Tonight at Impact Wrestling’s Bound for Glory, Rich Swann will challenge Eric Young for the Impact World Championship. Swann made his return to the company earlier this year at Slammiversary after being on the shelf for several months with numerous gruesome leg injuries. Speaking on Busted Open w/ Tommy Dreamer, Swann revealed what was going through his mind before getting his diagnosis.
“So, after I broke everything, what was it? My ankle, my foot, my fibula, my L5, L6. After taking all that, I got to the car with one of my buddies, and then, we drove to Houston, because we had two more shows before then and I waited,” Swann said. “I was like, ‘Aw man, hopefully, this is just a bad sprain’. Even though I saw my foot just turned sideways and it was hanging.
“I waited a couple of days and finally, I went to the hospital in Dallas on that Sunday and the doctor was saying once they gave me the X-Ray, oh man, you’re definitely going to need surgery, but the thing was, they weren’t doing anything on that Sunday. They weren’t doing any surgeries really, just because of the COVID-19 and everything.”
After finally getting tests done, Swann revealed the MRIs showed he had suffered back injuries as well.
“It just really started to take its head and so, I get back home a week later to Orlando and I finally get that surgery and also, as they’re giving me the X-Ray, the MRI, my back was fractured as well,” Swann said. “So, as I’m getting this, they’re telling me, ‘Your fibula’s broken and the bone just poking right out the skin. It was such a clean break. It was almost a compound fracture, almost went through the skin.
“With the foot and everything, the right side of my ankle was lodged up into my shin, the lower part of my shin. My left side of my ankle was lodged up into my calf. The top of my foot was peeled off. It was horrible.”
While COVID guidelines urge people to reduce travel, Swann said he had to take an airplane to get home after the hospital.
“I flew home as well. So, that was another scary thing because based on the things we’ve seen…I waited a little bit too just because I was a little bit nervous about that, but I got that all fixed up and the road to recovery was something.”
Considering the severity of his injuries, the former X-Division Champion said he had his doubts about if he would ever get inside a wrestling ring again.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” Swann said. “Once I started going after the surgery to the doctor and they saw how severe it was and I showed them some of the videos of my work and some of the matches, how I would perform and he looked at me and he said, ‘Oh, fun. You think you’re going to be doing this, man, you have another thing coming’ and then, he started to get a little bit more serious. He was like, ‘You might have to think about another profession. You might not be walking right. You might literally have a limp for the rest of your life’ and to hear that, it was like, ‘Man, I go from being told that I might not be able to make it in this industry, in this land of giants to doing it and now, it’s all being taken away just from one little simple move.”
Despite his doctors advising him to look into other careers, Swann said he refused to let this injury end his pro wrestling tenure.
“So, I looked at myself in the mirror and I said I told people that I could do it before and I’m going to do it again,” Swann said. “So, I busted my a– as hard as I could. Did above and beyond what the physical limits were supposed to be to do the physical therapy and it worked out. It paid off and the doctor, he told me and he was like, ‘Wow, I just want to know what you’ve been doing kid because it looks like you’re going to be able to go.'”
The doctors helped Swann a bit, but the Baltimore native said most of his physical therapy was initiated by himself.
“For the first three months, it was all myself,” Swann said. “The doctor was giving me exercises and stuff to do and everything, but yeah, everything was closed because of the COVID-19 and that was very stressful as well because it felt like it was delaying my time.”
Since he started wrestling, Swann has utilized a very agile and high-flying style. Swann recognizes that he might be better suited with a safer style, and has considered making some changes.
“I have thought about changing it a lot,” Swann said. “Because I know I’m 5’6, 160 Ibs soaking wet, but there are some things that I can do, other than highflying that is going to change and turn people’s heads.”
While Swann has had thoughts about changing his style, his primary concern is about his stamina.
“If you can’t bring it, you can’t bring it and that’s the one thing I was scared of,” Swann said. “That I wouldn’t be able to bring it the way that I would want it to and the way that I’ve been known to and once I got that first couple of steps in that ring, it was like, ‘D–n, this is like an open book’. This is like an open book that I’ve read before. I’ll read it again. I’ll read it over and over again. Yeah, I had the butterflies, but I loved it.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open w/ Tommy Dreamer with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.