HeadLocker — Jay Shannon
OWW’s Wrestler of the Week: Eric Young
Our resident philosopher, Jay Shannon, looks at the new X-Division champion, Eric Young. The TNA Original upset Sheik Abdul Bashir for the X-Division title.
Eric Young is a very talented wrestler. The Canadian superstar has gone through numerous gimmick changes in the past few years. Regardless of the silly gimmicks, Eric has remained one of the most visible personalities in TNA. This week, he took the X-Division title from Sheik Abdul Bashir (with a little help from ref, Shane Sewell). Thanks to his X-title win, as well as years of dedication, Eric Young is this week’s pick for the OWW Wrestler of the Week award.
A World Class start
Jeremy Fritz grew up in Florence, Ontario. It might surprise some fans to know that Jeremy/Eric was actually his high school valedictorian. Jeremy was introduced to Waldo Von Erich, a wrestling trainer and former “brother” to Fritz Von Erich. Jeremy trained for 2 1/2 months before having his first match in Michigan. There are numerous stories about where Jeremy came up with his Eric Young identity. The most common story is that Waldo gave Eric the name by saying that he reminded him of a “Young (Waldo Von) Erich). Ironically, his first match was against “Suicide” Sean Ball.
After a few matches, Waldo introduced Eric to Scott D’Amore. Eric worked for Border City Wrestling. Wrestling jobs were scarce at the time, so Eric did numerous odd jobs to make ends meet. Eric also opened his own wrestling training school in Ontario. His biggest student was Shawn Spears aka Gavin Spears. Eric also got three bookings on WWE programs. He teamed with Robert (Bobby) Roode on an episode of Velocity. He also worked solo on Velocity and on Heat. All three outings came up as losing efforts. It was on the Heat program that Eric first gained the nickname of Showtime.
In early 2004, Eric and others trained by Scott D’Amore were given the opportunity to join the fledgling TNA organization. Eric joined Petey Williams, Robert Roode, and Johnny Devine to form the core of the team. The team also had Teddy Hart and Jack Evans as members. Eric was seen as the “weak link” of the team and was humiliated on a regular basis by the other members of the team. Eric was teamed on a regular basis with Robert/Bobby Roode. The duo won the World tag titles in October, 2004, and again in December of 2004. After losing the belts, Eric was teamed with A-1. Their pairing was much less successful.
During this time, Eric began to develop his Paranoid character. Eric was basically afraid of everything. There were many inside jokes during this time. As an example, during the “funeral” for Team 3D, staged by “Father” James Mitchell and Planet Jarrett, Eric kept talking about a ghost named “Katie”. That ghost was a jab at the Katie Vick storyline over in WWE. There was another incident where Eric “What do you think this is, Where’s Waldo?” That was a reference to the popular game and a nod to his mentor, Waldo Von Erich.
Don’t Fire Eric
Team Canada dropped an All-or-Nothing match against Team 3D, Rhino and Jay Lethal. That forced the team to disband. Scott D’Amore ripped into Eric, blaming him for the loss. Eric was scared that he was going to be fired. He began to wear a simply white t-shirt with the words “Don’t Fire Eric Young” on the front. The crowd picked up on the gimmick and often chanted “Don’t Fire Eric” at the Impact Zone.
The firing angle reached it’s twisted end as Eric lost a Loser Gets Fired match. Eric got his revenge when he challenged Larry Zbyszko to a match where Eric’s win earned him his spot back on the roster. Larry Z got the boot thanks to the loss.
A Roode situation
After the initial firing angle ran it’s course, Eric got mixed up with Robert Roode, Inc. Eric became enamored with Roode’s associate, Traci Brooks. Traci flirted with Eric to coax him into signing on with Robert Roode, Inc. Roode then made Eric’s life miserable. Roode continued to threaten to dismiss Eric, thus ending his wrestling career. Eric began to receive communication from a secret, special friend. The friend turned out to be Jeff Jarrett, who helped Eric eventually win his freedom from Roode.
The worst gimmick/feud in wrestling history
Once Eric finished his feud with Roode, Eric began to hang out with “Cowboy” James Storm. Storm’s character was a hard drinker that cared more about his beer than his wrestling career. Eric surprised Storm by being able to match Storm’s drinking prowess. The two engaged in numerous drinking contests. Eventually, TNA created a World Drinking Championship belt. The belt looked like a standard championship belt, only it’s center medallion was a beer bottle. The two men actually had a mix of drinking contests and wrestling matches over the bogus belt. Negative reaction from fans led to the belt being eliminated and the feud ended in a draw.
Ripping off the WWE?
Eric went through a series of odd character changes. His first character after the Roode and Storm feuds was very much a take on the Eugene character in the WWE. He was involved in various nowhere feuds that culminated in the creation of an alter-ego.
Eric was a Scared Rabbit that freaked when the pyros exploded during his entrance. He became terrified of RelliK and Black Reign, because they were “monsters”. Kaz talked to Eric about finding his inner self. Eric then showed up in a red and yellow costume that resembled the blue, red and yellow costume of Superman. In fact, Eric began to say he was from Metropolis (Superman’s home town). He also dubbed himself “Super” Eric. The character was more of a lift of the Hurricane character, played by Gregory Helms. Eric was still timid and weak but “Super” Eric had incredible strength, agility and speed.
“Super” Eric would eventually team with two other masked men in TNA. Shark Boy and Curry Man (Christopher Daniels) joined Eric in the Prince Justice Brotherhood. The name was based on DC Comics’ Justice League/Society of America. The actual name was a nod to Abyss, who’s ring name was once Prince Justice. There were rumors that Abyss was also going to join the group, possibly as their leader. That idea was scrapped, so Abyss could be remastered and teamed with Matt Morgan.
The “new” Eric Young
As the Brotherhood began to wind down, Eric ditched his superhero duds to return to his old Eric persona. There was one slight change, he was no longer afraid of his own shadow. When the Main Event Mafia began to attack the TNA Originals, Eric joined up right away. He stood strong and proud to help Samoa Joe, A.J. Styles and others against the Mafia. All thoughts of “Super” Eric went out the window.
At the 2008 edition of Turning Point, Eric won a multiple person X-Division battle to become the number one contender to the X-Division title. Eric then went on to battle Sheik Abdul Bashir for the X-Title. The ref, Shane Sewell, refused to count the pin when Bashir had Eric beat. Sewell then got into a fight with Bashir, which allowed Eric to sneak in and take the win by way of the Spicoli/Death Valley Driver. Whether Eric will be allowed to keep the title is in question, at this point, but Eric did take the X-Division belt from Sheik Abdul Bashir on that night.
Where does Eric go next? Well, Eric will likely stay in the middle of the Generations War. He will likely continue to feud with Sheik Abdul Bashir over the X-title. It is possible that he may reunite with Curry Man/Christopher Daniels to battle for the tag belts. The options for Eric are numerous, at this point. His career is finally moving in a positive direction. No silly rip-offs of WWE characters, no looking for Elvis, or any of the other bizarre gimmicks that Eric has had to deal with in recent years. Will he win the World title? I kind of doubt it. Will he continue to be a central player in TNA? I think that’s a most definite, yes.
Due to winning the X-Division title, as well as eliminating the fluff parts of his career, Eric Young has given his career a well-needed boost. Those things surely make Waldo Von Erich smile. It also gained Eric this week’s OWW Wrestler of the Week award. Well done, Eric.