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Eric Young talks TNA, WWE, spooky wrestling and more

By 7 July 2024July 8th, 2024Featured, Interviews

By Sam Smith

Eric Young

Eric Young is a veteran of the squared circle in both TNA and WWW. However when it comes to TNA, EY is a legend who’s done everything there is to do – more than once.

Wrestlesphere sat down with Eric to discuss his current TNA run, role as a locker room leader and to get his thoughts on the recent TNA/NXT crossovers.

We started by asking Eric Young about loss to Josh Alexander in the run-up to Slammiversary (2024). This loss disqualifies Young from competing for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at the event, which like any wrestler, is his ultimate goal.

“I obviously wanted to advance, the ultimate goal is always to hold the TNA World Championship. Josh and I have been friends for a long time, I respect him and there’s no shame in losing to Josh Alexander. Tensions can run high sometimes, I guess, I think that’s the easiest way to describe that.”

Eric Young champ

Eric Young wants the TNA Championship back.

As Eric Young has flirted with the dark side throughout his career, even psychologically confronting his villainous self in cinematic backstage skits, we asked Eric if his loss to Alexander –that resulted in him being locked out of the title picture – tempted him to unleash this dark side.

He said, “There’s always a temptation, that’s part of who I am, I try not to let it effect me but I’ve still only got that one goal, and that’s to be World Champion. I want that responsibility, I want that prestige. People point out I’ve won it twice before, but that just makes me want it more. You can’t understand it until you’ve held it.”

“Two guys went into that match and one walked out victorious. I wish Josh all the best, the main event at Slammiversary is going to be wild, six guys in one match? That’s going to be something to behold in Montreal. I’ll be excited and watching closely.”

TNA wrestlers often mention Eric Young as a locker room leader, paying particular attention to his creative notes and guidance around developing stories and characters. We were keen to speak to the man himself about this. Here’s what he told us:

“I usually only give advice to people if they ask for it, but if they do I’m happy to give them my ideas and thoughts. The most important thing I can offer is my experience, not just experience doing one thing well, but I’ve done everything in my career.

I may not be the athlete I was when I was 25, but I’m ten times the professional wrestler. Nobody does this on their own, I’ve had advice from Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Triple H, Shawn Michaels – some of the best to ever do it, so if people want my help then I’ll give it to them. That’s how this industry thrives and learns to be better.”

Eric Young NXT

Eric Young as the leader of Sanity in NXT (Image credit WWE)

With spooky characters and storylines being on the rise in pro-wrestling, with acts like the Wyatt Sicks, Jonathan Gresham and the late Bray Wyatt, we asked Eric Young his thoughts on these ideas. After all, EY was the leader of the Sanity stable in NXT and Violent by Design in TNA, two factions that both leaned into the macabre and at times felt like a cult.

“Its always had a home. In some kind of way wrestling has always been a home for the bizarre, the different. Wrestling was inclusive before anything else. Its always been about making yourself interesting, can you make people interested in watching what you do, and can you make money doing it.”

“The dark side, the creepy, the spooky, that’s been part of storytelling since we lived in caves. It’s part of wrestling because it’s part of life. I always try to do it from a grounded place, because that’s what wrestling fans are looking for. It can’t be too unbelievable or over the top, there has to be something grounding it in truth, and I think that the best stories and storytellers ground themselves in truth.”

“I think back to the latest thing I was involved in and it’s Violent By Design and it might be the thing I’m proud of most in my entire career. I really loved it and was very involved in the music, the entrance, the promos. It was still pro wrestling, but it was separate from the every day.”

We then asked Eric if he’s proud of his former stablemates, especially those who’ve continued to pursue creepy gimmicks like Nikki Cross and Cody Deaner.

“Oh for sure. I’ve worked with such super-talented people like Damo, Nikki Cross, Axel Tischer and Cody Deaner – who’s been one of my best friend for over 25 years. The sad truth is the world is only just learning about how good he really is. Big Joe Doering who became one of my best friends, we became very close. That right there is a group of my favourite people in wrestling. The only thing that exceeds their talent is that they’re all good people.”

Now that TNA and WWE’s developmental brand, NXT, are working together on what’s turning into a weekly basis, as a man who’s spent time working in both promotions, we were excited to hear about Eric’s unique perspective on these crossovers – and if he think’s its a great opportunity for both promotions.

“Oh yeah, with Joe Hendry being white-hot and home grown in TNA, it was really cool to see him get that entrance in NXT. For me it’s good for both sides, but mostly, it’s good for pro wrestling. I think both sides realise that.”

“Of course, WWE is the big boy on the block, Hunter is a really good friend of mine and we talk quite often, so I trust him with whatever he wants to go on. And those calling the shots here are doing a really good job of going back and forth. The truth is, as a wrestling fan, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

“I mean it’s already super cool, and it gets people thinking and talking, and the more people think and talk, the more the two companies think and talk, the better this whole thing will get. It’s a great relationship, for both sides, so it’s just about finding that push and pull, that back and forth, from a place of respect. It’s a great deal, either way. Who knows what’s going to happen next!”

Eric Young

Eric reforms Team Canada.

We asked Eric if he feels like wrestling companies working together is a step towards countering fan tribalism and toxicity in the industry, reminding fans that it’s possible to enjoy more than one wrestling promotion.

Eric said. “Yes, tribalism is out of control, man. People should just be able to enjoy what they enjoy. There’s now so much to choose from and if you want to like it all then like it all, if you want to watch just one then watch just one.”

“Tribalism is almost as confusing to me as racism, I just don’t understand it. I don’t know what people are so mad. Just watch what you want, it’s all your choice. I hope it goes away over time, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.”

Finally, as a TNA legend, we wanted to know Eric Young’s thoughts on the rebrand back to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling from Impact.

“I knew months before that they were thinking about it, I was worried. I was part of  TNA wrestling before it changed to Impact and it was one of those things which became cool to hate. It didn’t matter what we did, so I was worried about that.”

“But I think nostalgia wipes the grime away. I can say that when we played that video in Chicago, when we announced the return to TNA, when we were in the ring when the lights came back up, that was one of the most electric moments of my entire career.”

“The moment the return of TNA was revealed is probably the moment I’m going to look back on most fondly. It’s just one of the coolest moments of my life. There’s a lot of history and pride for me in those three letters and we’re growing it for a new generation of fans and wrestlers, many of whom grew up on TNA.”

TNA Slammiversary takes place on Sat Jul 20, 2024 at the Verdun Auditorium in Montreal.