By Ryan K. Boman, Editor in Chief
JUNE 7, 2018: In what can only be described as a scene reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project, Eddie Edwards went into the woods looking to exorcise the demon known as Sami Callihan on Thursday night.
Perhaps even more than that, he was searching for his soul.
Caught in one of the most intriguing personal feuds of all time, it’s looking more and more like Edwards has gone through a transformation from a sound, scientific grappler, to an all-out, hardcore maniac.
His unprecedented era of violence has revealed a new side of his character, one we’ve never really seen before. And while Edwards exacted more revenge in the woods again on this week’s episode of Impact! on Pop, it appears the feud isn’t anywhere close to being over.
The shades of black and white have been blurred during this unsanctioned war, but the canvas was initially laid out by a very, real-life injury that the former World Champion suffered in January at the hands of Callihan, who wildly swung a baseball bat directly into his face.
Since then, he says some things have changed… for both Eddie Edwards – the wrestler, and Eddie Edwards – the man. The incident, and the after effects, are what led to this violent swing in his persona.
“I think most everyone reacted in shock when they finally saw it,” he told TheGorillaPosition.com in an exclusive interview this week. “Remember, it happened in January, but it didn’t air until March. When it actually first happened, a few friends and family reached out, because not that many people really knew how serious it was. Most people had just heard about it.”
“But when it finally aired, and the the fans saw it, they started going crazy. I kept re-freshing my timeline, because I was constantly getting messages. To have all the fans react like that, and be on my side, was amazing. I had never really experienced that kind of outpouring.”
When Callihan refused to back down, openly mocking Edwards’ injury on social media, it only threw more gasoline on an already-raging fire; He had no choice but to go after his antagonist.
“I mean, he hit another guy in the ring with a baseball bat. So, there was already a lot of outrage from the fans; I even had people that I knew, messaging me, saying, what’s wrong with that guy? or what’ was he thinking?” Edwards said. “So, I knew when I got back that we would have to settle the issue.”
“This is the kind of thing that changes your mentality. It’s the kind of thing that changes you as a man. It only makes sense that we would have to settle it anywhere, or at any time.”
He has certainly come back with a vengeance. Callihan started things off by getting the better half in the beginning of their battles. But lately, Edwards has displayed an unfettered viciousness, taking the fight (and camera crew) to a hospital and now the woods to confront his former attacker. Even his wife, Alisha, and friend Tommy Dreamer haven’t been able to talk sense into this suddenly, unstoppable monster.
In the process, the vignettes have become must-watch TV for Impact fans, who are witnessing the evolution of Eddie Edwards.
“I get to go out there now, and do a complete 180 from anything I have done in my career before,” he said, noting that he’s enjoying being a little ‘unhinged’ these days. “I’ve done some stuff in the past, when I was World Champion or as part of the Wolves, where we shot things behind the scenes, but this stuff now is much more theatrical, and much more like we’re filming a movie. I’m really enjoying it.”
“It’s a whole new character for me, and a whole new time for me. It really gets the creative juices flowing. Any time you can step out of your comfort zone and try something different, that’s something that really revitalizes me.”
In many ways the mad jackal of Callihan has become the perfect foil for the formerly fresh-faced Edwards. Determined to match the insanity of Ohio Versus Everything, he’s spent less time performing suplexes, and more time swinging a kendo stick.
“Any time you work with someone like Sami, it’s going to wake you up a bit,” he laughed. “To be able to expand, and go off the set like that with the vignettes and the promos, it’s really cool. And the behind-the-scenes people – the crew – they deserve a ton of credit for that, because they’ve made it look incredible.”
With most of the storyline being taped on location, the final product isn’t spoiled by being leaked online. It’s helped keep the angle fresh, and even Edwards himself admits that he doesn’t always know what the final product will look like when it airs.
“Obviously, anything that happens in the arena is going to get out there on the internet,” he said. “With the vignettes and even the hype videos, you have to watch the show to see what’s going to happen next. And I think the fans are enjoying that.”
“Even myself, we shoot so much stuff, and when they put it all together – it’s even interesting for me to see how it all plays out when it airs. And of course, everyone adds to it behind the scenes, as well.”
He and Callihan have been one of the main storylines behind the recent growth of the company, and Edwards says he’s very proud of how 2018 has been shaping up so far. Impact! on Pop has increased in viewership, and the show has a legitimate buzz and excitement around it for the first time in years.
“To see the type of stuff that we’re all creating together, it brings the whole show into place. It’s like we’re all on the same page now. From the office, to the people in the back, to the wrestlers – you can see that look in everyone’s face. They know the job they have to do now, and we all just pull together to get that done.
No one believes that there’s a quick fix, or one thing, that is going to turn all this around. We want to see what type of product we can all come up with together now, and we know it’s going to take a little bit at a time. One day and one step at a time. And we’re all in it for the long haul.”
Edwards is certainly someone the company can put a lot of stock in as they continue to grow. After making a name as a tag team competitor, there’s no doubting he’s now an established, singles star. On top of winning the Impact (then-TNA) World Heavyweight title, he also expanded his career history in 2017, when he became the first gaijin to win Pro Wrestling’s NOAH’s GHC Heavyweight title.
But all those accolades seem to be far in his rear view mirror today. Now, he’s simply in overdrive, looking to crash into Callihan at any opportunity. He says that his newfound, onscreen freedom could lead to even more violence down the road, and he relishes the opportunity to push the envelope.
“I think people are going to be excited and intrigued by everything that goes down from here,” he stated. “I’ve been saying all along that we’re looking to push the limits: Push the limits in the wrestling world, and push the limits in the TV world.”
“This is a straight up fight, this is straight up action, and you’re not going to want to miss it. Because you never really know how this is going to end.”