Chris Sabin has been one of the most exciting performers to watch in TNA Impact Wrestling for more than a decade.
However, the star’s high-risk style in the ring has led to him having to battle back from numerous unfortunate injuries almost in succession.
It started in 2011 when Sabin tore his left MCL and ACL in a match that put him on the shelf for almost a year. After returning to team with his longtime Motor City Machine Guns partner Alex Shelley and transitioning back into the singles ranks, the talented performer had injured ACL in his right knee in a matter of months. Sabin triumphantly returned to action in May of 2013.
Since then the multi-time X Division champion has taken his onscreen persona and style in another direction.
“The inspiration comes from tearing my ACL twice, because before that I think I relied a lot on my athleticism just to be over,” Sabin said. “I was really focused on the wrestling more than anything else. This is forcing me more to become more of a character where I think I can show more personality. So I think the catalyst was me tearing both my ACLs and not being able to perform the same way I was able to before. Most people can’t tell, but I can’t do all the high-flying stuff I used to do. I think that bringing out more of a character is a necessity for me now.”
The wrestler has been able to stay healthy. He recalls going to physical therapy at the University of Michigan. It was there he asked them to teach him something he could carry with him and use for his legs that would help keep his knees healthy. Sabin still abides by the regimen and tips he learned during his recovery.
“I didn’t think I shouldn’t be doing this, but I was definitely apprehensive about getting in the ring,” Sabin said. “There is always that weird x factor about being in there with another person. You always have to put your trust into whoever you’re in there with. There is one little thing that could go wrong. Your body is in their hands just as much as their body is in yours, so you have to take care of each other. I was worried, but luckily everything has worked out so far.”
His latest comeback came with rapid-fire success with a run with not only the X Division title, but the TNA heavyweight championship. Sabin defeated Bully Ray during Destination X on Spike TV to win the gold and become a triple crown winner for the organization. The hard work had paid off.
“It was something I always strive for, but wasn’t something I expected at all,” Sabin said. “I never thought I would be world champion in this company. It doesn’t mean I didn’t have it as a goal. Especially, so quickly after coming back [and winning it]. I’m really thankful and grateful for it to happen, but kind of feel like I wasn’t ready at the same time because it was so quickly after being injured for two years and before that being in a tag team for five years.
“Then all of sudden I’m trying to be this number one babyface. I just don’t think I was ready. Maybe if they did it over a year or something and they built me up to get my feet back in the water and get used to being in the ring and used to everything that comes to being a professional wrestler on television. I think I could have done a lot better.”
The champ didn’t have much time to enjoy his stay at the top of the TNA mountain, as he dropped the world title back to Bully Ray about month later. Sabin went from fan favorite to despised villain. He began working with Velvet Sky, who he has been romantically linked with off camera. Sabin played the overbearing and insecure boyfriend, giving him a chance to try something new with his character.
“I’ve enjoyed everything we’ve done on television,” Sabin said. “I think we have a funny dynamic with each other. I enjoy it…It’s pretty easy to work with her. We just bounce ideas off each other and come up with the best. She’s cool with me being mean to her luckily, so that’s the best part.”
Sabin has most recently aligned with the Alpha Female, who made her debut during TNA’s tour of the United Kingdom. Moving forward, he wants to hold the TNA championship a second time and maybe reunite with Shelley somewhere down the line.
“I think he is enjoying himself,” Sabin said. “We keep in touch and talk. We hang out, but I think he is enjoying New Japan [Pro Wrestling]. He has always been a fan of Japanese wrestling. He can speak the language pretty well too. I would like to see him back and eventually tag with him again one day. You never know.”
• YouTube video interview with Chris Sabin
Watch Sabin on TNA Impact Wrestling 9 p.m. EST Thursdays on Spike TV.• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.