Abyss – A Hall Of Fame Career Retrospective
To say somebody has given blood, sweat and tears in pursuit of something is generally a trite cliché – however in the case of “The Monster” Abyss it can be taken quite literally. Ever present in IMPACT over the last 16 years, from Justice to Joseph Park – Abyss has given every ounce of energy toward entertaining the IMPACT Wrestling audience. Volatile and versatile, dynamic and deadly, barbaric and brilliant – join us as we dive deep into Abyss’ Hall of Fame career.
Abyss appeared on the first ever NWA-TNA event in Hunstville, Alabama – then under the name Justice, Abyss is the very definition of an IMPACT original. While he was unsuccessful in that Gauntlet for the Gold match, Abyss certainly left an impression (and unleashed an early preview of his patented Black Hole Slam). Abyss would continue to hone his particular brand of brutality in Puerto Rico before “The Monster” would be unleashed in earnest on TNA in June of 2003.
Speaking on the IMPACT Wrestling Press Pass, Abyss discussed his time in Puerto Rico, “Puerto played a really integral part in me becoming a better professional wrestler and it’s something I’ll never forget. This business takes you to a lot of different places around the world and Puerto Rico was a big stop for me. I wouldn’t be at where I am today without Puerto Rico.”
Associated with the likes of Kid Kash and Goldy Locks in the Asylum Years, Abyss soon struck a fierce rivalry with “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles. The gargantuan force and earnest underdog, Abyss and Styles displayed a fierce chemistry together. Their rivalry led to an NWA World Tag Team Title reign, though both men could hardly have been called partners, before it finally culminated at Lockdown 2005.
Abyss stepped into the main event for the first time, battling Styles inside Six Sides of Steel and headlining the inaugural Lockdown event. “The main event of me and AJ Styles in the cage at the very first Lockdown is probably my favourite (match of my career)”, Abyss said. “It was the first time either one of us had ever main evented a Sunday night live PPV – the pressure was on. We always had incredible chemistry together and we tore it down.”
That match would cement Abyss’ status as one of the elite in TNA Wrestling. In 2005 Abyss struck a deal with the devil that would eventually take him to the top. He found a like minded spirit in “The Sinister Minster” James Mitchell and one of the most destructive pairings in IMPACT history was formed. Mitchell brought out the worst of Abyss in the best way possible. Mitchell helped channel all of Abyss’ focus and intensity toward a single cause. Throughout the year of 2005, through rivalries with Styles, Lance Hoyt, Raven and Sabu – Abyss took his career to another level.
At the end of 2005, Abyss and Sabu made history as their long running rivalry reached a whole new level at Turning Point 2005. The ropes were removed and replaced with barbed wire, barbed wire implements of destruction were placed all over ringside – it was promised to be a massacre. “It was the first time that no ropes barbed wire had ever been televised live on PPV in North America so we were able to do something for the first time,” Abyss remembered.
That match was so vicious that it would leave lasting marks on Abyss’ body. Both Abyss and Sabu gave such a daring, courageous performance that the audience rewarded both men with a standing ovation after the match. The iMPACT! Zone spontaneously broke into “Thank you” chants to express their appreciation for what they had just seen – both Abyss and Sabu had given a part of themselves to entertain them and that match will forever live as one of the most memorable in IMPACT history.
At Genesis 2006 Abyss finally reached the top of the mountain. He defeated Sting to capture the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and take his position as the standard bearer for the company. At a time when the roster featured industry legends like Sting, Kurt Angle, Christian Cage, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe – it speaks volumes that Abyss’ name was right there in the conversation. While his reign would only last two month, it cemented his legacy alongside people like Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Lou Thesz and Harley Race as a luminary of our industry.
2007 would see the personal side of Abyss come out. In an extended rivalry with “The Icon” Sting (which would eventually lead to Abyss and Sting forming a team), it was revealed that James Mitchell was actually the father of Abyss and Abyss had covered for his mother shooting Mitchell in the back three times. The strange and curious background of Abyss would lead to the arrival of his half brother Judas Mesias and the second Barbed Wire Massacre match.
Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time Abyss’ unusual personal life would come to the forefront – in 2012 Abyss’ personality split and thus began the Joseph Park saga. Joseph Park showed a whole different side of Abyss, gone was the bombastic weapon of mass destruction and in his place a timid lawyer more comfortable with a book than a nail bat named Janice. It showed just how flexible Abyss could be and how extensive his range was. Abyss would take the better part of two years to learn that he and the attorney-at-law were one and the same.
For years people would make one comparison when it came to Abyss – between the similarities of his mask to his propensity for competing in hardcore matches, people would always draw the comparison between Abyss and Mick Foley. It was only fitting then that when the “Hardcore Legend” arrived in TNA, he became a rival and then a mentor to Abyss. Foley would even go far as to pass his flannel shirt to Abyss, a symbolic passing of the torch from one death defying hardcore generation to another. “It was a bucket list moment for me,” Abyss responded when asked about Mick Foley, “this guy was a guy that I grew up watching and somebody to a large extent I patterned parts of my career after.”
Abyss would find another mentor in 2010 – none other than “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan, who identified Abyss as a star of the next generation. Throughout his IMPACT career Abyss has been mentored by legends like Sting, Mick Foley and Hulk Hogan – three all-time greats have championed Abyss as one of the best.
While Abyss was long known as a singles competitor, in recent years Abyss has found success in the tag team division. First teaming with fellow IMPACT original James Storm, Abyss would capture the IMPACT World Tag Team titles for the first time from The Wolves as part of The Revolution. Abyss would then pair up with Rosemary and Crazzy Steve to deal death as the macabre Decay – again capturing tag team gold. Decay would serve an integral role as the primary antagonists of the Broken Hardys Universe as Abyss would continue to help break new ground. Abyss would prove as deadly a partner as he was an individual.
Loyalty is an admirable trait. Loyalty at the expense of yourself even more so. Over the last 16 years Abyss gave all of himself to IMPACT Wrestling. Generous both with his body as a performer and his knowledge behind the scenes, Abyss formed the foundation of this company. A triple crown champion, a grand slam champion – Abyss has achieved everything imaginable in IMPACT Wrestling. His blood, sweat and tears have formed an indelible part of the very fabric of the company. It will be our great honor as he takes his rightful place in the IMPACT Hall of Fame on October 13th.
“This place has been home to me for over 16 years now and that means the world to me,” Abyss concluded. “I want to be remembered as somebody who was a good person, with a good heart – that always treated everybody with respect. I want to remembered as somebody that gave it everything he had, everything that was in my body and did it with respect, dignity and honor. That’s how I want to be remembered.”