Former TNA X Division Champion, multi-time Tag Team Champion, one half of the current Knockouts Tag Team Champions and host of Animal Planet’s “Off the Hook: Extreme Catches” ‘Showtime’ Eric Young joined the “Award Winning Best New Show” The Rack Thursday Night. In a nearly 35 minute interview, he discussed the upcoming new season of ‘Off the Hook’ and how it’s different from Season 1, who we can expect to see with him on the new season, his tradition of sampling beers before fishing on the show, what he does in his off time from the show, the traveling schedules for both the show and TNA, his thoughts on TNA going on the road for IMPACT and where he’s looking forward to going, what his best day in professional wresting was, his time in Team Canada, the thoughts on ODB and her role as Knockouts referee, the many different personas he’s had in his time to TNA, being the pioneer of ‘BeardGate’ within TNA and what his inspirations were, this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and who he thinks will win the Cup, Kurt Angle being named to the TNA Hall of Fame, ‘Rampage’ Jackson joining TNA and getting mainstream attention to TNA, pranks on the ‘Off the Hook set and much more.
Who we can expect to see on the show with him: “It’s all pro fishermen from all over North America; we went to Puerto Rico, went to Mexico, and went to Montreal for couple of come-back kind of characters. Rene Potvin, the guy I free dove with in New York and Jory Pierson, which was one of everybody’s real favorites; a guy I stay in contact with and talk to a couple times a month and stuff and we go after some sharks off the back of a shrimp boat in Florida and it’s a pretty wild adventure with me and him. We are in what I would call the crappiest row boat I’ve ever seen. We’re out kind of in the middle of the Gulf and were out behind the shrimp boat and they release their bite, you know, the extra stuff they catch while dragging nets and catching shrimp and that creates basically like a big shark feeding frenzy underneath the boat and we’re on this terrible rowboat right in the middle of that. So, it’s pretty wild.”
His tradition, on the show, of drinking a beer before going out to fish and talking to the locals: “I’ll make myself sound real classy; I’ll drink almost anything. I actually joined a beer club this year for about three months and that was pretty interesting. But yeah, I’ll usually drink something that’s local, that’s on tap; something that I haven’t seen or heard of and I actually get paid to do that: stand in a bar and every time a cup gets about half-full, they grab it out of my hands and fill it back up and then I talk to all of these crazy characters and funny people at the bar and just talk about fishing and the area. It’s really one of my favorite parts of the show, it’s super cool, and sometimes I’ve got to pinch myself to say ‘You’re being paid right now to hang out in a bar with maniacs and drink beer’, so it’s pretty cool. I mean, there’s always; it seems to be the same four to five guys at every bar, you know, there’s the one crazy old guy that knows everybody in the town and has a thousand stories. Sometimes, he’s the guy you can’t get away from; you start talking to him and they see the cameras and then they just go off. We’re off and on a schedule and we get what we need and often, I’ll just sit there and talk to the guy because I think he’s interesting and the director and producer are trying to pull me away to get me to go talk to somebody else. So, sometimes those can go late into the night, which is cool to me because I don’t require a lot of sleep, so it’s always a good time seeing new places like that.”
The travel schedules he lives as part of the show and TNA: “It’s super tough to balance; it’s two amazing jobs but both require me to travel and be in different places in the United States and ever around the world. So, it’s a treacherous schedule, you know, it’s definitely not for everybody. I’m worn pretty thin right now, but I’ve got a couple of days off, to recharge the batteries and then head down to Peoria for IMPACT Wrestling; I’m back wrestling full-time now. But the show itself (‘Off the Hook’) takes about 6-7 days to shoot; usually a day to travel there, 5-6 days of shooting, maybe 7 and then a day to fly back to wherever I’m going. We filmed from October of last year to June 1st; we filmed about 16 brand new episodes, so I was home, from January to about June 1st, physically in my house for about 10 days within that time period. That was I walk in, do laundry, run errands, go to the gym, pack my next two bags, wake up the next day and I go back to the airport to fly back out; I was never home for more than two days at a time. Yeah, it was a bit of a whirlwind but I wouldn’t change it. The show is amazing and I cannot wait for it to come out and for people to see it. It’s the most proud I’ve ever been in my life of anything I’ve ever done.”
TNA going on the road for live IMPACT Wrestling shows: “Well, it’s the right decision. I can remember being an independent wrestler and living in Canada and driving all over the place when TNA first started; all of the boys talking about it and ‘Oh, they’re paying this guy this’ and ‘Oh, they resigned this guy’. You’d read online, and hear guys talk backstage and talk to fans and hear ‘Oh, TNA won’t make it’ or ‘Oh they’re bankrupt’ blah blah blah. Well, fast forward to 10 years later and we’re still there. We’re seen in over 120 countries around the world, millions of viewers every week, 125+ hours of original content on Spike Television every year , DVD sales, merchandise sales, killer numbers in the UK. This is a legitimate wrestling company and they made the right decisions; you’re never going to keep everyone happy, that’s the blade you fall on when you’re in entertainment. You can’t impress everyone, it’s impossible. 50% of the people are going to like it and the other 50% won’t like it, it’s just the way it is. Even when WWF and WCW were murdering in the numbers, I remember hearing the exact same debate; like ‘Oh, why doesn’t this guy get more TV time’ and ‘oh, the older guys’. TNA is making the right decisions and they’re making them at the right times and this is defiantly the right decision. Taping the shows in Orlando was great, and it was great for the company and helped it to grow, but that has passed by and it’s time to go on the road and that’s what they did. It’s the right decision and its super fun being in front of big crowds with live television and in front of new crowds, fresh crowds all over North America. So, it’s super exciting for guys on the show, for the guys in the office and I think also for the fans at home.”
His thoughts on ODB and her current role as the Knockouts referee: “As a referee, she’s the best; I would rather look at her than Earl Hebner any day of the week! I love Earl Hebner, but ODB is much easier to look at. She’s amazing; she’s one of my real good friends in wrestling. The number one thing I can say about her is she understands wrestling as good as if not better than any girl than I’ve ever met and she thinks it like a guy almost. She knows who she is and she’s comfortable with that and that’s way she’s so popular. I mean, I can’t wrestle a singles match without people chanting her name. That’s a testament to her and her skill and how good she really is. She’s awesome to work with, a pro and the chemistry me and her have; it’s just so much fun being around her and working on television with her and being around her backstage, it’s awesome. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
His responsibility on starting ‘BeardGate’ within TNA and the inspiration for his beard: “I’m definitely not the first person to grow a beard; I’m not the first person to have a beard in pro wrestling, but beards are, when I grew my beard about 3-3 1/2 years ago, very few people had beard s; I don’t think anyone in pro wrestling had a big beard and right now, in TNA, it appears to be a bit of an epidemic. But, there’s still only, you always remember your first, or however you want to put it but I was the pioneer and copying is the, oh how is that saying, copying is the highest form of flattery, I don’t know. Beards are cool and I don’t blame the guys from growing them, that’s for sure. Brian Wilson is like the messiah of beards, you know; that’s like another level altogether. Josh Reddick’s was cool, at that time he made them look cool. Part of my beard inspiration was from Opie, the character Opie from ‘Sons of Anarchy’; I ride a Harley, I’ve always been into motorcycles. I’m definitely not in a gang, I’m not tough enough to be in a motorcycle gang, but I do ride Harleys and I am fascinated with that kind of culture and ‘Sons of Anarchy’ is one of my favorite shows. He (Ryan Hurst as ‘Opie’) is a fantastic actor and I thought his beard looked cool and that was part of it. The Nashville Predators were in the playoffs that year, I live in Nashville and they’re my hockey team, so one thing lead to another and I had a playoff beard and I still have it. Every day (years ago), I remember Dixie asking me and some of the other guys asking me ‘So, what’s going on with the beard?’ I had the TV Belt and I think I was carrying around the old World Title at the time, and I told them, ‘When you’re a champion, every day is the playoffs.’ So, that was the start of the beard and I still have it and people on the show love it; it’s part of my persona and it’s not going anywhere. I see old pictures and I wonder what took me so long to grow it, that’s for sure.”
On Kurt Angle being named to the TNA Hall of Fame: “Kurt Angle’s been in the Hall of Fame since the first year he was in wrestling, if you ask me. He’s a bit of an enigma to me; he’s a guy that didn’t watch it growing up and really didn’t know anything about it when he got into it after the Olympics. He signed a deal with the WWE and they took a chance on him; they didn’t know if he was going to be good, they just signed him because he was a gold medalist, he was a wrestler, he was in good shape and an amazing athlete but they had nothing to base that on, nothing at all. He’s one of the best of all time and he’s definitely one of the best right now in the business. He’s a great guy and funny. It’s frustrating; you’re not allowed to be good at everything, me and him talk sometimes and it can be frustrating because he can be so good at everything he does, like he’s funny and athletic and smart; it’s nuts, it’s crazy how good he is. In my mind, she’d been in the Hall of Fame since a long time ago; you’re not jumping the gun, you’re just doing that inevitably going to happen so you might as well just put him in there and then we can get on with our lives. Like I said, like a guy that’s only been around wrestling; I’ve been wrestling for now will be the start of 16 years, and I think he’s got about the same amount of time, but he’s had about 10x the amount of matches I have had and he’s obviously done it at a high level for 16 years rather than he didn’t do independents and stuff like that because he didn’t need to. He understand wrestling almost as good as anyone I‘ve ever met. He just know what everyone wants to see; he knows how to tell a story, when to pick it up and when to slow it down, when to be funny and when to be serious and when to do everything. He’s a super genius when it comes to pro wrestling, it’s crazy.”