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Eddie Edwards on becoming a heel in Impact: “It’s a completely different chance for me to express myself”
It’s the truth if you believe it.
And Eddie Edwards’s words and actions are bolstered by a real authenticity.
Initially part of a group of babyfaces fighting off a contingent of displaced Ring of Honor stars, Edwards turned on his Impact brethren at last month’s No Special to become the leader of Honor No More. Yet this is not a boilerplate wrestling heel turn. Instead, it represents a chance for Edwards to share his narrative: He didn’t turn his back on Impact.
“The company turned its back on me,” Edwards says. “That’s what makes this different. It’s a completely different chance for me to express myself.”
The change in character will provide new opportunities for Edwards on the mike, as well as the chance to work a fresh set of opponents. And there will be plenty of time to develop this story, as Impact officials revealed to Sports Illustrated that Edwards—whose real name is Eric Maher—has signed a new deal with the company. Terms of the deal were undisclosed, but this ensures Edwards remains with Impact.
“I’ve been here for almost eight years, and I’ve done a lot,” Edwards says. “And there is still a lot more for me to prove.”
Defined throughout his 20-year career by his daring style in the ring, Edwards has never been viewed as a top promo in the business. Now 38, and with a lifetime of experience in the industry, he is ready to articulate his point on the microphone in a convincing manner.
After working as a babyface in Impact since 2014, this run represents new terrain for Edwards. His explanation—and justification—for siding with Ring of Honor led to the most compelling promo of his career.
“I’ve had some chances with promos over the years, but this was different,” Edwards says. “I knew the bullet points I wanted to hit, but it wasn’t something I wrote out or memorized. I spoke the truth, and that’s why you can feel what I’m saying.
“The truth carried that promo. It’s what makes this real. Wrestling means the world to me. I’ve missed birthdays and funerals because I had shows to wrestle. I’ve suffered injuries, I’ve wrestled hurt, I almost lost my eye. But none of that ever made me love it less or want to leave. I’m proud to be a pro wrestler. That’s why that promo means something. It was real emotion.”
Authenticity carried Edwards’s promo as he lamented a lack of loyalty from employers. His Honor No More partners—Matt Taven, Maria Kanellis, Mike Bennett, Kenny King, Vincent and PCO—were all recently released from their ROH contracts. Edwards spoke from deep within his soul, reaching new depths on the mike by sharing the true story of how his friends became free agents.
“They bled for Ring of Honor, but they were taken for granted,” Edwards says. “This is very real to all of us. I was texting with Taven, Vinny and Kenny as soon as I heard ROH was making changes. I’ve known these guys forever. I’ve known Vinny since he was a clean-shaven babyface.
“When ROH changed [its structure, announcing that all talent would be released from their contracts], I wanted every one of them to come to Impact. This group is really, really talented. They’re going to show why it was a mistake to let them slip away.”
Becoming a heel also opens a wide array of options for Edwards. He now has an entirely new set of opponents, beginning with his first singles bout against Rich Swann this week on Impact!
“Originally, I had planned to do more tagging with Sami Callihan, but he got hurt so that changed what I was doing,” Edwards says. “It was time for a change, and this is my opportunity to step outside my comfort zone. So let’s see what we can do.”
Edwards has history with ROH, working for the promotion for seven years and winning its world title in 2011. He is also a two-time Impact world champ and envisions this as an opportunity to add a third reign to his collection, particularly if Josh Alexander regains the belt at next month’s Rebellion pay-per-view.
“Josh is the chosen one, the anointed one,” Edwards says. “I know all about that. I’ve been there; I was that guy. But it doesn’t last forever, and I’ll help show him that.
“People are really going to see a whole new side of Impact with this, and I can’t wait to be the guy to show them.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- Steve Austin cuts a promo unlike any other. He’ll add a lot of electricity to WrestleMania.
- The opening match on Raw was outstanding.
- Dolph Ziggler is the new NXT champion.
- One of the greatest big men of all time, Vader certainly belongs in any wrestling Hall of Fame. It’s just too bad he wasn’t alive when receiving the honor.
- Vince McMahon will be inducting The Undertaker into the WWE Hall of Fame.
- WWE’s Madison Square Garden show on Saturday may have been a preview of the finish of WrestleMania 38, with Roman Reigns standing tall above Brock Lesnar.
- Erick Redbeard looked great in AEW on Rampage and again at Revolution.
- I still can’t get past this spot from Sting. To me, it’s playing with fire.
Tony Khan adds Ring of Honor to his growing wrestling empire
AEW has its origin story.
Tony Khan opened last week’s Dynamite by announcing he has purchased Ring of Honor. Regardless of what Khan plans to do with the ROH brand, this is a pivotal acquisition for AEW.
If AEW is to grow, it needs to embrace its past. AEW’s origins lie in the movement sparked by the All In pay-per-view, which was largely funded by ROH (why ROH never chose to reveal its involvement in a wildly successful pay-per-view will long remain one of wrestling’s greatest mysteries).
All In took place in September 2018 at Chicago’s Sears Centre Arena. It featured talent from New Japan Pro-Wrestling (including then IWGP heavyweight champion Kenny Omega), Impact Wrestling, AAA, CMLL and the NWA. Rey Mysterio was on the card. So was Kazuchika Okada. And playing key roles in promoting the show were Omega, Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks, who all took the momentum from All In—and the financial backing from Khan—to start AEW.
Yet despite the foundational significance of this moment, AEW didn’t even own it. It belonged to ROH, which had no real use for the rights other than to use it in a sale of its library. And that is exactly what happened, as the All In footage is a primary reason behind Khan’s drive to buy ROH.
AEW will eventually have its own streaming service. There is no doubt that one of its most captivating specials will be the behind-the-scenes story of All In. And with so much history involved in the event, there is no doubt that All In will eventually become a pay-per-view brand for AEW.
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.