Shawn Spears has opened up about how Blood & Guts will “change” him, why it shouldn’t be compared to WarGames, and his journey to the AEW main event!
Speaking with Inside The Ropes‘ Kenny McIntosh, The Pinnacle’s Shawn Spears previewed one of the most hotly-anticipated matches in recent years in AEW’s Blood & Guts, opened up about the magnitude of the occasion, and just what it means for him, his career and The Pinnacle.
“Tonight’s going to be huge, and I know that we were supposed to kind of do it a little bit before, so we apologise to New Jersey. We know that’s where it was set to kind of take place the first time but for me, selfishly, kind of a blessing in disguise – because I get to be a part of this very first type of match here in AEW.”
The Chairman has made a big impression in a short space of time in All Elite Wrestling, whether it be the infamous Cody chair shot, being paired with Tully Blanchard, “leaving” the company or returning during Blanchard’s legendary comeback match – not to mention an entire career previous as Tye Dillinger in WWE and on the indies – but Blood & Guts is very special for Spears.
“Where does it rank? I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of some pretty cool moments in professional wrestling in my career for almost 20 years now so this is right up there with anything else and for a variety of reasons. One, you know, I’m standing across the ring from guys like Chris Jericho, from guys that I grew up kind of watching and, being another Canadian, he kind of set the path for guys like me and many others. So that’s huge.
Spears continued, noting the rise from “nowhere” into the hottest angle in professional wrestling – and the pressure that comes with it.
“Also being a part of arguably the hottest angle right now in professional wrestling. So from kind of coming out of nowhere into this big, you know, The Pinnacle versus The Inner Circle, and it’s been as heated as it possibly can get. And now you’re going to stick these ten guys inside of two rings engulfed by a giant massive cage where, you know, the underlining theme is going to be violence. It’s exciting. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s you know, there’s a million things going on. And as time clicks down, I’m watching the clock. Time is ticking down to showtime, those those nerves, those that excitement that, you know, it’s only going to build. It’s only going to build through much like this.”
Blood & Guts, of course, has drawn comparisons to WarGames. While the recent incarnation of the match in NXT – which aired on the same nights as AEW’s flagship programme until recently – has had an open-top set of cages, Shawn Spears says the audience may not have ever seen the original WarGames matches – but that All Elite Wrestling will be paying homage to WCW with the closed-top “cell” structure.
“Yeah, so I’m not even sure and I was thinking about this the other day, I’m not sure how many people nowadays, our general audience nowadays, has even seen some of the original WarGames matches. I don’t know if they’ve gone back that far. I think what they’re then most accustomed to is what they’ve seen in recent times with the two cages and the open cages, and there’s tables and there’s all this, trash cans, and there’s all these extra things coming into play. What we love about what we’re doing in AEW is we are tipping our hat to history. We are going the old school cage. There’s going to be a top on it. There’s not going to be a lot of room for tables, and a lot of room for trashcans and a lot of room for all this. We’re going back to the original style of the original WarGames-type scenario, which is brutally exciting, but it’s also brutally violent.”
Spears noted that less is more when it comes to “props” in such a brutal match, suggesting that “feet and fists” may cause more damage than tables and trash cans.
“When you take away all those prop elements, you’ve only got a couple of things left, man, and that’s your feet and your fists – so when you have two factions, one led by Jericho, and then you have The Pinnacle on the other side, all vying for that top spot in the company, you know, guys are going to go above and beyond to make sure that they walk out the winner.”
Spears added that this is the first “high-pressure situation” he’s been in during his AEW tenure, but that he’s no stranger to performing against all odds across his career.
“I work best under pressure. That’s not very well known because I haven’t been in a pressure situation in AEW. until now. But I always perform the best when the rope is pulled to its tightest point, so to speak. So I’m not exactly feeling a great deal of pressure because I have absolute faith in not only my ability, but the ability of my teammates. When you’re talking about a guy like MJF and Wardlow, when you’re talking about one of the greatest tag teams of all time, in my opinion, FTR… You know, whatever I’m worried about, I know they’re going to cover it so and vice-versa. So going into this, I think it’s more of an excitement thing in terms of what we’re going to deliver on.”
For wrestling fans who consume every second of content available to them, their most memorable Shawn Spears moment likely is from 2017 – as Tye Dillinger in the Royal Rumble. While it was only a cameo, Spears definitely made the most of his minutes – and that effort pays dividends as Spears states he’ll carry them for the rest of his life.
“That moment at 2017 at the Rumble, I’m going to carry that for the rest of my life, not because it was just a cool moment for me to come out in front of 50,000-plus people and have them all, you know, having a great time. It’s because it was about the collective feeling that everybody was in on it, you know what I mean? Like, I haven’t talked about it too much but, as the clock was counting down backstage and I was about to go through the curtain, there was a lot of talent in gorilla at that night at the Royal Rumble and as [the clock ticked] ten, nine… They all started clapping because a lot of them had knew my story and they knew what I’d been through up until that moment. Things like that, I’m going to carry with me forever. Do you know what I mean? So it was just a beautiful moment and a memory that I’m going to hopefully remember when I’m 70.”
Spears is under no illusions, though, Blood & Guts will also live with him forever – but likely for very different reasons, as The Chairman believes everyone will “lose a part of themselves” in such a brutal encounter.
“We fast forward to AEW, we fast forward to tonight, this is going to be a completely different kind of match in terms of brutality, in terms of – oh, God – just the the fight for survival that and a whole different kind of feeling, I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life, because this is going to affect me one way or the other. I’m not going to come out the same way I’m going in. I’m going to lose a part of myself, as I assume everybody in that match is going to lose a part of themselves tonight. So, you know, hopefully I’m in… Or at least have the time afterwards to recoup and get back to one piece.”
Blood & Guts might be the final chapter of The Inner Circle vs The Pinnacle, but Spears is looking beyond and to creating more memories.
“Hopefully I’ll be in a position to, again, create another memory that’s going to stick with me and hopefully the audience for years to come. So full circle, not necessarily, but I believe we’re still we’re still moving, man. Like, that’s all I do. I keep moving forward. Luckily, I’m in this position tonight at the pinnacle to make history. We will make history. We’re going to win tonight’s Blood & Guts Match. Moving forward, I only see great things for The Pinnacle.”
AEW Blood & Guts is available to watch tonight via TNT in the US and via Fite TV around the globe.