Last December during a WWE Live Event, Tyson Kidd suffered a severe knee injury, including tears in his right ACL, meniscus and MCL, that threatened to side line the mat technician for as long as a year. Thanks to renowned orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews and the same tenacity that earned Kidd a “workhorse” reputation among his peers, the Hart Dungeon-trained grappler has stepped back into the squared circle sooner than many expected, dazzling the WWE Universe on Raw in tag team action alongside his wife, Natalya.
Kidd recapped his tough road to recovery, described his “Total Divas” experience and looked ahead at what he calls his “second chance” in this exclusive interview with the wwe portal.
Q: Tyson, first off, welcome back to WWE.
Thank you very much. Those words mean so much to me. It’s been almost a year in the waiting to hear those words.
What was it like to not only return to action, but to do it alongside your wife?
It was a very unique experience. Obviously, we’ve done mixed tags before with The Hart Dynasty and things of that nature, but now our relationship is very open and public thanks to “Total Divas.” I think the only way it could have been better would be if Nattie and I got Fandango and Summer Rae in a double Sharpshooter to top things off [laughs]. But, looking back, it was as close to perfect as anything I could have asked for.
After your surgery in January, you went into rehab with an optimistic outlook. Was there ever a time during your recovery that doubts started to creep in?
At around the midway point, I thought my knee would never be the same again. After about three or four months, I could go to the gym normally and I could start to run on a treadmill, but I knew I couldn’t wrestle and take impact. I couldn’t jump off the one foot and stick a landing. I knew it wasn’t there. But I remember thinking, “Is my knee ever going to be 100 per cent?”
I went so long, 17 years, without getting hurt. And I always thought one of two things would happen when I got hurt: It was either going to hinder the hell out of me forever, or I’d heal fast from it. And during rehab, I remember thinking, “Uh oh. This is going to be the ‘hindering me forever’ type of scenario.” Then, month five kicked in, and all of a sudden I had these drastic improvements.
I got medically cleared to train in the ring at the seven-month mark on 5 August in Green Bay, which is actually where I got hurt last December. So I really came full circle. It was bizarre.
Have you had to alter your in-ring style in any way in light of your injury?
I originally thought I would, but I’m very, very stubborn. I’d been doing cardio since week six of my rehab, and after two minutes in the ring the day I got cleared, I was done. It felt like I’d wrestled a 30-Minute Handicap Match. I was dying. I mean, this sounds bad, but in terms of my conditioning and my wind, I may as well have been sitting on my couch for eight months. There’s only one way to train, and that’s being in the ring. And even in practice, it’s not the same as performing in front of a crowd. You’re constantly feeding off their energy and their reactions and trying to feel them out. It’s a different aspect than practicing in the ring on your own. That’s been my limitation. But the only way to improve is to run that tank on empty, and then refill again. If you’re afraid and don’t let yourself get to empty, you’ll never build your conditioning. I learned that from my Japanese trainer, Tokyo Joe, a long time ago.
But I’m not going to let my knee alter anything I do in the ring. My move set is part of what makes me unique and there’s no way I’m going to throw that away out of fear.
I’m thinking, I might be brave where I’m sitting right now, but that fear switch is long gone. WWE and Dr. Andrews took such amazing care of me, and the way technology is today, it makes me feel invincible. If I tore my other knee tomorrow, I already know the process.
This has prepared me almost for anything, to be honest. That might be a bad thing, I don’t know. Sometimes I’m too hard-headed for my own good, and this could be one of those times.