In any event, today we're going to look at ROH's latest DVD compilation release, Die Hard: The Eddie Edwards Story. This two disc set includes a long form shoot interview with Eddie talking about his career, followed by some of Eddie's biggest matches after he won the ROH World Title from Roderick Strong. Let's go ahead and jump right into the interview, which opens with a spectacular short video of him talking about it not mattering how hard you get hit, it matters how many times you can get back up as clips of him battling with the likes of Davey Richards and Roderick Strong flash across the screen.
We go to Eddie, who says he was a wrestling fan growing up and loved all the WWF guys when he was young, but he fell out of it when he got a little older and didn't get back into it until his little brother started watching it again later on. He was hooked and decided to look for a wrestling school, and was 17 when he first went to Killer Kowalski's school. His parents didn't really get how into wrestling he was, but they liked that he found something he was so dedicated to. His first day at wrestling school was eye opening because he was a fat kid and the grueling nature of the training made him decide to be in the best shape he could and to go as far as he could with it. Kowalski himself didn't do much of the hands on training because he was older by that time, but he did get in the ring every now and then. Eddie trained with Kowalski for about a year and a half before having his debut match in Connecticut when he was in a gauntlet match and had Kid Kash-esque baggy pants and blue hair.
Eddie didn't try to specifically mold himself after any one wrestler in particular, but he was a student of the game and took stuff he liked from a wide variety of different influences. There was a lot of places to work in New England where he's from, but he would travel as much as he could and thought the road trips were very important because he got to ride with veterans and learned a lot about the business. One show that stood out from those early days was when Tom Prichard was at a show he worked on and said he enjoyed it and gave him pointers on stuff to improve on.
He went to Japan when he was around 21 to work some Zero One shows and couldn't believe he was wrestling there after all the time he spent watching tapes of Japanese wrestling. Going to Japan was one of his goals when he started wrestling, and those Japanese shows were the first time he was in front of a decent size crowd. He tried to incorporate some of the stuff he saw into his style back in the US, but not as much as the things he picked up in NOAH later on.
He got the opportunity to be a young boy at NOAH and talks about how he woke up around 9, would start training at 10, clean the ring and ropes and all the weights, would start stretching and do basic calisthenics that killed him because he wasn't in the kind of shape he needed to be in to do that kind of stuff. After that, it was time to work on taking bumps and then head down to the cafeteria, eat, and then head to the dorms and crash until the next day. He talks about how he was so sore those first few weeks that his neck cramped up just trying to hold his head up to eat. He was really grateful for the chance and he was scared of offending anyone, but everyone treated him great and he thought it went well. He went on the road whenever there were shows and worked his butt off anywhere he could pitch in, and was eventually told that he would get to wrestle on the next tour.
The language barrier wasn't too bad since most of the people over there could at least speak some English, and some of the guys would teach him stuff in Japanese. He felt even more stressed before his first match in Japan than he was before his first match in the US, and he talks about how the Japanese fans are so quiet that you know you got them where you want them when you get a reaction. He didn't like it when people came over to Japan and didn't treat it as seriously as he did, because he felt like he was doing everything he could to get ahead and he wondered why people were even there if they weren't going to take it seriously.
Eddie was a big fan of Japanese wrestling, specifically the Kobashi-Akiyama matches that were some of his favorite of all time, and it was awe inspiring to go over there and train with them. Japanese wrestling seemed so far ahead of the American stuff during the NWO/Attitude era, and he started trying to combine Japanese and American wrestling when he got back, which was basically what ROH was.
Speaking of ROH, he says he saw a few DVDs and attended a few ROH shows as a fan, but he didn't want to start bugging guys to get him on shows, so he emailed Gabe until he got booked on an ROH show in Connecticut against former ROH World Champion Austin Aries. It was a lot of pressure getting in there with a former World Champion on his first ROH show, but he thought it was a great chance to show he could hang in there with a guy as good as Aries. He thought he could have done better in the match, but he started to get more ROH bookings and Gabe told him to stay in touch and let him know when he was available when ROH was in the area. He had a few random singles and tag matches, but nothing really changed outside ROH in terms of getting bookings since he wasn't full time with them.
He finally became a full time member of ROH when he joined Sweet & Sour Inc, and we see a clip of Larry Sweeney welcoming Eddie into the fold in Boston. He was thrilled because he finally had a direction in the company and was involved in a major group. Sweeney was a unique and really nice guy, and he really didn't know him that well, but he had a great mind for the business and would always help him out with stuff he thought Eddie could improve on. That was typical of the ROH locker room, everyone was always watching and was very helpful in giving him advice and that's what makes the ROH locker room great.
Most of his stuff outside ROH was in New England, so getting into ROH and traveling outside that area made him feel like a real wrestler and was a big thing for him. He spent three months in England and followed the example of guys like Danielson and Nigel by trying to grab any chance to live and work in another country, and got to team with Danielson to challenge for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title. England was different from Japan because all the guys would pile into a van and set up the ring, wrestle, tear down the ring, and repeat the process the next day. It was obviously a very different style there from what he did in Japan, and he played the evil American most of the time except for the first night when he was announced as being from England and had to put on a phony accent when he signed autographs at intermission.
Eddie had his biggest breakout match when he defeated Roderick Strong in the Hammerstein Ballroom, and he had actually considered skipping the mach at the time because things were going so well in England, but he ended up coming back to do it and got the big win. It was a little intimidating because it was the Hammerstein Ballroom, but he did it and then it was back to Japan for a while. He got to challenge KENTA for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title around this time, and that was huge because he thought the NOAH office guys believed in him to put him in that position. He felt like it was when he was no longer seen by NOAH as a young boy.
Eddie wasn't at the ROH show when Gabe got fired and Adam Pearce replaced him, and he found out when people started emailing him, but he wasn't a main eventer at that point so he wasn't too worried about his spot. One of the first things Pearce did was put him with Davey Richards as the American Wolves, and as it happens, they teamed together in Wolverhampton, England against the Briscoes right around this time, and he heard a rumor that the name came from a fan on a message board who called them that because they teamed in Wolverhampton.
They almost immediately went into top level programs with the Briscoes and Steen & Generico, and he felt totally comfortable doing it, especially since Davey had asked to do it and had vouched for him. He knows people wondered why they were tagging up since Davey was so much more established than he was, but Davey made him feel like he belonged there as his partner. He still felt like he needed to step up to show he belonged there, but he was thrilled for the chance.
The Briscoes were on the shelf for a while because Mark got hurt, so he and Davey got to spend time working out their team stuff while doing the Steen/Generico feud. Hearing that ROH was getting on TV was a huge deal for them, and now they'd get to learn how to work on TV since not a lot of them had done that yet, and it seemed to him like there was one new thing after another at this time. The Wolves' title win in the Tables Match was another big deal for him and it helped him feel like he had arrived after his long journey from that match with Aries. He felt like his career was a steady climb and he had just kept plugging along and had gotten to a good spot.
Larry Sweeney's personal problems led to his departure from ROH around this time, and the Wolves were so different than Sweeney that it was a bit of an awkward fit, but it felt a bit more natural once he was gone and it was just them and Hagadorn. They talk about the 45 minute draw with Danielson and Tyler Black (a match I was lucky enough to be there live for), and Eddie says it was the first time they really showed that they could be the best team not just in ROH, but in professional wrestling period. He thought the match told a great story and the crowd never got bored, and it was a night that he and Davey really clicked and got going. That was their first big match after winning the title, and this will go down as one of his favorite matches ever. He's not sure just what it is that makes him gel so well with Davey, but they have a good rapport when bouncing ideas off of one another and they just always know what each other is doing in the ring without having to talk.
Eddie went back to Japan shortly after Misawa's death, and Eddie says he heard about Misawa on his way to a show in New York and it was just shocking to hear that he had died. Misawa built NOAH, so going over the first time after his death was weird because there were so many questions about NOAH's future, but the Japanese really don't wear their hearts on their sleeves and everyone seemed normal, but you could tell there was something different. He thought Misawa was a great guy, and remembers hanging out with him at bars and singing karaoke at Misawa's request.
He came home from Japan and had what was probably the defining moment of his ROH career when he broke his elbow against Kevin Steen in the Boston Street Fight, one night before he and Davey were supposed to defend the tag title against Steen & Generico in a Ladder War. He remembers feeling like he hit his elbow hard when he landed after diving out of the ring, and he didn't realize he broke it at first, but could tell that it was out of place and that he couldn't seem to pop it back in. He lost the match after taking a package piledriver through a bunch of chairs, and the elbow was hurting but wasn't killing him, so he went to the hospital after the match to get X-rays and he says it's never a good sign when one of the X-ray techs says "Hey, come here! You gotta see this!" to one of the other techs.
He knew he had the Ladder War the next night, so they put his arm in a giant cast and remembers Pearce asking him what he wanted to do, and figured he couldn't injure it worse by continuing to wrestle, and he knew what a huge deal the Ladder War was and how he couldn't pull out of the match, so they figured out what he could and couldn't do and just worked through it. Nothing really seemed to hurt his arm during the match, and even though the Wolves were the heels, the crowd was cheering for Eddie and he thought it was really crazy. He felt like he won the fans over by showing the heart he did.
Eddie starts to talk about getting surgery and having the plate and screws put in his arm, but being in rehab the next day because they didn't want his arm to freeze up too much. He got out of shape and they thought he would be out for months, but he was back in the ring about eight weeks later and rehab didn't turn out to be too bad. NOAH emailed him about a tour while he was in rehab and he didn't want to tell them no, so he ended up telling them his elbow was broken but he should be okay. He ended up going and being okay and thankfully it's not an issue today. Eddie doesn't regret doing the Ladder War or getting back in the ring so soon, and he probably shouldn't have done the tour in Japan, but he did it and turned out fine.
He came back to ROH just in time to lose the tag title, and he doesn't think the Wolves had run their course by that time, but it led to the Kings of Wrestling reuniting and feuding with the Briscoes, which turned out to be huge and it gave he and Davey the chance to do more singles stuff. Eddie said it started out being a step backward because he was established as one half of the American Wolves, but he wasn't established as Eddie Edwards, and he was a bit worried that he'd fall by the wayside. He figured Davey would do his own thing and be successful, but he needed to show he could be more than just Davey's partner, which brings us to the TV Title tournament and a discussion about when he found out he was going to beat Davey in the finals. They didn't want to present the match like they suddenly had a hatred for each other, and everyone thought Davey would win the title, but it was a big deal to beat Davey and he felt like the company was behind him as a singles guy by puttting him over so hard.
The interview continues on Page 2!
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