Ahead of Bound for Glory, the rejuvenated X Division star tells us how he got his wrestling career back on track…
At IMPACT Wrestling’s marquee Bound for Glory PPV, Trey Miguel can realise his childhood dream. He’ll take on El Phantasmo and Steve Maclin for the vacant X Division championship on Saturday, October 23 in Las Vegas.
Miguel, who surprisingly returned to IMPACT earlier this year – amid rumours he was WWE NXT-bound – will compete for the title that, during its peak years, was contested in epic fashion by the likes of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels.
“I feel more than ever, this has to be it,” he told Gimme A Hull Yeah!. “The fans are back, we’re in Vegas, it’s Bound for Glory. Vegas is one of my favourite cities to wrestle. It’s where I debuted with IMPACT and I hear it’s a sell-out show already. This has to be it.”
Emerging victorious at the PPV, which is Live on FITE TV in the UK, would mark the culmination of an admirable comeback for Trey, who has overcome a crisis of confidence to return to the promotion as a singles competitor.
His former partners in IMPACT’s The Rascalz tag team are Nash Carter and Wes Lee, the current NXT tag-team champions. While the pair embraced life in Orlando, Trey opted against the move. While he’s delighted to return to IMPACT, it also meant overcoming some inner struggles along the way.
“Coming back, I had the worry. Would it matter? Would people care? I wasn’t the wrestler I wanted to be, mentally or physically,” he says, with admirable honesty.
“I spent a lot of time going back to the gym trying to get my body in the shape to do this. It was something that weighed on me a bit. I didn’t have a good relationship with the gym or with food, which are both very important. If you don’t have a good relationship with your body, your body doesn’t have a good relationship with wrestling. Then everything else falls apart.”
“I want people not to be able to predict what my matches are and that was something I was even beginning to do. I couldn’t imagine, from a consumer standpoint, people being interested in me anymore. I really couldn’t. I was uninterested in me. That’s what I wanted to change.
“It meant a lot to come back and offer something more than I left with. As long as I’m doing that every time I go out there, I am the wrestler I want to be.”
Trey, who recently turned 27, explains how he emerged from a funk, thanks to mentorship from AEW’s Alex Shelley, who helped to ‘rebuild’ him as a wrestler with a focus on more varied offense, improved ring psychology, as well as an improved diet and workout regimen.
“The two-and-a-half-month hiatus was probably one of the most beneficial things I did,” he adds. “Alex Shelley, who was one of my favourite wrestlers and my heroes growing up, was kind enough to reach out to me. He asked where my head was with everything, where I was with my physical and mental health, and he stepped right in to help me.
“He gave me a lot of advice and one-on-one time. There was a lot of just being a big brother. He took me under his wing and made sure I started doing right by myself and for the right reasons. He helped me find a new identity. We started with diet to getting to a workout routine and incorporating training and working on things in the ring and working on a new psychology. Just rebuilding myself as a wrestler.”
Regardless of the outcome on Sunday at Bound For Glory, the rejuvenated Trey Miguel’s career path is on an upward trajectory once more. Once again, wrestling is his escape from the real world, both as a performer and a teacher.
“This is where I want to be and it took a long time to get back to that. Because if you spend too much time around this, those tides turn. I’m on this back and forth, but right now wrestling is my getaway. I still train guys, I still train my body. Real life is what I need to escape from, so wrestling is my escape. Being around the locker room, being around my students, correcting, fixing and moulding…
So, at this stage of his career, entering his prime years as a performer, how does Trey Miguel view success? In his eyes it comes down to a humble assessment of the relationship between athlete and fan.
He says: “If a person that hates their job and works it anyway, choses to spare money they could spend anything else in the world buy a wrestling ticket because you’re on the card? If they spend it on getting a picture or an experience with you, to feel better about going back to that job? That’s the ultimate form of success. Sometimes people aren’t humble enough to boil it down to that. Everything else past is a bonus and can’t be taken for granted.”
Elsewhere in the 15-minute video chat, Trey discusses his relationship with breakout AEW star “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry, a message for his UK fans his desire to return to these shores ASAP, and which of his trainees wrestling fans should look out for.
Words: Chris Smith / Interview: Dom Smith