June 26, 2011, will forever be etched in the memory of Eddie Edwards.
Whilst experiencing the ultimate despair of losing the Ring of Honor World championship; Edwards couldn’t help but join in the post-match celebrations which took place for his friend and tag team partner Davey Richards, who had just defeated him minutes earlier to claim his first reign with the title.
This Friday, live from the Manhattan Center in New York City, Edwards gets his opportunity to take back the championship, when he squares off against his American Wolves tag team partner in what can only be described as one of the most eagerly anticipated contests in Ring of Honor history.
“I lost the title at Best in the World, which sucked, but I can honestly say if there was anyone I wouldn’t mind losing it to, it’s Davey,” Edwards told SLAM! Wrestling. “I know what winning the championship meant to him, I know how hard it’s been for him with everything he has gone through, not just in professional wrestling but in his personal life as well.
“However I’m not going to lie, it was bittersweet to be a part of his celebrations though. I worked hard to get that title and obviously I didn’t want to lose it but Davey was the better man that day.
“Going out there and proving you’re the best is what wrestling is all about, the match we had was a war and Davey’s celebration shows just how much winning the World Championship means to us as performers, but speaking from experience, it truly sucks when you lose the title.”
Edwards looks back at the battle in June and is honest enough to admit what he lacked that day and where he needs to improve at Final Battle.
“I wasn’t prepared mentally to take that extra step to do absolutely everything I had to do to win, unlike Davey.
“Maybe he wanted it more. Maybe he wanted the victory more at that time because he was OK with kicking me in the head to get that win, something I wasn’t prepared to do.
“It’s hard going into a match when you look across the ring and it’s your partner, your brother, and I think the fact that it was Davey, I let it get to me last time, this time it will be different though. I know where I went wrong, I can’t feel like that again. I didn’t take the chance to put him away, this time I will.”
Edwards continued. “I think I’ve learned from my mistakes, our friendship isn’t as strong as the last time we went into battle against each other, it’s not because we hate each other or anything like that — it’s all about competition. It’s that drive for us to prove to one another and the world, who the better man is.
“But with our relationship being a little rocky right now, I think that can play into this match and actually help me this time. I’m sure this match will be brutal if not more than the first one, which is fine with me as I know it is with Davey.
“I have tonnes and tonnes of respect for Davey, but I have to put this aside for this match.”
In what looks like a shrewd move by Edwards, he has decided to counter Richards’ excellent Mixed Martial Arts style offense by acquiring the leadership and skills of MMA legend and former Ultimate Fighting Championship star Dan “The Beast” Severn.
Edwards believes that having the former two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion in his corner has helped eradicate the mistakes he made when he lost the title at Best in the World.
“What Severn has been teaching me is that winning and holding onto titles is not just about being physically prepared and knowing different techniques, but you have to gain that mental aspect as well.
“While I’m in the ring I need to take the opportunity when I get it, no matter who the opponent is. I need to seize the moment; if I see a weakness I must exploit it. I need to do whatever I need to win, after the match we can shake hands or whatever, but when I’m in the ring it’s about beating that other guy.
“He’s made me more ruthless. If I see an opening or a weakness on Davey, I’m going to capitalize. That’s what I need to do and I know this.
“Training with Dan has been great, it has improved my arsenal, it’s improved my training techniques and methods, which I think are going to be a really big help against a guy like Davey. But what I can also do with Dan being out there is I can seek him for advice if needed, that’s what he’s there for.”
Being World champion is a feeling that Edwards wants again, realizing that while winning the championship is hard, keeping the title is without doubt more of a struggle.
Looking back at when he won the championship, defeating Roderick Strong at Manhattan Mayhem IV in March, Edwards now sees clearly the contrast of emotions between the joy of winning and the despair of losing the ROH World championship.
“Winning the title was amazing, the whole atmosphere when I won in the Manhattan Center just blew my mind and the way the crowd reacted was awesome. I could feel the ring shaking; it was one of the best moments of my life, I never thought it would happen.
“But now here I am today, a Triple Crown winner in ROH who has had the World title before, stepping into this match with a chance to win it again.
“I know what it takes to win the title and I also know how it feels to lose it, it’s the worst feeling there is but winning it and to have that World title in your arms is incredible and what I need to feel again.
“Winning that title shows you’re the best, it symbolizes you’re the best in Ring of Honor. It sounds clichéd but I have to use the saying it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I want that title back and I want a long reign to go with it.
“Hopefully, this time in New York City, I’ll be the one winning and having a post-match speech, not Davey.”
Ring of Honor: Final Battle available on iPPV on Friday, December 23rd. See the Ring of Honor website for more info.