Heading into his first TNA pay-per-view, “Lockdown,” Davey Richards is determined to show fans how good he and his longtime tag team partner, Eddie Edwards, really are. And, in time, he hopes WWE management sees that as well.
"It is a personal goal of mine and Eddie to make them feel stupid for passing on us," Richards, 31, said. "We want to make them realize, 'You've got some great tag teams, but they're not quite The Wolves.’"
The Wolves will team with MVP and Jeff Hardy this Sunday night to take on the quartet of Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and the Bromans in a Lethal Lockdown cage match.
Although the former Ring of Honor heavyweight champion and two-time tag team title holder has for years flirted with retirement, Richards said he has found a comfortable home in TNA.
"It's one of those things where I just had to find the kind of wrestling that I want to do," said Richards, who had become turned off by the excessive travel demands of the sport before joining TNA in January. "This opportunity with TNA came along, and it just worked out perfectly."
But if things had worked a little differently, fans could have been watching Richards and Edwards Thursday nights on “NXT” instead of “Impact.” The Wolves had a brief tryout in WWE's developmental system, and even appeared on television in a losing effort against NXT tag team champs the Ascension.
Richards said that although NXT mastermind Triple H and the other WWE trainers were "perfectly nice," the experience was, ultimately, not a fun one. It ended when Richards received an email from WWE talent development director Canyon Cemen, relaying a message from Triple-H that said, according to Richards, "Our work was good enough to be on TV, but he already had a lot of Daveys and Eddies."
Richards took it as confirmation that WWE saw all former independent wrestling sensations, including Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins, "in the same vein."
"That place is so weird, man. It gave me the creeps," Richards said. "Everyone's just walking around on egg shells. It's just bubble."
It was a blessing in disguise, says Richards, who was uneasy about having to uproot his life -- including a fiancé and a budding career as a paramedic -- to move to Florida and train in NXT.
"Personally, I wanted to go to TNA anyway. I was trying to convince Eddie the entire time," Edwards said. "After [WWE] told us they were not going ahead with the rest of the tryout, we had a deal signed with [TNA] within 20 minutes."
Richards said that although some fans think "it's the cool thing to do to hate TNA," he was thoroughly impressed with the company from his first meeting with TNA president Dixie Carter, who he said was a fan of the Wolves' work. He was also excited to work alongside respected ring veterans like Aries, Christopher Daniels and Kurt Angle.
"[TNA's] reputation was not as important as my personal experience dealing with things," Richards said. "I don't know how things were there before I got there, but ever since we walked into Huntsville, we've been treated with nothing but respect. It's been a very positive atmosphere."
Making that atmosphere even better, Richards said, is TNA's heightened focus in recent months on creating new stars. Coming from Ring of Honor, where Richards admits he had developed a "screw this" attitude in his final months, he said it was refreshing to be on the same page as management.
"We feel like we're part of something special -- kind of like a rebirth," Richards said. "It's the first time in a really long time that I feel proud to be part of a company."