Eric Young grew up a pro wrestling fan and has been in the industry for over 20 years. While speaking with NewsChannel 5, he talked about how he got to fulfill a dream with TNA.
“Pro wrestling is all that I’ve wanted to do since I was five years old,” Young said. “My first and only goal in wrestling was to sign a contract to say, ‘this is what I do for a living.’ I don’t have another job on the side. I pay my bills, and live a decent life through wrestling. In 2004, that became a reality for me, and TNA was the reason for that.”
Young also talked about his unique career in TNA and how it opened up other opportunities outside of wrestling.
“My career is interesting for that way. I’ve done everything. I’ve wrestled the opening match. I’ve wrestled the main event. I’ve won every title there was. I’ve wrestled girls. I was Knockouts Tag Team Champions with ODB. I can truly say that I’ve done it all. People say, ‘did you like doing the comedy stuff?’ The first year I was there I was a member of Team Canada. I didn’t say a word for two years. I did the comedy thing for almost eight years, maybe closer to nine years. Loved that,” Young said. “[I] got a fishing show out of that, branched into television. Hosted a thing on Spike and did a bunch of other stuff because it showed I could do other things.”
Young was asked about the similarities between Vince McMahon and Dixie Carter, and he praises McMahon for growing WWE into a multi-billion dollar business.
“The similarities is that wrestling, at all levels, has all of the same problems, they’re just at a different scale. [They’re] two professionals. [The] two [have] very different views on business, very different views on wrestling,” Young said. “Vince McMahon, if you’re asking my opinion, is a genius. He invented network television, how we know it. He was ahead of the curve on how television was going to be consumed in the next five years by having the WWE [Network] for $9. He went from a $750-800 million business to a $2.9 billion business. He did that in a year. Who grows a company like that? Nobody and that’s just for the rights to air his television shows. That’s not including digital content [and] merchandising. T-shirt sales alone, I don’t think there’s another media business that sells as many t-shirts as WWE.”
Young talked about how TNA was more of an alternative to WWE rather than serious competition. He also pointed out how AJ Styles was made popular thanks to TNA.
“When I was in TNA, there was a point where it was a legitimate alternative. There was a place that guys could go. Guys could make a very good living. If you were a fan, and you were tired of this, you could go see this. If you didn’t like this, then you could switch back over to this. There was never a point where it was a competition. We were never competing with the WWE. We were definitely an alternative, but there was never a competition,” Young said.
“We were playing the same game. We’re doing the same things. They were the Yankees. We were the Nashville Sounds. Nashville Sounds are fun. It’s still professional baseball. Some of those guys are just as good as some guys in the majors, but they don’t have that one-way contract yet. That’s what it was. Look at the WWE roster now. 10 of the top 20 guys worked with me. In my opinion, right now, AJ Styles is the best in-ring performer there is. He’s been that for a long time. Well, he was put on the map and discovered by TNA wrestling, and he would say that too.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit NewsChannel 5 with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.