“Showtime” Eric Young’s career has been a wonderful ride. From world titles to television shows to honing his craft, Young has captured what makes wrestling special. What is that you ask? It is the magic that happens between the performer and the crowd that flows out of this showman.
Growing up in the small Ontario town of Florence, Young became a wrestling fanatic at the age of six. He was attracted to the larger-than-life characters that patrolled the rings and their athleticism. Seeing them bounce off the ropes and put each other into intricate holds amazed the youngster. What really caught him was that wrestling combined two of his loves, entertainment/theatre and sport.
Young participated in many sports as a youngster such as fastball and competitive hockey. The game that really caught his attention was rugby. Playing eight-man was a thrill for Young who enjoyed the teamwork, competition and physicality of the game. In fact rugby is the one “what if?” that still hangs over his head. “I was a very good rugby player and I probably could have played professionally overseas,” said Young.
Rugby wasn’t enough for the 5-foot-11 Young. He wanted a creative outlet as well as a physical challenge. It didn’t take long for Young to realize that the career he wanted was the thing he had loved since he was six and that is being a professional wrestler.
As a youth and aspiring wrestler Young began collecting as much wrestling as he could on VHS video tape. To this day he has thousands of tapes and thousands of wrestling DVDs. The main combatant he loved to watch was The Heartbreak Kid.
“My biggest influence would be Shawn Michaels in the ring,” said Young. “You will never convince me that there is anyone better bell to bell in the ring in any way, shape or form. I loved Austin; I loved Macho Man, who was another massive influence on me. Bret and Owen Hart, Terry Funk, Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson, the list is endless. I loved watching Stan Hansen who was this big marauding mad man, but he was cool. There was something about him that I loved. ‘Big Daddy Cool’ Diesel didn’t do anything, but he was cool. He was awesome at being cool! My likes are vast, but those are my big ones.”
The range and variety of wrestlers he liked watching has carried over to his love of watching wrestling even today. Young compared the types of wrestling and wrestlers he watches to the play list on his ipod. “If you go through my iPod there is Otis Redding and B.B. King and there’s Ratt and Busta Rhymes, Run the Jewels, AC/DC, Travis Tritt and Johnny Cash,” said Young. “So, I listen to everything. I watch wrestling the same way. I can watch an ROH show from start to finish and really enjoy it. I watch old and new WWE, I can watch TNA. I can watch all these products that have different offerings and I enjoy all of it.”
When SLAM! Wrestling caught up with Eric Young, he was preparing to take on Cody Deaner and Kongo Kong in St. Catharines, Ontario, for Crossfire Wrestling.
Young is well known for his two television shows on Animal Planet, Off the Hook: Extreme Catches and No Limits, and now he has moved on to other projects. Most recently he signed on to do a digital media project called Smash Therapy.
“It is where people bring in stuff from their work and break it and I watch them do it,” said Young. “It is a really cool idea from the scene in Office Space where they break the copier in the woods. It is an iconic scene and he got the idea from there. I get to go to L.A. I won’t get punched in the face or fall on my back, so that is exciting.”
He has also started to audition more regularly.
“I just keep plugging away,” said Young. “I did my first scripted project called Steal the King with Billy Ray Cyrus. I played a biker guy, so not a huge stretch. It is a get your foot in the door kind of thing. It is always evolving. You can’t wrestle forever. I think I can, but everyone tells me I can’t.”
Even though he is making his presence felt in the media world, he has not forgotten what brought him to the dance.
“I never got into wrestling to get on TV and make money,” said Young. “I got into wrestling because I liked wrestling. That was the only reason. That was my only motivation. It’s definitely my business now. It is how I pay my bills and I take it very seriously. I have wrestled in all 52 states; I’ve seen the world and got paid to do it. It’s made my life amazing. There are more people at this show tonight then the town I grew up in. So it is amazing man. I don’t take it for granted. There are a very small amount of people who dream about doing something and then get to do it. I am doing it and I have been doing it for 10 years and that’s even crazier.”
Young took a moment to reflect on his career and thought back to his trainer the late, great Waldo von Erich.
“I think Waldo would be proud of me man,” said Young. “He was a good guy who always treated me well. Physically he couldn’t do a lot; he was pretty beat up when I met him in ’97-98. How he taught you to think about wrestling and how to be a character. This is a regular guy from Canada and he had people in New York believing he was a World War II Nazi. People tried to kill him.”
In that moment Young pondered the biggest lesson Von Erich taught him. After a few moments Young realized it was keeping the magic of wrestling alive.
“People believed and hated his guts,” said Young. “I think I still carry things with me that he taught me, I still use to this day. The wrestling is different, but the basic core of making people believe is still there. They want you to make them believe. Most people know that it is not real or predetermined, but they still want you to make them believe and that’s when it is good.”
Later that night in the ring Young, Deaner and Kong did what so few can do now, make magic in the ring. Those in attendance were brought on a roller coaster of emotions as the trio battled. The audience didn’t have to yell “Five star match!” Instead the fans bought in to the magic and for 20 minutes believed once again.