Wrestler and promoter Joe Blanchard’s career was recognized last month in Waterloo, Iowa, as part of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame weekend. And for his granddaughter and third-generation wrestler, it was nothing short of an honor.
“I’m really, really excited,” Tessa Blanchard told SLAM! Wrestling hours before the induction banquet. “I wish he was here to accept the award himself, but it’s such an honor. Our family name, being third generation, it’s just such an honor.”
She takes that prestige with her every time she steps in the ring with companies ranging from SHINE and SHIMMER to Lucha Underground.
“It’s a lot of pressure trying to carry on the Blanchard name, but I’m glad it’s me. I watch a lot of my dad’s promos and in-ring work for influence, and he mentors me,” Blanchard said of the WWE Hall of Famer and former Four Horsemen member Tully Blanchard. “I remember my grandpa used to just mentor me about life advice all the time. I wish he was here to see me when I started wrestling and where I am now, but both of them just influenced me in life and wrestling in and out of the ring.”
It will be three years in December that Blanchard first laced up the boots. And later this month, she takes her talents to STARDOM in Japan for her first tour with the all-female company from Aug. 17 to Sept. 26.
“Getting to travel and go to all these bigger-name promotions, it’s just such a blessing,” Blanchard said.
The third-generation wrestler will participate in the Grand Prix tournament on Team America.
“I’m most excited to train with the Japanese women Io Shirai or Kairi Hojo, both of them. I’m big fan of their work.”
While she’s a fan of their styles, she also takes to heart to the old-school professional wrestling mentality, which is a line of thinking “that lacks in a lot of women’s wrestling today.”
“A lot of the time, a lot of people get selfish in the ring and wrestling’s about being selfless. So I try to set myself apart in that way,” Blanchard said. “And then I think the biggest thing that sets me apart is my promo ability. Just the intensity and when I talk.”
The old-school mindset for promos, according to Blanchard, is “so, so, so different from today.”
“I think old school promos were way better than they are today — they’re just so believable, and I think that’s what I try to take away from old school wrestling promos is how believable it was.
“Two guys would get in the ring, and you would legit think that they’re fighting and they are,” Blanchard said. “Everything they say, everything they do, it means something, and it’s so believable.”
While performing for less than five years, Blanchard has made the rounds at top independent-level companies throughout North America, including SHIMMER, SHINE and Lucha Underground, where she has wrestled on a couple dark matches.
Her favorite matches have been with the likes of Candice LeRae, Crazy Mary Dobson and Jessicka Havok.
“Candice and I are about the same size. And we can just throw each other around. We’re so comfortable with each other. We’re not afraid to try new things,” Blanchard said. “Crazy Mary Dobson, she is a wild one. She always has new ideas. She always wants to try new things. She has no fear.”
As for Havok, Blanchard said the former TNA Knockout is “a very selfless person in the ring.”
“We’ll work together to have an absolutely amazing match and we can pretty much just say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna go home with this. See you out there,’ and it’s great,” Blanchard said.
The third-generation star’s presence also has been seen on WWE’s developmental programming, NXT.
“I’ve been working really, really hard for the past two and half, three years,” Blanchard said. “I started training at Highspots in Charlotte, N.C., just working out with the guys three, four days a week — just hours and hours and hours in the ring.”
Cedric Alexander, a participant in WWE’s first-ever Cruiserweight Classic, has “been a huge influence” on Blanchard.
“He’s been like a big brother to me in wrestling,” Blanchard said.
In addition to the success she’s had thus far, Blanchard said she still would like to get in the ring with the likes of Natalya Neidhart and Charlotte.
“With Natalya, I really want to wrestle another third-generation girl,” Blanchard said. “It’s very rare that you find third-generation people in wrestling, especially females.”
As far as the former WWE Women’s Champion is concerned, Blanchard said the two are “good friends” and a competitive nature surrounds them.
“She’s so agile. She’s always been athletic… She’s phenomenal. She’s absolutely phenomenal,” Blanchard said.
In light of the Divas Revolution, the elimination of the term “divas” and the quality of women’s matches occurring in the current wrestling landscape, Blanchard said now is a “great time for women’s wrestling.”
“I’m so glad to be wrestling and kind of progressing during it all. Watching where women’s wrestling was and then watching how Lita and all these pioneers have influenced what it is today, and now you’re watching girls like Ashley Flair and Becky Lynch and Sasha [Banks] and Natalya, girls that can get in there and they can really go — like they can give them a 30-minute, hour match — like, they can do it. And I just hope that I can get in the ring with all of them someday,” Blanchard said.