NIGEL MCGUINNESS is one of the best British wrestlers to make his way over to the United States in recent years. He made his name with Ring of Honor having lengthy spells as both the Pure and World champion and magnificent matches against the likes of Daniel Bryan.
The grappler from Stelplehurst, Kent then joined TNA in 2009 and began a feud with Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle straight away, which led to a series of great matches between the pair – however McGuinness’ time in TNA was cut short.
Now back in ROH as a commentator, Joshua Modaberi caught up with the 36-year-old to talk about his documentary Last of McGuinness, the current state of British wrestling, working with the like of Kurt Angle and Daniel Bryan … plus much more:
Your documentary Last of McGuinness is now available on DVD. How did the documentary originally come about?
I decided to do a retirement tour because I just realised the it was the only thing I could do outside of WWE and I wasn’t going to be going to the WWE – so I did the tour and talked to Colt Cabana who had some success with his ‘Wrestling Road Dairies’ DVD.
We ended up doing something similar with my tour; I brought a video camera, took it on the road and tried to shoot as much as I possibly could.
When you first began making the documentary you put a video on Kickstarter in order to try and raise $32,000 – and you got the money in three days. Did that come as a shock to you?
Sure of course, I was blown away and humbled by the support. I wasn’t really sure if I would make the $32,000 in a month and yet after three days it was all there. it just speaks volumes about the support of real professional wrestling fans.
Not wanting to give much away in terms of the documentary, but how did the farewell tour go?
It was good, a lot of fun. It wasn’t ideal; there were a lot of guys that I wanted to wrestle but never got around to it, but I got to see a lot of old friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time and it was a real emotional journey both physically and mentally.
How did you first get into the sport of professional wrestling?
I was a big fan of the old World of Sport wrestling when it was on TV and obviously when it got taken off like pretty much everybody else I kind of stopped following it. Then when WWF at the time started getting on Sky TV, that is when I got back into wrestling.
Who were some of the wrestlers that inspired you to get into wrestling when you were younger?
Guys like The Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart [and] Shawn Michaels were big influences on me and I enjoyed watching all of those guys on television. In terms of British influences I enjoyed Robbie Brookside … he was very inspirational for me in terms of you didn’t have to be a jacked up monster but you could be a very intelligent human-being and still become a professional wrestler.
You really made your name in Ring of Honor. What were some of your highlights during your first spell in ROH?
I was a champion in ROH for a long time; I held the Pure championship for 350 days and the World title for 545 days, when I first started out I didn’t have any concept of the success I would have there.
It was a great company to be a part of and there were so many talented wrestlers that have gone on to other things and have had great success elsewhere and I think that speaks volumes for the amount of talent that was there.
I certainly enjoyed my time in ROH and without my time there I wouldn’t have become half the wrestler I became.
CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Austin Aries have all gone on to have great success in WWE and TNA respectively. How good is it for a company like ROH to produce guys like that?
I think it is great – as I said before, it speaks volumes about talent in the past, and it has always been a company when guys of that calibre leave other guys [to] step up to fill those spots. At the moment you have guys like Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, the Briscoe’s … there is always going to be guys there to carry the torch so to speak.
You worked very closely with Daniel Bryan in ROH, what have you made of his success in the WWE?
I’m very proud of him, I’ve always said he is one of the top wrestlers in the world and he really made me who I was as a wrestler. He really put me on the landscape of independent professional wrestling and I’m very blessed to have been able to wrestle him and I really valued all [of] the advice he gave me.
You went on to spend some time with WWE developmental territory OVW and even appeared on Sunday Night Heat. Was there ever a possibility of a full-time deal with the WWE?
Yeah they were interested for sure but it just kind of fizzled out which often happens. At the same time I had my first tour of Japan coming up so I spoke to WWE and let them know the situation and they said to contact them when I got back but nothing happened after that.
You then went on to TNA and straight away you were involved in a feud with Kurt Angle. What was that like?
I think being involved in a story-line with Kurt straight away I was just in the right place at the right time; I think it was originally supposed to be an angle with Kurt and Booker T but he had gone back to the WWE.
I think Kurt had heard a little bit about me and he was very open to ideas, he really helped me out a great deal and once again he really helped make my career what it was.
Your time in TNA was cut short prematurely – were there any matches you would have liked to have had in TNA that you never to the opportunity to?
I think I could have had a great match with Doug Williams, we’ve had great matches in the past. I was also very disappointed that we didn’t get to run with the tag team of myself and Magnus, I thought we could have done some fantastic stuff together as a tag team.
There were a lot of guys there with so much talent and there still is so much talent there. I had very short matches with a lot of those guys, like AJ Styles and Daniels, but so often the case with TV wrestling you don’t get the chance to [do] so much with it.
Both ROH and TNA have celebrated reaching 10 years in 2012 – how far would you say ROH is behind TNA?
I don’t even know if it’s a competition, I think TNA to a certain extent are trying to compete with the WWE, they certainly were a few years ago when they went head-to-head on Monday night and you can tell by the product they are trying to be more sports entertainment.
Whilst in ROH we’re not, we want to do professional wrestling, not old school professional wrestling but more cutting edge professional wrestling. We don’t insult people’s intelligence and we have a strong product both in the ring and out of the ring. We’re just really comparing ourselves to where we were a year ago and where we want to be in a year’s time.
What have you made of the current crop of British stars in both WWE and TNA?
They have been doing really well, you have to say Sheamus has had the most level of success so far at least, but I’m happy for all of them. Wade Barrett is getting another good push at the moment and Rob Terry, Doug Williams and Magnus have all held titles in TNA. We all had the same dream of coming to America and making money and being a success.
This article was written by Joshua Modaberi.
Joshua is the newest contributor to Collar & Elbow Wrestling – keep an eye out for future articles coming soon from him. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter @J_Modaberi.