Eric Young achieved significant success over the course of his career in TNA Impact Wrestling. He recently took some time out of his busy schedule to participate in an interview with me. His career has spanned over 18 years, and he has been wrestling since the age of 18. In his early career he earned a name for himself competing for several independent promotions in Canada, and then earned more recognition competing for TNA. His growth as a performer has been remarkable.
In the interview, Young shares his thoughts about his early training, his feuds in TNA, working with ODB and his surprise debut on WWE’s NXT a couple of weeks ago. He also opens up about his history with the business and who was integral in his wrestling development, as well as his early training and development through a wrestling facility that he also owned. Young also discusses talent that he helped train and how they have flourished.
TNA and WWE fans will be impressed with how Young’s commitment, passion and dedication is just as evident today as it was when he first began training before the turn of the century. Young is also a diehard hockey fan that encourages fans to see live independent wrestling and live professional hockey as well. There really is nothing quite like watching either sport, as Young can attest. Young remains an inspiration that fans can communicate with via various social mediums, such as Twitter where he can be reached @TheEricYoung.
10. Waldo von Erich , Carl LeDuc, Scott D’Amore and Chris Kanyon have all been credited with training you. What did you gain from each experience?
“Each was his own individual that is for sure. Waldo, he was pretty old and beat up when I met him, and he’s since passed on, but he was a great guy and a lot of what I learned from Waldo wasn’t any of the physical stuff, it was the mentality, it was the psychology of wrestling, being in character and making people believe. Those are the things that I hold near and dear still to this day, and this is the guy who still holds the record for longest match in Madison Square Garden history – 93 minutes with Bruno Sammartino. People thought he was a real Nazi, and they tried to kill him. It’s hard to imagine how good that would make you feel, and that sounds crazy to say, but having people hate you that much and making them hate you is just insane. All those guys were a very integral part early on and even later on in my life. Scott, I’m not sitting here talking to you if it’s not for Scott D’Amore.
Kanyon, was actually shooting the Jesse Ventura story. He was outsourced by WCW to be the head fight choreographer and stunt coordinator for the Jesse Ventura movie which aired on, I believe, NBC. It was the unsanctioned, official/unofficial Jesse Ventura movie. I met him (Kanyon) up in Toronto. I did a small part in the movie, and up until I started wrestling for TNA it was the most money I had ever made in wrestling, which is hilarious because it’s about 30 seconds of wrestling. You see me, but you can’t really tell it’s me. (In the story) Jesse had just come back from the army, and I go to the ring and there is a quick spot. It was cool being with a guy that was on TV, and I guy that I really liked. He was really innovative and was kind of ahead of his time, doing stuff that nobody was doing way back then.”
9. Share if you could the Wrestleplex training facility. What inspired that operation and was there anyone at the time of their training you could see becoming a success?
“There were actually two, Wrestleplex Ontario and Wrestleplex Vancouver, that were loosely affiliated. I knew the guy that was running the one out there (in Vancouver) and I really like him, Rocket Randy Tyler. Nelson Creed, was another guy very good friend of mine that was helping run the school there. I started the Ontario school because I loved training guys and started doing it really early on. Carl LeDuc was responsible for all of my physical in-ring training, and lived at the same apartment, and trained us five days a week. I had some experience and I guess I was one of the better students since I was there every night, so I have got to take it over the training. Then, I started doing indies and stuff and tryouts with the WWE, and I really wanted a place where I could stay sharp. I loved wrestling, so being able to have my own ring, to go out there and work on stuff and go over whatever I wanted sounded really appealing to me.
I didn’t have a pile of students, but a lot of really good students, a really good group of guys that were really dedicated and there several nights a week. It was an amazing experience. I’m happy to say I trained Tye Dillinger of NXT, I was the first school he went to. He was good right away; I could tell him one thing or show him one thing and he could already do it, and do it probably better than I could. When he signed his first deal it was kind of like your kid going to Harvard, and he’s still there and is very very respected for several reasons, but his in-ring ability speaks for itself. Crazzy Steve that works for TNA is another guy I trained. Jake O’Reilly, Ashley Sixx, Chris Chambers, these are all guys out of Ontario that have done something and made a good name for themselves. I never guaranteed anything, I just said if you come here, you will know how to wrestle. Whether that means you will be able to do it for a living or do it for independently, that’s up to you. It was a blast having the school.”
8. Explain how your initial involvement with TNA came about and the idea behind Team Canada. What did you feel about the collection of guys apart from the faction and what laid ahead for them?
“Scott was a huge part of that. I was doing tryouts pretty heavily with the WWF, WWE now. Bobby Roode and I were doing them it seemed like every month. Nothing really stuck, I remember having a brief conversation with Stephanie McMahon about coming there. TNA called me because I had done one four-man tag with them on one of their pay-per-views and they were getting ready to do the very first World X Cup, and they said we’re interested in you coming down and being a part of Team Canada. My first contract was for four shows, same for Bobby and Petey (Williams) and Johnny Devine, all the other members of Team Canada.
I remember us getting really crazy heat right away, and it just took off. They signed all of us to full-time deals after that. I guess we impressed them and they wanted to have this heel Canadian faction full-time. It was just amazing, some of the fondest memories of my career.”
7. The initial feud with Robert Roode and James Storm was a special time. Where did the paranoia of the Young character come from? What stood out as a highlight in the feud?
“I was pressuring them (TNA), as much as someone new could pressure them. I said I want a character, a gimmick, and it didn’t really particularly matter what it was whether it was a heel or a babyface. That’s my strength, my skill set: making people believe that I am that person that I’m crazy or happy go lucky or funny or whatever it is that you decide that you need. I can wrestle with anybody. There are guys that can athletically make me look like a slug, but I can keep up with almost anybody.
For the first two years, I was there I didn’t say a single word. I was in a lot of pre-tapes and a lot of promos but I never said anything that was always Scott, sometimes it was Bobby, sometimes it was Petey, every now and then Johnny would say something, but I would never said a single word for almost two years. I was kind of the silent guy that was there to carry the action, I got hired because I was a wrestler and a lot of people knew me as the comedy guy, but I never made a name for myself in wrestling being a comedy guy. That comedy stuff started in TNA. I was never a comedy guy in indies. I never did any funny angles. I never did any character stuff. I was a wrestler that’s it and that’s how I got my job.
That thing came along and they said, we want you to be paranoid about being fired. Falling down from my pyro and all that stuff, I came up with on the fly, thinking about what it be like if I was a pro wrestler and I was really paranoid, I’m talking really paranoid. It all kind of happened naturally, but I just liked it because I could sink my teeth into it. People really thought that I was worried or was a simpleton. I am part that guy, but people believed that’s actually who I was and that’s what makes me proud.”
6. One of biggest feuds of your career was your feud against the Main Event Mafia. What did that experience leave you with and what have you been able to take from it throughout your career?
“For me it was my first step in a serious role, and there was a lot of doubters. I had been cast as the popcorn guy, the funny guy, the ‘don’t take him too serious because you will cheer for him and he’s a going to get beat‘ guy. Admittedly, it was a big stretch, but I was excited. I’m tagging with Kevin Nash, and on the other side you’ve got Steiner, Kurt Angle and Booker T, and I kind of proved that I could kind of hang with those guys whether it is verbally or in the ring. I didn’t let myself be intimidated by any of them, I stood up for myself and slid into the role as best I could, and it was really cool. For me, it was a test: can I do it at that level? I think I proved that I could. It was going really well, and then there was a changing of the guard at TNA and they didn’t like that angle and they didn’t like me and Kevin together, so they split us up and it was back to square one. However, I have fond memories and I wouldn’t change any of it. It’s all a huge learning experience.”
5. EY as a face is great, but heel EY is just amazing. Share if you could details of the program with Jeff Jarrett,Kurt Angle & Mick Foley. Any thoughts, feelings or memories?
“For me, it just gave me confidence. It allowed me to just know that I can do it. I think everyone feels self-doubt in whatever it is that you do, and if you have to step outside yourself, then you have to. I feel confident doing anything in wrestling. I’ve said this in other interviews. I’m not good at anything. I’m terrible at life and paying bills and being a regular human being, all that regular life kind of stuff, I’m awful at it. I’m not great at any sports. I’m not really good at much of anything, but wrestling I can do. I was good at it right away, the first day I did it. I mean, you never really know whether you’re going to be able to make it. Truth is, a lot of times it’s out of your hands, even if you are really, really good. I have the confidence and the knowledge that I can do it at any level.”
4. How did the World Elite booking come about, and how did you become the face of that faction?
“That was me saying, I have no problems being the funny guy, but I think I’m suited for a bigger role, I have a skill set that is much more than I am allowed to show at this point. They wrote the storyline and it was a whole bunch of us that didn’t really have a whole lot going on and they put us in this group, this foreign heel group, and I liked the idea of it. It wasn’t so much that America was stupid and it wasn’t the typical ‘oh, we hate Americans and we hate America.’ It was, we love America, but the problem is Americans are messing it up for everybody. It was maybe too deep of an idea for pro wrestling, but I really liked it. It was USA versus the bad guys from other countries but it was cool. I got to talk a lot and be the leader of this group filled with super talented people: Doug Williams, Magnus, Daivari, and Rob Terry. We had a tool for every situation, it was a great group and getting a lot of heat and getting really over. Then the guard changed at TNA again and the angle was a victim of circumstance more than anything.
A group like this could still be going in some form or fashion, and the truth was, we didn’t really get a chance to sink our teeth into it, it was six months, eight months at the most. We were really just starting to establish what it was and who we were and what we meant and then it was still split up again. That was frustrating for me, but that’s part of wrestling. I’m not mad about it, but it is frustrating when you pour yourself into something and believe in it wholeheartedly and it gets pulled out from under you for no good reason. It’s just personal choice, I suppose.”
3. I had a chance to speak with ODB last year and she said working with you was a career highlight. What were your impressions of the angle and was there anything you would have liked changed or not?
“For me it was over, people loved it. Whenever I do wrestling conventions or signings or other shows, people always ask ‘Where’s ODB? I loved you guys together and loved that angle so much and remember when you did this or remember when you did that.’ It was fun. She is an ultra, ultra-talented person. Probably at the time she was the most over Knockout there. Her ability to talk is good, understanding in the ring was good, and she understood who she is and how she fits into the wrestling landscape, and how to get over. There is no better skill in wrestling than knowing how to get over, that’s the number one skill. Whether it’s to make people love you or to make people hate you, I believe that wholeheartedly to this day. And she is one of the best at it, ever.
I loved and people loved it. I think someone was telling me the other day that we were the only wedding to start and finish. It was interrupted, but we carried on and we finished it. I guess that’s why we had it in the cage, so people couldn’t come in and ruin it for us.
Between the belts and I’m wrestling women for six months, but I’m not allowed to touch them. If you really go back and look, I don’t really touch them. Spike TV had a rule where men and women weren’t allowed to touch so I’d wrestle women for six months, but I’m not allowed to touch them. I don’t know if there are a lot of guys out there that can pull that off and I did it. That’s probably what I’m most proud of; no one ever said, ‘Oh they don’t ever do anything’. They said ‘This was fun’ and ‘That was entertaining’ and ‘That was good.’ That for me was the ultimate feather in my cap.”
2. On May 29, you’ll be competing for Smash Wrestling against Johnny Gargano. How does it feel to be competing once again for Smash & being back in Ontario?
“Ontario is my home. It’s where I grew up, it’s where I cut my teeth in wrestling, it’s where I started. Johnny, is ultra-talented. This will be I think our third match and we have really good chemistry. I worked with against him this past summer for Global Force in Cleveland, his hometown, and I was the bad guy. He came out as a surprise, and it was just fun. He’s a great guy, he’s a great wrestler. This will be my first time wrestling for Smash. I hear only good things, and I know Sebastian (Suave) a little bit, and I know a lot of the guys that work on the shows. Ontario is a hotbed; there are twenty guys working in that part of the country that could be on TV right now. Fans there are spoiled rotten, and they’re good fans. They are respectful, understand wrestling, show up and are great pro wrestling fans. It’s always great to come home.”
1. The elephant in the room is that at the April 28 WWE NXT tapings, the wrestling world was shocked to see your appearance and confrontation with Samoa Joe. How did it initially come about and what can be wrestling fans expect from you in NXT?
“That’s a big beautiful elephant if you’re asking me (laughs.) My time came to an end in TNA, it didn’t end badly, but it didn’t end the way I wanted it to. People don’t get divorced because they’re happy. I didn’t agree with some stuff, but we couldn’t come to terms and see eye to eye on some things, so it was time for me to go and move on. Twelve amazing years, which is insane to say, and I became a free agent. WWE reached out to me about coming down there for a meeting, and I met and talked with Hunter. Things went great; he is a straightforward and honest guy and so am I, and everything worked out and they said ‘Hey, what do you think about being a surprise on the show?’ I said ‘Absolutely.’ One thing led to another and out I came, and people went crazy.
They put the clip up and it airs May 4. It’s humbling; I figured there would be a reaction, I figured there would be something. I worked hard for it and earned it. But I didn’t expect the volume, and the amount of reaction surprised me. It was an amazing experience to be there and to interrupt the new Heavyweight Champion, Samoa Joe, a really good friend of mine, a super talented guy. To get to share the ring with him in the main event on NXT is the first step of many for me and it’s an amazing step.”