The World Class Maniac is back where he belongs (Photo: IMPACT Wrestling)
Eric Young has seen his career revitalised by returning to IMPACT Wrestling after losing his job during the pandemic.
The former world champion has captured the gold twice since starting his second spell with the company at Slammiversary last summer, and he’s having a blast rediscovering his passion for the business as a whole.
He exclusively told Metro.co.uk: ‘Obviously I could’ve done without being fired during a global pandemic, but I’m a huge believer in fate – I’ve got the word fate tattooed on my underarm on my right arm. It’s something I believe in completely.
‘I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. The last six months have been maybe my favourite six months of my entire career – that’s a lot to think about! It might be recency bias, but it’s been awesome, man.’
EY has done it all in IMPACT Wrestling, becoming a mainstay during the TNA days before moving on after 12 years and starting a new chapter with WWE in 2016.
As the leader of SAnitY, he enjoyed a fine run in Triple H’s NXT brand, but he didn’t hit the same heights on the main roster.
In April last year, he was let go as part of a wave of releases early in the pandemic, which gave the 41-year-old veteran some pause for thought.
‘There was definitely part of me that was like, maybe I’m done wrestling,’ he candidly admitted. ‘To be honest, I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought I was going to tenfold!
‘I didn’t wanna be done, but that was definitely part of the discussion I had with my wife. I’m not a spring chicken, but I was maybe taking it as a sign maybe it was time to do something else.’
While he considering moving to the next stage of his career, the lifelong wrestling fan – who admitted he enjoyed getting ‘paid to do nothing’ and spend time with his wife – had still grown ‘unsatisfied professionally’ towards the end of his stint.
SAnitY didn’t make the same waves after leaving NXT (Photo: WWE)
There were talks with AEW, and event some discussions of a return to the NXT brand, but in the end, IMPACT Wrestling came calling.
‘Scott D’Amore was one of the first persons to call me when the news got out,’ he said of the promotion’s president.
‘I was talking to Hunter at the time – there was definitely an option of me going back to NXT and that’s something I was exploring.
‘Decided on IMPACT and I’m happy I did, man. The last six months have been some of the most memorable and best times of my entire career.’
Focusing on the present and future, the past six months have been a ‘shot in the arm’ for the star, and a new lease of life.
EY’s decision to return more than paid off (Photo: IMPACT Wrestling)
‘It’s a total revitalisation… I was never out of love with pro wrestling, I was out of love with the process of pro wrestling,’ he said.
‘It didn’t matter what I said or what I pitched, you were just slamming your head against the wall and nothing changed.
‘Being in IMPACT, it’s collaborative, every single person wants to have the best match on the show and I think it shows. IMPACT is written by professional wrestling fans for professional wresting fans.’
The nature of the beast in the business is that fans will argue online, with some become tribal in their passion for certain companies – but the artform and beauty of the industry is where the focus should be.
‘That’s very well said man, pro wrestling is pro wrestling,’ Eric agreed. ‘As a person that was a fan for the major part of my young life, I didn’t worry about ratings and numbers and who’s going where.
‘I watched it and enjoyed it. If people just put that aside – the reality is, it doesn’t affect you. It only affects us. As a fan, watch it and enjoy it!’
That said, he still holds IMPACT Wrestling high above the rest after what has been a fantastic creative spell for the company over the past few years, with the focus now on this months’ Hard To Kill pay-per-view.
‘There’ll be a lot of eyes on it,’ Eric said.
‘And everybody on the show that night, we’re going to show the world that IMPACT is a destination for pros and a destination for wrestling fans if they want to watch something that you can believe in.’
*IMPACT Wrestling airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FreeSports in the UK. Hard to Kill airs January 16 on PremiereSports.