Eric Young's victory over Magnus on the April 10 episode of IMPACT was more than about capturing the TNA world heavyweight title. It was more than about shocking the internet wrestling community. Young's victory was the culmination of a long journey of sacrifice, perseverance and inspiration. Ironically, Young's title reign could come to an abrupt end at TNA's Sacrifice PPV on Sunday April 27 as he defends the strap in a rematch against Magnus.
Young has heard the critics scoffing at his world title reign. In fact, the man he defeated for the world title embraced this very same mentality. However, if Magnus doesn't take EY seriously at the PPV, he could be making Young's job easier. On Friday April 25, Eric Young spoke with Fight Sports Examiner and was quick to point out the huge mistake that Magnus, or anyone else, would be making if they took him lightly:
"Yes. I am a goof ball. I am a class clown. I’ve always been a funny guy. I like making people laugh and entertaining people," said an excited Eric Young. "But, I am still a professional athlete and a wrestling champion. Being funny does not take away from tough. In fact there is nothing cooler than being funny and tough. If people want to take me lightly – awesome. Makes my job easier."
Despite Young's newfound demands as world champion, Eric continues to train hard. In fact, he hasn't changed anything with his training and preparation. Young continues to train as if he's still pursuing the world title:
"Training never changes. It is constant. Most people who are wrestling fans, and even some who are not, understand pro wrestling is a 365 days a year effort. I have to be ready every day to be the World Champ, and now I can say I am. There is no off season. There are no off days. Being the champ puts extra motivation – does not change what I do daily with regard to training."
In addition to his physical training, Young also seeks advice and constructive criticism from other superstars and former champions on the roster:
"The locker room at TNA is a wealth of knowledge. Kurt Angle is an example of a guy you can’t help but learn from, and there are certainly others. I am friends with many of the guys on the roster and I am always learning and exploring how to get better."
Angle doesn't only provide Young with invaluable wisdom, but he also represents one end of the spectrum in regards to Eric's versatility. Not only can EY get into the ring and wrestle Kurt Angle, but as seen two weeks ago on IMPACT, Young can also participate in a grueling Monster's Ball match against Abyss. This versatility is one of Young's most impressive strengths and something he takes great pride in:
"Versatility is something I pride myself on and have focused on from the first day I started wrestling. I’ve won every belt in TNA – including Knockouts Tag titles. I can face anyone and go wherever the match leads and takes me. Versatility is my strong suit. It is hard to prepare for someone like me."
Eric Young does have the rare distinction of holding titles in both the men's and women's divisions. In March 2012, Young captured the Knockouts tag titles with his on-air romantic flame ODB. They held the belts for over a year. So, this rare title reign does make one think whether or not we could see EY unify the TNA world title with the Knockouts title. Unfortunately, Young wasn't as optimistic of this possibility: "I would imagine not, though a dual champion is a dual champion."
If that weren't disappointing enough for the legion of EY fans, it also appears that we won't be seeing Young clean shaven again like in his days as the leader of World Elite:
"I think if I shaved my beard I might lose both of my jobs. The beard is one of my things now and has been since 2009. I had a beard when it was considered weird. If I shave now people would not recognize me."
The second job Young was referring to is his hosting gig of the reality TV series Off the Hook: Extreme Catches. Filming has already begun on the next season and has definitely added to the demands of TNA's versatile world champ:
"We are right in the middle of shooting. Life is crazy busy right now. The new show is scheduled to premiere this Summer. I’ve been part of some crazy and super exclusive crazy adventures like ostrich racing, redwood pruning and cave exploring. I can’t wait for people to see the show."
During the interview, Young revealed that Animal Planet is likely to change the name of the show. But, regardless of the show's name, most fans want to know if we'll see Young carrying the world title on his wild fishing adventures:
"All depends on how long I am able to hold on to the title. Every week will be a new challenge. I am world champion – something that can never be taken away. EY is and will always be a world champ."
Young's success on the show has added to his overall popularity. Many fans recognize him from his TV show in addition to his elite status as a world champion. If you see Young in public like at an airport, don't be afraid to go up and say hi. The comical Young embraces the interactions with fans and never wants it to end:
"The beard makes me completely recognizable. There is no hiding from it – and I don’t want to hide from it. People I meet love seeing the title. They tell me congrats Champ – and it is a thrill. It will never get old."
Young would go on to share a recent experience in an airport with fans who recognized him from his reality TV show:
"Also, the Animal Planet show is a show for both guys and girls. Older women and young girls stop me. Guys stop me. Recently while in the Atlanta airport I was eating breakfast and I hear screams. Two teenage girls were dragging their dad toward me. It was like a member of the Beatles was in the room, and they were screaming for me. That’s a neat feeling. "
For those wrestlers on the indy scene dreaming of making it to the top level in pro-wrestling, Young shared the following advice:
"You have to be prepared to outwork everyone. Pro Wrestling is a hard business to get into. Getting to a level where it is a job – working on TV and traveling the world. There are limited positions. You have to be the best of the best. Whether in front of four people or 40,000 – I give all I can every night. Give what you can every night. Experience as much as you can."
After talking with Young, it's this columnist's opinion that the TNA world champion will successfully defend his title at the Sacrifice PPV and continue his reign as champion.
TNA Sacrifice will be live on PPV from Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. The following matches have been announced for the PPV:
World Heavyweight Championship: Eric Young vs. Magnus
Tag Team Match: Willow and Kurt Angle vs. Ethan Carter and Spud
Tables Match: Bobby Roode vs Bully Ray
Tag Team Championship (Handicap Match): The BroMans vs. The Wolves
Knockouts Championship: Angelina Love vs Madison Rayne
X Division Championship (Match 3): Sanada vs. Tigre Uno
I-Quit Match: James Storm vs Gunner
Committed Match: Mr. Anderson vs. Samuel Shaw