It’s #DaveyBoyWeek, the 21st installment of our (patent-pending) Juice Make Sugar Wrestler of the Week series. Each week, “Angry” Andy will spotlight a wrestler on the independent scene with some sort of connection to this week’s entry. This time, it’s a flashback to Nigel McGuinness.
It’s #DaveyBoyWeek here at Juice Make Sugar, a celebration of all things British Bulldog, while only vaguely mentioning Dynamite Kid. That’s okay, though, since most fans remember Davey Boy as THE Bulldog.
When I think of Davey Boy, a few things come to mind. His god awful tag team with Lex Luger — god awfully named the Allied Powers — sadly makes the cut. That awkward Hardcore-title-era run does too, unfortunately. But so does his tag team with Owen Hart. And his run in the Hart Foundation. And, perhaps best of all, so does his Summerslam Intercontinental title win over Bret Hart.
To me, and anyone else paying attention, Davey Boy is and likely always will be the biggest professional wrestling star to come out of the UK (sorry, Magnus.) So where do we find that on the indy circuit?
Well, right now, you don’t. But not too long ago, we had Nigel McGuinness.
McGuinness learned to wrestle at Les Thatcher’s Heartland Wrestling Association – a former developmental territory of WWE. But he rose to indy prominence in Ring of Honor, where fans took notice of his hard-hitting style and …unique hair. He gained credibility with an incredible run as ROH Pure Champion. The reign lasted 350 days, before Nigel lost a title unification match with then-ROH World Champion Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson. It’s a match that needs to be seen to be believed.
(Editor’s note: This isn’t the match Andy’s talking about, but it’s the match ROH put on YouTube. It is also awesome.)
Soon, ROH fans demanded Nigel get a shot at the World championship, and got what they wanted. On September 15, 2007, Nigel won the title. He’d hold it for 545 days. But it wasn’t an easy reign for Mr. McGuinness.
Nigel’s ROH title run was plagued by injuries. I remember going to a handful of shows where concussions, torn muscles, and a Foley-esque list of battle wounds led to major changes. Card subject to change, indeed.
Eventually, the fans turned on McGuinness. His once-popular lariat took over his arsenal, and led to match-long groans from the crowd. Fans waited for him to drop the title and move on.
WWE came calling. Despite the injuries and the pettiness of the ROH crowd, Nigel seemed like a can’t-miss star in the ‘E. The contract was on the table… and then it was gone.
Fans wondered what could have possibly gone wrong. Years later, Nigel would fill in the blanks. He couldn’t pass WWE’s rigorous physical, as a result of an injury to his arm. One of those torn muscles had healed improperly. WWE wanted him to get surgery, and allow it to heal correctly. Nigel couldn’t afford it. So the lights were turned down on a can’t-miss WWE career that never got a chance to shine.
So Nigel ended up where all WWE cast-offs seem to end up: Impact Wrestling. As awful as it sounds, it was really quite perfect. Nigel stepped into the Impact Zone as the rechristened Desmond Wolfe, and into a feud with Kurt Angle. The matches, as you should suspect, were nothing short of awesome.
Then came Hogan, and there went Wolfe. There were rumors are Hepatitis, which were later confirmed. Nigel says he’s now healthy though, so good for him. But either way, his in-ring career is done.
These days, Nigel is back in Ring of Honor, working as a color commentator and the on-camera “matchmaker.” He’s solid in the booth, but I can’t help but wonder what could have been. Watching Nigel have the type of matches he had in ROH, with guys he knew from ROH like Bryan, Punk and Seth Rollins… as fans, we really missed out.