Exclusive Interview With TNA World Champion Eric Young
Eric Young has been in TNA for nearly a decade and in that time we have seen him be a member of Team Canada, a stint a a comic book hero Super Eric, all the way through to being the top dog in the company and current TNA World Heavyweight Champion.
The 34-year-old from Florence, Ontario, Canada has won numerous titles turing his time in the company including; X Division champion, multiple time Tag Team champion, Television champion and ever Knockouts Tag Team champion with ODB, however the current title around his waste tops the lot.
We caught up with EY to talk about, getting to work with some of his heroes, his Animal Planet shows, and of course the night he was crowned TNA World Champion, plus much more.
Q. How did you first get into the sport of professional wrestling?
I’ve been a fan since I was five-years-old, I’ve watched it my whole life and it’s all I ever really wanted to do. The week after I finished high school I began training at a gym, and three months after that I had my first pro match and it ha just snowballed from there. I’ve wrestled in all 50 states, every province, wrestled all over the world and now I’m the World Heavyweight champion, it has been a pretty wild ride.
Q. When growing up who were some of the wrestlers that you enjoyed watching?
Being from Canada, Bret and Owen Hart were massive influences on me. Then there were guys like Sting, Terry Funk, Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, I have a huge list of wrestlers that I enjoyed watching. I loved Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior, there was just something about it from the age of five or six and I couldn’t get enough.
Still to this day I have lots of VHS tapes with tens of thousands of wrestling, I loved it when I five and I still love it today.
Q. You’ve had the chance to work with the likes of Sting, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, what was it like working with guys you grew up watching?
It’s hard to put that into words, these were guys that I idolised growing up, these were people that I wanted to be. I actually got to wrestle Sting in his first match back after 10 years away, and just being in the ring with him was a dream come true but very surreal at the same time. Sting was always good to be, Hulk as well, they always had time for me and it was great to be able to share a locker-room with guys like that and be on the same roster.
Q. The likes of Sting, Hulk Hogan, AJ Styles, and Jeff Jarrett have all left TNA in recent months, what has that been like?
There is always massive turnover in professional wrestling, people come, people go, some people go to work in other places and some people end up coming back, that is just the nature of the beast. It’s never nice to see anyone go, but I’m still really good buddies with AJ Styles and we talk whenever we get a chance – we’re actually planning on doing a bike trip together in the summer.
Q. When you first started in TNA did you ever think you’ll become World Heavyweight champion?
It’s always something that I wanted, and personally it’s always something I believed I could do. I don’t think there is anybody that doesn’t want to become World Heavyweight champion when they are in this business. The night I won the belt from Magnus on IMPACT! was a great feeling, I’m not taking anything away from him, it was an amazing match and he’s a super talented guy but I was better that day and now I’m the World champion and that sounds kind of crazy to say out loud.
Q. What can we expect from you as Champion?
I told the fans and I meant it, that I’m going to be a fighting champion, that’s the kind of champion I like and that is the kind of champion I’m going to be. Every chance I get to defend my title I will, I will defend my title against anybody, anytime, any place, any time.
Q. Who are some of the people you are looking forward to defending your title against?
The list is huge, pound-for-pound TNA has one of the pro wrestling rosters in the world. I’ve got a massive history with Bobby Roode, and he was they guy that held the belt longer than anybody, I would love to get in the ring and test myself against him.
Guys like Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, Austin Aries, James Storm, Gunner, Ken Anderson, these are all guys that I want to defend my belt against. They are all worthy, they all deserve a shot at the belt and secondly I want to test myself against the best and see what happens.
Q. What have been some of the highlights for you during your 10 year tenure in TNA?
Obviously my favourite moment was that night on IMPACT! when I won the gauntlet match and then went on to wrestle Magnus and become the World Heavyweight Champion for the first time. I wouldn’t change anything about my journey, it’s been an amazing journey, I’ve done all these different roles – I’ve been X-Division Champion, I’ve Tag Team champion on numerous occasions, I’ve held the TV title, I’ve even won the Knockouts Tag Titles with ODB.
One of the things I’m most proud of is being on television every week for nearly 10 years, which is something not many people are able to do. I think that shows my versatility, you never know what is going to happen next in this industry, it’s a crazy business but it has been great to experience all of it, the good, the bad and the indifferent.
I’ve always prided myself when the fans say things like, Eric Young is the most entertaining guy in professional wrestling. That’s really important to me, it always has been, it always will be, that’s the name of the game when it comes right down to it, it’s a television show, and it’s about entertaining people, if that with physicality that’s great, if its with comedy that’s great.
My first two years in TNA I didn’t say a singe word, I was the guy on team Canada to carry the action and to be physical, I got hired here because I was a pro wrestler, it had nothing to do with me being funny, and it’s cool to remind people of that because I’m a pro wrestler at my core, or the other stuff is important to me but I’m a pro wrestler first and foremost.
Q. As World Champion, what more can we expect from yourself for the rest of 2014?
More of the same, I’ve always prided myself putting in 100% effort and it doesn’t matter if I’m sick or I’m hurt I will always put in the same amount of effort. As champion I feel that extra weight on my shoulders, being ‘the guy’ it’s important for me that people say Eric Young was involved in the best match on the show. For me it’s about making moments and memories, it’s about making people remember stuff. I’ve had lots of positive feedback so far and I just want to continue defending my belt and being the best I can.
Q. With yourself as TNA Champion and Daniel Bryan as WWE Champion, is it the era of the beard?
Yeah, it’s obviously the era of the beard, I’m not daft, I don’t live under a rock, I hear these things and I’m sure he hears them too. I’ve actually met Daniel in person and I always hear nothing but good things about him. Anytime anyone want to compare me to him, I have absolutely no problem with that, feel free to carry on, he’s a super talented guy and a tremendous wrestler.
Q. Away from wrestling you’ve also presented a number of hit shows on Animal Planet, what has that been like?
It’s amazing, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. I still have other goals in my life but TV is something that I’ve always wanted to do. I love entertaining people, the shows allow me to combine my passion of extreme sports, I’ve always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I’ve been all over North America and done lots of crazy things, and it’s been an amazing experience.
Q. What is it like being a guest on the Steve Austin podcast?
Steve and myself are kind of wired the same way, he loves pro wrestling and always has, I love pro wrestling. He’s also an outdoors man, he loves fishing an he watched my shows on Animal Planet and loved them and through the miracle of Twitter I got talking to him, we went back a forth and hit it off right away.
We’re still buddies and talk to this day. For me he was a guy that I idolised and is one of the top five pro wrestlers of all time. I got to go to his house in LA, we sat around his computer with the microphone and we just talked about wrestling and life.