wrestling / News

Michael Elgin Feels Revitalized in Impact Wrestling, Talks NJPW Departure

June 6, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Brian Cage Michael Elgin Impact wrestling Rebellion

– Michael Elgin spoke with Interactive Wrestling Radio for a new interview discussing leaving NJPW, joining Impact and more. Highlights are below:

On his Impact experience since making his debut at Rebellion: “I’m actually loving it. I needed a change of scenery and looking at the TV’s and the pay per view products that were out there, I felt that Impact was the place to be. And, it is! I think with the addition of me and the roster that they have is tremendous. We’re doing special things. We are going to have a tremendous show at Slammiversary, I feel Rebellion was great. I’m having the time of my life!”

On if it was difficult to leave NJPW and head to Impact after a number of years there: “At the time I did it, it wasn’t and right now, it wasn’t. I had wanted to be in Japan from the time of my upbringing let alone just my wrestling career. I remember in 1992, I got a hold of a WCW pay per view because my friend got a satellite. Seeing Hashimoto, Dr. Death Steve Williams, Terry Gordy… I was just blown away by them because Canada was predominantly a WWE territory. It looked real to me! So, you’re talking 1992 to 1999, 2000, 2001, I was just a fan of Japanese wrestling. When I started training, from step one, my goal was always to go to Japan. I felt like if I was ever going to make something of myself, I was going to go the route of the Eddie Guerrero’s, Chris Jericho’s, Dean Malenko’s and be a world traveled wrestler and get opportunities for how I could perform in the ring. That was my main goal. I accomplished it. I did well with New Japan. They treated me very well. It is a great company. But, I felt it was time to move on. I feel like they didn’t see me as a full time top of the card guy. They saw me as a guy who could be at the top of the card but just here and there. I’m the type of person that I see myself as someone that wants to succeed for the company and if they did not see me as a full time main eventer, I decided to walk away on my terms. I looked at the options that were on the table. I looked at Impact. Impact was the place that I wanted to go!”

On how Impact has reinvigorated his love of wrestling: “You know, it is not so much the push. It is just that I felt I had more to offer. New Japan has become the type of place where new toys are appreciated. I wasn’t a new toy anymore. They get their eyes on someone, they bring them in, and they put the championship on them. That is just how they have been doing stuff. For instance, Jon Moxley just won the United States championship. Don’t get me wrong. He’s going to get a lot of eyes on the product. He’s a tremendous wrestler. I was on many shows with him before he went to WWE and I have always thought he was special. So, I’m not downgrading the talent that Jon Moxley brings to the tabpe – I don’t want anybody to think that. But, he debuts and gets a championship! It is a very, “Oh, this guy is a new toy, we got him from (blah blah sound effect).” Again, they bring in Chris Jericho, he wins the Intercontinental Championship. Again, it is Jericho! It is a special case. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying these guys aren’t talented or that I’m above them. I’m just saying it is a very, “These are the new toys, lets play with them.” I felt like the longe I stayed there, the more I got pushed down for the new toys. I felt like stepping away would make the heart grow fonder on both sides. If I ever decide to go back to Japan that there would be an opportunity for me. Luckily, I feel I performed at a level that the Japanese fans appreciated and that they would want to see me back. It was just time to get a new outlook on things and get that excitement back. And, man, it has been a month and a half of just excitement on the phone to Impact, “Hey man, lets do this, lets do that!” It (Impact) has reinvigorated that love. It is not that I ever fell out of love but sometimes that love took a back seat to other things. Now, that love is at the forefront again and that is a good feeling.”

On making his debut by attacking Brian Cage and how injured they thought he may be: “You know, I had seen that he was in some pain. It is hard to move past when you have your mind set on doing something. I knew that I was the right person to do something and not do too much damage to him. But, by the same token, he just had won the World Championship and I want to be World Champion. So, when it comes to the richest prize in Impact, As much as I was a little bit worried, at the forefront of my mind, “Hey man, if he can’t carry the championship, who is better than me? I’ll fight to be so (the champion). It was just kind of the victim of circumstance!”

On his physical conditioning and transformation over the past few years: “I had always trained for power-lifting. My upbringing was power-lifting. My mom was actually a power-lifter and arm-wrestler. It was always a lot of intake, high carbs, and lift as heavy as possible. That takes a toll on your body. I feel like my age number is young – I’m 32. The problem is I started doing this at 14 and at 280, 290, that takes a toll on your body and starts to wear at your knees. So, I decided to trim back a bit, cut the carbs, and focus on a more body builder regiment and up the conditioning. I take pride in being someone who is 240 pounds but has the gas tank of someone who is 160 pounds. I want people to go in there and expect one thing and get another thing! The biggest compliment I can get is to go back and, at 240, not be breathing heavy when a smaller man is.”

On Rich Swann recently saying Elgin has one of the highest wrestling IQ’s he’s seen: “That is a huge compliment coming from Rich. I take pride in that. I’ve said it recently, that is another reason I came to Impact – The ability to talk. The freedom to talk. I’ve never been given that. I joined Ring of Honor and I was given a manager. As much as I love Truth Martini, I didn’t have the opportunity to vocalize, talk, and be in front of that camera with words. And then, when I was single, they wanted me to speak in sound bites to use in video packages. Then, going to Japan, they wanted you to speak simple English so that the Japanese can understand the simple English that you’re speaking and the translaters can translate it easily. That was an opportunity that I never got to show. Due to that, any kind of creativity or knowledge that I could put out there was all through my in ring work. It has been, this coming November, it has been 16 years that I’ve been wrestling. It has been 16 years that I’ve been working on that creativity in my work. I’ve found ways to entice people and get them involved when I wrestle. I’ve worked really hard on my wrestling IQ. So, for someone like Rich Swann to say that and he’s been to WWE and he’s been in the ring with such great performers… That is one of those sheild of armors that you can kind of wear and be proud of because you’ve worked so hard at it.”

“I think we’re on a roll. The last 2 sets of tapings I’ve been at, everyone has upped their game. They were all great before then. But, everybody wants to be the top guy. But, when somebody new comes in, and especially me with my mindset, I want to be better than everybody else. I’m not saying that I am. But, that’s my goal. I want people go to out and say, “God Damn, I’ve got to up my game because Michael Elgin is here now!” Then, they see that. They see the new guy and they say, “I’m not letting the new guy have that match. I’m having that match!” I think it helps everyone step it up. We just signed Willie Mack and Rich Swann to long-term deals. So, they’re stepping up their game. That is making others step up their games as well.I just feel we are all firing on all cylinders and if you miss these TV tapings, you’re wild!”

On if we are on the cusp of another wrestling boom period: “Yes. I think we’ve been on the cusp of it for a while. I think people see it as more prevalent now in that there is more options than WWE with people leaving WWE. But, I know that in late 2015, I had the offer of New Japan or WWE. And, leaving New Japan, I had other options and I chose Impact. Now, you can make your own decisions. It has been that way for a while and there has been multiple people who have had offers on the table from multiple places. I think we’ve been on the cusp for quite a few years. But, right now, with the Cody Rhodes and the John Moxley’s who are leaving and making splashes in other companies. But, I really think it has been for about 4 years now, maybe 2015, to where people have seen that there is money to be made and promotions are out there giving people the chance to be seen.”

On what Impact has to do to stay in ahead in the wrestling boom: “I think we have all the tools. I think the one thing that has to happen is a more predominant TV network. Just something that is more accessible to people. I know Pursuit has been really good to us. There’s been some hickups but that is going to happen. But, I think if we can get on a channel that people know and people know, “Ok, every Friday night at 10 on such and such a network, I can watch Impact Wrestling.” I think that is all we’re missing. I would say I get mots in the past month and a half about Impact than I did with New Japan. Some of that might be time difference. But, if you’re watching Impact, there is a lot of great things going on. They can’t not say how great the Impact crew is, how great the TV is, and how great the pay per views are. But, I think if we had a more accessible TV, we would be absolutely unstoppable. I can’t see that not happening with the product that we’re putting out. With the wrestling boom, you’ve got WWE signing huge deals for SmackDown and RAW (with FOX), you’ve got AEW going to TNT. I think that other networks are going to see how popular wrestling still is and why wouldn’t they go with Impact when Impact Wrestling has been alive for longer than WCW was?”