More than a year ago, Rich Swann was about to retire from the wrestling business, he had lost his smile and his energetic presence was no more. And he made his debut with Impact Wrestling in June 2018. The smile was not lost, the energy was still there. Rich Swann just needed a little something to fuel his fire back. When Impact returned to the UK last year in Manchester, at Wrestling MediaCon, the audience felt this “fire” was not fake. The same way his wrestling style is high-flying, Rich Swann is able to make the audience fly with him as he’s making his way to the ring.
Like Impact Wrestling is stating, “One of the most gifted athletes on the planet, Rich Swann brings a unique style to IMPACT Wrestling, and the bombastic cataclysm of his signature manoeuvre, the Phoenix Splash. At Homecoming, Rich Swann became X-Division Champion for the first time in his career. Somehow, it feels like Swann has only scratched the surface of his pro wrestling potential. What new heights can IMPACT’s No Limit Soldier hit in the years to come?” The sky is the limit for the X-Division Champion…
SteelChair Mag had the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with Rich Swann about his first year with the company, being the X-Division Champion, his recent storyline with Sami Callihan, Slammiversary XVII PPV, and what Impact Wrestling mean to him.
You’ve been a part of the Impact roster for nearly a year. Tell us about the best and maybe the worst moment you’ve lived in the Impact Zone ever since your debut.
The best moment that I’ve had so far was definitely gaining the Impact X-Division Championship at Homecoming in one of the most influential and iconic matches in Impact history, which is the Ultimate-X match. I’d probably say my worst moment was definitely getting stapled in the tongue by Sami Callihan at Rebellion.
The X-Division Championship is an important part of Impact Wrestling. In being the current Champion, do you feel like you’re a part of the legacy of the company?
I feel like that I’ve definitely tried to uphold to the legacy that many great Impact X-Division Champions have upheld. What I mean by that is going out and just put my body on the line, killing it every single moment, every single time I stepped out, no matter if it’s televised or if it’s a house show or a Twitch show, even if it’s any show that it’s not even Impact. I go out there and I hold this Championship with pride and respect and people can see that. That’s definitely been some of the feedback that I’ve gotten from a lot of professional wrestling fans, they can see how much I respect Impact and how much I respect that division and how much I respect the fans. I’m going to continue to go out and do what I love, which is professional wrestling to the best of my abilities and execute as long as I can to the best of my abilities with excellence.
You put so much energy in the ring but also coming to the ring. When I saw you in Manchester last year, it was almost magic. Was this positive and energetic character the one you wanted to bring to Impact?
That was definitely one heck of a weekend because I was travelling back and forth from New York City to New Jersey to Connecticut, back to New Jersey, back to New York, and all I could think of was I’ve got to give these fans their money’s worth because there was so much great professional wrestling going on that weekend. I had to try to make myself stand out and what better way to make yourself stand out than to go out there and give everything to the best of your ability.
I have definitely wanted to bring this to Impact, for sure, 100%. All the way since Dragon Gate in Japan, Dragon Gate USA and Evolve, I’ve always come out and tried to entertain to the best of my ability. You get the people like that, by entertaining them with what you can do athletically, what you can do storytelling-wise, and what you can do scientifically wise. I would not want to bring that to Impact but try to bring Impact as along with myself, up to the best that we possibly can be, the best version of ourselves. I’ve always gone out like that, just bringing the entertainment value and energy, with a smile on my face.
One year ago, you were about to retire from wrestling. Do you feel like Impact gave you what you needed to continue and brought your fire back?
They were definitely a big help and a big hand in changing my decision because there were so many people on the roster and so many people in the back, and not only on Impact, people that work closely with Impact, that were convincing me to bring my talents. They were really positive. Impact definitely believed in me from start, they gave me my opportunity and they put me on TV. They didn’t let me go astray and they saw my talents. That’s another big reason why I decided to stay with Impact Wrestling for another 2 years because this is a company that, when everybody was putting me down, they were ready to pull me back up. So why not keep a little loyalty to these guys and, while helping them, I also helped myself and Impact Wrestling.
What makes you happy being on Impact, the wrestlers, the Creatives?
It’s all of them, all combined. The roster is probably the most active we’ve seen in years. You’ve got oVe, Sami Callihan, Dave and Jake Crist, Michael Elgin, Eddie Edwards. And the Knockouts Division, you’ve got Jordynne Grace, Rosemary, Kiera Hogan, Su Yung, Tessa Blanchard. Of course, Willie Mack. The list can go on and on, Tommy Dreamer, RVD, Sabu, who are some veterans. You’ve got me, Brian Cage, the World Heavyweight Champion, LAX. I can’t continue because this roster is too good and too stacked.
As far as Creatives, everybody gets to say to make the show and the product as good as it possibly can be. We have some of the greatest minds behind the scenes, like Jimmy Jacobs, Don Callis, Scott D’Amore, Tommy Dreamer, guys that have been around in this business that are going to bring the product to the best it can possibly be.
The storyline with Sami Callihan was at the same time a personal one and a wrestling one. Wasn’t it too complex to put a part of yourself in this storyline, because it was really about your friendship and your personal life? It was something really tense and, at the same time, the matches were stunning.
I appreciate that. That storyline was more than a storyline because it was real, it was personal, and I feel like that match, that story, the time that we had, the months spent for us getting to tell the Rich Swann – Sami Callihan saga, I think it definitely was good for professional wrestling because it brought something fresh. Like I said, and like he said, it was so real and personal to get down to and, to make people choose a side, it made people really want to see something explosive happen. At Rebellion, when we finally got the option to have the No Disqualification match, we brought everything that you could possibly bring to the table, the LEGOs ©, the thumbtacks. We brought freaking powders, we brought staple guns, and spikes and barbed wire and tables and guardrails. It all meant something because everything that we said, building up to that moment, it’s something that was needed in. I feel like the professional wrestling world took that story and they really got with it. That’s art right there, when you can go out there and do things like that, and build it to that point and be comfortable with that. It’s things that can really happen. It definitely was a good alternative for people to see something more personal like that, Impact didn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Johnny Impact was hyping last week a possible match at ‘Slammiversary XVII’ for your X-Division Championship. You have never wrestled on Impact one-on-one. How are you going to prepare for that match?
Actually, we had a singles competition at Pro Wrestling Revolver. He was currently the Impact World Champion at that time and I was the X-Division Champion. In that match, Johnny Impact got the victory over me but I’ve studied from that and I’ve looked at that over and over again. Then, coming up on TV, it was me and Willie Mack versus Michael Elgin and Johnny Impact himself. The end of that match saw me pinning Johnny Impact, 1-2-3, so I’ve been preparing very well. Johnny Impact is the Ultimate-X holder and the number one contender. At Slammiversary, I’m going to go all out, we’re going to show what we can do athletically and it’s going to be definitely something that people should definitely keep an eye out for. I think we’re going to do something that’s going to change the game.
Impact Wrestling is taping on Thursday and Friday the last shows on ‘The Road to Slammiversary’. What are your expectations for them?
One thing that I definitely want to have is a confrontation with Johnny Impact because I want to go out there and I want to show New York City I am the No Limit Soldier, I’m the guy that’s going out there and putting on one hell of a match, giving 100% and then some. I want to draw some money with Johnny Impact, I want to put asses in those seats. I’m looking forward to it, I want to defend my X-Division Championship and retain it. I’m looking forward to going to the Melrose Ballroom and telling everybody what’s going on now. That’s one thing that I definitely want to happen.
One thing then I’m hoping that will happen is to work with RVD in any capacity, whether it be one-on-one, whether it be a tag match, whether it be us tagging together. I want to learn from RVD, I want to see what he’s got.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) June 5, 2019
Impact Wrestling made the match official even before the tapings took place. Swann and Impact will face off at Slammiversary XVII for the X-Division Championship.
Follow Rich Swann on Twitter @GottaGetSwann. IMPACT is airing every Friday night around 11 PM on 5Star, on Pursuit in the US, and Twitch worldwide.
All pics and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling.