Heath finally made his return to IMPACT Wrestling, but his path back to the ring wasn’t an easy one.
Last week, Heath saved Rhino from an attack by Violent By Design, and the September 30 return marked his first appearance on television in almost a full year. Heath last competed in the Call Your Shot Gauntlet match at Bound For Glory 2020, and ultimately walked away from that match with what was originally believed to be “only” a sports hernia injury. As he later found out, Heath’s injuries were more severe than when they were first diagnosed, and it ultimately led to him having surgery to fix everything in March.
Heath spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard about his road back to IMPACT Wrestling, a run that only totaled two months before he got injured at Bound For Glory. Heath not only returns to the ring for the first time in nearly a year, but he also hadn’t done an event with fans either due to the pandemic. He spoke about what the past year has been like and said he had a lot of good support that helped him get back to where he needs to be.
“It was so crazy, and I always joke around with the boys and production people and I always tell them last year that when IMPACT signed me, it was probably the worst investment that they ever made. [laughs] Just because I only did a handful of shows with them then we talked out a deal that I was happy with, they were happy with,” Heath said. “I literally signed the deal, then a few hours later at Bound For Glory, I got hurt and it was just done. I’m just like, ‘oh sh-t, you’ve got to be kidding me!’
“But no, it felt wonderful being back because it’s been a long road this past year, with how the world is today and with me having five surgeries at once. So, it was a rollercoaster of hell for me this year,” he explained, “but hard work pays off and I’m just blessed and glad that I have a good support team that helped me through everything or I would’ve lost my damn mind.”
Heath previously announced he was having surgery to repair multiple injuries, which included a torn abductor muscle, multiple abdomen wall tears and pubic bone hernias. After competing at Bound For Glory, Heath appeared on a livestream autograph signing and said he was good to go and didn’t think he’d miss too much time. Only later did he find out how serious his injuries were, and he walked WrestleZone through the diagnosis and recovery process.
“So, I got hurt at Bound For Glory then next thing you know, I went to [TriStar Skyline Medical Center], went there and they just told me that I had a hernia, like ‘Oh, you just have a hernia, you’ll be back in a month.’ I’m like, ‘OK shoot, that’s easy.’ But them just saying that’s a hernia, well then why’s my leg turning every color of the rainbow and black and brown and purple? My whole left leg looked like it got frostbite and was about to fall off,” he explained.
“They told me to take a month off, so I was just chilling at the house for a month, but it just kept getting worse so I went to a hernia specialist,” Heath explained, “and the hernia specialist said ‘your rectus muscle is ripped also.’ He also said ‘your hernia is a sports hernia and I don’t fix those, you need to find a hernia doctor that would fix it.’ He didn’t even do any scans or anything, so that was a wash for me and then I went to another doctor and with all this COVID stuff going on, it takes even longer for you to get in and on top of that it was around Halloween, then Thanksgiving then Christmas then New Years, so there was just a lot of sh-t going on.
— HEATHXXII (@HEATHXXII) October 3, 2021
“So after three doctors, finally I got to see Dr. Novick at Duke [Medical in Durham, North Carolina] and he literally had [ordered] an MRI and he told me, ‘you’ve got two hernias, one on the left side of your pelvic bone and one on the right side of your pelvic bone, your rectus muscle is completely ripped off the bone, your abductor muscle is shredded,’” Heath noted, “and then he said that he pretty much could stick three fingers through the holes that were in my lower abdomen area to where he had to get three pieces of mesh to put there just to keep that together. Pretty much, he said that there’s so much scar tissue there where it was one of those things where I had injuries years before, but just never knew, never felt it. I guess me getting in there and hitting my neckbreaker [finisher] and doing my leg lariats, stuff I’ve done over the years, it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“I had two different types [of hernia] on my pubic bone, rectus muscle completely gone and still don’t have it, the abductor muscle had to get re-sutured back,” Heath said, “and then I have three pieces of mesh in my lower abdomen wall just to hold my sh-t together.”
After noting the common misconception that there’s only one type of hernia, Heath said he was previously walking as if he’d been in a car wreck or like he was an 80-year-old man. Heath said he doesn’t think he’ll ever be 100% again after the injuries, but said his “75% health is better than most guy’s 100%” and he’ll take it. He then talked about how his training has progressed after surgery and said he put in the work to get back to IMPACT Wrestling.
“My training now is completely different than anything that I’ve ever done. I’ve been going to Architect Sports down in Charlotte [North Carolina] and I have these two girls, Courtney and Katie and they put me through it, man… they really put me back together. I owe them everything. If I didn’t have them, I’d probably still be out,” Heath proclaimed. “They really had patience with me and just took me in and were like, ‘C’mon, let’s fix you, let’s go.’
“I’m blessed to have both of them. And then with having my wife at home helping me out and my two little girls being there for me, and I’m getting a little emotional,” he noted, “but it’s like if you have a good group of people behind you, supporting you, you can do great things. And what was crazy is that doctor kept telling me, ‘I hope you can come back, I don’t know…’ ‘I hope, I hope, I hope…’ and I told him to stop saying ‘hope’ because I’m going to make it happen,” he said. “It’s going to happen, there ain’t no ‘hope.’ I’m 38, I can go another 10 years if I wanted to. I wouldn’t quit, you know? I just couldn’t quit.”
Heath will appear on this week’s episode of IMPACT Wrestling to address the fans. IMPACT Wrestling airs each Thursday at 8 pm EST on AXS, and on the promotion’s YouTube channel via the IMPACT Insiders subscription.
Check out our full interview at the top of this post, where Heath talks about his strained relationship with Rhino, why fans should get behind him using a mononym and more.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) October 3, 2021