Twenty-five years is a very long time to be committed to one thing. Hell, less than half of all marriages make it all the way to year 25.

Now imagine taking damage to your body, and performing and captivating crowds for 25 years.

For Shawn Blanchard, he doesn’t have to imagine at all.

On March 19, 2024, Blanchard reached the milestone of 25 years in professional wrestling, almost exclusively with Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA), which is a Pennsylvania-based promotion with its headquarters in Lawrenceville. His debut match, after training with some of the local wrestlers, was on March 3, 1999, in the Western Pennsylvania Wrestling Alliance, which Blanchard, perhaps understandably, lost.

As a part of KSWA from 2000 to present day, Blanchard has seen his share of success in the ring. He has held the KSWA Heavyweight Championship six times for a combined 1422 days, the KSWA tag team titles six times (five times with partner Lou Martin as the VIPs), the KSWA Tri-State Championship two times, and he was the KSWA Golden Triangle Champion and the KSWA Brawl Under the Bridge Champion.

That is a lot of gold in one promotion.

Blanchard with the KSWA Heavyweight Championship belt

Blanchard has been a fan of wrestling since he was five, but the jump in realizing that was what he wanted to do came once his family expanded its television viewing options.

“Pittsburgh was a WWF town mostly it was all WWF TV programs. And then we got cable TV in 1980 and I turned on Superstation TBS, and I saw Ric Flair and Harley Race for the first time and I’m like, That’s it. That’s what I want to be,” Blanchard recently told Other favorites quickly became Blackjack Mulligan, Dick Murdoch, Wahoo McDaniel and The Masked Superstar.

Specifically, the way that the wrestlers interacted with the fans was what truly endeared Blanchard to pro wrestling. “It was just the personalities and the matches in general, how people get captivated in the crowd. That’s long before the pyro and all the music. Guys got in the ring, and they busted their ass. And they, the crowd, reacted. It just caught me.”

To keep the engine running and his body in top shape to wrestle, one may assume that Blanchard has an extensive routine with stretches and exercises. However, that is far from the case. “You know, growing up from playing years of sports, you do the same routine, even though it’s professional wrestling, loosen up, relax, just enjoy and have fun and do what you got to do to entertain people. I guess the only exercise I do now is I raise my elbow and my wrist off the bar before shows drinking a couple Miller Lites.”

Another thing that has kept Blanchard’s engine running for 25 years is the rush of the ring. “I tell everybody – most of all, a lot of old school guys say the same thing – it’s like a drug, you need it. I want to be in there. I want to entertain, I just love the wrestling business.”

As for other businesses, Blanchard has fit in plenty of different work over the years. He’s been in charge of the frozen food at a grocery story and worked in a hospital getting surgery carts ready for the operation room. Most recently, he has been toiling in an office, helping union members with details on their benefits and pensions. Not only does he need to find time to wrestle, but also to be a doting grandfather of a darling little girl who has picked up grandpa’s “mean face.”

Blanchard mauls Ricky Morton of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express.

Another assumption one might have about Blanchard is that he’s had to change his gimmick and style in the ring alongside the changes that have happened in professional wrestling in the past 25 years, but once again that is not the case. “The change in the business, I think a lot of the younger wrestlers do the flying around the flips, the acrobatic part of a match. I really haven’t adapted to it.”

An oldtimer once shared sage advice about going against the flow. If everyone is yelling on their interviews, then be different and talk quietly; if everyone is talking, then be the one yelling.

“So what I do in the ring is different from what everybody else is doing.”

Twenty years ago, the VIPs were The Latin Assassin, Lou Martin and Shawn Blanchard.

Twenty years ago, the VIPs were The Latin Assassin, Lou Martin and Shawn Blanchard.

That advice, coupled with a message from “The Greatest Wrestler on God’s Green Earth”, is what helps the 6-foot-1, 267-pound Blanchard stand out in the minds of fans at the end of shows.

“They could do all those flips, and I’ll come in and I’ll do a match of wrestling, old school wrestling. And when people leave the building that night, will they remember the same thing everybody else did? Or will they remember what was different about that one match? There’s a quote from Harley Race: ‘Don’t let the crowd control you, you control the crowd, you bring the emotion out of the crowd.’ And that’s kind of like my motto when I get in the ring.”

The biggest changes that Blanchard has seen in his 25 years? The believability of the business, and wrestling being all about the entertainment. As a heel, it is on Blanchard to bring on heat from the crowd, something that was easier to do when he started.

“I just liked the believability in the business. I wish it was still there. Because, you do some shows, and these kids, little kids, you’d be able to scare them away back in the ’70s and ’80s,” he lamented. “These kids now, they’ll stand right up to ya.”

Blanchard was good friends with George “The Animal” Steele and recalled an interaction:

“What would you do to those kids?”

“You gotta chase them.”

“Well what if they won’t run?”

“Well, I’d walk into them.”

“You can’t do that now, God forbid. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.”

KSWA ring announcer Trapper Tom Leturgey (an occasional contributor) has seen Blanchard’s no-nonsense approach up close. “I’ve introduced Shawn Blanchard several hundred times in three states over 19 years and no one is more serious and intense in the ring,” said Leturgey, who has also been on cards with Blanchard in Ohio and West Virginia. “Plus, Blanchard has the best spinebuster in the business executed by someone not named Arn Anderson.”

Though it may be more difficult to be a heel in today’s wrestling landscape, KSWA referee Mark Charles III shed more light on just how bad Blanchard can be. “Shawn Blanchard is that quintessential bad guy that you recall from the AWA and NWA of years past. He’s the guy that will steal your kid’s popsicle and ask your wife out on a date while he’s eating it,” Charles said. “If he likes you enough, you can buy him a beer and he’ll tell you some pretty amazing stories before beating you up in the alley behind the bar.”

As a referee, Charles III also noted that “I spend more time yelling at that man than I do counting his pinfalls.”

The other thing Blanchard is noted for is his love of hockey, especially the Edmonton Oilers, odd for someone in Penguins territory. He has been an Oilers fan his whole life, and it is something you can see in the special merchandise he made celebrating his 25 years in the ring.

“My dad was a season ticket holder for the Penguins from when they first came into the NHL. In like 1981, there was a big brawl on the ice and the next day, my dad told me about it. He’s like, ‘You should see these guys play hockey.’ As a kid, you pull up the newspapers, read the box scores, and you see all this stuff. And then the games are on TV, and I was always an Edmonton Oilers fan.”

Blanchard’s special 25-year t-shirt

Blanchard reminisced about one of the crazier matches that he participated in in his career. “I did a show down in West Virginia and I got some pretty good heat. A guy told me that he was gonna wait outside and shoot me. It was in the wooded part of West Virginia. I just wanted to leave and go to the bar but they were like, ‘You’re not leaving yet.'”

Through the years, he has gotten to know something about leaving, including the tradition of leaving boots in the ring upon retiring.

Like Demolition. Blanchard was the final singles opponent for Demolition Axe (Bill Eadie), and teamed with Lou Martin for Axe’s last ever match with partner Smash (Barry Darsow).

In Toronto in 2012, Shawn Blanchard teamed with Lord Zoltan (Ken Jugan), with JJ Dillon as their manager, to face Shane Douglas and his trainer, Dominic Denucci, in Denucci’s final match (at age 80!), with Bruno Sammartino in their corner. Blanchard considers all five men as mentors through the years.

Eadie, had nothing but praise for Blanchard. “Shawn has been a good friend for many many years. He is a true professional wrestler. He helps with promotion as well as wrestling and ring and has done a tremendous job over these many years,” said Eadie, who was also The Masked Superstar. “I’m proud to have him as a friend proud to have him as a colleague in the professional wrestling business.”

Back to those changes he has seen through the years, though. Blanchard brought up a quote by Vince McMahon that “it’s all entertainment.” Bridging generations as he does, Blanchard can only compare.

“[Today] I think more guys can make more money. But, from that standpoint, I mean, like the guys in WWE and all the other big TV companies make money but before all that happened a lot of guys in the independent circuit made really good money and toured a lot more.”

Don’t think that the 49-year-old Blanchard is done.

“Here’s to another 25 years and more living the legend!”