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Grapplin’ With Eric Young

by Mike Tenay / Los Angeles Kings

Eric Young currently performs for TNA – Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, which starts on Destination America the first week of January 2015.  During his career, the native of Canada worked as that company’s World Heavyweight Champion.

He is also the host of Animal Planet’s Off the Hook: Extreme Catches and No Limits programs.
Young recently answered these questions for

Q: Can you talk about your love of hockey?

A: I grew up in Canada. You are forced into it there, they don't give you a lot of choice. I learned to skate around the same time I learned to walk. Pee Wee was my first organized hockey. It's life there. It's everything. Everyone follows it ... Men, women, everybody. It's a great sport. I've loved it forever.

Q: Being Canadian, isn't it a birthright to love hockey?

A: Absolutely. Athletically there's not a lot to get behind. I was never really into the CFL. Hockey is it. Every four years cheering for them in the Winter Olympics. Just knowing that 3/4 of the guys in the NHL are Canadian players, it's definitely a birthright. The best hockey players are Canadian ... That's just the way it is.

Q: You are not from LA, but how impressive have the accomplishments of the Kings been in the last three years?

A: Super impressive. They say we're in an era where that's just not possible, because of free agency and salary cap. Guys leave the organization and you say "what are they going to do?" And they come up with Pearson, Toffoli and Muzzin. Kind of like what the Red Wings have done for years. Not rebuilding, they are reloading. Kings play a style of hockey I love and any chance I get to watch them, I do.

Q: Who is your favorite Kings player and why?

A: I've always liked Dustin Brown. Always has a good role on Team U.S.  Serves as a Captain. Good leader. Good both ways. Good with the puck ... And tough. I like hockey players that do everything. He doesn't do everything good, he does it great. That's what a captain is. I've always liked Jeff Carter. An incredible skater. Can shoot the puck. Awesome to watch.

Q: Are you a proponent of fighting in the NHL?

A: Yes. I grew up with fighting being in the game. Everyone has their different views, but often it's the people who have nothing to do with the game, that want it out of the game. If the players want fighting out of the game, then that's great. Take it out of the game. Very few get hurt doing it. If we are worried about getting hurt, maybe we shouldn't have hockey at all. Or football. Or sports in general. Maybe I shouldn't be a pro wrestler. It's part of the game. I live in Nashville and I've taken a lot of people to their first game, and the part they want to see the most is a fight. If you are looking to grow the NHL in the United States, it’s got to be a part of it.

Q: Hockey and wrestling are known for toughness. How do you think it the toughest hockey player?

A: Bob Probert. The undisputed heavyweight champion. It's the late and great Bob Probert. I'm good friends with Stu Grimson, the "Grim Reaper", and he's one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. He's now a commentator for Fox Sports on Predators games. I remember watching him as a kid and thinking he was not a very good hockey player. I've played against him a few times and he's ridiculous. Been retired for 10 years and he's still good. Tall, fast, unbelievable with the puck and he doesn't even play anymore. I was scared of him as a kid. The weird faraway look in his eyes. A scary dude. Also one of the toughest ever

Q: And the toughest wrestler in your opinion?

A: Different types of toughness. Guys that can take abuse. Guys that can give it. Overall I'd say Kurt Angle. He's almost not human. You will see him in the back and he's so beat up. Then he goes out and has a 10 star match. Hockey and pro wrestling are synonymous with being tough. It is show. It is entertainment. But it's a grind. A tough way to make a living.

Q: On the TNA roster, who would make worst hockey player?

A: Robbie E. Don't even have to think about it. He doesn't even watch sports. I'm curious if he's even an American. Doesn't know anything about sports. No way he can skate.

Q: Which TNA knockout would likely be the best skater?

A: Couple Canadian girls on the roster. I think Gail Kim can do anything she wants. Probably the best woman pro wrestler ever. One of the best athletes I've ever met, man or woman. She's gorgeous and can do whatever she wants. Angelina Love a close second. A Leafs fan that loves hockey. American born, I'd say ODB. A Minnesota girl, I was married to her for Christ sakes.

Q: How much NHL do you watch on road?

A: I have the subscription to Game Center and I also have it on my mobile devices. If I have wifi and I'm not working there will be hockey on my iPad. I'm addicted to it. I have a disease. I'll base my entire workout schedule during football season on having weekends off. But my addiction to hockey is worse. It's scary.

Q: How about your addiction to fantasy hockey?

A: Football is a great fantasy sport. Been doing it for years. But about five years ago I got into hockey fantasy. I love it. When football is done, I still have it. A longer season than football. I'm good at it because I know all the players and watch all the games. Have to pay attention to who's hot, who's cold, who's on a streak. If you like any fantasy sports, try hockey. It's super fun.

Q: Which is your favorite team?

A: Nashville Predators. I grew up a Leafs fan and will always be a Leafs fan no matter what. But I live in Nashville and have a bunch of close buddies that play on the team. Great organization. They have always treated me well. I've played in their celebrity golf tournament and bowling tournament. They are on a hell of a run right now.

Q: Who is your favorite player current and all time?

A: So hard. Like pick your favorite movie or music. Depends on my mood. Right now, I could watch Sidney Crosby play hockey all day long. He does stuff where I don't even know how it's possible. Probably the highest skilled grinder ever. Plays tough. Backchecks. So skilled it boggles the mind. Also James Neal. It's crazy how he can shoot the puck. Saw him up close recently. Ever? Wendell Clark. Captain for the Leafs. Short guy but played like he was 6'3". Just a beast. Tough. Could fire the puck. Great leader. Played at both ends. Amazing. Also loved Leafs and Doug Gilmour. Another small guy that was like a honey badger. Great guy to watch.

Las Vegas-based Mike Tenay is on twitter @RealMikeTenay.  A long-time contributor to the Kings, his full-time job has him serving as the Impact Wrestling announcer (which starts on Destination America the first week of January 2015).  Follow Young on Twitter @ShowtimeEY.
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