to have that singles match. I really appreciate him reaching out and checking up to see how I was doing while I was out.”
Last week’s edition of Impact! saw Edwards and Kojima come up short against Violent by Design’s Joe Doering and Deaner in their pursuit of the Impact tag titles. That led to an advertised match pitting Kojima against Edwards for Thursday night, which obviously never happened. Impact executive vice president Scott D’Amore found a creative way to pivot away from it, though. W. Morrissey—formerly known in WWE as Big Cass—laid out Edwards on Thursday night’s edition of Impact!, providing a story line explanation for why Edwards would not face Kojima and launching a new program against Morrissey leading into Slammiversary.
“When you come to Impact, you’ve got to go through me,” Edwards says. “Morrissey has done a lot, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do against me.”
If Kenny Omega extends his reign as Impact champion at Slammiversary in his match against Sami Callihan, Edwards would relish the chance to work a singles bout for the title against Omega. Their program would have a uniquely compelling backstory. The foundation of Omega’s success was laid in Japan with DDT and New Japan Pro-Wrestling, while Edwards reached a whole new level of respect, and later notoriety, for the way he came up through Japan’s Pro Wrestling NOAH.
“We’ve been on some of the same shows together, but we’ve never wrestled each other in a singles match,” Edwards says. “In a lot of ways, we took a similar path. We tried to do our thing in the indies, we both went to Japan. I got a chance to thrive in Pro Wrestling NOAH, which is what he did in DDT, and then later in New Japan. He went on to win the IWGP title. I won the GHC title. To me, it’s hard to deny that we have career similarities.”
Edwards and Omega worked a compelling six-man tag match at Impact’s Under Siege show earlier in May. Edwards teamed with Juice Robinson and David Finlay against Omega and The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson), with Edwards’ setting up the finish by hitting the Boston Knee Party on Anderson. That laid the groundwork for Edwards to challenge Omega, which remains a possibility now that Edwards is back to full health.
“I want to be in the ring against the best, and, right now, Kenny is one of the best,” Edwards says. “He’s also our champ, and I’d love to be the guy to bring that title back to Impact. The stars haven’t aligned yet, but hopefully that match will happen.”
As the gatekeeper for Impact Wrestling, Edwards is eager to reenter the ring at Slammiversary and reclaim his post.
“I want to do this at the highest level for as long as I can,” Edwards says. “And whether it’s as champion or not, I want to be the guy you associate with Impact Wrestling. When people return or come in, like Morrissey, and they want to test what they can do, go up against me and we’ll see what you can do.
“Guys want to come to Impact Wrestling right now, and that’s an opportunity for me to wrestle some new people, too. Slammiversary is a big show, and I’m looking forward to delivering.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.