Steven Haworth (born 23 January 1976) is an English professional wrestler who launched his wrestling career in the United States of America. Prior to his beginnings as a wrestler, he relocated to the United States in the middle of his university education, graduating from Kent State University in 1997 with a degree in chemistry. In September 1998 he began training under Les Thatcher at WCW's farm league, the Heartland Wrestling Association, having his first match in September 1999and thus, Nigel McGuinness was born.
Though he continued to wrestle for HWA for the next year, he wound up incurring debts to the point he had to go back to his native England to work two full-time jobs and raise money, then return to the US to resume his career.
Wrestling for companies such as HWA and All Star Promotions when he returned in 2001, he developed "a punk rock soccer hooligan" gimmick. Making his way up in the ranks and earning championships along the way, it would only be a matter of time before he was signed up by the company which eventually became his wrestling home: Ring of Honor.
Debuting in August of 2003 with a win over Chet Jablonsky, Nigel's climb through ROH was one of gradual success, initially jobbing, then forming a short-lived tag team and feud with Colt Cabana, before challenging and eventually beating Samoa Joe for the ROH Pure Championship belt two years later, all the while seen as a face. After winning the title he turned heel and began developing clever heel gimmicks such as using a Union Jack-covered clothing iron as a weapon and getting opponents counted out through various unfair methods to keep the championship. This eventually landed him in a series of matches with ROH World Heavyweight Champion Bryan Danielson over the two championships, which eventually concluded in Danielson winning the feud to unify both titles and retire the Pure Championship. Having earned Danielson's respect through the matches, Nigel got to keep the latter belt as an honorary trophy, cementing him back as a face.
The next year would see McGuinness in feuds against Jimmy Rave and Chris Hero, and in a role as the spokesperson of Japanese promotion Pro Wrestling NOAH within ROH. During this time he challenged the ROH World Champion, NOAH's Takeshi Morishima, on several occasions before finally beating him for the title at Undeniable in October 2007. Though his title reign was soon marred by a series of injuries limiting his amount of action, he eventually found his footing again after turning heel again to defend the championship against Danielson in January by targeting his injured head. His title reign lasted over a year and a half, through defenses against the likes of Austin Aries, Kevin Steen, Tyler Black, Claudio Castagnoli, Jerry Lynn, Roderick Strong, and El Generico, and Kenta, before finally dropping to Lynn at Supercard of Honor IV in April 2009.
A few injuries, a principle agreement with World Wrestling Entertainment, and a failed physical screening later, he wound up leaving ROH for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, who he'd previously wrestled for in a one-off battle royal in 2004.
His arrival in TNA came with the new ring name Desmond Wolfe and a feud with Kurt Angle, who'd just turned face following a two-year stint as the company's Big Bad. Wolfe punked out Angle repeatedly heading into their battles, but ultimately lost when it counted, though the matches were highly acclaimed and Wolfe was established as a dangerous player even in defeat. However, a combination of his health issues and the political turnaround of the company due to the 2010 arrival of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff resulted in his eventual downgrade in importance, going from one of the top heels to a hopeful member of Fortune to a short-lived tag team with Magnus called "London Brawling" to being outright Put on a Bus. With 2011 came teases from compatriots Magnus and Douglas Williams and a brief return as the Xplosion Commissioner, but nothing came of either role and he was eventually released.
He would go back to Ring of Honor as a color commentator, as well as compete on the independent circuit for a two-month retirement tour in which used both the Nigel McGuinness and Desmond Wolfe ring names. The final years of his wrestling career, including this retirement, were on a documentary called The Last of McGuinness, in which he confirmed that he'd tested positive for hepatitis B during his TNA tenure and advocated for the end of blading in wrestling. Upon Jim Cornette's departure in September 2012, he was named the new on-screen "matchmaker" of ROH in addition to his color commentary duties, a role he maintained until December 2016, when he signed with WWE as an announcer, debuting at their WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament on January 2017 and replacing Corey Graves as the NXT color commentator.
He's also become an assistant film producer and editor outside of wrestling, as well as developed a Kickstarter creative project called L.A. Fights, a scripted show about an upstart amateur fighting league. Unfortunately, it failed to get funded.
More on his career here.
"Tropes and Crumpets":
- The Apprentice: He and Swiss Money Holding/The Kings of Wrestling were able to put enough of their differences aside in IWA Switzerland to help Italian migrant Andres Diamond.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Being retired from wrestling doesn't mean that active wrestlers can push him around in his role of ROH Matchmaker and expect to get away with it. After Jay Lethal spat on him at Final Battle 2012, Nigel immediately went after him and the two of them had to be pulled apart.
- Badass Longcoat: Eventually acquired one in TNA as Desmond Wolfe.
- Bald of Evil: As a heel starting in 2009. Eventually became Bald of Awesome after he became a largely non-wrestling face again in 2011.
- Big Damn Heroes: Prevented Chris Hero from breaking Bruno Sammartino's neck at All Star Extravaganza III.
- The Bus Came Back: For refueling, apparently. After he had to take a leave of absence in TNA in September 2010 for health issues, he would return in a brief stint as the Xplosion "Commissioner" in May 2011 before being released the next month and going on a retirement tour.
- Combat Pragmatist: Used all sorts of weapons, made a title reign out of countouts, framed his opponents, and lied like a madman, amongst other tactics he'd use to get an edge on his opponent.
- Cool Shades: Tends to don them when acting as a cocky heel and/or Sharp-Dressed Man.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: As a commentator, he was not above pointing out parts of how to work a match and when someone was doing something exceptionally dangerous. Particularly Corino vs Steen at Final Battle 2011 though some of such slid into Catchphrase territory, devoid of the original anti kayfabe context.
- The Bus Came Back: He returned as a color commentator, before taking over from Jim Cornette as ROH's onscreen authority figure.
- Carnival of Killers: Was once part of one sent after Abyss by Eric Bischoff, also including Raven, Rhino, Homicide, and Tomko.
- Crowd Chant: "You're a wanker!" and "Tea And Crumpets!" The former is because he called the ROHbots wankers, so they threw it right back at him. The latter? Who knows. As world champion, "Drop The Belt!"
- Demoted to Extra: In TNA, he constantly punked out Kurt Angle within his debut, at one point ranked at #1 on the TNA online poll, and seemed to be on his way to becoming a member of Fourtune. After months of jobbing he and Douglas Williams seemed to switch places between who's partnering with Magnus and who's with Fortune, not to mention Wolfe was stuck in a dysfunctional relationship with Chelsea. Just when the London Brawling team was about to get some traction and reverse this trope, his medical issues caught up to him.
- Determinator: ROH was made of Fighting Spirit, but he embodied it as a face to ridiculous levels, which oddly enough helped slide back his popularity and led to him eventually turning heel. Even as a heel he reinvented his wrestling style to keep competing (and finding ways to win by hook or crook) despite his numerous injuries. Continued to do so until not a single person could doubt him.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Had an early appearance in TNA as an X-Division battle royal competitor as McGuinness before his run as Wolfe.
- Early Installment Weirdness: His heavy reliance on chain wrestling and World of Sport type tricks when he first arrived in Ring of Honor, where most of the roster were Japanese trained, meticulously studied territorial era USA tapes or both.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being a heel commentator, he was just as disgusted as Beth Pheonix and Mauro Ranallo when Dakota Kai turned heel by viciously assaulting her best friend Tegan Nox, attacking her bad leg and stealing her knee brace at NXT TakeOver: WarGames 2019.
- Fat Slob: Invoked this on the audience during his ROH World Title run, making "acne-riddled fat boy" Kevin Steen the Audience Surrogate en route to Steen's three title shots against him.
- Finishing Move: Grounded Wristlock (Thames Barrier/London Dungeon), Elevated Cutter (Tower of London), has also used his Jawbreaker/Rebound Lariat as this at times.
- Foreign Wrestling Heel: Played straight during his Pure Title reign, subverted afterward as he became much less of a British jerk than a jerk that happens to be very British.
- Groin Attack: Gave one to Colt Cabana at ROH Nowhere To Run after receiving one from him. The difference being Cabana's was on accident and Nigel was given time to recover from it. McGuinness did on purpose and immediately followed up on it.
- Heel: Often, including as a colour commentator on WWE's NXT and 205 Live commentary teams.
- Honest Corporate Executive: He decided not to suspend Bullet Club for ruining Colt Cabana's championship match at Global Wars because Bullet Club makes them a lot of money. He then fined them instead and used the money to strengthen ROH security so it wouldn't happen again.
- Hope Spot: Had one in his match against Naomichi Marufuji for the Pro Wrestling NOAH GHC Heavyweight Championship. Yes, it was obvious who was winning at the end, since Marufuji had only won the title a week before up until McGuinness rebounded off the ropes, sent his forearm into Marufuji's neck, and brought him down for a thisclosealmostthreecount.
- Insult Backfire: He would go on to call his kneeling face buster a "Guvnor's Crumpet".
- Jerkass: Especially as a heel.
- Level Grinding: Many a great wrestling career has had this as part of its arc, his being no exception up to the end of 2009.
- Malaproper: Had this as an aspect of his gimmick, such as calling the Boston Red Sox the "Boston Red Stockings" or derisively nicknaming enemies.
- The Masochism Tango: With TNA valet Chelsea in 2010, especially since his match with Abyss.
- Multicolored Hair: Brown hair with blonde spikes, until he had the spikes cut in 2009 and went for a "bald" appearance for several years afterward.
- Nicknaming the Enemy: Geritol Lynn, Mr. Mangled
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: Prided himself on being serious, which he did not feel Delirious and Claudio Castagnoli were. The latter set out to make him eat those words.
- Produce Pelting: Drew such vicious ire from the ROHbots at one point that they would throw garbage at him at the sight of his victories.
- Put on a Bus:
- Left ROH at the same time as Danielson, but ended up taking a different bus.
- Had to take a leave of absence in TNA in September 2010 when his health issues caught up with him.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: A former wrestler who first and foremost cares about the health of the athletes.
- Ring Out: Turned against him when he was disqualified for knocking Adam Pearce over the top rope while challenging for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. Since it was an RoH show, where no such rule had even been established, the fans chanted "Dusty Finish!"
- The Rival
- Besides Danielson and Morishima, he also had a rivalry with Claudio Castagnoli in ROH that had it's roots back in IWA Mid-South and the International Wrestling Cartel. The two would end up forming a tag team in 2008 but it didn't work out.
- Also with BJ Whitmer in ROH, continuing on from IWA M-S(again), which itself was continuing on from The Heartland Wrestling Association, where they first matched up. McGuinness, Whitmer and Danielson would team up in NOAH to slightly more success.
- Signature Move: Lots of headstands with this guy, also stepping on the bottom turnbuckle before charging to the other. Used to be lariats until he tore both of his biceps. A hammerlock DDT he calls "Divorce Court".
- Separated by a Common Language: Chris Hero and Larry Sweeney both took care to "remind" Nigel that the the "second commandment" of pure wrestling read "Thou shalt not speak British!"
- Spiky Hair: Most typically and often multicolored.
- Stunned Silence: At the 2016 Death Before Dishonor he was on commentary but stopped contributing to it during Adam Page's "anything goes" match with Jay Briscoe and after Adam Cole won the ROH World Title, both of which being his fault as match maker.
- Tagalong Kid: Spent a cup of coffee as this to Fortune.
- Take That, Audience!:
- His ROH World Championship FaceHeel Turn was primarily motivated by his desire to make all the doubters eat their words after legitimately seeing the occasional fan demand that he drop the title after his injuries.
- Though health concerns were the main reason, his downslide in TNA was partially the result of higher-ups' spite that he was more popular with the TNA fanbase than the established stars they wanted to push.
- Tournament Arc: In 2007 sixteen different promotions were called to Liverpool for a "King of Europe Cup" (KOE) by Doug Williams and Alex Shane, who were inspired by All Pro Wrestling's King of Indies and the East Coast Wrestling Alliance Super 8 tournaments in the USA. ROH representative McGuinness defeated TNA rep Rhino in the opening round and ended up beating Premier Promotions rep Doug Williams in the final match.
- Underwear of Power: Often decorated with subtle Union Jacks.
- Ungrateful Bastard: All you sick fans who chant disrespectful comments as the wrestlers cripple themselves for your sick sense of entertainment!
- Use Your Head: Split Colt Cabana open with a headbutt after taking an accidental low blow.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Played a sick one on Bryan Danielson to retain his world title at the 6th Anniversary Show. In fact, here's why "targeting Bryan's head" constituted a heel turn. Citing concerns about his recent concussions, Nigel nearly walked out without defending the title against Danielson until Danielson came out and agreed to avoid blows to the head. Everything seemed to go well and good, with both men keeping away from head attacks for over 30 minutes of another classic showdown until Nigel suddenly attacked Danielson's injured eye with headbutts, hit Danielson's own "trapped elbows" attack to add more insult, then made him tap to the London Dungeon for the finish.
- The Worf Barrage: His Tower of London (elevated cutter) finisher suffered from this for awhile until he started winning with it again in his TNA run.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Benefited from this at Glory by Honor VI: Night One, when Chris Hero made him tap out, only to not be awarded the ROH World Championship belt due to McGuinness being underneath the bottom rope at the time. After the match was continued Nigel was able to make Hero tap instead, giving him another successful retention.