The Week in Wrestling: Shane Douglas grades the WWE roster

Wednesday February 1st, 2017

SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every Wednesday and provides beneath the surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling. This edition includes Shane Douglas grading the WWE roster; The Shoot with Tony Schiavone; the Nitro Files with Eric Bischoff; and Five Questions with Tessa Blanchard.

Midterms with Shane Douglas

Courtesy of WWE

Shane Douglas was famously known as “The Franchise” in ECW. He also worked as Dean Douglas in WWE, and the frustration behind his run with Vince McMahon led to his success in ECW. Douglas is working on starting his own wrestling promotion – in which he is promising medical benefits to his employees – and was willing to revisit his role as “Dean” and grade the WWE roster.

Grades are in.

Shane Douglas, who was once known as Dean Douglas in WWE, returned to his role as the professor of wrestling to examine and analyze the WWE roster.

“I love great wrestling, and I could watch it twenty-four hours a day, but I just can’t watch the current product,” said Douglas. “I’ve tried repeatedly, but I just cannot sink my teeth into the WWE product. Even if I was a kid, I wouldn’t be watching this. I gravitated to the pro wrestlers and the grappling—Hulk Hogan ‘hulking up’ always looked cornball to me—and I wanted to see Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, and Harley Race go move-for-move. This stuff today is more akin to two guys dancing. It’s incredibly athletic, and they’re working their asses off, but it’s not wrestling. That’s a lot of what Vince McMahon says about his product. He says it’s sports entertainment, whatever that is, but it’s not very entertaining to me and it certainly doesn’t look like a sport.”

Douglas had a relatively brief stint in the WWE as Dean Douglas, where he would playfully grade the other talent, but found his stride as the face of Paul Heyman’s ECW. Douglas is a proud pro wrestler, and despite his dislike for the current product, he still has a lot of respect for the wrestlers.

“I’m not blaming the kids,” said Douglas. “They’re doing exactly what they should be—they’re doing what their bosses are telling them to do. In my generation, and every generation before mine, we were under a regime. If I went out and tried to be ‘Shane Douglas the Superstar’ when it wasn’t my time, one of the veterans would have put me back in line. I remember watching Bill Watts tell Dick Slater to knock some kids’ teeth out. Watts told Slater that if the kid came back with his teeth, then Slater would lose his job. I’m not saying that is right, but it sure as hell made me learn my craft.

“These kids today are being told to read a teleprompter and then do the same four or five moves. My Shane Douglas character was created in the old regime. I could tell you what type of beer he drank, the type of women he liked, and how he voted in the presidential election. The kids today can’t do that, except to say that this is a show and they’re pretending because they don’t know their character. In the old school, they’d tell you, ‘Think shoot but work.’ So if it was real, what would you do? I can’t drop the phony pretense evoked in today’s business. Harley Race was eloquent in his moves—everything made sense, like a hand in a glove.”

Based on work rate, promos, and look, here is The Dean's List with Shane Douglas:

John Cena: B-minus

John Cena is exciting and he’s a modern-day Hulk Hogan. Cena is very entertaining and charismatic. He’s very well made for the WWE, but he was making the same mistakes a year ago as when I saw him ten years ago. With John Cena, you punch him in the face, he sells his face for a minute, then goes face down on the mat. You superplex him off the top rope, he sells for a minute, then turns to the mat. He always sells to the mat, but the mat doesn’t sell tickets. If you don’t see the camera, the camera doesn’t see you. His face goes down to the mat on everything he does.

Dean Ambrose: C-minus

He is not the modern day Roddy Piper. Roddy was an incredible f---ing talent, and that’s no Roddy Piper.

Roman Reigns: A-minus

It’s an inside joke in the business that Samoans are born knowing how to wrestle. You’ve got a guy here who is 6’6” and 303 pounds. He’s still a kid and needs to learn some different parts of the business, but look back on his career and Vince bragging about writing his promos. He was saying stuff from 1940s cartoons, like ‘Sufferin Succotash’, and then you can’t figure out why this kid’s not over? The wrestling fans are speaking loudly and clearly. They set him up completely wrong. I could get him over in one segment. All he’d have to do is go to the ring, start saying something stupid like that, have a second handheld catch the teleprompter over his shoulder, and have him call Vince out right there, ‘If you ever have me try to say something that f---ing stupid again, I’ll kick your ass.’ Now he’s over, and you’ve reset Roman Reigns. They’ve mishandled that kid, and it seems to me like an inside rib more than anything. Anybody that knows this industry could get that kid over in a second.

Seth Rollins: B-plus

He’s probably the best WWE has right now. He seems like he’s learning along the way. Some of his promos are too long—wrestling fans don’t even want to hear God speak that long—but he is very talented.

AJ Styles: A-minus

He’s an A-minus on ability alone. AJ is so phenomenal in the ring that his ability carries him as a draw. But as a money draw, you’ve got to be able to draw people in on the microphone. He’s gotten better in recent years, but he’s not a mic guy. For someone to catapult into that main spot and really get over, that’s where he’s lacking.

The Miz: C-plus

He seems to be a mid-card talent that they’re trying to make into a main event talent, but he’s entertaining on the microphone. Talent-wise, he’s not my cup of tea.

Bill Goldberg: A

Putting Goldberg over quick at Survivor Series made him relevant again, and now they’re able to get more matches out of him. I’m surprised they were able to get it right. Beyond that, where do you go with him? It’s not a long-term thing, and a year from now you couldn’t give him an A, but he is there right now. Bill has always been impressive to me, he’s like a man-o-saur. WCW pinned themselves into a corner after he went through the whole dressing room in three minutes. What do you do next, have him go through everyone in two minutes? It becomes redundant. But WWE did the exact right thing with him at Survivor Series, and he’s an A for them right now.

Kevin Owens: B-minus

He’s an A talent, but they’ve overexposed him and relied on him way too much.

Chris Jericho: A

Jericho is such a great talent. He’s always been a top performer, he’s always been able to deliver the goods. His age is finally starting to catch up to him, and it does to all of us in the ring. We had Terry Funk in ECW at the age of 53 billed as a world champion. That was believable then, but the fans today aren’t buying it. The seasons have changed in the business, in large part because of what Vince has done to the business.

Brock Lesnar: A-minus

He’s an expensive package to perform four times a year, but they’ve done the right thing with him. They do a great job of keeping him protected. If you put him out there in a 20-minute match, you’ll expose him. They have Paul Heyman with him, who is a phenomenal mouthpiece, and although Lesnar would have been a mid-carder in the days of Harley Race because you couldn’t get away with a four-minute match, he fits in the business where it is today. I can’t put him at an A because I believe the main event talents need to be working the house shows and drawing so that the younger guys on the card can make a better pay day.

These days, Douglas is busy choreographing fight scenes for the Pittsburgh theater production of “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”, and it has been rumored that Douglas is in the process of creating a brand new professional wrestling promotion.

“I’ve heard that, too,” Douglas stated. “Could be exciting as hell.”

If his plans come to fruition, the new company will be the first in wrestling history to offer its athletes full benefits, as any employee receives.

“When I see Sabu, who had to start a GoFundMe page for a hip replacement surgery, I immediately think, had Sabu only been blessed with the ability to sweep floors and empty garbage cans instead of being one of the most electrifying wrestlers in wrestling history, then he’d be taken care of with benefits and retirement. That’s such a sad epitaph to our business. If he’d been a damn good janitor, he’d be in a much better position than he is in in one of the most exciting industries in the world.”

Extra Mustard
At 52 and coming off a hip replacement, Sabu just wants to keep wrestling

News of the Week

The Royal Rumble is beautiful in its simplicity. Every two minutes, a new competitor comes to the ring. Except it wasn’t that way at all this past Sunday.

The times between entrants were all over the map, ranging from a high of 2:57 to a low of 1:30. Eight different times were over the two-minute mark, and not one time actually hit its mark of two minutes.

The WWE has shifted to overproducing its product in recent years, and manufacturing the times when wrestlers were announced took away from the organic feel of the Royal Rumble match.

***

Why not have Seth Rollins enter the Royal Rumble match at number 30? Instead, there was Roman Reigns, who is being shoehorned into feuds with both Braun Strowman and The Undertaker.

Shouldn’t Reigns have been laid out from the punishment delivered onto him from Strowman and Kevin Owens? For the second consecutive Rumble match, he returned to the ring without selling the slightest injury.

Samoa Joe made an impact in his Raw debut, but there would have been even more intrigue had he caused Rollins’ elimination in the Rumble.

Also, why would WWE put Reigns in this position? Why position him for a WrestleMania 33 match with The Undertaker? Unless, of course, the company is finally turning him heel.

In other news…

• The lack of surprises in the Royal Rumble match was definitely a letdown. WWE pulled Kurt Angle from his weekend commitment on color commentary at 5 Star Wrestling in Scotland, but he did not appear as a surprise entrant in the Rumble. Where was Samoa Joe? Or Finn Balor? Or Bobby Roode? Or even AJ Styles? As much as the Rumble highlighted the current roster, there was still room for some shock and awe, and its absence was a missed opportunity.

Raw featured Brock Lesnar, the return of Triple H, and the main roster debut of Samoa Joe—but doesn’t three hours still feel too long? The show offered some very exciting moments, yet also felt flat during large chunks of the dragged-out three-hour broadcast.

• John Cena cannot lose the WWE championship in two weeks at Elimination Chamber, can he? If the plan was to drop the belt to Bray Wyatt in February to set up a feud for WrestleMania between Wyatt and Randy Orton, then why not simply have Styles keep the title at the Royal Rumble? Questions will be answered on Sunday, Feb. 12, as the path to ‘Mania will offer far more clarity when it comes to Cena, AJ Styles, Wyatt, and Orton.

• AJ Styles’ first run as WWE champion finished at 140 days, which is good enough for 25th all-time among WWE champs. Styles is rumored to work with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 33, but a far better option—particularly with these four-hour shows—is a 60-minute “Iron Man” match with John Cena.

• New tag team champions were crowned on the Royal Rumble preshow, which provides an idea of how much those titles mean. Is it possible that WWE couldn’t have found ten minutes on a four-hour pay per view for a tag team title match? Congrats to Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, who are overdue for a run with the titles, though are more likely to serve as placeholders for The New Day as they begin a WrestleMania feud with Enzo and Cass.

• To add to the list of “Reasons to Dislike Roman Reigns,” and this one should not come as a surprise to anyone, Reigns is a Lakers fan. If Reigns is WWE’s version of Kobe Bryant, then you have to make a parallel between Vince McMahon and Phil Jackson.

• The cruisers continue to struggle to connect. Despite Jack Gallagher’s monumental moment in the Royal Rumble match, the matches in the division are too submission-based and lack emotion. While it is true that we are still getting to know the individuals in the division, there is simply no comparison to the electricity of the cruiser matches from Nitro.

• I am in the process of compiling questions for a “WrestleMania Mailbag” to be answered by a variety of different pro wrestlers. If you have any questions, please email them to me at JBarrasso@gmail.com.

• Vince McMahon watching the New Day? Priceless.

• Coming attractions: “The Destroyer” Bobby Lashley – who just defeated Eddie Edwards for the Impact Wrestling world title – will discuss his run as champ, fighting Brock Lesnar, working with President Trump, and his MMA career next week on SI.com in the Week in Wrestling.

The Shoot: Tony Schiavone

Courtesy of WWE

Tony Schiavone served as the voice of World Championship Wrestling during the “Monday Night Wars”. Schiavone called every seminal WCW moment, including Hulk Hogan’s infamous heel turn in 1996, Sting descending from the rafters to win the championship from Hogan at Starrcade ’97, Bill Goldberg defeating Hogan in July of 1998 at the Georgia Dome, and Kevin Nash breaking Goldberg’s undefeated streak at Starrcade ’98.

Schiavone has returned to professional wrestling to work with Conrad Thompson on the MLW Radio Network for the “What Happened When” podcast, discussing all the major events in WCW history every Monday on MLW.

I’ll Tell You What Happened When

When I left WCW in 2001, I genuinely believed I was leaving the business.

The WWE made it pretty well known to me that they weren’t interested, so I moved forward. I have worked in a number of rewarding fields over the past fifteen years, and I have helped send my five children through college.

Yet even though I tried to leave wrestling, the most important piece of wrestling wouldn’t allow me to say goodbye.

That’s you—the wrestling fans. Without people who sacrifice their time and money to invest in these shows, we’re working in an empty building.

I did the NWA Fan Fest this past August, and the response was overwhelming. The fans were so kind, and I couldn’t believe how much they remembered. I got to spend two days with Jim Ross and Bob Caudle, and got to see friends – Jimmy Valient, Sunny, Kevin Sullivan, Paul Ellering, Lex Luger, Tully Blanchard – that I hadn’t seen in forever. That’s when I realized I was looking at this wrong. I needed to find a place back in wrestling.

People always ask me, “What happened when?” And, finally, it’s time that I tell you.

I’m going to tell you all about what happened when the New World Order was running rampant in WCW. Calling a match with the NWO was like calling a match when someone was trying to take over your company. You were trying to be the voice of your company, and I was a WCW guy. Eric Bischoff was the first voice of WCW’s Nitro. When he became a part of the NWO, I became the play-by-play guy for Nitro. Eric told me, “You need to be the play-by-play guy here on Nitro if I’m going to go with the NWO.” I worked very hard to be pro-WCW, and it was odd because, for the first time ever, it was not babyface versus heel, it was faction against faction. That’s what made it so unique.

My commentary made us very WCW-centric. I like to think I helped push WCW vs. the NWO. The biggest match I ever called, and I called a lot of them, was on Nitro in July of 1998 and was for the WCW title when Goldberg beat Hulk Hogan.

Hogan was still the biggest star in the business on a national level, and that was an unforgettable moment in the history of professional wrestling. Bobby Heenan’s ability to put Goldberg over as a monster played a big role, too. I realized the enormity of the match, but—and this goes back to when I started with Jim Crockett Promotions in 1983—I was never nervous. I was excited and understanding of what I needed to do, sure, but never nervous. There was no question that the match at the Georgia Dome was the pivotal moment for WCW, and I couldn’t wait to share my excitement to call the match. In case you’re curious, Goldberg won, and we went into detail about his WCW run on our debut podcast, which, thanks to you, already has over 100,000 downloads.

People ask me all the time what I thought of working with Ted Turner, but the truth is, I never knew him. I met Ted Turner in the bathroom at Turner Field a couple of summers ago. We were washing our hands, and he didn’t even remember me.

“I used to do Nitro and Thunder for you,” I said.

Turner didn’t miss a beat.

“Goddammit,” he said. “We should still have that goddamn show and that goddamn company, they completely f----- that up!”

That was the only time I met him, and that was in the bathroom between the two clubhouses at Turner Field when I did the pre-game and post-game for the Atlanta Braves. Ted was very upset he longer had wrestling. The Andy Griffith Show, the Braves, and wrestling are the three pieces that made TBS whole. Vince McMahon is now the only show in town, which is exactly what he wanted, and Ted is still pissed about it.

Growing up, I was such a gigantic wrestling fan, so for me to be part of wrestling history is incredibly humbling. I can firmly remember driving to Greensboro, driving to Richmond, driving to Roanoke and Charlotte, and thinking, “I can do that.”

Forty plus years later, I did.

I’m honored to have been part of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Jim Crockett Promotions, even a quick cup of coffee with the WWE, and, of course, WCW on TBS.

As for Bruce Prichard, who co-hosts another podcast with Conrad Thompson on Fridays, he was my boss during the year I worked for the World Wrestling Federation. Nearly thirty years later, this is my chance to stick it up Bruce’s ass. I know how he is, I know he’s an arrogant pr---, but I can be too when pushed. Bruce, I’m looking forward to reprising my role as the voice of WCW on MLW Radio.

Wrestling fans, I’m back—and I hope you’re nearly as excited to have me here as I am to be here, again, with you.

~ Tony Schiavone

WWE Champions

WWE’s new mobile game, WWE Champions, arrived just in time for the Royal Rumble.

Scopely and WWE have launched a new WWE mobile game, WWE Champions, with a very unique feature—WWE fans can build their own fantasy rosters.

The game offers weekly shows, including Raw and Smackdown, as well as monthly pay per view events, which provides a very realistic style to WWE Champions.

In the game, players have the chance to build up fantasy roster across generations of WWE “Superstars” and “Legends” to face off in the ring. WWE fans can customize their wrestlers, who range from 100 different Superstars and Legends spanning 40 years of WWE history and even customize their finishing maneuvers.

WWE Champions is available to download for free on iOS and Android here.

The Nitro Files: Lex Luger

Courtesy of WWE

The Nitro Files with Eric Bischoff will delve into a moment from WCW’s Monday Nitro era. Bischoff – who was the president of WCW during the company’s most successful years – hosts his weekly Bischoff on Wrestling” podcast, as well as delivers a “Controversial Video of the Week” with 120 Sports’ Nick Hausman, and plans on proving every week in the Nitro Files that the “truth is out there.”

Eric Bischoff reconnects with Lex Luger later today for the first time in seventeen years.

“I haven’t talked to Lex since 2000,” said Bischoff. “We have a lot of ground to cover, so it’s going to be a very, very interesting podcast.”

Bischoff’s interview with Luger will drop tonight (Wednesday) at 6pm ET.

“It’s fair to say that Lex wasn’t one of my favorite people to be around,” said Bischoff. “Lex was aloof, arrogant, and he was dismissive toward other people. He didn’t treat me badly, he just treated everybody with a little bit of arrogance. He was professional, and it’s not like he ever made my life, as the guy running the company, miserable. He showed up on time, asked questions only out of clarity and never just to be difficult, and was an important part of WCW.”

Bischoff will also discuss the death of Elizabeth “Miss Elizabeth” Hulette, as she was with Luger during the final moments of her life.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t address that issue,” said Bischoff. “If we just gloss over that or avoid it, we’d be doing a disservice to my listeners, and I honestly think Lex wants to share his story. He’s open, willing, and anxious to be honest with people.”

Bischoff noted that Luger’s relationship with Liz indirectly involved Randy Savage.

“Randy was never disconnected from Liz,” said Bischoff. “While they were divorced and they weren’t in love, Randy – from my perspective – still cared deeply for Liz and was still very protective of her. My impression was he was very concerned about Liz and her relationship with Lex.”

Luger offered a different look, style, and skillset that was extremely valuable to WCW, beginning with his shocking appearance on the debut of Nitro.

“Lex deserves much credit for being a catalyst for setting the tone and attitude that made Nitro as successful as it was,” explained Bischoff. “He had the courage to maneuver his way back to WCW the way he did, and he lived up to his end of the bargain and kept everything confidential. He didn’t leak anything, he went to an extreme to keep everything quiet – he bought his own plane ticket to come to Minneapolis where we were shooting the show, he stayed in a hotel far away from everybody else, and he snuck into the show to remain a surprise. That moment when Lex showed up, when everybody – even the people in the WWE – thought he was under contract to the WWE, was a key moment for WCW.”

Exclusive Lucha Underground clip

Lucha Underground, which is available on iTunes, is on its mid-season break, but will be reminding Sports Illustrated readers about what is in store once the show returns.

Something to Wrestle with Conrad Thompson

Courtesy of Conrad Thompson

Conrad Thompson and Bruce Prichard return to the MLW airwaves this Friday at noon to discuss the NWO on the WWE the “Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard” podcast.

“I’m ready to sink my teeth into the NWO in WWE,” said Thompson. “This was Vince’s creation to bring them back, and there was the rumor and innuendo about who wanted them back and who didn’t. There was Scott Hall rubbing people the wrong way, telling the Dudley’s he loved their finish and couldn’t wait to kick out of it. You had Kevin Nash tearing a quad and Steve Austin not being happy about being programmed with Scott Hall. Right in the middle of all this, real magic happened at WrestleMania XVIII between The Rock and Hulk Hogan. People also forget that Shawn Michaels was one of the last members of the NWO.”

Thompson also offered his review of Sunday’s Royal Rumble.

“I’m going to take a wait-and-see approach on Randy Orton winning the Rumble,” said Thompson. “There is a lot of rumor and innuendo, as we like to say, that Bray Wyatt will be inserted into the title match with Orton at WrestleMania. If that means Wyatt is in the title picture for the first time in his career, then I’m all for it. I understood why they didn’t debut someone new.

“I do subscribe to the philosophy that if you really want to debut someone in the Royal Rumble, they probably ought to win if you want to put them over strong, and I thought it was smart to save Samoa Joe for Raw. I know a lot of people disagree with that, but seeing Roman Reigns’ interaction with The Undertaker certainly lends itself to the common thinking that they’re going to work together at WrestleMania. If you want to really piss people off, have Reigns defeat Undertaker at WrestleMania and then have him go super heel. Now you’ve got boos on purpose.”

Thompson and Prichard are delivering their first-ever live show to a sold-out crowd on Saturday, April 1 during WrestleMania weekend in Orlando.

“We’re going live right after NXT at 11:30pm,” said Thompson. “We’ve got dozens of tickets on hold for performers in the business who have requested to come to the show, and we’ve got a half-dozen or so who’ve asked or already accepted an offer to be involved in the show. We’ve got a couple of surprises that, if they happen, people won’t forgot for weeks to come. Bruce will also be singing, and that’s such a big staple on the show. People also want to hear him do the chicken salad recipe and hear him do his various Vince McMahon and Pat Patterson impressions, but singing ‘With My Baby Tonight’ is the biggest one.”

Five Questions with… Tessa Blanchard

Courtesy of Tessa Blanchard

Tessa Blanchard is the 21-year-old daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard and granddaughter of professional wrestler Joe Blanchard. Wrestling runs in her family, as she is also the stepdaughter of Magnum T.A. The breathtaking talent was destined to be part of wrestling, and she spoke with SI.com about her wrestling roots, inspirations, and goals.

SI.com: What was life like growing up as Tully Blanchard’s daughter?

Blanchard: My dad had already retired by the time I was born. When I was eight years old and we were in Lenoir, North Carolina, I remember going to one of his matches when he came out of retirement. My dad was bleeding in the match, and I just remember crying my eyes out. That’s my earliest memory of the business, but it wasn’t until 2012 when I realized how huge he was in the Four Horsemen. Seeing him inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame was so inspiring, and that’s when I decided I wanted to get into wrestling. I was seventeen, but I finished high school a year early. After my freshmen year of college, I really wanted to pursue wrestling. I moved out at 18 years old, and I went to High Spots in North Carolina and started training. Cedric Alexander became like a big brother to me. I didn’t tell anyone in my family that I was training, but I’d spend six or seven days in the ring for hours and just fell in love with wrestling. My last name may get my foot in the door or seen by the right people, but once I step in the ring, that doesn’t do anything for me at all. So I know I need to back it up.

SI.com: Do you have any inspirations in the business?

Blanchard: Ashley Fliehr is Charlotte with WWE, and she is amazing. Just seeing her succeed gave me a push. I want to be that, too. I’m 21 now, and I’ve already got to wrestle in China and Japan. I was part of the very first women’s match to ever be televised in China. Then to build with Stardom and in the U.K., it’s been so much fun. Seeing Charlotte has been inspiring. She’s not where she is because of her last name, and neither am I. I love hard work and proving people wrong. My father has never made one call for me, and he thinks I should be working hard to earn it if I truly want this.

SI.com: Like Charlotte, you also grew up in Charlotte. Considering the shared history between Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard, wouldn’t it make sense to one day align yourself with Charlotte in the WWE?

Blanchard: Charlotte is such an amazing person, inside and out, and it would be amazing to work with her one day. She’s one of the most athletic people I’ve ever seen in my life, and she can do things that are unreal. It would be amazing to work with her.

SI.com: You are linked romantically to Trevor Mann, who is sublime in the ring as Ricochet and Prince Puma. You have also worked in the ring together—how have you learned from him?

Blanchard: Trevor is my best friend in the whole world, and we push each other and make each other better people. We’re able to separate the wrestling and personal sides of our lives, and I couldn’t ask for a better boyfriend or friend. He also pushes me in the ring. We wrestled together at Beyond Wrestling and also tagged together in WhatCulture Pro Wrestling, as well as a dark match in Lucha Underground. Working with him and against him is amazing. He’s one of the smoothest workers, and he can take someone and make them look like a million dollars. I’ll never tell him this, but he’s in top five wrestlers in the entire world. He’s flawless, literally.

SI.com: Your father is Tully Blanchard and your stepfather is Magnum T.A. Do you ever feel as though you were destined to enter the wrestling business?

Blanchard: Putting aside the fact that they’re both my dads, their “I Quit” match at Starrcade ’85 is one of my favorite matches of all time. It’s brutal, it’s realistic, it’s amazing. How ironic is it that those two would help raise me? My grandpa, Joe Blanchard, and my father and stepdad were so successful in this business, and I’m so grateful to be a Blanchard. There are times that my dad will put me in a headlock and show me a million different ways to get out of it. My dad and my stepdad are very different people, but they both push me. My dad always taught me to watch every single match on the card before mine, and that is a tool that’s helped me to study the crowd. I wish my grandpa could have seen me wrestle, even once. I miss him so much, but I know he’d be proud of me. I’m just so proud to carry on the legacy. I’m so in love with wrestling, and I am going to continue to follow my heart.

Tweet of the Week

Jeff forgot to include Kurt Angle, as there will be an overwhelming TNA feel during WrestleMania weekend.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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