The Problem With Eric Young As The TNA World Heavyweight Champion

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Eric Young was possibly the best pure entertainer that TNA Wrestling had. No matter what he did, fans were on his side. Fans would follow him and chant his name. Eric easily became the most likable guy in the company. I have heard many times that wrestlers are not actors. If you have a wrestler go out of the curtain to do a gimmick or put on a performance that is opposite of who he is, the angle will not work. This is what made the Attitude Era successful. The wrestlers were told to go out and be an even bigger and exaggerated version of who they were in real life. Backstage, Eric was known as being the locker room clown. Everyone loved him. No matter how bad of a day you were having, the guy would find a way to make you smile. At one point, a veteran wrestler told EY that he should be more of a serious wrestler. After the talk, Eric came to Vince Russo and told him that he wanted to be taken seriously as a wrestler. Vince Russo told him, “Eric–-there is no doubt that you are a GREAT wrestler–-NO DOUBT–-but, we have a lot of GREAT WRESTLERS in our locker room. But, what you have is something that few others have–-you have the gift to be able to ENTERTAIN. Not many of those ‘great’ wrestlers have that ability.”

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At the start of his career, he was in Team Canada. In 2006, the “Don’t Fire Eric” chants started. Eric would parade through the arena completely paranoid of being fired and wearing a shirt that said, “Don’t Fire Eric.” Eric feuded with Bobby Roode. He defeated Roode at the Genesis pre-show. On December 10, 2006, Eric defeated Ms. Brooks In a bikini contest by wearing a SpongeBob SquearePants bikini. In 2008, he was known as a superhero named Super Eric. In 2010, Eric had a mentally challenged gimmick. On February 28, 2012, Eric Young and ODB won the Knockouts Tag Team Championship. The two held the titles for 478 days before Brooke Hogan, Knockouts Division Executive, stripped them of the titles because Eric was not a female.

EYDB

On April 10, 2014, Eric Young won a battle royal match to become the number one contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Rather than waiting until Sacrifice to cash in his title shot, Eric called out MVP. MVP, at the time, was the Director of Wrestling Operations. He told MVP that he had an injured shoulder and wanted the title shot that night. MVP granted his wish. Eric Young defeated Magnus that same night to become the new TNA World Heavyweight Champion. If this story sounds very familiar, that’s because something almost exactly like this happened just a few days earlier. At WrestleMania 30, four days before Impact Wrestling, Daniel Bryan faced off against Triple H. If he were to defeat Triple H, he would go on to the main event to face Randy Orton and Batista for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Daniel Bryan defeated Triple H then had an injured shoulder. Still, he went on to win the championship at the end of the night. Also, both wrestlers are babyfaces that the fans have always loved and have long beards.

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The week after Eric Young won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, he successfully defended the title against Abyss in a Monster’s Ball match. At Sacrifice, Eric retained his championship against Magnus. On the next Impact, Eric declared that he was going to be a fighting champion, Eric said that he would defend the gold every week. That night, he successfully defended his championship against the longest reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion in history Bobby Roode. Here is where I drew the line. Eric Young has been an entertainer and more of a comedy act for most of his career. Now, TNA wants us to take him very seriously as the champion and face of the company. He defeated one of the major stars of the show, Bobby Roode, on Impact Wrestling. Eric’s climb seemed all too fast. He should have had more doubters and more people against him. He should have had more detractors. There is no way that he should have beaten Roode so soon on TV. If anything, there should be a long story with people not able to take Eric seriously and Eric finally able to defeat a top star at a PPV two or three months after he won the championship. Everything was happening very quickly to be able to process and get behind his new gimmick. TNA needed to slow down this angle so we could all take in the new serious Eric Young.

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In the gimmick of Eric as a fighting champion, Eric wanted to defend the title every single week. This was to counter the past title holder Magnus, who would hesitantly defend the championship. Also, as Magnus was called a paper champion for never winning cleanly, Eric won all of his title defenses cleanly. The problem I have with this is title defenses no longer seemed special. After a while, the feeling every title defense on Impact was going to be another moment of Eric somehow overcoming all odds and defending his championship. The matches became predictable. They no longer felt important. Last year, I remember a time when Bully Ray was defending his title on Impact. This hardly ever happened. I was extremely excited to be at home to watch this match happen. The less the championship is defended on TV, the more important the occasion. Since Eric was defending the title every week, how important was the title match? Seeing a title match on Impact became normal. There was no more special feeling associated with seeing a championship match on free TV. When championship matches were announced, I began to actually not want to watch them. The night Eric lost the belt, I didn’t watch the match. I didn’t see what happened until a day or two later online. I actually saw the full show many days later. Balance is the key to everything in life. While TNA continued to exploit the championship on free TV, many people were wanting to tune out. The quarter rating for the main event when Eric Young defended his title against MVP on Impact Wrestling was .69. That was the lowest number of the night. Numbers never lie.

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  • Sean Prem

    Another really good article. Indeed, seeing repetitive title matches isnt ideal, as it should be saved for certain events. Or at every so often. TNA sometimes rush things too much, pre-occupied with the short term rather than going for the long term perspective