Eric Young is a veteran professional wrestler with two decades of experience. After traveling the world and working for a variety of different companies, Young signed with the WWE in late 2016. As he travels the road on this new adventure, Young shares his experiences of wrestling and numerous other elements of his life, as they happen.
This is the debut of "Life on the road with Eric Young".
This June it will be 20 years since I started wrestling. The WWE is what I grew up on, and it's the place I always envisioned myself working. Whether it was contracts, or timing, or whatever the case happened to be, it just never panned out. It was 12 years of working for another company, and often wondering about how my life would be different if I ever came here.
One thing led to another in 2016, and I finally signed my first contract about eight months ago. It's a crazy, full circle kind of a story. It's all I've ever really wanted to do since I was 5 or 6 years old, and now I'm coming up on my first TakeOver -- my first big match that's been built up, my first major storyline and an opportunity to make a mark.
The beauty of the WWE, it's something that Hunter [Paul "Triple H" Levesque] and a lot of the people in charge say -- there's always opportunity, and NXT is definitely a place that's ripe with opportunity. It's ever-evolving, with people being brought up though the system and more people brought in from the independents to replace them when they go. It seems like every week there's another huge guy being signed, and it's cool having the opportunity to be here as a part of it all in NXT.
I've wrestled all over the world, I've been on television for 12 years wrestling and even had my own TV show, but this is as excited as I've been about wrestling in a long, long time. I'm excited about the opportunity in front of me, and I'm excited to show people what I'm capable of. I've got a very interesting opponent in San Antonio, for a whole lot of reasons.
Tye Dillinger is a guy that I've known for years -- a guy I actually trained when I was very young. I was only 21, and I had just opened up a wrestling school. I don't know if I should have had a wrestling school at that point, but I wanted to have a wrestling ring to stay sharp in. At that point, I had already done some tryouts with the WWE, but nothing had really panned out.
He would have been 19 when he came to work with me. He's kind of like my child, as far as pro wrestling goes. I taught him the ropes at a very young age, and then he went out and did his own thing, as all wrestlers do. You have to make your own path, and having everything come together with the two of us is another part of that full circle experience.
Tye has been a very close friend of mine over the years. He moved into my house, and lived in my room -- we actually shared a bedroom in the basement of this house that I owned in Cambridge, Ontario. My life just went one way, and his life went a different way.
And then we worked our first-ever singles match against each other at Madison Square Garden.
That's the funny thing -- somehow, up to that point, we had never wrestled each other one-on-one. I signed with TNA in 2004, and he went off and did his thing. Then it happens at MSG after I sign with NXT. That was a couple of months ago, just before TakeOver: Toronto, where Tye had his first really big match against another really close friend of mine, Bobby Roode.
Now we're coming up on TakeOver in San Antonio, and it's surreal. I'll see an ad on Twitter, or someone will text me, or I'll get an email from somebody that I've worked with along the way, just saying congratulations. It still doesn't seem real. It's not like, 'Oh shucks,' or anything like that. I deserve to be there. I'm good enough. I'm not good at a lot of things, but with pro wrestling, I'm in my element.
I'm excited to show people what I can really do. Working in this system is incredible, as you have the best of everything -- the best writers, the best production people and the best wrestlers in the world.
It's a unique opportunity for somebody at my age, with where I've been and how long my career's been. I'm not starting over, but I am starting this new adventure. The truth is, I feel like there's no ceiling. That's what's most exciting for me -- there's no limit to what I can do, and where I can go in this company. That's exciting for anybody that's in the entertainment field or that does anything that's creative. You can't ask for anything more.
And I'm not alone -- I have SAnitY along for the ride with me. The group is Hunter's brainchild -- I guess he's had this idea for, I think, going on 10 years now. He's tried it in a couple of different kind of ways, and it never really made it on TV because it didn't feel right.
Our first conversation was when my contract was up with TNA. They knew it was up, and then I reached out to them through different channels telling them I was interested in coming down, so we scheduled a meeting and I went.
I met Triple H, and he said, "It's my job to pay attention to what's going on in the wrestling world. I've known about you for years, and I'm still very close with Kevin Nash and I talk to him every now and then." Kevin had talked to Hunter about me before, him and Road Dogg, about me being a guy that he should keep his eye on.
He said he really liked my work, and that he was excited to bring me over. He told me he remembered seeing a clip of one of the first promos I did against Bobby Roode, when I had turned on Bobby in the ring, yelling like a lunatic. I couldn't even tell you what the promo was, to be honest. He told me that that was the guy he wanted to lead this group.
SAnitY is a name that came together once the ball started rolling, and from the beginning it's been very hands-on for me -- and that's an opportunity that's not lost on me. Several times in my career, I've just been an employee. You show up to work, and they tell you this is what you're doing, this is how long you have and this is what you're going to say.
A lot of that still goes on, but I've had a chance to give my input and a lot of things I've suggested have been used. But Hunter's definitely the captain of the ship, and he steers the boat with all things NXT. If you see something that you like on NXT, it came from him. He's one of the smartest people in wrestling.
The exciting thing is, I don't think we've even really scratched the surface of what we can be as a group. We've got a rough idea -- I'm the leader of these maniacs. Eric Young, the wrestler, blames everybody else for his mistakes and shortcomings after coming into NXT, losing to Samoa Joe on his first night and then going nowhere. He leaves and promises that when he comes back, he's going to do it his way by assembling these maniacs to do my bidding.
We had Sawyer Fulton as one of the original members, but he got hurt, so now we brought in another big weapon in Killian Dain. With both of them, and with Alexander Wolfe and Nikki Cross, I feel like the chemistry was instant. They're all excellent people, and they're all talented in their own ways. They're great in the ring, but they're certainly inexperienced when it comes to television. There's a difference of television wrestling and independent wrestling and just wrestling in front of a live crowd.
It's been kind of awesome seeing them learning as they go, and it's cool for me because I'm helping to steer them as far as what's important in refining the skill set of wrestling on TV.
Being trusted as the centerpiece of this promising group, that's the ultimate respect for me -- being looking at in that light, where I'm able to steer things. There's unlimited potential for me, and for the group, and I think it's only going to get better after San Antonio.
In honesty, failure is probably the only thing I'm afraid of in life. I used to be afraid of snakes, but I got over that. Failure, and letting people down -- those are the things I'm most afraid of these days. For someone like Triple H to treat me as if I've worked for WWE for 20 years, it's very interesting -- and it's certainly not something I would have expected coming in.
I can't say enough good things about the man, for real. I've never been in a fight in the outside world in my life, but I would fight somebody for Triple H. He's been nothing but an absolute pro, and it's been a very, very, cool ride so far.