ROH Countdown to Final Battle: An Interview with Eddie Edwards
When you think of a typical pro wrestling feud, it is usually based around two opponents who don't like each other and a story of betrayal, assault or just flat-out hatred. Then there's the main event of Ring of Honor's biggest show of the year, Final Battle.
The match will feature tag team partners colliding for the third time as ROH World Champion Davey Richards defends the title against the man he beat for it, Eddie Edwards. Instead of the two men feuding over an extreme dislike for each other, this match is about competition and the world title.
Edwards wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm pretty happy with the way it's gone," Edwards said. "It's not a matter of hatred, but a matter of who is the better man. We're bringing the wrestling to the forefront of this."
Edwards and Richards have faced off twice before in Ring of Honor. The first time was in the finals to determine the inaugural ROH Television Champion and Edwards was victorious.
Their second matchup was in June, at the Best in the World show, when Edwards, then the ROH World Champion, defended against Richards and Richards won. This is the rubber match.
Both wrestlers bring a style that features a lot of hard-hitting strikes and submissions, not unlike those in mixed martial arts. The feud has added other elements of MMA including Richards forming a training camp, Team Richards with trainer Tony Kozina and protege Kyle O'Reilly, leading up to the match at Best in the World.
Edwards has taken it to another level going into Final Battle when it was revealed that he had enlisted the services of Ultimate Fighting Championship legend Dan Severn to help him train for the match.
With interest in MMA at a high level, Edwards said he hopes his match with Richards will bring in fans of that genre.
"It's definitely a different way to go," Edwards said. "We already have ROH fans, who are the greatest fans in the world, but now we hopefully can bring in some MMA fans as well."
For Edwards, working with a legend like Severn has been a great experience.
"It's been awesome," he said. "He's a nice guy, but he's getting me prepared for more than just the physical for this match, he's showing me how MMA fighters prepare for the mental game as well."
Edwards said that Severn has gotten him more focused than ever and has helped him take the feelings of friendship he has for Richards out of the equation. For Severn, being involved in Edwards' training has brought back memories of arguably the most important feud of his MMA career.
In a recent ROH videowire, he compared the Edwards/Richards rivalry to his own against Ken Shamrock. Unfortunately, that feud ended with each man winning one fight each as there never was a third match.
Edwards was honored by the comparison.
"It's a huge compliment when you consider the fact that feud was a huge part of MMA history," he said. "It was the feud that got a lot of people into MMA and to have a rivalry you're involved in be compared to it is an honor."
Unlike Severn/Shamrock, Edwards wants to prove he is the better man by winning Edwards/Richards III. Although Edwards currently sits in the ROH record books as the only Triple Crown Champion (having held the tag titles, TV title and world title), it is Richards that gets most of the attention.
Edwards holds no ill will towards Richards for that.
"I owe a lot to Davey and my time as one-half of the American Wolves," Edwards said. "Prior to that, I couldn't really seize opportunities like I did after I won the tag titles and that enabled me to win the TV title and the world."
Edwards said it was the confidence he earned by being tag champions with Richards that kept his momentum going.
However, it was what Edwards put on the line in one particular match that really earned him the respect of the fans and made people realize he was going to be a force in Ring of Honor.
In September of 2009, Edwards wrestled Kevin Steen in an Anything Goes match in which he suffered a broken elbow. He wrestled the following night, teaming with Richards in a successful tag title defense against Steen and El Generico in the one of the most violent matches in ROH, a Ladder War.
"I just wanted to show what ROH represents, it wasn't really about what I was capable of," Edwards said. "I just wanted to represent the company the best I could."
From there, Edwards was off towards completing his Triple Crown run, a run that was recently chronicled in a Best of DVD titled Eddie Edwards: Road To The Triple Crown.
"I was pumped when I heard about it," Edwards said of the DVD. "It's something I couldn't have even imagined a few years ago."
Edwards hopes to add another great match to his collection on Saturday with Edwards/Richards III.
"Hopefully, when it's all said and done, people will look back on this as a great wrestling feud," he said. "We're going to deliver a great match, and I feel we've grown in every one."
Final Battle is live from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Friday, Dec. 23. You can watch the show live on Internet pay-per-view.
Darryn Simmons is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and were obtained first-hand.
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