Of all the TNA wrestlers Impact Wrestling teased the return of, Eric Young had probably been the name that was coming back most often. There was a kind of certainty EY would come back home. At Slammiversary, as the show was going on and we were coming from a surprise to another, when it comes to comebacks or arrivals, Eric Young made us wait until the end. He was not the fourth mystery opponent in the main event, but the fifth.

That night, Eric Young made us remember why we are calling him a World Class Maniac as he destroyed Rich Swann’s leg once again, leading him to retire. EY would do absolutely anything to win, and he has shown it on IMPACT week after week, destroying Willie Mack, Tommy Dreamer, or Cousin Jake, but mostly when he took the Impact World Championship belt from Eddie Edwards’ waist. If at 40, Young still had something to prove, that night, he cleaned all the fans’ doubts.

On Wednesday, Eric Young took part in a media call with his challenger at Bound For Glory, Rich Swann, (we will talk about this part of the call in another piece). He talked about his new mindset and attitude, his longevity, the difference between this title reign and the first one in 2014, and the evolution of the roster.

On his new attitude and mindset

“This is me in my purest form. It’s going to take some getting used to or everyone it’s going to take some getting used to for me, but this is my truth, this is me in my purest form. I’m the Champion, and I don’t hide, I understand that means that there is a target on my back and, unfortunately, I tried to do this the right way.”

On the difference between his first reign and the current

“When you hold a championship, and you lose it, I think any competitor would say, it didn’t last long enough. For me, I feel it was a very successful title run, beating the likes of Magnus (Nick Aldis), beating Bobby Roode, beating Austin Aries, beating Bobby Lashley, there’s a long list. I defended it every week, and I’m very proud of what I did, but I’m in a different place. I’m in a different a whole different mindset, a whole different makeup. It’s not a gimmick to me, me in my purest form, I stopped caring about what people thought, and I thought, I stopped caring about how people would perceive me. I’m just going to do me. I’m going to do whatever it takes to reach my goals and be in control.

“As a professional, that’s what you crave, and right now, I have the power, I have the control. That’s what the World title means. Those are the things that I hold most here, power and control, and I have that. I have the Championship advantage in every match that I go into, and that’s what I want. I want that power and control. People can say whatever they want, they can believe whatever they want, but the version you’re seeing now is the best Eric Young you’ve ever seen, and I’m figuring it out too. I’m only going to get better in this form. I’m only going to understand it better with each passing day, with each passing match, and that spells disaster for most anybody that stands in my way.

“I was wrestling not for myself, that was a very different version of me, that was a different attitude, a different personality, a different way of thinking. I clearly don’t have that type of mindset anymore. I’m worried about me and me alone, and it’s something that took me a long time to learn in wrestling in this business, in this sport. No one’s going to look out for you, you’re completely on your own, nobody cares about you except for you, so every decision, everything that I’m doing every move, every bit of my being is poured into protecting myself, protecting what I hold dear. I’m willing to do things that an average person isn’t willing to do. I’m willing to do things that people can’t even think of. They don’t have this ability because they don’t have a shared experience like me, so it’s a much different time in my life, a much different time in my professional career, and the focus is tenfold, and I think it’s shown in my actions and is shown, in my words.”

On his longevity

“I want to do this for as long as possible. I’ve always kind of promised myself that if I couldn’t do it at 100% that I wouldn’t do it, and part of that is because I love professional wrestling. I respect it with every fibre of my being, and I don’t want to be someone out there dragging myself around. Professionally, I am in a very good place. I’m at Impact Wrestling because I choose to be there, and there’s nothing more powerful than choice in any profession. Longevity, to me, is maybe the number one accomplishment for me. I’ve been on TV every week almost for 16 plus years, and there are very few people in any profession in any television genre that can say that. Knock on wood, I’ve remained healthy, I’ve remained passionate, and I feel like my work shows that.

“Many years ago, someone was asking Terry Funk about why he was still relevant at like 55. He was main eventing an ECW pay-per-view at 50, he said Terry Funk is always going to be Terry Funk, but the wrestling industry changes daily, and if I don’t change with it, I die. I’ve always thought that way. I think wrestling is very different from what it was even five years ago and there are tons of things that I don’t agree with, some changes that are happening daily in wrestling that I don’t like. I’m never going to look at wrestling that way. I’m going to look at and believe in a certain type of wrestling that I believe in. That’s how I view it, but wrestling changes every day, and I try to change with it, but I also try to be true to myself and true to what I believe, good pro wrestling is.

“With wrestling, you just never know when your time is up. If I’m being completely honest and transparent, that time could be up at Bound For Glory. Every time you step in the ring or you do anything, there’s an inherent risk with what we do. It’s dangerous, and I wouldn’t change that. I love the physicality of wrestling. I love the competitive side of it and competing with myself to make myself better. The truth is I’ve never said a number. I feel like wrestling will always be part of my life because of my unique experience and my longevity. I’ve been in the opening match,. I’ve been a comedy act. I’ve wrestled women. I’ve been in tags. I’ve won the tag titles with six different tag team partners, and this is my second run at World title. I’ve held every kind of title that there is, and I’ve been all over the card. I’ve worn a mask. I’ve done a pile of different things, and I feel like there are very few people in wrestling that have that kind of experience, and that’s something I’m very proud of. I wouldn’t change any of it, it’s all unique to me, and it’s all giving me a very wide brush view, a very wide lens of what wrestling is and what it can be.”

On Impact Wrestling in 2021

“For me, it’s already up. That’s always the goal for any place that I’m employed at. Impact Wrestling is home. It’s obviously a different version from where it was from before, and there are tons of people to thank, people that are here now, people that have been here and moved on to up to other places, but it’s not lost to me that there was a lot of hard work done to get to where it’s at. Anthem Sports putting it in a position to be on AXS TV, which is an excellent home for Impact Wrestling, the signing of the Pluto deal, which gives us bigger visibility and a huge platform internationally, which is pretty evident by the call here. It’s onward and upward, and by giving 100% effort every time I’m asked to do something or put in a position to do something, you’re going to get everything from me.

“This is my life. Pro wrestling has been my life. It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was three. I signed my first contract in 2004, everything I do in my life is geared towards being the best performer, the best athlete, the best professional wrestler that I can be. Impact Wrestling is reaping those benefits, and I’m in a position to show those talents because of where Impact Wrestling is. The truth is, I’m a wrestling fan. I was a wrestling fan before I was a wrestler. I continued to be a wrestling fan, and in my opinion, and it sounds biased, of course, but it’s where I work, but I try to watch everything. IMPACT is the best pro wrestling show on TV, pure pro wrestling, storytelling, athletics, drama, storylines, gimmicks, it has a little bit of everything. Pro wrestling is the ultimate variety show, and Impact Wrestling is on top of the heap right now. It’s the only wrestling company that’s growing, and I think that’s something that everyone should take notice of.”

On his ultimate goal

“For me, what’s next is I’m the world champion. I have the power, I have the Championship advantage, and that’s how it’s going to stay either. Lots of people will say I’ll do whatever it takes, I’m proven, I’ve shown people in the last several months that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to whoever. It doesn’t matter to me. I have no affiliation with anyone. I have no friends. I have no one I trust. I’m on my own, and in this business and wrestling, that’s the most powerful position to be. I care about nothing except for the world title and myself and my own success, and I won’t be distracted. My goal is to be the longest-reigning world champion in impact wrestling history.”

On what he wants to achieve before retiring

“Everything from this point is cherry on top. My first goal in wrestling was to sign a full-time contract, to say that this was my occupation, and this is what I do for a living. I accomplished that in 2004. I feel like longevity is something to be praised, versatility is something to be praised. I’ve seen and done it all, and this is me in my purest form, this is me at my most dangerous.”

Follow Eric Young on Twitter @EricYoung

IMPACT Wrestling is airing on Tuesday at 8/7c on AXS TV and Twitch in the USA. The show is available to view in the UK from 2 am Wednesdays on the IMPACT Plus app and airs on 5STAR on Fridays in the late evening (please check local listings weekly).

All pics, videos and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling, AXS TV and Basil Mahmud.

By Steph Franchomme

News, Reviews, Social Media Editor, Impact Wrestling Reviewer, Interviewer Well, call me The Boss... And French...

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