Johnny Swinger: New Arrivals At Slammiversary? That’s Not An Invasion, That’s An Opportunity!

It seems Johnny Swinger has a plan or two for Impact Wrestling’s huge Slammiversary event, as explained in this exclusive interview…

Johnny Swinger

All photos: Impact Wrestling

Former WCW and ECW competitor Johnny Swinger is one of the few wrestlers who can say they have competed in both the modern-day Impact Wrestling as well as the old NWA-TNA incarnation of the promotion.

And the evergreen former tag team champion will help Impact celebrate turning 18 this coming Saturday at the Slammiversary PPV.

HOW editor Liam Happe had the chance to chat with Swinger about the big event, returning to Impact last year, his man Chris Bey’s big championship opportunity and the hype surrounding some possible new arrivals debuting/returning on the show, plus much more.

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LH: This Saturday at Slammiversary, Willie Mack defends the X-Division championship against your protege, Chris Bey. However, you’ve been banned from ringside for the match.

JS: Well, as the mizarks already know, the Swing Man always has a plan. I’ve got one for Saturday, it’s being put into effect right now and I promise you I will be at Slammiversary in some way, shape or form.

LH: You’re working on a plan to circumvent this ringside ban as we speak?

JS: Yeah. It’s being executed this week. I’m not going to let my man Chris Bey down. We’ve come too far. He’s got a golden opportunity this weekend and his dreams are gonna come true. I guarantee it.

LH: When we spoke to Willie Mack here on hookedonwrestling.co.uk last month, he listed some dream opponents for the future both on and off the current Impact roster. Chris Bey’s name wasn’t mentioned once. Is that disrespectful to Chris and yourself?

JS: Absolutely! I hope he isn’t taking Chris lightly. I’ve been in the ring with Willie Mack a fair amount over the last six months and I’m not taking anything away from him, he’s very talented. But this kid Chris Bey, he’s quicker, he’s more agile, he’s got more moves, daddy. He’s ripe and he’s ready to be a champion and he’s going to be a champion come Slammiversary, there’s no doubt in my mind.

LH: The X-Division title, while no doubt prestigious today, had a cultural zeitgeist back in the mid-2000s when held by the likes of AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe. Is Chris Bey the man to take the championship to these lofty heights, should he be successful?

JS: Absolutely. Willie Mack has been a thorn in my side and I’m gonna take some credit for him becoming champion in the first place. He took direction from me to get to this position, but then his head got too big. He’s stopping short of his full potential without me, but Chris Bey has all the tools to be even better. He’s gonna take that ball and run with it on Saturday and I can see him joining that category of all-time great X-Division champions. He’s a one-of-a-kind talent, he’s got so much going for him and he’s got a long and lucrative career ahead of him.

(Ed’s note: since providing this interview, Swinger’s plans regarding Bey may have hit a snag on the go-home Impact before Slammiversary…)

LH: There has also been a series of ominous warnings on Impact television that not just one but a fleet of ‘free agents’ could be in the building at Slammiversary. As someone who will be at the arena yourself – albeit banned from ringside – is this potential invasion a cause for concern or could it perhaps be an opportunity to bolster your managerial ranks beyond Chris Bey?

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JS: This is a case of Impact Wrestling being a hot promotion right now, while at the same time a bunch of hot free agents are available and they want a piece of the action. Impact is the place to go, man. It’s gonna be a PPV like no other. We’re all wondering who’s gonna be there and what they’re going to do. I don’t even know who’s behind all these videos, but I’ll be in the building and I need to see first hand who is walking through those doors. I can’t wait to see it.

LH: Will you have a few manager-client contracts drawn up, just in case?

JS: I’m always ready. When I see money, I jump on it. And I think not only could some serious money be walking through the door on Saturday but there’s some serious money already on the roster. I’ll have a plan to make the most of it and I think the mizarks will really enjoy watching us going forward to see how it all pans out.

LH: You returned to Impact last year with a distinct 1980s retro vibe to your style and persona. Were there any specific inspirations?

JS: It was really just who I was. Everything I’ve seen as a kid growing up and things I’ve seen going through the wrestling business. I put it all together and it’s created this really fun and entertaining ‘character’, as they call it now. I’m just enjoying the heck out of all of it. I’m pulling off moves nobody has seen in a long time or maybe even never seen before. I’ve been able to interact with so many members of the roster and I look forward to a lot more of that at Slammiversary and beyond.

LH: To some of those fans, Johnny Swinger has been relatively off-the-radar for much of the last decade. For those who weren’t aware, what have you been up to between 2010 and 2019?

JS: I was actually pretty busy during those years in the Southeast of the United States. It’s a hotbed of ‘old school’ professional wrestling and I was riding around and doing shows with names such as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, ‘Bullet’ Bob Armstrong, ‘Action’ Mike Jackson and Mr. Hughes. Just a whole bunch of names from when Southern wrestling drew some huge crowds, and those Southern wrestling fans are still great, they’ve just been awesome.

I haven’t missed a beat. I never went more than a week without wrestling somewhere. So even though I spent some time away from the major promotions such as Impact, I’ve been going non-stop. I’ve been a full-time wrestler from the day I started out to right now. And to this day, I still do some shows in the Southeast US during my time off from Impact. The fans are great, they still love it, and I’ve kept myself in shape all this time to do this night in, night out.

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LH: It’s funny you mention that, as there was a time when the age of 45 was considered ‘too old’ for full-time wrestling. That definitely isn’t the case today, as yourself and so many other fortysomethings continue to wrestle at a high level and look great. What would you say has been the key to this shift?

JS: I think a lot of guys have figured new ways to maintain their bodies and stay durable. Back in the day, there were only a few people who were considered exceptional talents in their 40s or even 50s. But they definitely existed. Nick Bockwinkel was AWA World Champion at the age of 52. But it wasn’t commonplace. These days, a lot more guys have been able to stay at that level for longer. They’ve endured and stuck with it and reinvented themselves when need be. And the longer you do it, the smarter you get and the smarter you work. I’m proud of what I’m achieving at 45 and I look forward to many more years.

Speaking of which, what does the future hold for Johnny Swinger?

JS: Well, my first year back at Impact has been great. I’ve been able to interact with a lot of amazing talent and I plan on continuing that, not to mention all the new talent that looks set to join us. We’ve become a real hotbed of wrestling. We’re doing unbelievably well and everybody wants to be a part of that. We’re gonna really make some money and blow this thing up as big as we can.

LH: You’re one of a select few who can say they have wrestled in the modern-day version of Impact Wrestling in the Anthem era as well as the old NWA-TNA days of the early 2000s. What would you say struck you as the most notable differences between the two eras behind the scenes?

JS: To me, they’re actually pretty similar. Quite a few of the folks who were there back then are here today, behind the scenes. And the smart people from back in the day have only grown smarter, which is showing in our product right now. There’s no substitute for experience and we have so many great minds and great producers. Everybody works together and the talent work their asses off to provide the best possible product. We’re firing on all cylinders right now. This is the most exciting thing I’ve been a part of in my entire career so far.

Impact Wrestling presents Slammiversary 2020 live on Saturday July 18 via FITE. For UK fans, the show starts at 1am on the morning of Sunday July 19. You can order the show here.

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