Johnny Swinger talks leaving TNA in 2004, Dusty Rhodes not using him because Dusty did not like Disco Inferno

Johnny Swinger recaps his road to leaving TNA Wrestling in 2004 and how he started working for WWE via their developmental program

Swinger reflects on his TNA exit that led to him venturing into WWE developmental.

20-plus year veteran Johnny Swinger has been a part of WCW, WWE, ECW and is currently working with IMPACT Wrestling.

This current run is Swinger’s second with IMPACT. He was with TNA Wrestling in the early 2000s and left the company in 2004. He opened up about that departure while on the Talk’n Shop podcast with Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. He recalled there being a talent meeting hosted by the Jarrett family and they informed talent that Dusty Rhodes would be taking over the booking.

Swinger claims that Rhodes came up to him and let him know that he would not be used because he was not big on Swinger’s partner at the time, Disco Inferno. Swinger attempted to get his way onto TV by pitching a multitude of ideas but it ultimately led to him leaving TNA to join Deep South Wrestling.

What happened with TNA, me quitting or asking for a release was… [this was] late 2004. They did a talent meeting and the Jarretts said, ‘Look, we’re gonna have Dusty take over booking for a while.’ I already split up with Simon Diamond. That was the other weird thing. They split me and Simon Diamond up, we had one match together and then they tagged me with Disco [Inferno]. I’m like, why would you split us up just to put me in another tag team? So that was… once again, back then, I was more into it. Now I just kind of go with whatever they want but I used to overthink all that. ‘Why would they do this? Why would they?’ I don’t get angry about it, I don’t do that anymore. So Dusty [Rhodes] calls me in, he says, ‘Look baby, I do not like your buddy so I’m not gonna use you guys’ and he basically told me he was gonna send me home… he didn’t like Disco. Yeah, put me with Disco and Dusty told me to my face he did not like Glenn and he’s not gonna be using us. So I’m like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ I’m under contract but I’m paid per-night on 750 bucks a match but I gotta have a match to get the money, right? So I can still do independents but it ain’t like making the $1,500 a week I was making Wednesday and Thursday every week, right? That was the base of the livelihood right there. So how long is that gonna go on? I don’t know. I mean, one TV goes by, another one. You start pitching stuff now, ideas, right? And I hear Dustin [Rhodes is] coming. Okay, I’ll work with Dustin, I’ll put him over, whatever. After like two months, he’s not bringing us back and Scott [D’Amore’s] still in there and he’s like, ‘Dude, I don’t know what to –’ you know what I mean? He’s just an agent at that point. Dusty’s got complete control and everything. So I’m talking to Christian [Cage] one day and he’s like, you know, I was telling him what’s going on. I said, ‘Man, they’re just sitting me under this contract. I don’t get paid unless I work’ and then he goes, ‘Well you know, Dreamer’s gonna be running a developmental in Atlanta.’ I was like, ‘What!?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, yeah. Let me call him.’ So, Dreamer calls me and goes, ‘But you’re under contract.’ He goes, ‘If you can get out of the contract,’ he goes, ‘I can at least get you in here on a — you get a weekly check, get a job back.’ So that’s how that all came about. So I had to ask Jeff [Jarrett] for a release and that was hard. Jeff is very sensitive. I said, ‘Jeff, I wanna be here but I’m not working. Dusty told me he’s not gonna use me and I pitched things, being myself, whatever. He just — who knows how long?’ And at that point — he wasn’t hot. Jeff would never get hot in your face but, he didn’t rush on giving me the release. It took a bit of time and I had to do a couple emails where I said, ‘Look, I’d love to be there but I got a kid now, I got a one-year-old.’ I’m like, I had a job and I gave up a job for another job, you know what I mean? Now it’s like I got a job that doesn’t pay anything. So finally he let me go and Dreamer got me in there, Deep South, February of ‘05.

Swinger had been connected to Tommy Dreamer through Christian Cage. He was of the belief that he was being brought in to work on WWE’s ECW program. He would later find out from John Laurinaitis that Tommy was to write down a list of names who he thinks should be hired by WWE.

Laurinaitis told Dreamer to hire Swinger based off his potential, but not for ECW. He then told Swinger to hold tight in developmental for a while longer.

[Tommy] Dreamer was Johnny [Laurinaitis’] assistant and this is what Johnny told me, he said, ‘I told Dreamer make a list of guys that you think we should hire.’ Johnny Laurinaitis told me that and he said, ‘I crossed out a lot of people.’ He goes, ‘So I didn’t hire everybody that Dreamer thought we should hire.’ This all came about when I started getting ready to leave New York too where I was like, they didn’t — I wasn’t included in the ECW thing, that’s why I was staying there for. I stayed another year. If you remember, they didn’t actually start the ECW until like a year later and then I wasn’t on it, I wasn’t figured into it at all and that’s when I called Johnny. I said, ‘Hey, this is what –’ and he got mad. That’s when he started yelling, going, ‘Tommy’s gotta stop telling guys this.’ Johnny told me, ‘You were never figured in for ECW.’ I said, ‘Why was I hired then?’ And he said, ‘I’ll tell you exactly why you were hired. Dreamer made a list of guys, I crossed off a bunch.’ He goes, ‘I told him to hire you because I thought you had potential. It had nothing to do with ECW.’ So I’m like, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ He said, ‘Try to stick it out a little longer.’ So that’s how I ended up — otherwise, I was ready to leave the first three months.

The 46-year-old Swinger competed at IMPACT Wrestling’s Rebellion pay-per-view. He teamed with Zicky Dice to challenge for the IMPACT Tag Titles as a part of an Elimination Challenge.

If the quotes in this article are used, please credit Talk’n Shop with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.

About Andrew Thompson 3691 Articles
A Maryland native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.