There were a lot of things that I could have spoken about in this week’s post-Slammiversary column.
I could have done a quick hit on how Nick Aldis’ three-month run was an absolutely perfect fit for both parties and the sort of thing I wish more wrestling companies would do.
I could have extolled the virtues of Josh Alexander’s return from injury and talked about how excited I was to see arguably the best wrestler in the world back in action.
I could have touched on Lio Rush becoming the X-Division Champion and the intrigue around that title, or Jonathan Gresham seemingly trying to bring Pure Rules into another promotion. I could, too, have moaned for the 452nd time about Bully Ray being there and questioning why losing to the love child of Elton John and Patton Oswalt wasn’t the end of his run in the promotion.
Instead, I wanted to focus on someone in Eric Young who has had a lot of praise over the last week, every bit of it deserved. When I saw a tweet from VOW’s own Suit Williams over the weekend, my plans seemed even more apropos.
366 days ago, Vincent Kennedy McMahon took to social media to announce that he’d retired from WWE. For retired, read running away in shame after his decades of hush money and sexual misdemeanours had finally begun to catch up with him thanks to a series of media exposes.
Suit wrote a piece for VOW at the time that for AEW (but really the same sentiment could have been applicable to all major promotions) the Vince advantage had gone. There was, within the wrestling industry, this incorrect but pervading view that under Uncle Paul, things really would be different. Definitely, without question, the shows would have a different feel, different people would be pushed and different sorts of stories would be told.
No matter how much they tried to tell you things had changed, or how many times Michael Cole said the word wrestling (God forbid), the cold truth was that the shows were basically the same. The matches were longer, yes, but they were mostly boring and the product was cold, and there was this unmistakable stench that Vince was never that far away.
However, that view persisted and it meant that a lot of talent who’d been burned before and swore that they’d never return all went trundling back to Connecticut. Eric Young was one of those who went back, signing up for a second stint with them in the final quarter of last year after his Impact run finished.
Supposedly, Young was going to be part of the Wyatt Six gimmick built around Bray Wyatt. I doubt the lore would ever have been for me but for their crowd, if done right, it would have been a huge success I’m sure. And, irrespective of quality, by adding someone like Young to it you had a guy who had thrived with every gimmick given to him over the years in Impact.
That Wyatt stuff never came together in the end because of Bray’s health problems and then after months of people telling you that Vince definitely wasn’t back, he just had a funny moustache or was visiting his good friend John Cena, he was more back than he’d ever been after the merger between WWE and the UFC’s parent company, Endeavour.
Young, at that point, promptly asked for his release. Notably it wasn’t just a creative issue but as he’s said in multiple interviews, he “personally, professionally and… most importantly, morally, can’t take instruction and work for a person like that.”
It doesn’t take a genius to work out who a person like that is.
We’re so inured to everyone ultimately leaving their morals, for all their social media grandstanding, at the door when money and fame are involved, that when someone does make the right ethical decision, it’s often shocking. So many choose to prioritise themselves over what’s right that you just assume everyone is heartless.
Young, however, wasn’t. He was at the point in his career and as a person where he didn’t bet on himself or anything like that, he merely stood up for the position he thought was the right one and got himself out of there.
Not everyone would be comfortable doing that, particularly from a financial perspective, but Young was and did. Really, it doesn’t matter what narrative Impact spin to account for Deaner murdering him last year, Young is the sort of babyface we should all get behind.