How Professional Wrestling Legend Nigel McGuinness Found Success After Retirement From The Ring

Nigel McGuinness, is an English professional wrestling commentator and retired professional wrestler. He is currently signed to All Elite Wrestling where he serves as a color commentator on AEW Collision. He is best known for work as a wrestler with Ring of Honor and TNA.

A foundational star of Ring Of Honor, Nigel not only held the ROH Pure Championship for a record 350 days but he would also go on to hold the ROH World Championship in 2007 and hold that title for 545 days.

Nigel’s love of of magic and wrestling began when he was young. In high school one of his friends became an armature magician. It was this friend who taught Nigel his first tricks, for a price of 5 pounds. Later when Nigel was wrestling in Japan these tricks that Nigel learned would come in useful during sponsor dinners.

It is common in Japan for fans to “sponsor” a wrestler and pay for their meals, transport, and other expenses, whether it is for a day or throughout their entire stay in Japan. Some do it so that they can hang out with their favorite stars, others do it as a social status thing.  Sometimes these sponsor dinners would last for many hours and Nigel, not being able to speak Japanese would start to feel very awkward. This would inspire Nigel to train himself card tricks to help make these dinners more tolerable. He would also perform these tricks backstage for the other wrestlers while waiting for matches. Impressed with his abilities, Often the other wrestlers would encourage him to do a proper show but that wouldn’t happen until much later.

It was in 2006 that ROH was defined by the matches between Nigel and future WWE champion Bryan Danielson these matches in ROH are still regarded as some of the best wrestling matches of all time and one of the most renowned wrestling rivalries in history. A rivalry that was so prominent in the wrestling world at the time that both Danielson and McGuinness entered conversations to join the WWE in 2009.

Unfortunately, McGuinness’ dream of wrestling for WWE was shattered when he failed a preliminary medical screening due to a bicep injury. An injury that Nigel’s doctor had previously cleared him for but now would require a costly surgery for him to be able to join the WWE and live out his childhood dreams. Unable to afford the surgery, Nigel was instead signed by TNA in late 2009 under the name Desmond Wolfe.

It was in TNA that Nigel proved himself by working a program with respected wrestling legend Kurt Angle and it was Nigel’s hope that by working hard to establish himself in TNA would eventually lead back to him being signed with the WWE. However this was not to be as Nigel was diagnosed with Hepatitis B and was forced to stop wrestling immediately. Nigel was crushed and confused as how he was infected was a mystery to him, although he suspects it was due to being in contact with blood during his more violent wrestling matches. But even then, no one else that he wrestled with at the time had tested positive. Making matters even worse was that although the infection should have passed in 90 days under normal circumstances, in this case, it did not.

10% of the people who contract Hep B are unable to clear the virus on their own, Nigel was one of those 10%. Unable to afford the costly medication, Nigel once again was in an impossible situation. Thankfully Nigel was able to apply for a clinical trial of an experimental medication and 6 months later he was able to clear the infection and more than that, he was now immune to it. But it was too late, one week before Nigel cleared the virus TNA had released him from his contract.

After a 14 month break from in-ring competition, Nigel returned, but unfortunately, only to retire. Nigel booked a two-month-long string of shows and billed it as the “Nigel McGuinness Retirement Tour”; he documented this in an independent film that he directed and edited called “The Last of McGuinness”.

So in 2011 at the end of the tour, Nigel announced his immediate retirement from the ring, at the age of just thirty four. But Nigel wasn’t entirely done with wrestling, nor was wrestling done with him.

In late 2011 Nigel took on Commentary duties with the now much evolved Ring Of Honor eventually replacing the controversial Jim Cornette as the main on-screen authority figure in the company. This eventually lead him to in fact finally signing with the WWE as part of the commentary team for NXT in 2017 until the end of 2022 when he was released. But he quickly found himself picking up commentary duties again in ROH and eventually AEW early on in 2023 and flourishing as part of the main commentary team on the newly created AEW Collision on Saturday nights.

It was also in 2023 when Nigel finally decided it was time to finally transition from simple close up card tricks to a full 90 minute stage show. In a interview with Metro Nigel said:

“Jay Briscoe’s passing, unfortunately, really was the impetus to put together the show based on living for the day. You just don’t know about tomorrow”

With only three weeks preparation Nigel put together a full stage show Inspired by Derek DelGaudio’s film “In & Of Itself” and the late great mentalist Max Maven. He would debut it in late 2023.

“Normally I do a lot of close up stuff with cards. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, just being around the boys. But this is now more bigger illusions, psychological stuff, a little bit of Derren Brown thrown in there. It’s amazing.”

Nigel’s show is filled not only with magic tricks but storytelling. Part magic show part spoken word it’s really an experience of heightened human connection and a love letter to Professional Wrestling.

For future shows and more information follow Nigel McGuinness Magical Night on X.

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Frank Hartgrave

ByFrank Hartgrave

Mr. Hartgrave produces daily content for YouTube and Instagram and does a weekly AEW Wrestling Live Stream every Wed. at 6PM that is broadcast on all platforms.

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