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RICH SWANN REFLECTS ON HIS COMEBACK, BOUND FOR GLORY, THE LEGACY OF RONIN, STEPPING UP HIS PROMO GAME, POTENTIALLY BEING THE IMPACT CHAMPION, OVERCOMING OBSTACLES, PRO WRESTLING SAVING HIS LIFE AND TONS MORE

By Mike Johnson on 2020-10-22 11:23:00

This Saturday, Rich Swann will headline Impact Wrestling's Bound for Glory, not only marking his first singles PPV main event but officially completing the journey that began when he broke his leg and ankle last year.  Yesterday, Swann sat down with PWInsider.com to discuss his return, having this moment, his career and lots more.

 

Mike Johnson: Hey everybody, it's Mike Johnson back in the audio section of PWInsiderElite.com. It is Wednesday, October 21st, 2020, which means we are just a few days away from Impact Wrestling Bound For Glory this Saturday live on Fite.TV and pay per view. We are on the line with one half of the main event for Bound For Glory. Rich Swann has gone through the trials and tribulations over the last several years, but after a lot of time convalescing and getting his leg and his ankle back in order, he will step into the ring and challenge the Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion Eric Young on Saturday night. It will be the moment of reckoning for Rich Swann and probably the culmination of getting quite a lot of aggravation and angst out. He's had quite the story returning to the ring and he has been one of the most talented, athletic performers who has come around in the last decade, very happy to have him on. I don't know if he's got his guitar and we're going to get any Ronin songs...

Rich Swann: Hey, it could happen!

Mike Johnson: So, how are you?

Rich Swann: I'm great! I'm great, how are you? What an introduction.

Mike Johnson: I try! So, I remember seeing you in Texas before one of the pay per views and you had just gotten hurt a day or two before, I don't even think you had a hard cast, you had something on your leg, maybe a boot, and you were on crutches.  We were backstage, and I said to you, "Are you OK?" and you shrugged and went, "Man, I don't know but one day I will be." 

Rich Swann: Yeah... 

Mike Johnson: Are you OK now? How are you feeling?

Rich Swann: I feel like nothing ever happened. I feel great and I feel like I'm ready to unleash some great athleticism for some people to see. 

Mike Johnson: So this Saturday night you're going to be wrestling Eric Young. You surprised everybody by returning at Slammiversary in the Impact Championship match but this is a little bit different because this has been built up for some time with a lot of twists and turns.  There's been a lot of time behind this, you've been cutting what I think honestly is some of the best promos you've ever done, the retirement speech was beyond phenomenal, I think it was one of the best moments in Impact in the last two or three years. Have you had a chance to take it all in and take a deep breath and think about how far you've come from that moment you got injured to now where it all comes to a head and comes back and it gets to be you doing what you've always wanted to do - be in the main event of a major show where the spotlight's on you, the story is about you, and the moment is yours for the taking?

Rich Swann: You know it's....I can't even find the words to say it because I know how much of a big deal it is to be in the main event, but not only that, with something so personal, something so, like...the story - me and Eric, the fact that we're getting this chance to showcase our talents, to showcase that we're more than the opportunities that have been afforded to us and to have that and to come back from that injury that could have possibly not only ended my career but changed my life for the better part, you know? I could have ended up walking with a limp for the rest of my life but the hard work and the dedication and the thought of, you know, "I really want to make it in this business," has got me there, and now I'm in the main event and there's like...I'm just overjoyed, you know what I mean? And now since the days are coming close, now it's starting to get even more like, "Aw come on, come on, October 24th, let's get this, let's get this in right now." I'm so anxious, I'm ready, I'm excited, there's just so many emotions and feelings that are just going through my body.

Mike Johnson: Now you've held gold in Impact before, you were the X-Division Champion, you've had championships in other companies, but the potential of being the Impact Wrestling Heavyweight World Champion, what does that mean for a guy who when he started, everyone was like "Oh he's going to be a Cruiserweight"? Or marginalized it, "Oh he's a smaller guy," but here you are, you're in the main event, you could hold the company's top championship. You've held gold before, you've traveled all over the world, but what does it mean to you on a personal level to have that opportunity and potentially end up as the flagbearer for not just a Division but the entire company?

Rich Swann: It definitely helps me see that I've made waves in this professional wrestling business, not only as an African American and let's face it - African Americans in the industry, they haven't gotten a lot of big opportunities, and then now in this climate and at this time, to get this opportunity and not only that, I'm 5' 6', 165 pounds soaking wet and everybody told me, "Oh, you'll probably never be a World Champion but you're a good hand, you're going to be a good wrestler," but now I'm in the focal point, I'm in the main and I'm going to be able to show everybody that all the hard work that I've put into this the past 15 years that it was for something and just can't wait.

Mike Johnson: I mentioned the promo where you announced your retirement. What was going through your mind as you were going through all that because that could have been real life at different points over your recovery and I felt like, for someone who most fans look at and they say "great athletic wrestler", this was a chance for you to bring an additional level of realism and bring out some of the real voice of who Rich Swann the person is through your promo and your interview that night and I remember saying, "My God, he's just gone to a completely new level." Did you realize that in the moment? Did you realize that looking back on it? What was that moment like for you?   I feel like that was the moment that you kinda stepped up as a talker and as a personality and kinda went up to the next plateau so to speak as a personality.

Rich Swann: So that's exactly what was going through my mind, that's the one way that you become a star in this business is if you can prove that you can talk people into those seats and with something like that, with something...saying that you're going to be retiring, you have to put every single real emotion that you have into that and it was unfortunate but I've had those times in my career to where I was really about to be done, so I transferred that emotion into that promo and I wanted people to feel that and by the looks of it, and your opinion, it looks like I reached a couple of people and they felt it, so I think I did my job on that and I'm going to be looking to trying to cut more promos like that as much as I can to show people I am a complete package.

Mike Johnson: You've often talked about, and this was referenced during the Sami Callihan feud, that pro wrestling saved your life. When you look at where you are today as a person, how different would your life be if you hadn't come across professional wrestling and why is it important that you tell people what an effect pro wrestling had on you?

Rich Swann: I don't think that my life would be in a good place if I didn't have professional wrestling. Coming from the areas that I've come from and coming from the trials and tribulations that I've dealt with, it's important that I've found something that was productive and something that would not make me a product of my environment, if you will. That's the one reason why I share my story so much is because anybody that has ever felt like I have or been in my shoes, especially at a young age, I want them to know that you don't have to take the low road, you can find whatever it is in your life - it doesn't have to be professional wrestling, it can be whatever you find that just inspires you, lifts you up and you don't have to be a product of your environment and you can become more and rise up.

Mike Johnson: So the last couple of months, I feel like Impact Wrestling has had one of the more underrated television products. Week to week the storylines have been very good, the wrestling has been very good. It's obviously been in a very unique environment. What was it like for you to come back from the injury and the last time you wrestled you're in front of crowds that are rabid and hot and intense in great, intimate venues, and then you come back and a lot of the stuff that we've talked about takes place in the empty arena environment? Was it hard to reconfigure yourself mentally and even physically to perform in such a weird place in such a unique state?

Rich Swann: You know what? It's going to be weird for people to hear but it actually wasn't that mind boggling for me, it didn't throw me off my game because one - I know that people are watching, they might not be in the building, but I know that they're watching, so I'm not going to let anybody down and two - when you take away all the glitz and glamour and all of the cheering and all of the signs, it makes you sit back and you're like, "All right, I do love this sport, I love professional wrestling," and I'll do anything I can to make it watchable and people to be entertained and the fact that there's no crowd inside, it makes me more focused, it makes me want to hit every single thing...I want to go in and I want to perform at my best because I love wrestling, and whether there are people in the ring watching or not, I think I'd be doing it if there was professional wrestling.

Mike Johnson: How hard was the rehab? Obviously we got to see you on TV at the "Foreman Rehabilitation Institute" in Florida but the actual rehab that you went through - how hard was it to get back to the athlete that you wanted to be, not even the athlete that you were but the athlete that you wanted to be going forward? What was that process like and what was the hardest part of that process?

Rich Swann: It was definitely painful. I'd say the hardest part was the first three months after getting the surgery. The first month I couldn't walk on it, I had the staples and everything, I had my foot in the soft cast, and then the second month - finally able to take my foot out of the cast, then I was able to walk a little bit. From there, though, everything had closed down, the physical therapy places, because of Covid, things were at a completely different schedule so all that's going through my mind is, "Man, am I going to be the same? Is this going to prolong my recovery?" Basically the doctor just sent me some things to do and definitely doing those things by myself was very hard, without any physical trainer in the beginning or anybody to help me out with guidance. I was just in my house while everybody was quarantined doing one legged squats and weighted kettlebells and stuff like that and finally I got to a point where I could stand and balance on one leg and it was very weak, but just doing that every day, the single leg squats, and then I built myself up to little skips. Then I built myself up to jogging, and then it was, you know, if I can jog, maybe I can jump a little bit, and then I started jumping, and then everything started to open back up after about four months and I started doing proper physical training and then started lifting up my weights with the lunges and the weighted squats. I could feel my leg getting stronger and stronger and better and better and the doctor, once he told me, "Hey, you might be walking with a limp for the rest of your life," I started pushing it even harder, and I started running and I started jumping and I got into a wrestling ring and I said, "You know what? Let me hit these ropes." Then I started hitting the ropes and I felt it - I felt how good my ankle felt and I said, "You know what? Let me just do a backflip, let me do a moonsault, see if I can still do that", and I did that, and then I just decided - hey, I'm ready, I can start going in now. It was just a whole mental game, you know? 

Mike Johnson: What's your advice for people who are going through rough times right now, either physically because of an injury like you suffered, or just being in the mental fog of everything that we're dealing with in the world right now? You've always come across to me as a pretty positive person and someone who's always just let it all out in the ring and that has kind of been your outlet, but there are people out there who don't get to have their outlet right now because of the world we're living in. What's your advice for them so they can endure and get to this moment of personal satisfaction that you're at?

Rich Swann: I would say just try to keep your mind busy, try to keep your mind focused, try to study, and if you're a professional wrestler, try to watch as much wrestling as you can, as much tapes as you can, and not even from the current age, go back in the day and watch and you never know what you can learn and pick up. Try to find a place to work out and get your heart and your blood pumping - get yourself active, try to find it, there's always a way out, there's always going to be a light at the end of the dark tunnel, and that's what you gotta keep your focus on too. Even though we're in these hard times, the hard times don't always last and the hard times is what's going to make you stronger. So that's what I think and that's my opinion and that's what I would say to these people.

Mike Johnson: All right, a few  more questions and then I know you've got to get out of here. What are your expectations for the main event at Bound For Glory this Saturday and your thoughts on stepping into the ring with Eric Young?

Rich Swann: I think that me and Eric Young, just due to the story, due to how much of a maniac he is, I think it's going be very violent and I think that we're going to put on a wrestling classic and like I said before, I think he is a great talent, he is a person that can do anything and to have this opportunity to wrestle him in the main event of Bound For Glory - I'm not going to let this slide. I'm not going to let people see Bound For Glory and think, "Oh, that was a waste of my money." People are going to be satisfied and I'm just looking for that perfect ending.

Mike Johnson: Before we go, I mentioned Ronin from the old days. Thoughts on how important that group was to yourself, Johnny Gargano, Chuck Taylor, given how it's kind of exploded and landed across the spectrum of pro wrestling. What are your memories of that trio and how happy are you to see where everybody's landed?

Rich Swann: Well I can tell you this right now, check this - [sings and plays Ronin's theme song on the guitar]. I had to get the guitar, it was right here by me already.

Mike Johnson: I legitimately said that having no idea you had a guitar anywhere near you. That's freaking awesome. When you look back on that trio, how happy are you to see where everybody's kinda landed in pro wrestling?

Rich Swann: I smile every time I see a Johnny Gargano or a Chuck Taylor on TV, it just makes my heart soar because that was something for me, I was able to show that I had personality and that I can match up with these guys that, you know, also have this charisma, this personality, that will just grab right at you as soon as you see it. I felt like we were the perfect mix, you know what I'm saying? You look at us and you don't think we're going to be friends, then you see us and the way our personalities meshed...I'd love to have that again. But just to see Chuck on AEW, getting his opportunity, killing it, especially after the long, travelled career that he's had and getting to see him make it on TV after...I want to say he's been wrestling almost twenty years, Chuck Taylor...damn near, and just to see him on TV getting a shot is like, "Hell yeah", and Johnny Gargano, you can look at him and you always know especially with his promos and the way that he changed his body from when he was young in Ohio coming up in the independents to getting to Dragon Gate and becoming the longest Open The Freedom Gate Champion and having all these accolades and getting to WWE NXT and seeing what he's done with that and become possibly one of the figureheads, him and Adam Cole, of that brand of WWE, and then to see now where I'm at - main eventing at Bound For Glory, one of the biggest pay per views in our industry, it's like man, we've done pretty damn good for ourselves. 

Mike Johnson: I would say so and of course, if you win the championship you'll be celebrating all night long, to make another Evolve reference.  [Laughs]

Rich Swann: [Laughs] Oh yeah. 

Mike Johnson: But before we get out of here, obviously there is a ton of stuff, there's a lot of wrestling programming that's thrown at everyone every week, so last question - why should fans go out of their way to make sure this Saturday night they are watching on Fite.TV or they're ordering on all the pay per view platforms, why should fans invest their time and money in Impact Wrestling Bound For Glory Saturday night?

Rich Swann: Because you're going to get something that is a little different. We're going to be having some of the greatest athletes, some of the best that has ever graced a professional wrestling ring. I mean, look at the stacked card - you have myself and Eric Young in this blood feud, you'll have Eric Young and Ken Shamrock, a legend, you'll have a fatal four way tag match with The Motor City Machine Guns, The Good Brothers, The North...there's going to be so much action that you're not going to want to miss because these are the new stars, these are the rising stars, these are the people that are going to be around and giving you memories that you'll never forget and I feel like Impact Wrestling is no nonsense and we love this. We all come together and we all do this and you ain't going to want to miss Bound For Glory. 

Mike Johnson: All right, well ladies and gentlemen, Saturday night, Bound For Glory - Eric Young versus Rich Swann for the Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship and a whole lot more. Rich - I just want to thank you for sitting down and talking to us.   Before we get out of here, where can people track you down beyond ImpactWrestling.com if they want to continue to follow the exploits and adventures of Rich Swann potentially as the new Impact Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion?

Rich Swann: Well you know I actually don't have social media but if you just follow Impact, that's where you'll follow me, that's where you'll see me, because that's all I am. I am the embodiment of Impact, so just be checking your eye on that.

Mike Johnson: All right! This Saturday night, Impact Wrestling Bound For Glory, be sure to watch it. Until next time, I'm Mike Johnson. Rich - always a pleasure talking to you, looking forward to when we get to do it again, my best to you professionally and personally and stay healthy sir.

Rich Swann: Yes sir, thank you you my brother. 

 

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