Passing the Test
After two years away from the spotlight, former WWE Intercontinental Champion Test has returned to the big time. Back as part of the new ECW brand, Test will be looking to make the same impact now as he did during his five-year run in WWE. However, this return is one that many critics of the industry would have never expected.
In 2004, Test suffered a neck injury that required spinal fusion surgery. Countless other Superstars, from Edge & Lita to Chris Benoit, have also undergone the same surgery; however, during his rehabilitation, Test was released from his WWE contract in November 2004.
During his time away, Test finished his recovery and began wrestling overseas. But while he did, he also had some very critical things to say about WWE’s operations. Most notably, he posted a diatribe on the Internet about how Eddie Guerrero’s name was still being tossed around months after his passing.
Of course, one of the biggest rules of thumb in sports-entertainment is “never say never,” and despite his criticism Test is once again back on the active roster. And according to the former Intercontinental Champion, both he and the WWE brass have let bygones be bygones.
“When I came back, I spoke with Vince (WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon) and everybody knows how I feel. Business is business, that’s the reality of it; wrestling is a business just like hockey or football,” he said. “Injuries happen and this is a business. Look at Steve Moore (former NHL player); Todd Bertuzzi mugged him from behind and that kid broke his neck…funny enough, in the exact same place as I did. Anyway, the guy’s no longer playing hockey and he’s not getting paid anymore. They (the Colorado Avalanche, Moore’s NHL team) let him go because he’s not bringing any money in; that’s how it is here too. I’m not going to say I was expecting (a return), but like I said business is business. I’m ready to move forward and put the past behind me.”
With so much time away, Test says that he is not just 100 percent physically, but mentally as well.
“My neck feels great. I was very lucky, I got into wrestling at a time when this business was thriving,” he said. “Even though I’ve been critical with some of the things I’ve said, I’ve always said that it was my dream to come to WWE ever since I was a little kid. No matter how things ended, if I wasn’t able to come back after my neck injury, I did always say that I had to thank Vince. No matter how I felt about being let go, I had to thank him for giving me the platform to perform on. Like I said, I got in when the business was hot and everybody was making lots of money. I was smart with my money and invested it wisely, so for the last two years I’ve just been chilling out and relaxing. I did go over to Italy for a little bit here and there, but pretty much I’ve just been keeping low and just relaxing. So now, I’m ready to go.”
This past week, Test debuted on ECW on Sci Fi with a dominant performance against Al Snow. And as he sees it, the new ECW is the right place for Test to be.
“I was always a big fan of ECW; I love the product and I love all of the old stuff,” he told me. “One Night Stand was one of the best pay-per-views I have ever seen, and I always thought that I would be a good fit here with these guys. My first week here has been a lot of fun and it has been a good fit.”
Now that’s he made it to ECW, however, Test isn’t quite sure who his first target will be.
“Coming to ECW, there are a whole slew of guys that I haven’t worked with before,” he said. “Of course, there are a few that I have worked with, but it’s like a whole new start. Rob (Van Dam) and I have had great matches, Big Show and I have had great matches, Dreamer and I have had great matches. Some of the other guys, like Little Guido or Stevie Richards who I haven’t face, I’m looking forward to taking them on too.”
But just like everyone else, Test’s ultimate goal is to become ECW Champion.
“I’ve always seen myself as a main eventer; you can call that cocky or arrogant or whatever,” he said. “People have their own opinion, and I know I’m not the most liked person on the internet; that’s fine, it doesn’t really bother me because people have the right to their own opinion. I was young the fist time around and I really didn’t know too much about the business. I wish I knew then what I know now, and now that I have this opportunity I’m going to take the ball and run with it.”
Win, lose or draw, his Sci Fi debut proves that Test will be a force to be reckoned with in ECW. But above all, he feels like he is finally home once again.
“To be honest it feels like I never left. I’ve been gone for two years and it doesn’t feel like it. It’s good to be back.”