|Eric Young of Team Canada. - tnawrestling.com
ORLANDO, FL -- There is nothing like sitting beneath the bright lights of Studio 21 at
Universal Studios Florida, watching a live professional wrestling pay per view.
There is an
electricity surging from the crowd, with blaring music and the
six-sided ring, where mythological like athletes will do battle, live before untold numbers watching on television at home. Such a
spectacle has become the proverbial holy grail of countless professional
wrestlers world wide, to rise from anonymity and declare their grandeur to the
without a doubt a far cry from the humble setting of the Polish Hall in Niagara
Falls, Ontario. Although wrestling events are not longer held at that cramped
structure, where there never seems to be enough toilet paper in the stalls, it will
be forever known as the place where Eric Young truly made himself into the
modern star that he is today.
those shows," admitted Young to SLAM! Wrestling, just hours before he would
step into the steel cage at Total Nonstop Action's Lockdown PPV held in April.
"I always had a lot of fun there, but obviously, I wanted to make it to this
level. Now that I'm here, I couldn't be happier."
He was born
Jeremy Fritz, a native of Florence, Ontario. A fan of professional wrestling
since the age of six, he set out to pursue his dream of becoming a modern day
gladiator in tights eight years ago. It was in nearby Cambridge that Young
received his initial indoctrination from Carl Leduc, son of famed Quebec
trained mostly by him. I did some with Scott D'amore,
I did a month and a half with Chris Kanyon
when he was in Toronto filming the Jesse Ventura movie -- it was a handful of
It was a
unique manner in which Young received his crucial first lessons for becoming an
active professional wrestling. In hindsight though, it would seem to be the
right formula for him. For like many in his trade, he would soon set out to pay
his dues on the Ontario independent circuit, tagged with the moniker of
"Showtime" Eric Young.
a hotbed for talent," he said. "Ontario is a very competitive place, there's a
lot of good wrestlers. On any give night, you could work any 20 guys and gain
good experience because everybody wanted to work hard. It was like a competition
almost, everyone wanted to have the best match of the night. I loved it, it was
of environment proved fertile ground in the development of Young into an indy
star in his native province at the dawn of the new millennium. While having no
shortage of entertaining matches with the varied talent available at that time,
there is one name who standouts, blending with Young in ring like no other,
delivering mind boggling battles of mythical proportions.
His name is
is one of my good friends. We've had some really great matches over the years, a lot of
good memories with him there's no doubt. We held each other's lives in our
hands on several occasions. He's still alive and so am I, so it all it worked
out for the best."
Wylde reflected with SLAM! Wrestling, their first ever engagement in the ring
was quite forgettable.
time we ever met each other, everyone had big expectations for a really good
match up," reflected Wylde (real name Dennis Stewart). Their first match would
in fact take place at the Barrie Molson Centre, before some 2,000 plus fans
according to Wylde.
"We had the
worst match in wrestling history, it sucked," said Wylde bluntly. "No one knew
what went wrong, it just didn't happen that day. Couple of months down the
road, somebody gave us another shot and it was the exact opposite. We had the
most fantastic match that had everyone in Ontario talking. That match
singlehandedly made my career, because that match got me booked everywhere. It
was a blessing and a curse, because in one hand it got me booked everywhere,
but in the other hand, they would only let me work Eric."
wrestling standouts would go on to deliver a series of unforgettable
confrontations, most notably with the Neo Spirit
Pro (NSP) promotion based in Niagara Falls. There, they would raise the bar
for in-ring, daredevil antics, earning adulation from fans fortunate to see one
of their live matches.
pushing each other. I was always coming up with crazy ideas about what I wanted
to do in our next match," Wylde recalled. "He would always give me a frown and
say 'Okay, we'll do that.' We really did some crazy stuff, stuff that as a
wrestler right now I wouldn't even imagine doing. We did the craziest shit that
you could ever think of. I let Eric give me a pile driver off the top of a
ladder to the outside of the ring through a table, which was legitimately 12
to15 feet in the air. I was totally safe and I knew I would be, never came
close to getting hurt. When Eric was around, he just made you feel different,
like you were invincible."
Eric Young on the mic from his Neo Spirit Pro days. - Photo by Corey
contests would immortalize both athletes, with Wylde giving full credit to
Young for helping him to elevate his career. "Showtime Eric young made me a
fantastic wrestler and I'm giving him 100% of the credit because without him, I
wouldn't be anywhere, not even close to where I am today."
heights of achievement made in his native country, the stark reality that Young
faced, along with the vast majority of wrestlers in Canada, was the inability
to make a full-time living from his chosen vocation. While he did have some
dark matches with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), it would never evolve
into a development deal or wrestling contract.
crucial crossroad, Young made the only decision he could and moved south in
March of 2004.
that it's hard to get over here (United States) to work. Being a Canadian makes
things very difficult with the visas and crossing the border. I know I had my
share problems as a lot do. From the
very first time I started wrestling I obviously wanted to make it some place
where I could do it for a living."
perseverance, Young would eventually set up shop in Nashville, Tennessee and it
was not by coincidence that he moved to that particular locale. For Music City
USA was also the home of a new upstart promotion called Total Nonstop Action
Young would get his chance to show what he could do in the ring.
would pay off when he was eventually recruited into TNA's Team Canada faction,
holding court along side fellow Canadians Bobby Roode,
Devine and Petey
Williams. Helping him to achieve this post was none other than Coach Scott
D'amore, promoter of Border City Wrestling in Windsor, Ontario where Young had
worked in the past.
soon find himself in a world wind of activity as the despised Team Canada
competed against three other teams in the World X Cup tournament, live on PPV
television in the spring of 2004.
super exciting, it was a dream come true. You dream about doing it and then
you're here. I don't get nervous, I do get pumped up. I feel like this is what
I'm supposed to do.
There are a lot of guys who are as good as me or who deserve a shot here, but
there's only limited spaces and I'm glad that I have one of them."
go on to help ignite the tag team wrestling division for the promotion,
eventually gaining the TNA tag team championship titles in December of 2004
a blast doing tag matches. Up until I got here, in Ontario, maybe I'd done 20,
maybe 30 tag matches ever. It was like learning to wrestle all over again. Now
I'm wrestling as a heel (bad guy) and because I'm Canadian they hate my guts.
It was a good role for me to step into."
would eventually lose the titles to their tag team rivals America's Most Wanted
in January of 2005. But that hasn't stopped Young from continuing to prove his
worth to the promotion, with his wrestling abilities only continuing to grow,
matched with his over the top facial antics, something he has made a point of
studying from many former greats of the business.
from the guys that are legends: Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Terry Funk. These
are guys I grew up watching and idolizing. Anytime anybody can say 'Oh you
reminded me of him when you did this' that's flattering to me. I think that
part of wrestling, there's not enough of it. I think my strong point is being
able to get people involved in the emotion of what I'm doing through theatrics
like facials or that five seconds I take to sneer at the crowd."
how far he goes from here, be assured, Eric Young has left his impression on
the wrestling business. Nowhere else can that be seen than with the next
generation of Ontario wrestling greats like "Completely"
Cody Steele, who once tutored at the Wrestleplex school that Young used to
run in Cambridge.
"I would go
to the Wrestleplex to make sure I didn't develop any ring rust and try new
things, but I also went and absorbed everything that Eric Young had to say in
terms of wrestling basics, psychology, performance," said Steele (real name
Chris Gray). "Almost any indy wrestler from Ontario and surrounding territories
will tell you that Eric Young was the man in Ontario when he was still doing
indies here. He inspired me and a lot of other guys on the indy circuit to pick
it up and strive to be better wrestlers. Eric Young really is the total package
in wrestling. He has the look, skill and the attitude to make lots of money in
this business and I knew when I was working the indy circuit with him that it
was only a matter of time before he got picked up by a major company. He
deserves every amount of success he achieves in this business."
that he has achieved, sometimes the reality of it all can be a little
overwhelming for Eric Young.
almost surreal. Not a lot of people can say from the time they were six years
old that this is what they wanted to do and they're actually doing it," Young
said. "Sometimes I don't even realize it. I'll be sitting at home and I'll
think 'I wrestle for a living.'"
go for tag team gold once again, as he and his partner Petey Williams take on
The Naturals at TNA's
Slamminversary PPV on June 19th. Check your local cable and satellite
providers for details.
Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!
Check out Eric Young in Tag Team action - buy TNA's Final Resolution PPV on DVD
Corey David Lacroix can be emailed at email@example.com.