22 April 2015

EYolution


It's said that in order for a wrestler to attain longevity they need to be able to adapt and evolve their character every few years in order to stay fresh & current with times, and now with 11 years of service under his belt in TNA, it can be said that Eric Young is a testament to this theory. Not only has Young climbed the ladder in TNA since his debut in 2004, but he has embodied a range of characters, which have interestingly all contributed attributes to the current persona Young portrays today. 

Young joined TNA in 2004 as a member of Team Canada. In a group with several talkers, Young was the blonde-haired, blue-eyed hotshot that stood quietly to the side and let what he did in the ring do his talking. Young was a solid member for the group delivering 2 tag team titles with Bobby Roode and establishing himself as one of many promising up-and-comers on the roster, but soon began to show a new, paranoid side to himself. From Team Canada's signature pyro to the thought of Sting being around, Young would jump out of his skin at the smallest thing and spend more time looking around corners and up in rafters for anything out of the ordinary. Young soon found himself thinking that he would lose his job after TNA management teased someone would be getting fired, and after the break-up of Team Canada which Scott D'Amore blamed Young for, EY began his “Don't fire Eric” campaign and found himself being embraced by the audience. With the fans firmly behind him, Young went on to feud with the likes of Larry Zybysko, his former partner Bobby Roode & “Cowboy” James Storm, establishing himself as a solid midcard act in TNA. But in order for him to get to the next level, Young had to overcome his child like fear, and in 2008 he did so in dramatic fashion.

During a feud in 2008 between Young, Kaz and the dark characters Rellik & Black Reign, Young was almost crippled with fear because of his two opponents monster like personas. Eventually Young found a way to overcome his fear of these “monsters” and created the character “Super Eric”, a masked cape-wearing hero who feared nothing and no-one, and helped Young overcome the fear he had lived with for several years. While the Super Eric gimmick didn't last long, the fearlessness carried over and made Eric a new man, a man who showed confidence and desire to climb the mountain and establish himself as a top player. At first it seemed to be going well after briefly winning the X Division title, but a few months down the road and a few loses to some established names, Young snapped and turned his back on his friends & peers and underwent a transformation to shed his old image for a new, serious Eric Young. EY shaved his blonde hair and created a new group, The World Elite, leading a faction of young foreign talent that wanted to prove their superiority over their American counterparts and more importantly to EY, help him rise to the top of TNA. 

As the leader of this new group Young showed new wrinkles to his character, specifically how smart and cunning he was. From his tactics to outsmart opponents of his & the groups to him brokering a deal with Kurt Angle to bring the Main Event Mafia & World Elite together, and then turning Mafia members against each other once his relationship with Angle broke down, Eric was throwing some major punches and proving he was as good mentally as he was technically. Young went on to win the Legends Title, which he re-named the Global, and looked to set to be a breakout star in 2010, however a few months into the year his character and rise became a casualty of the Hogan/Bischoff era, and his character took a step back rather than a step forward. Upon Hogan's arrival many storylines and characters were scrapped, including The World Elite. Young went on to feud, and then join Kevin Nash & Scott Hall as “The Band”. After some legal issues with Hall, the Band was stripped of the Tag Titles & its remaining members Nash & Young went their separate ways. Young was then re-packaged as a mentally handicapped character after taking a blow to the head, and used as a comedy character for the next 3 years. While Young held gold during this run including the TV Title & Knockouts Tag Team titles, it was a far cry from the future main eventer we saw in 2009. 

After a short hiatus at the start of 2013 due to a storyline injury at the hands of the Aces & 8's, Young returned to TV as a toned down version of the character we'd seen in recent years, while still a fun loving guy, gone were the ridiculous antics & the focus on getting the job inside the ring was back, re-enforced when EY delivered a jaw dropping elbow from the top of a cage to win Lethal Lockdown for Team TNA at Lockdown 2013. Later in the year Eric began teaming with Joseph Park, and after working out how to bring the monster in Park out, began calling himself “The Mad Scientist” using the intelligence we've seen him display in the past and trying to harness Park's transformations, and then prove to Joseph that he and his “brother” Abyss were one in the same. The process of trying to prove his theory lead Young into a Monsters Ball Match against Abyss, and while he didn't win the bout, he did unmask Abyss and show him that he & Joseph were the same person, leading to Abyss disappearing before making a shocking return to help reigning World Champion Magnus. A few weeks after Abyss' return, Young competed and won a #1 contenders battle royal for a World Title shot, and that same night in the most shocking moment of 2014 defeated Magnus to become TNA World Champion. 

With the World Championship around his waist, Young took the responsibility very seriously and became the definition of a fighting Champion, happily defending his belt on a regular basis against anyone and everyone in any type of match. For around 2 months Eric Young was the honourable champion, until meeting his match in the form of Lashley, losing his title and then being unable to regain it. For the rest of 2014 Young seemed to fade away from the World Title picture, and that taste of gold combined with several other things caused Young to snap and bring on the next evolution of the Eric Young character. Today Young is a crazed man dead set on having the World Title back in his possession, but upon further evaluation this Eric Young is the manifestation of all the different phases we've seen him go through. 

The anger he carried along with his Team Canada brothers, the fearlessness he drew from Super Eric, the intelligence he showed as the leader of the World Elite, the mental instability seen at various points & the technical ability that peaked when he won the World Heavyweight Championship. The Eric Young of 2015 is the culmination of 11 years of development in TNA, and the traits that he has taken from various points of his career to present day indicate that EY is at his most deadliest. With his in-ring & mental technique at its peak, and no boundaries on what he's willing to do himself or do to his opposition, Young has become a threat to everyone in TNA, and there is no doubt that Kurt Angle's title reign is in serious danger now that EY is #1 Contender.

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