Bound for Glory is Total Nonstop Action Wrestling‘s biggest pay-per-view of the year, and the TNA World Heavyweight Championship is the company’s grandest prize. Taking place at Cabarrus Arena in Concord, N.C. Oct. 4, this year’s Bound for Glory is headlined by Ethan Carter III defending his Championship against Drew Galloway. Wrestling with Pop Culture recently got to take part in a conference call with Carter and Galloway, prior to last Wednesday’s airing of Impact Wrestling, where it was revealed that Matt Hardy will also be involved in the match and Jeff Hardy will be the special guest referee. As both competitors prepare for what could become the biggest match of their careers, here are highlights from that call.
Bound for Glory is the biggest show of the year for TNA and the spotlight will be on each of you to set the stage going into 2016. If you’re able to get people talking about the wrestling in the ring as opposed to the extraneous stuff outside of your control, it could be a positive thing for TNA moving forward. What kind of pressure does that put on each of you personally and professionally? Is it pressure you welcome?
Carter: Well, seeing as I am the World Heavyweight Champion, I feel no pressure because I am completely confident in my abilities and the abilities of my opponent to deliver a match for the ages. It’s our opportunity. It’s our company now and we’re at the forefront. We’re the guys that want it the most and the guys that are going to do it the best. I feel nothing but confidence.
Galloway: That was a heck of an answer from the champ, but I pretty much feel exactly the same. You’ve got a couple of guys that love this business. When I was gone from WWE, I ran out of the gates on the independent scene, made my way to TNA and was given an opportunity. That’s what we want. We don’t feel pressure, we feel opportunity. Trust me, we’ll both deliver. We’re excited about it and fired up. This is the match of our lifetime and it’s a big match for TNA.
One of Carter’s first title defenses after winning the title from Kurt Angle was against Galloway. What have you learned about each other as opponents and how to plan on being victorious on Sunday.
Galloway: What I learned in my first opportunity at the World title, as well as one of EC3’s first defenses, is that not only is he a complete entertainer, but in the ring he can get it done as well. You don’t know what somebody can truly do in the ring until you get in there with them. You can watch, you can assume and you can guess, especially if you’re a performer yourself. But until you’re in the ring with somebody, you don’t know what somebody can bring. He can bring it just as well in the ring as he can outside the ring.
Coming into this match, I’ve been training hard. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been in Australia, the U.K., darting all over the place having some hard-hitting matches and it’s all in preparation for the biggest match of my life. I’m coming in ready and I know he’s coming in ready. We guarantee one hell of a fight, never mind a wrestling match.
Carter: I’ve been working really hard myself preparing for this match. I’ve been taking a lot of naps, getting a lot of massages and just focusing on keeping my body in shape. As far as the hard-hitting matches, maybe not so much across the world like Drew’s doing, but that’s because I don’t need to do that. I am the World Heavyweight Champion. Last time I faced Drew Galloway, I’ll be honest, I caught a break with the interference of Eli Drake. But this is a different story, this is a different show. This is Bound for Glory and this is the biggest match of the year for TNA and there will be no shenanigans of that nature. This will be hard hitting, this will be an epic contest and I always deliver when the lights are the brightest.
Do you expect Sunday’s match to be a mat classic, an all-out brawl or maybe a little bit of both?
Carter: I see it being both. I can see us feeling each other out and a mat classic developing. I can see the over aggressiveness in a mistake-prone Drew Galloway trying to take advantage by making it a brawl. I can see myself retaining the title with one of my many finishers, whether it’s the one percenter, the schoolboy or the sunset flip.
Galloway: After 30 years of aggression, 15 years as a wrestler, I think forward is the right direction for my aggression. I can predict we’re going to go out there and give you a little bit of everything, all the best parts of professional wrestling. There’s going to be a little bit of comedy, there’s going to be aggression, there’s going to be some big near falls and there’s going to be a big finish. I guarantee it’s going to incorporate every single thing everybody loves about professional wrestling. We’re going all out and we’re leaving it all out there. Expect some very bad bumps, as well.
Carter: You’re hard pressed in this industry to find a more aggressive guy than Drew. It’s going to be physical and I’m prepared for it. I’m Teflon, I’m indestructible, I’m unpinnable, unbreakable, unbeatable, undefeated, undisputed. So, either way – mat classic, all-out fight – it’s going to be great.
Was there a feeling of vindication when you won the World Heavyweight Championship and received such a positive response when that show aired?
Carter: There was an immediate sense of vindication. But that sense of vindication immediately left me because I knew that now the hard work begins. Being chased is harder than the chase. Yes, there was vindication. But I could only rest on that success for a short time before I moved on to the next thing, and that’s becoming the greatest TNA Champion of all time.
TNA has been in a rebuilding period since you came to the company. What has that experience been like for you?
Galloway: I had no goals of being back on American television so quickly. I had been gone from WWE for six or seven months and was really making a name for myself on the underground. I was happy and didn’t want to be back on TV just yet. Then I spoke with Big [John Gaburick, executive vice president of creative & talent relations] and he made it clear to me they were going in a different direction and going to give some younger guys an opportunity to rebuild and we want you to be part of that. I knew it was a good bunch of guys and when I came in and saw how dedicated, how passionate and how good everybody was, I knew there was no way this was not going to work. It was a great environment, a great television show, the backstage staff was great, the bosses were great, the boys were amazing and everybody gets it done in the ring. To be the focal point of that with EC3, somebody I’ve known for so many years, is a very cool thing to be a part of.
Earlier this year you said you wanted to emulate Ric Flair and be a traveling champion. Have you discussed with Dixie taking that title and touring across the world?
Galloway: I’ve not discussed it with management, but I’ve certainly discussed it with myself over the past year now. I’ve always had this clear plan in my head of being a professional wrestler who is able to travel the world, wrestle as myself, talk as myself. I’ve been able to do it everywhere, especially in TNA. I’ve had the opportunity to compete for all these titles and have been fortunate enough to win the ICW title, the SWA title, the Danish title, the Australian title, the Evolve title, the Dragon Gate title… But the ultimate goal has been the TNA title and my goal is to be the first traveling champion since Ric Flair. If I’m able to win that TNA title and take it across the world, I’m pretty sure that’s as close as it’s going to come to emulating somebody like Flair.
Carter: What Drew is saying is good in theory, but it’s also something I’m currently doing as the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. I don’t know if people realize I am traveling to all sorts of illustrious places worldwide like Boise, Idaho, Detroit, Michigan and Omaha, Nebraska. I’m defending the World title there against some of the best competition those local podunk promotions have. I’m also a traveling World Champion.
Speaking of Ric Flair, Bound for Glory is being held in what is commonly known to wrestling fans as Flair Country. What role do you think the location and audience will play in your match, being that Charlotte is so rich in wrestling history?
Galloway: There are a few places in America with rich wrestling history and Charlotte is one of them. Everybody remembers, or for the younger kids watching today their parents and grandparents are telling them, that they appreciate wrestling. This is going to be a show. Don’t expect much talking, don’t expect many segments being dragged out, just expect 100 percent wrestling, especially from our match. This is a place that expects the best you can possibly give in the ring, the highest quality. And we’re going to give them every single possible thing we can give.
Carter: Being in Flair Country, I’ll be throwing a lot of chops, I’ll be poking a lot of eyes, I’ll be raking a lot of backs and I guaran-damn-tee I’ll go to that top rope and attempt a double ax handle. But I will not get thrown off. I will hit it because I am the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and I always hit my double ax handle.
Galloway: You just told me your entire offense. Not very smart, Champ.
Looking past Bound for Glory, TNA has a few shows in Louisianna and Mississippi as part of the Hardcore Halloween Tour in late October and early November. Then you’re off to the United Kingdom for the Maximum Impact events in January. Given TNA’s popularity in the U.K., and the fact that these events will be your first opportunity to defend the TNA title outside the United States, what will it mean to you to be representing the company as the Champion at these shows?
Carter: First of all, thanks for the plug for the Hardcore Halloween Tour. That is going to be a great series of live events that only TNA Impact Wrestling can bring to you live. As far as going to England as the World Heavyweight Champion, that is fully my intention to represent this brand globally and go to one of our hottest markets as the Champion. Last year was interesting because not only did I become the megastar that I am in that standout performance against Rockstar Spud, but Drew Galloway also debuted. Now here we are at Bound for Glory getting ready to lock horns and do battle to see who truly wants it the most. When we go over to England, I fully intend on still being the TNA World Heavyweight Champion and I fully intend on never losing the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Galloway: It is coming up on a year in the making and both of us have made some huge strides. That’s my biggest goal is for Drew Galloway to come home as the Champion. The U.K. is my home market and one of our strongest markets, and it’s the wildest and best wrestling fans. I travel the world and see all the different scenes and the U.K. is on fire right now. Everybody always asks me, “What is it about the U.K. that makes [the fans] different?” I always explain to them that it’s like a soccer crowd. If you’ve ever been to a professional American sport, somebody will stand up and shout something and people will give him a look of disgust. In soccer back home, if you’re not standing up and shouting something you’re getting your ass kicked. You’ve got to be loud and crazy, making noise the entire show, doing chants the entire show, getting into and being passionate. That’s the kind of fans we’ve got coming to these shows. If I come home the Champion in front of all these wild, crazy maniacs it will be the greatest thing ever. If I don’t come home the Champion in front of these wild, crazy maniacs, they may just bottle me anyway.
Carter: I’m actually fearing my life going back now. Thank you for that, Drew.
Both of you had careers in WWE and have had bigger careers in TNA. How do you feel you’ve grown as wrestlers since coming to TNA?
Carter: Being a wrestler, going through the system, striving, trying, knocking on different doors, calling different people, trying to make things happen and it never really works out – when I came over to TNA, it all kind of came into place. They believed in my talents and let me develop as a character. I couldn’t be happier because without that forum, I’d just be a forgotten casualty in the wrestling business. Now I’m the World Heavyweight Champion and the hottest act going today.
Galloway: I’ve been wrestling since I was 15. I was just finishing university when I got signed to come to America. I honestly didn’t have a plan. I had a criminology degree and would have probably started a regular job. But I’ve never had a regular job. I’ve always been a wrestler. Luckily I got signed and came to America when I had just turned 22. I was right on TV, grew up here, developed here, learned the American style (it’s a very different style over in Europe) and grew as a person and as a wrestler. When I got the opportunities to showcase what I could do, perhaps I wasn’t so ready when I was younger. Thankfully, once I was away from WWE – they’re the reason I was able to get booked everywhere, I’ll never knock WWE or anybody there – it was up to me to reinvent myself because so many guys leave the company, like EC3 mentioned, and they’re forgotten about. We’re just not like that, we’re not built like everybody else. We’re the kind of guys that go out and say, “Screw that!” We’re going to kick the doors down, we’re going to make people notice us because we believe in ourselves, we believe in our talents, we’ve been taught the right way, learned the right way, we’ve listened and we’ve pushed past because of ourselves. Thankfully TNA has given us the platform to show the world what we’re both capable of.
Ethan, you debuted at Bound for Glory two years ago. Drew, you debuted in Glasgow on the U.K. tour earlier this year. How does it feel to be headlining TNA’s biggest show of the year within such a short timeframe?
Carter: For me, two years since my debut, this is exactly where I expected myself to be. As I said earlier, I feel a sense of vindication. But I also feel a sense of responsibility to deliver. I’ve been given this opportunity and I intend to live up to it every time I step into the ring. I intend to work the hardest, always deliver, be awesome, be EC3, be the Champ.
Galloway: For myself, it was a big deal for me to wrestle. That’s what was going to make me happy coming off the run I had. All I wanted to do was wrestle. I had the opportunity to be Drew Galloway – I would never have come in under any funny name or anything like that. I was always going to be Drew Galloway no matter where I go. If you let me wrestle and be myself, I don’t care where I am on the show. Inevitably, you want to work your way up. If what you’re doing is getting people’s attention and you know you are deserving of the opportunity, that’s very cool for me. This is my life’s work and all I want to do is be a professional wrestler. Getting this opportunity to do what I love…
Carter: This World Heavyweight title is my life’s work and I just want to commend Drew, before I defeat him. It’s outstanding what can happen when a talent is allowed to be himself and is given an opportunity to get by on his own merits and succeed. It’s commendable for Drew to come over here and do just that.