Eric Young has enjoyed a lengthy career as a wrestler, and he is the most recognizable stars in IMPACT Wrestling. But once upon a time, he was just a young wrestler who was trying to break into a notoriously competitive business.
In a recent appearance on the Wrestling Perspective Podcast, Young described how he once idolized Shawn Michaels, and this admiration motivated him to write an article about the WWE Hall of Famer for ESPN.
“I actually wrote for ESPN for a little while, and…I wrote this, basically the title of the article was called, ‘My Love Letter To The Heartbreak Kid.’ And it was basically how I idolized him and I wanted to be him. And I realized, like you know, I’m short, I’m fat, I’m ugly, like I’m never gonna be ‘The Heartbreak Kid.’ I’m gonna have to do something else. But he just inspired me to, how I move and how I sell and what I believe good wrestling is, what I believe good physicality is, and good storytelling, comes from him. Lots of other guys, too, but for me, he was the pinnacle.”
Young then recapped how he worked a dark match at a WWE RAW taping at an early point in his career. There, he described how Shawn Michaels encouraged him to keep chasing his dreams. He recalled how, after the dark match, the future WWE Hall of Famer went out of his way to compliment him.
“Shawn kind of grabs my arm, and he looks at me,” said Young. “I’m getting choked up saying this. He looks at me and says, ‘Hey man, you know, no word of a lie, but that’s one of the best dark matches I’ve ever seen.’ And that would be like Jesus Christ looking you in your face and saying, ‘Whatever you’re doing in life, you’re doing really great.’ And like from that point on, I never doubted myself again. The guy who I think is the best wrestler in the world said,’ That may be one of the best dark matches I’ve ever seen.’
“And from that point, like I knew that I was going to work on TV at some point. I knew it…. And then him coming to NXT and being a big part of me and Shawn Spears, and I trained Shawn Spears, and we did this really cool cage match. And Shawn was all choked up about the match and how good it was. Anyways, it’s a crazy story, I wrote an article, it’s probably on ESPN, buried somewhere on their WWE site, but that’s the guy that definitely inspired me.”
The former IMPACT World Champion described how he even shared an emotional moment with “The Heartbreak Kid” after he wrote the article. Young and the hosts of the show joked that the scene was right out of a rom-com.
“The best part of the thing, it’s at WrestleMania weekend, we’re at NXT TakeOver,” said Young. “We’re opening the show in an eight-man tag, Sanity vs., I think it’s Roderick Strong, Chris Hero, two other guys I can’t remember…I do remember this though.
“They did this crazy eye makeup on all three of us for a different look for a TakeOver. And I know that Shawn’s there, it’s WrestleMania weekend, and he’s always at NXT, but he wasn’t there all day. So I’m like, man I wonder if he read it, I wonder if he saw, like I’m hoping he did, and then I’m hoping he didn’t, like what if he didn’t like it? Maybe he thinks I’m a stupid mark now, whatever.
“I’m like five minutes from going out, and I see him come walking in one of the big bay doors, he was off doing some autograph stuff. And I turn, and he sees me, and he yells, Eric!’”
Young recalled how Michaels ran up to him and gave him a hug because he read the article. He then jokingly explained that he’d be down to do a comedy series with his hero.
“He comes running over, and he just hugs me like I’m his child he hasn’t seen in 15 years,” said Young. “And he’s like, crying almost. And he’s like, ‘Man, it meant so much to me,’ I’m getting choked up again. And I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re gonna mess up my makeup, I got all this makeup on my eyes. I’m gonna start crying.’
“It was an unbelievable story, and he loved it, and he read it. And I mean we don’t talk every month or anything like that, but whenever I run into him, it’s like we’re old buddies. And that is such a trip to me. I mean, this guy that I idolized, like I had him and Triple H’s posters on my wall when I was breaking into the business as like motivation. It felt like [the end of a rom com.] I would definitely do a show with Shawn, where we’re together, living in a studio apartment somewhere.”
The full episode is available here: