TNA wrestler Eric Young on whether Hulk Hogan and Sting ruin opportunities for younger talent, his TV show schedule taking him away from Impact, TNA's flexibility with his schedule, Main Event Mafia tease?
Busted Open satellite radio show with Eric Young
Host: Dave Lagreca, Doug Mortman, and Mike Riker
Airs Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on Sirius 92 and XM 208 from 2-4 ET
On Sting being able to still perform in a main event at his age: "The storyline that was originally on TV, I wrestled him in his first match back in 10 years. I was the first person he wrestled and I almost got emotional. This is a guy I’ve idolized since I was a little kid. He’s one of my top five favorite wrestlers. Ever. And I had the honor of sharing a ring, wrestling the guy when he first came back to TNA. It was five or ten years, he hadn’t wrestled. And I had his first match. I mean, I think this is the most nervous I’ve ever been. But he’s a pro. He’s an absolute pro. And watching him work, it’s—for me, it’s never been about his wrestling. It was about his presence. It was about the way he carried himself. When he came out, people don’t have a choice but to pay attention to him. And I don’t know what it is. I don’t think people know what it is. But you don’t have a choice. You don’t—you can’t just say ‘oh it’s Sting, I’m not going to pay attention to what he’s doing.’ You’re just drawn to him. Jeff Hardy’s got the same thing. The exact same thing. It’s a different kind of vibe, but it’s the vibe of where ‘here he comes and now I can’t not pay attention.’ I’ve prided myself; I think I’ve got that same thing. I don’t think it’s on the level of Jeff. Or Sting. But it usually doesn’t matter if I’m world lead, or if I’m scared Eric Young. Or I’m crazy Eric Young. Or I’m regular Eric Young. Actually he really doesn’t exist. That is a complete fabrication. Yeah there is no regular Eric Young. But I think I’ve got that same thing, where, whatever it is but when I come out, there is always a reaction. And I’ve always had that in pro wrestling."
His thoughts on Magnus being the next big thing: "I’ve always thought that. Magnus has got every possible tool available to him. He’s tall, he’s in good shape, he works hard. He is good in the ring; he’s good on the mic. He understands entertainment. And more importantly he gets wrestling. He understands it. I was early on; I was one of the first few to that were ever put in. And they came to me and said do you want to do a thing with him? And I—Absolutely. Yeah absolutely. He was greener than grass. As green as it gets. But I enjoyed it. We worked house shows. We worked all over the place. And I loved it. He’s super good. Super, super talented guy."
On Hogan tweeting that he is training again and wants one more crack at it: "I wasn’t sitting in a chair but I almost fell over. And I have pretty good balance. But this guy, he had eight back surgeries last year. I’ll tell you right now, Hulk Hogan is one of the toughest human beings I have ever met. And I will say that to anybody that will listen to me. He’s a great guy, man. He’s a great guy. He’s like just one of the boys. Good buddy of mine. And is tough as nails. Tough as nails. I want to see it. It’s Hulk Hogan. I’ve gotta see it. As a pro wrestling fan, you can’t not see it."
On what TNA has to do to become more mainstream: "To me, they are doing the right steps. I mean, you guys have been around wrestling a long time. You’ve been wrestling fans a long time. So have I. How many times have you heard it? Nope, TNA’s not going to make it. Nope, they’re not going to make it. Thousands of times. It’s been around for ten years. They just signed a big deal with Spike television for another five years. It’s usually the highest rated show on Spike television every week. It’s seen in over a 120 countries around the world. They didn’t grow to this point because they don’t know what they are doing. There is going to be people that watch wrestling that don’t like it. There are going to be people that watch Impact that don’t like it. But then—there’s no pleasing everyone. It just doesn’t exist. I remember being a die-hard wrestling fan during the Monday Night Wars. And I wouldn’t watch WCW because I thought it was terrible. I thought it was terrible. And I would still flip over and check it out. I think it’s a branded thing now, and I think that stems from the Monday Night Wars. Because before that, pro wrestling to an average fan was just pro wrestling. They didn’t know if it was WWF or WWE or WCW or NWA. It was just pro wrestling. And they just watched it. If you were a pro wrestling fan, you just watched it when you saw it on television. And then it became ‘well actually we’re competing against each other, and it’s two separate brands.’ And it became this whole thing. You’re not going to please everyone, but they are making the right decisions with they just went to live—all the television shows are being shot on the road now. The crowds have been great. The numbers have been decent. The numbers in the arena have been very good. You guys were in Boston, it was an amazing crowd. An amazing Pay Per View. I think; I feel that in the next couple of years, pro wrestling is on the upswing."
On wrestling still not being taking seriously in the media: "The mainstream thing, that’s the next step for TNA. Like you said it’s a very hardcore set of fans, a very ‘set’ set of fans. Where the numbers, every week are kind of the same. And house shows the numbers are kind of the same. So now you bring in Rampage. And you do stuff like that. I want to believe having me on the show will help. Animal Planet is not a massive channel but it’s another audience. You gotta get these guys in front of other audiences. And I don’t know why pro wrestling doesn’t get the respect. I just came from The Today Show; I just did The Today Show. The Today Show should want to talk to Jeff Hardy. They should want to take to Austin Aries. They should want to talk to James Storm. These are interesting people. And those guys are not just pro wrestlers. They have all this other stuff going on. Like Mickie James, just released a CD, is one of, if not the greatest female pro wrestler ever in the history of our sport. I mean the list goes on and on. You know mainstream people should want to talk to these people. I don’t know why that’s not. You guys know. You guys can sit here and talk to all those people I just mentioned for hours. Us three could just sit here and talk for hours and hours and hours. We’re interesting people. We come from an interesting world. We just gotta change the conception of mainstream media. And having television—having someone like The Rock is a massive success. Austin’s massive success in the real world of real media is good for everybody."
On if Sting and Hulk Hogan ruin opportunities for the younger stars of TNA: "To me, there is no way Sting and Hulk Hogan hurt your product. Everyone knows who Hulk Hogan is. We could walk down this hall and say ‘Hey do you know who Hulk Hogan is?’ and they’re gonna say yes. And if they don’t then, chances are they probably don’t live in North America. He’s an icon. I had a Hulk Hogan lunch pail. He’s been in movies, he’s been on television shows. He’s—the image of Hulk Hogan is known by everyone. So having someone like that on your show, no way in any way, shape or form, in my opinion, can hurt it. You have to have a starting point. Because the route is, is The Today Show doesn’t want to talk to Austin Aries. You ask me, should they? Absolutely. Cause he is an interesting guy. And he’s got a lot to say. Jeff Hardy is an artist and a musician and a guy who jumps off stuff. And is crazy and now has a beautiful little girl, and turned his life around. This is an interesting person. An interesting person that everyone should know. And for whatever reason, mainstream media they don’t take it serious. And I think that conception will change."
On jumping off the cage at Lockdown: "No, that’s child’s play. That was actually, that’s a huge moment for me in my wrestling career. I saw Jimmy Snuka do it when I was a kid, I saw Mick Foley do it when I was an adolescent, teenager. And then I did it. And I mean lots of people have done it in between now and then but it was a dream come true. And that’s weird to say out loud. Jumping off the top of a cage and landing on another human being is a dream come true. It’s a real dream."
On why he has been gone from Impact and where he has been: "My two schedules were pretty conflicting. TNA’s been great about me going off and filming the show (Off the Hook: Extreme Catches). It’s twice as much work as I thought it was gonna be. It’s worth it. It’s an amazing experience. It’s a great show, something I’m super proud of. But it’s really time consuming. So it doesn’t allow me to be there (Impact). Most of the time I was gone, or not even in the country, or in the same state. So I took a small hiatus from wrestling, and I’m back now."
On how Dixie Carter is very understanding and flexible with wrestlers having careers outside of the ring: "For me, Dixie, first and foremost, is a smart business woman. She’s a nice lady. We’ve always got along great. And like you said, she allows us to do this stuff. I mean, it is a good thing. You can’t name another active pro wrestler that’s got his own television show. You’re looking at the one and only. It’s a good thing for both TNA, Spike TV, Animal Planet. It’s a good marriage. I believe it’s the same audience watching both products. You just said Kurt Angle and Hulk Hogan and Eric Young. We’re in a group together. Think about how crazy that is?"
On ODB being his TV wife: "Easily the most interesting piece of the puzzle. Yeah, that’s for sure. No, I mean she’s awesome, man. An absolute pro. The most popular woman wrestler, I’ve ever seen. Everywhere we go, I can’t wrestle without them(fans) chanting her name. And she’s not even there. She’s not even wrestling. So she’s one of my really good friends in the business. Awesome to work with. And an absolute pro. She is the greatest."
On if it surprises him on meeting people who he wouldn’t have thought to be wrestling fans during his promotion tour: "It can be weird sometimes. When you get talking to people, like I went to ESPN last winter. A good friend of mine, Robert Flores, works over there. Ro-Flo. Great guy, funny guy. And I mean just LOVES pro wrestling. And the best thing to happen to him was having two boys, so he makes them watch wrestling. So it gives him an excuse to watch it, and go to the events. He called me and said ‘Hey you gonna be in Boston (at Slammiversary).’ I was out still shooting the show actually, just finishing up Off the Hook season 2. But he’s an awesome guy. And I went up there(ESPN) and met Trent Dilfer and all these guys. They might not know you but they think they’ve seen you and they’re cool and open with you. And he’s a massive fan and I’m a huge fan of his. And was a huge fan of him before I knew he was a pro wrestler. I think he is the next big thing for ESPN. It’s cool man. Like Michelle Beadle. Here’s this young, attractive woman that is super successful and loves pro wrestling. That doesn’t even make sense."
"I actually have the same thing that Brian Pillman had. The late, great Brian Pillman. He had before he passed, he had 46 surgeries on his throat. And I just hit number 16, that’s from 2004. It could be worse. It could be cancer or something terrible. So I look at it that way. And it’s slowing. The easiest way for me to describe it is basically warts that grow on my vocal chords. They put me to sleep, they go in and remove them. Then they’re away and then they grow back. So I’ve had 16 since 2004. It’s kind of a blessing in disguise. You can close your eyes and hear me talk and know it’s me talking. You’re not going to mistake it for anybody. One of my favorite’s growing up, Macho Man Randy Savage, was the same way. I think his voice was just crazy. I don’t think there was any reason for it. Pillman was the same way. Austin’s the same way. That very distinct voice. So I wouldn’t change it. I’m not about to belt out any Celine Dion, but I can sing Johnny Cash very well. And I live in Nashville, so it’s kind of a blessing in disguise."
On where he grew up and how it influenced him:
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