And that’s not least because after striding around TNA as if he owned the place (well, he kind of did in character as Xplosion’s commissioner) he then disappeared off our screens, having flitted in and out of storyline (which they tried to explain away in the angle as him having ‘try-outs’ for Chelsea. Bless Americans, they really don’t get how English soccer works).
But he was used in the authority role only because he wasn’t cleared for in-ring work. “They tried to use me in the commissioner role until I was ready to be used as a wrestler on the show,” he explains. “I appreciated it.”
Obviously, with any kind of mysterious absence, the internet smarks begin to speculate on the reasons why – so given the opportunity to interview McGuinness, that had to be near the top of the list of questions to ask. Yet he’s maintained his privacy for long enough now that he isn’t about to give that up. “I couldn’t wrestle for a while but am fully cleared to wrestle now,” he says carefully. “People like to gossip a lot online when they have little better to do with their time.”
Fair enough. And now he is cleared to wrestle, he’s announced his retirement, and a number of in-ring dates across America and in Europe on his farewell tour. Again, the cynics have wondered whether this is a genuine retirement or a work. McGuinness is unequivocal. “This is genuinely a retirement tour, why would I work anyone?” he asks, seemingly bemused at the scepticism.
Anyone with tickets to these final dates can “expect to see some great matches, especially nostalgic because it’ll be the last time they can get to see me wrestle,” he says.
McGuinness is perhaps best known for his work in Ring of Honor, where he feuded with Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli – both now WWE talent under their new ring names Daniel Bryan and Antonio Cesaro. Does he regret never having the chance to work on the biggest pro wrestling stage of them all? “I absolutely regret not getting the chance to work there. It will perhaps be the biggest, and perhaps unfairest, disappointment in my career.”
So what are his plans for the future? He’s a man with an eclectic range of talents – his Twitter bio describes him as “writer, magician, actor, philanthropist, part time dyslexic, explorer” – but he’s been most recently seen as a commentator back in ROH. “Yep, I see commentary as a definite direction in my future,” he agrees. “ROH is a great place for me to learn from guys like Kevin Kelly and Jim Cornette and be around so many of the people I like in the business.”
Nigel McGuinness’s final in-ring dates:
November 25: Fight Club Pro, Wolverhampton, England
November 26: WXW, Oberhausen, Germany
November 27: IPW, Sittingbourne, England
December 3: PCW, Preston, England
December 4: NGW Wrestling, Hull, England
December 9: RCA, Widnes, England
December 10: Southside Wrestling, Nottingham, England
December 17: APWA, Clarksburg, West Virginia