As McGuinness, Haworth first gained notoriety working for Ring of Honor (ROH) in the United States and Pro Wrestling Noah (NOAH) in Japan. He was the longest reigning ROH Pure Champion, holding the title for 350 days, while also being a former ROH World Champion, holding the championship for 545 days and also making him the second English World Heavyweight Champion in professional wrestling history after Gary Steele.
In October 2009, he signed a contract with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), where he worked as Desmond Wolfe until June 2011. The following August, again working as Nigel McGuinness, he returned to ROH to work as a color commentator. He retired from in-ring competition on December 17, 2011. After leaving ROH in December 2016, Haworth signed with WWE.
Haworth, born in London, grew up in Staplehurst, Kent, where he attended Maidstone Grammar School. He was a wrestling fan from the age of 12, particularly enjoying The Hart Foundation and British Bulldogs, and attended SummerSlam in 1992 while wearing The Ultimate Warrior face paint. After attending Les University, he relocated to the United States in the 1990s in order to attend Kent State University, where he graduated in 1997 with a degree in chemistry.
Professional wrestling career
Heartland Wrestling Association (1998–2004)
In September 1998, Haworth began training under Les Thatcher in the Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) in Cincinnati, Ohio, incurring large debts in the process. After debuting in September 1999, working under the ring name Nigel McGuinness and defeating GQ Masters III in a match that was featured on ABC's 20/20, he spent a year wrestling in the mid west. Haworth returned to England where he worked two full-time jobs to earn enough money to be able to return to the United States to wrestle, and wrestled for All Star promotions between September and December 2001, where he learned from wrestlers such as Robbie Brookside.
McGuinness developed a heel character which he described as "a punk rock soccer hooligan... Billy Idol meets Johnny Saint".
On July 10, 2001, McGuinness defeated Dean Jablonski in a singles match with the HWA Tag Team Championship on the line (the co-holder of the title, Chet Jablonski, was indisposed), claiming the title for himself and his partner, The Human Time Bomb. McGuinness and The Bomb held the title until August 7, when the Jablonski brothers regained the title. McGuinness and The Bomb would become champions for a second time on July 23, 2002, defeating the Jablonski brothers once more. They lost the title to Southern Breeze later that year.
In 2003, McGuinness introduced the HWA European Championship to HWA. He held the title until September 30, 2003, when he lost to Hoss. He regained the title on November 4 and promptly retired it.
McGuinness won the HWA Heavyweight Championship on September 6, 2003 in Batavia, Ohio, defeating Chad Collyer, He held the title until January 3, 2004, when he lost the title to Hoss. McGuinness defeated Hoss to begin a second reign with the title on January 6, and held it until March 17, 2004, when he lost to El Temor.
Ring of Honor
Pure Champion (2003–2006)
McGuinness debuted in Ring of Honor (ROH) on August 9, 2003, defeating Chet Jablonski. He wrestled for ROH throughout 2004, but had limited success. In March 2005, McGuinness and Colt Cabana teamed together to challenge for the ROH Tag Team Championship, but lost to the incumbents, Dan Maff and B.J. Whitmer. Cabana and McGuinness then began fighting one another, with McGuinness defeating Cabana on May 7, 2005, with an accidental low blow for a shot at the ROH Pure Championship. He challenged the champion, Samoa Joe, on June 12, 2005, but was defeated. He faced Joe once more on August 27, and defeated him to win the Pure Championship.
After becoming champion, McGuinness turned heel and for several months was engaged in a feud with Claudio Castagnoli, instigated by a non-title match on October 14 where Castagnoli was able to use his knowledge of McGuinness's European wrestling style to score a pinfall on the champion. This led to a series of matches for the title, with McGuinness using underhanded tactics to avoid losing the championship belt. On March 25, 2006, McGuinness defeated Castagnoli in a match billed as the latter's last chance to win the championship as long as McGuinness was champion.
During his Pure Championship run, McGuinness regularly carried an iron (decorated with the Union Jack) to ringside. When asked, the typical story given was that a group of men once broke into his home to attack him, but he was able to defend himself with the iron. In reality, he began carrying the iron after a girlfriend's mother asked him why some wrestlers carried weapons to ringside, and then inquired as to whether anyone had ever carried an iron before. He would often use the iron as a weapon to win his matches.
McGuinness also had a malapropistic gimmick in ROH of mispronouncing words. An example would be at Survival of the Fittest 2005 in Dorchester, Massachusetts, when he said the fans appreciated him as much as "their beloved Boston Red Stockings".
During the rest of 2006, McGuinness was mostly uninvolved in the war between ROH and Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), instead developing a new gimmick where he would win his matches by countout by using (often unfair) methods of preventing opponents from returning to the ring. McGuinness received a shot at the ROH World Championship against Bryan Danielson with his own Pure Championship on the line and contested under pure wrestling rules on April 29. McGuinness again won by countout, by which only the Pure title could be won, but not Danielson's World title. The victory was enough to earn a rematch under regular rules on July 29, in which Danielson narrowly managed to retain his title. A month later in Liverpool, England, ROH arranged a unification match between the two titles and guaranteed there would be a winner, with both titles able to change hands due to countout or disqualification under pure wrestling rules. McGuinness lost the match on August 12 and the Pure Championship was unified and retired. McGuinness reign of 350 days is the longest in the two-year history of the Pure Championship. After the match, Danielson offered McGuinness one more shot at the unified ROH World Championship and on August 25 the two of them wrestled a two-out-of-three-falls match to a 60-minute time limit and as a result McGuinness could no longer challenge for the title as long as Danielson was the champion. After the match, Danielson recognized McGuinness' efforts and gave him the now retired Pure Championship belt as a trophy.
Feud with Jimmy Rave and Chris Hero (2006–2007)
After losing the Pure Championship, McGuinness, now a face, challenged for Pro Wrestling Noah's (NOAH) GHC Heavyweight Championship on September 16, 2006, at ROH's Glory by Honor V – Night 2, but was defeated by the defending champion Naomichi Marufuji. The rest of the year saw McGuinness feuding with Jimmy Rave, who, using his new submission maneuver, the Heel Hook (a single leg Boston crab and twisting ankle lock combination), forced him to tap out on two separate occasions, first on December 8, 2006, at The Chicago Spectacular Night 1 and then on December 23, 2006, at Final Battle 2006. Rave followed that up with another victory over McGuinness on January 27, 2007, this time in an "I Quit" match, which he won via referee stoppage. In February, McGuinness began acting as a representative of NOAH and as a spokesperson and tag team partner of NOAH talent Takeshi Morishima, upon his arrival to the company. On March 4 in Liverpool, McGuinness ended his feud with Jimmy Rave by defeating him with a Rebound Lariat, which in storyline resulted in Rave suffering a broken jaw and earned the move the new name of Jawbreaker Lariat, when in reality Rave had broken his jaw a month earlier. McGuinness' next feud would be with Chris Hero, who had dubbed himself the best pure wrestler in the world. During this feud McGuinness also received two shots at the ROH World Championship, on April 14 and July 16, but was both times defeated by champion Takeshi Morishima. On June 23, McGuinness defeated Hero in a 30-minute time limit match, but Hero came back on August 10 and defeated McGuinness with help from his agent Larry Sweeney and the Sweet 'n' Sour Inc. in a match contested under pure wrestling rules.
ROH World Champion (2007–2009)
On September 15, 2007, at Man Up, ROH's third pay-per-view, McGuinness defeated Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli and Naomichi Marufuji in a four-way match to earn one more shot at Takeshi Morishima's ROH World Championship,hich McGuinness won at Undeniable on October 6, 2007
In late 2007, ROH confirmed that McGuinness had suffered a torn biceps and would be out of action until Final Battle 2007, however he would not be stripped of the ROH World Championship. On November 2, the first night of ROH's Glory by Honor VI event in Philadelphia, Chris Hero and his agent Larry Sweeney complained of McGuinness' injury, calling him a fluke champion. Sweeney felt that Hero's victory of the Survival of the Fittest in Las Vegas earned him a title shot any time he wanted. McGuinness, in street clothes, accepted the challenge. He successfully retained the title against Hero, despite first losing the match due to the referee failing to notice McGuinness' foot on the rope while Hero made him tap out to submission.
On December 29, 2007, McGuinness returned to the ring full-time at ROH fifth pay-per-view, Rising Above. During his defense of the ROH World Championship against Austin Aries, however, McGuinness injured his head when Aries dove from the ring onto him, which resulted in him hitting his head on the metal guard rail. The impact gave McGuinness a concussion, broke his nose, opened his eyebrow, and required 14 stitches.
On January 25, 2008, McGuinness wrapped up his feud with Chris Hero by successfully defending his title against him in a steel cage match. In February at ROH's Sixth Anniversary Show, McGuinness turned heel during his successful title defense against Bryan Danielson by breaking an earlier agreement and targeting his head, injured earlier at the hands of Morishima. Throughout the rest of the year, McGuinness successfully defended his title against the likes of Tyler Black, Austin Aries, Kevin Steen, Claudio Castagnoli, Go Shiozaki, Jerry Lynn, Roderick Strong, El Generico and on November 22, 2008, at Rising Above, in a grudge match against Bryan Danielson.
On March 20, 2009, McGuinness sustained an arm injury competing in a tag team match. However, despite the injury reportedly requiring surgery, he still wrestled at the Seventh Anniversary Show the next night and defeated KENTA to retain his title. Finally, on April 3, 2009 at Supercard of Honor IV, McGuinness lost the ROH World Championship to Jerry Lynn at his 39th defense, ending his reign at 545 days.
Injuries and departure (2009)
After a hiatus to recover from the injury, McGuinness returned to wrestling a few months later. On July 24, McGuinness suffered a minor injury during a four-way match after his "spine got compacted taking a piledriver", and was unable to wrestle the following night. On September 4, ROH announced that McGuinness had "in principle" agreed to a contract with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), but confirmed that he would continue to wrestle for ROH until the end of September. McGuinness wrestled his last ROH match on September 26 at Glory by Honor VIII: The Final Countdown, losing to Bryan Danielson, who was also making his final appearance for the company.
Independent circuit (2004–2009)
While still in ROH, McGuinness continued to compete in various other independent promotions like IWA Mid-South, New Era Pro Wrestling, Italian Championship Wrestling, and American All-Star Wrestling, as well as tours in various countries.
McGuinness would also make appearances for some major promotions. On August 11, 2004, McGuinness appeared in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), debuting in a 22-man Gauntlet for the Gold for the TNA X Division Championship, which was won by Petey Williams. On August 31, 2005, McGuinness competed in Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE's developmental territory, on episode of its OVW TV, losing to Elijah Burke. He would go on to wrestle Danny Basham on the September 11, 2005, episode of Sunday Night Heat, taped prior to Raw on September 5, losing after Basham hit an inverted DDT.
On November 13, 2005, McGuinness returned to TNA at the pre-show prior to the Genesis pay-per-view in a losing effort to Shark Boy, before leaving America to tour Japan with NOAH in November and December 2005. He wrestled nine matches in total, seven of which he won, and teamed with fellow gaijin Doug Williams, 2 Cold Scorpio and Bison Smith. During his tour of Japan, McGuinness was supposed to compete in TNA's 2006 World X Cup Tournament, but Team UK was replaced by Team Canada, after McGuinness and Williams could not appear because both were booked in Japan.
In 2007, McGuinness represented ROH in the King of Europe Cup. He made his way through to the final and, in his home country, defeated fellow Brit and tag-team partner Doug Williams to win the 2007 tournament final.
On October 14, 2007, McGuiness wrestled James Tighe in the first round of the British National Championship held by International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom (IPW:UK), however McGuiness was disqualified for the use of brass knuckles and eliminated from the tournament.
Return to TNA
Feud with Kurt Angle (2009)
On September 4, 2009, ROH announced that Haworth had agreed to a contract with the WWE "in principle". On October 20, 2009, it was reported that Haworth's deal with the WWE had fallen through due to him failing a pre-screening physical test and that he had decided to sign with TNA instead. He officially made his TNA return as a heel under the ring name Desmond Wolfe on the October 22 episode of Impact! by attacking Kurt Angle. The following week, Wolfe defeated Angle in a street fight via referee stoppage, following a lariat. On November 12, Wolfe won a third exchange with Angle as he laid him out with a DDT. At Turning Point, Angle defeated Wolfe via submission. The following month at Final Resolution, Wolfe faced Angle in a "Three Degrees of Pain" two-out-of-three-falls match. Wolfe managed to gain the first fall by pinning Angle following the Tower of London, but tapped out to the ankle lock in the second fall to make it even. In the final fall, which could only be won by escaping the cage, Angle managed to escape first and won the match and the feud.
Fourtune and London Brawling (2010)
Following the loss to Angle, Wolfe moved on to feuding with D'Angelo Dinero, who defeated him on the January 4, 2010, three-hour, Monday night episode of Impact!. At Genesis, Wolfe debuted a new valet, who was later named Chelsea, and defeated Dinero in a rematch. At Against All Odds, Wolfe entered the 8 Card Stud Tournament to crown a new number one contender to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, but was defeated in the first round by the evantual winner of the whole tournament, Dinero. On the February 25 episode of Impact!, Wolfe aligned himself with Ric Flair and then TNA World Heavyweight Champion A.J. Styles in their battle with Hulk Hogan, Abyss and D'Angelo Dinero. On the March 4 episode of Impact!, Wolfe received his first shot at the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, held by Styles, in a four-way match, which also included Dinero and Abyss, but Styles was able to retain his title by defeating Dinero via referee stoppage. The following week on Impact!, Wolfe and Dinero were scheduled to once again face each other, but the match was cancelled after Wolfe attacked Dinero during an interview and re-injured his ankle. Wolfe and Dinero finally had their fourth singles match together on the March 29 episode of Impact!, and this time Wolfe was able to pin the number one contender after hitting him with a chain, while Chelsea was distracting the referee, but on the following episode of Impact! Dinero defeated Wolfe in a rematch in just two minutes. At Lockdown, along with Sting, Robert Roode and James Storm, Wolfe represented Team Flair in the annual Lethal Lockdown match, where they were defeated by Team Hogan (Abyss, Jeff Jarrett, Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy), when Abyss pinned Wolfe. On April 26, TNA introduced a new "Championship Ranking" system, where fans were allowed to vote on the number one contender to the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Surprisingly, Wolfe led the first poll from start to finish, ahead of the likes of Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson, Sting, A.J. Styles, Kurt Angle, D'Angelo Dinero and Abyss, and on the May 3 episode of Impact! was granted a shot at the title, held by Rob Van Dam. However, Wolfe was defeated in the title match. At Sacrifice, Wolfe was defeated by Abyss, who as a result won Chelsea's services for 30 days. On the following episode of Impact!, Chelsea started showing sympathy towards Abyss, when he was being brutalized by Wolfe. The following month at Slammiversary VIII, Wolfe was defeated by Abyss in a Monster's Ball match, when Chelsea turned on him and helped Abyss pick up the victory. On the following episode of Impact!, Ric Flair, who had aligned himself with Wolfe, Styles, Roode, Storm and Kazarian, announced that he would reform the Four Horsemen under the new name Fourtune, stating that each of them would have to earn their spots in the group and that in order for Wolfe to earn his spot, he needed to become the Lex Luger of the group. Later in the night, Chelsea reluctantly returned to Wolfe after her 30 days with Abyss were up. Wolfe gave her a chance to redeem herself, but her behaviour outside the ring provided a distraction, which cost Wolfe his match against Flair's nemesis Jay Lethal. After a series of losses, Wolfe attempted to get back in good graces with Flair by helping Styles and Kazarian defeat Samoa Joe and Rob Terry at Victory Road to earn their spots in Fourtune, only to get a muscle buster from Joe after the match. On the following episode of Impact!, Wolfe confronted Flair when he inducted Styles and Kazarian into Fourtune, demanding to be included in the stable. Two weeks later on Impact!, Flair revealed Robert Roode and James Storm as the final two members of Fourtune, leaving Wolfe out of the stable.
After failing to make it into Fourtune, Wolfe went on to form a tag team with fellow Briton Magnus and together the two not only ended Wolfe's losing streak, but also started a winning streak, defeating teams like Amazing Red and Suicide, Hernandez and Rob Terry and Ink Inc. (Jesse Neal and Shannon Moore) on episodes of Xplosion, and in the process earned themselves the right to challenge for the TNA World Tag Team Championship. On the August 26 episode of Impact!, the team was named London Brawling. They were scheduled to receive their shot at The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin) and the TNA World Tag Team Championship at No Surrender, but were at the last minute pulled from the event, with TNA citing a "personal issue" as the reason. It was later reported that Wolfe was pulled from the event due to an undisclosed medical situation that would sideline him for the next few months. On a December 2014 podcast, McGuinness revealed that at this time, he tested positive for Hepatitis B.
On-screen his absence was explained by Magnus, who claimed that in an attempt to become a dual athlete, Wolfe had travelled to London to try out for Chelsea F.C. On November 21, 2010, TNA president Dixie Carter announced that Wolfe was close to a comeback. On the December 16 episode of Impact!, Magnus met his former tag team partner Doug Williams and informed him that Wolfe was now done with football and would be coming back soon, while also telling him that they had gotten rid of Chelsea. Wolfe finally made his return in a non–televised segment on December 10, 2010, at the tapings of the January 6, 2011, episode of Impact!, when he and Magnus saved Williams from Fortune members A.J. Styles and Rob Terry.
Xplosion Commissioner (2011)
On May 16, 2011, Wolfe made his return to TNA, when he was announced as the new commissioner of Xplosion, turning face in the process. During his time as the commissioner, Wolfe also served as the third member of the Xplosion announcing team, working beside Jeremy Borash and Taz. However, on June 17 it was reported that Wolfe had been released from his TNA contract.
Return to ROH and retirement (2011–2016)
On August 13, 2011, Haworth, returning to his Nigel McGuinness ring name, returned to ROH at the promotion's first Ring of Honor Wrestling tapings under the Sinclair Broadcast Group banner, working as the color commentator beside Kevin Kelly. The tapings concluded with McGuinness saving Eddie Edwards from the House of Truth.
After a fourteen-month break from in-ring competition, it was announced on October 24 that McGuinness would be making his return to the ring on November 11 at a Squared Circle Wrestling (2CW) event in Watertown, New York, starting a two-month-long string of shows billed as the "Nigel McGuinness Retirement Tour". In his return match, McGuinness faced Eddie Edwards in a losing effort. The following day, McGuinness was defeated by Chad Collyer at a HWA event in Hamilton, Ohio. A week later Haworth, performing as Desmond Wolfe, was defeated by Jebediah at a Main Event Championship Wrestling event in Alliance, Ohio. On November 25, McGuinness returned to the United Kingdom, when he was defeated by Eddie Edwards in a Fight Club: Pro Championship three-way match in Wolverhampton, which also included Trent Seven. The following day, McGuinness was defeated by Jon Ryan at a Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) event in Oberhausen, Germany, before returning to lose to Joel Redman at an International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom (IPW:UK) event in Sittingbourne on November 27. After two more weekends of shows in the United Kingdom, McGuinness returned to the United States for his final match, which took place at an American Pro Wrestling Alliance (APWA) event in Clarksburg, West Virginia on December 17, 2011.
At the November 3, 2012, tapings of Ring of Honor Wrestling, McGuinness was named the new "Matchmaker" of Ring of Honor, replacing Jim Cornette as the main on-screen authority figure. In December 2012, McGuinness released a documentary titled The Last of McGuinness on his final days as an in-ring performer, during which he revealed that WWE had rescinded his contract after feeling an old biceps injury needed surgery, while his in-ring career in TNA ended after contracting hepatitis B during his time there. In late May 2013, McGuinness toured the United Kingdom with the shorter final cut of his documentary and has become an advocate for hepatitis B vaccination and an end to the use of intentional blood loss in wrestling. In 2014, following the success of his documentary, McGuinness began working in the film industry as an Assistant Editor and Production Assistant on various television shows and in December of that year launched a Kickstart campaign for his new creative project, L.A. Fights, described as a scripted show about "a diverse group of amateur fighters and their morally ambivalent promoter struggle to coexist in their upstart fight league". In December 2016, ROH announced McGuinness had resigned as the promotion's matchmaker. McGuinness' position was a storyline and he will remain with the promotion in another role going forward.
On December 15, 2016, WWE announced that McGuinness had signed with the company as an announcer, debuting at the WWE United Kingdom Championship tournament on January 14 and 15, 2017. During NXT TakeOver: San Antonio pre-show, McGuinness joined NXT as announcer, by replacing Corey Graves due to other commitments in the WWE Universe, starting on February 8, 2017 TV airing (February 2, 2017 TV taping). On September 4, 2017, immediately following John "Bradshaw" Layfield's departure for charity work, it was announced that McGuinness replaced Graves as color commentator on 205 Live and Main Event, along with Vic Joseph as a heel. Starting on October 17, 2018, he and Vic also called matches for NXT UK.
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- Arm drag
- Arm wringer
- Artful Dodger (Roll-up, as a counter to an oncoming opponent)
- Bridging scissored armbar
- Cross chop to an opponent's throat
- Flowing snap DDT
- Front powerslam, sometimes while applying a hammerlock
- Multiple hammerlock variations
- Multiple lariat variations
- Shoot kick to the back of a cornered opponent followed up with a falling lariat to the opponent's throat
- Standing or a running European uppercut, sometimes to a cornered opponent
- Top turnbuckle handstand evasion followed by a double foot mule kick
- With Magnus
- Entrance themes
Championships and accomplishments
- Heartland Wrestling Association
- New Breed Wrestling Association
- NBWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- One Pro Wrestling
- 1PW Openweight Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #6 in the 2009 PWI Top 500 Wrestlers
- Ring of Honor
- Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
- TNA World Tag Team Championship #1 Contender's Tournament (2010) - with Magnus