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Pro wrestler moonlighting on 'Survivor'

Johnny Impact, who will challenge for the IMPACT

Johnny Impact, who will challenge for the IMPACT World Championship on Sunday, Oct. 14, at Bound For Glory in New York City. Credit: IMPACT Wrestling

For more than 15 years, wrestling fans have watched John Hennigan on their television screens, often adorned in extravagant fur coats and glimmering championship belts. But it’s been a far-less glamorous Hennigan TV viewers have seen as of late.

Hennigan, who will compete in the main event of Impact Wrestling’s Bound for Glory event this Sunday, is among the 20 castaways on "Survivor," the iconic CBS reality series that’s now in its 37th season.

 “The freezing, the starving and the getting eaten by bugs, I wouldn’t say necessarily that I enjoyed that specifically, but I like challenging myself,” said Hennigan, who had to carefully navigate his celebrity as a member of the “Goliath” tribe. “I was worried about it somewhat, but ultimately decided . . . it’s a worse thing if you go on 'Survivor' and hide who you are and make up a weird story, because, almost inevitably, everybody gets caught. And if you get caught in a lie about something like that, you put a target on your back. There’s so much deception and social politicking going on . . . it seems like an unnecessarily layer of complexity.”

Hennigan may feel more at home on Sunday night, when he challenges world champion Austin Aries at Bound for Glory, Impact’s biggest pay per view event of the year, which this year takes place at the sold-out Melrose Ballroom in Astoria, Queens. 

Hennigan, who joined Impact last year, said he feels the company has “turned a corner” in recent months, after carrying around a negative stigma for years. Under new owners, Toronto-based Anthem Sports and Entertainment, and a new creative team, Impact has “shaken off” some of the baggage from when it was known as Total Nonstop Action, or TNA, said Hennigan, who called the Impact locker room the “right mix” of veterans, like himself, international stars, like Pentagon Jr., and “young lions,” like Sami Callihan.

“The Impact roster, in my opinion, we all have chips on our shoulders, in a good way, because we feel like, together, we’re proving that Impact isn’t what people thought Impact was just a few years ago,” Hennigan said. “This is a new company, a new roster, and Bound for Glory . . . I think will speak for itself.”

And although Hennigan acknowledges that his "Survivor" stint has boosted his social media numbers, he doesn’t necessarily expect his cheering section to be any louder Sunday night because of his exposure on the hit show.

“I think people who are fans of me are fans of me because of wrestling, and reality TV doesn’t really give me the kind of attention that I want,” Hennigan said. “Of course, if I won a million bucks, it’d be great.”

New York Sports