- What was the one moment from All In that has echoed in Tessa Blanchard’s soul after the successful event? Blanchard reflects on the entire experience.
All In stood for more than a wrestling card.
Saturday’s pay per view showcased a vision of wrestling thoroughly enjoyed by the crowd at the Sears Centre, an alternative presentation visualized and conceived by the pro wrestlers.
The card featured a women’s four-corner survival match between Tessa Blanchard, Britt Baker, Chelsea Green and Madison Rayne that harkened memories of the transcendent triple-threat match between Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 32.
“This was an event that, in my opinion, every performer wanted to be part of in some capacity,” said Blanchard. “When Cody asked me to be a part of All In, I was very taken back. I never envisioned that my journey in professional wrestling would play out the way that it has.
“In December, it will be five years since I stepped in a ring for the first time. [Former Jim Crockett Promotions talent and wrestler trainer] George South reminds me every week, ‘It’s all about the journey, don’t be in a rush.’ Well, I never pictured my journey in this way, but I wouldn’t change a damn thing.”
One particular moment from All In has echoed in Blanchard’s soul for the past two days.
“I was laying in the ring, just listening to the crowd,” said Blanchard. “I never quite experienced such an electrifying moment like this and I just sat there with goosebumps as our referee was saying, ‘Soak it up, ladies.’ Witnessing the crowd come to their feet mid-match, that’s the ultimate sign of respect.
“Honestly, the All In women’s locker room was such an inspirational group of women. What I love about all the women involved—Chelsea, Britt, Madison, Jordynne Grace, Brandi Rhodes, Tenille Dashwood, Penelope Ford, Mandy Leon—is we all bring something so different to the table for a common vision.”
Blanchard delivered a hammerlock DDT onto Green just over 12 minutes into the match that gave her the victory, allowing her a place in wrestling history as the first woman to have her hand raised at All In.
The 23-year-old Blanchard is part of wrestling royalty. The third-generation star is the granddaughter of Joe Blanchard, stepdaughter of Magnum T.A., and daughter of WWE Hall of Famer and Four Horseman legend Tully Blanchard.
“To have my dad and stepdad walk me to the ring was very emotional,” said Blanchard. “They both have played such a pivotal role in my development as an athlete and a performer. Dusty Rhodes was family to my stepdad, and in that moment while I was walking to the ring, it felt like we were able to honor him as well as my family’s legacy, all while paving my own story at the same time.”
The match featured a plethora of highlights from Blanchard, as she delivered a magnum–a diving codebreaker–to Baker off the second rope, as well as another magnum off the top rope onto Green in the middle of the ring, in addition to her array of vicious forearms and even a gorilla press that tossed Rayne out of the ring and onto Baker and Green. She also took her share of punishment, including a ferocious top rope dropkick from Green.
The match put a bright spotlight on women’s wrestling outside WWE. Green’s “Hot Mess” character and work in the ring were a genuine hit with the crowd, Rayne’s in-ring work showed why she is a five-time Impact women’s champ and Baker—a burgeoning 25-year-old star who is also a dentist—showed that she is capable of delivering a captivating and compelling match in the face of extremely high stakes. Blanchard was grateful to share the ring with her three opponents.
“First off, there are not three other women I would have rather shared that moment with,” said Blanchard. “Years from now, when we talk about the women we came up with and learned from in the business, these are some of the names I will mention. Madison is an incredible talent, and from our short time together at Impact, she taught me so much. She has so much passion and, after Saturday night, she proved why she is one of the best.
A smile is worth 10,000 cheers of “this is awesome!” YOU GUYS were awesome tonight!! YOU GUYS made history with all of us! Thank you to every single person who contributed to and shared in the moments of tonight with us!! @ALL_IN_2018 pic.twitter.com/zioUVufoNg— Madison/Ashley Rayne (@MadisonRayne) September 2, 2018
“Chelsea doesn’t get nearly enough credit for what she’s capable of. [She’s] an amazing athlete and a brilliant mind. She aspires to be different, when people tell her she can’t, she goes out there and proves that she can. She pushes the envelope and comes out as one of the most unique performers I’ve ever seen.
“Britt, she’s one of my best friends outside of wrestling. We have faced a lot of the same hurdles, but one of the main things about Britt is that she has one of the most selfless hearts. Every time her and I share the ring, I discover something new about myself. That’s invaluable because she challenges me as an athlete and as a performer. One thing these women all have in common, though, is that we know it isn’t about just us. It’s a much greater vision. When we all spoke, we were all in agreement that we wanted to leave it all out there and display our love for this sport.”
There was also a female presence in the “Over the Budget Battle Royale” on All In’s Zero Hour pre-show. Rising star Jordynne Grace competed in the match, and Blanchard’s friendship with Grace dates back to roughly the beginning of Grace’s career when they met in New England independent stalwart Beyond Wrestling.
“Jordynne is another person I absolutely love to share the ring with,” said Blanchard. “She is hard hitting, she is intense, she’s an absolute powerhouse. Being on Zero Hour was just as important as being on the pay per view. Jordynne being in the Battle Royal, she more than held down the fort for the women. People are finally starting to open their eyes to how incredible of a talent she really is.”
The only thing with more upside than All In may be Blanchard’s future. At only 23, she has already wrestled in the inaugural Mae Young Classic, delivered in a high-profile match at All In and is the reigning Impact women’s champion.
Blanchard’s accomplishment at All In is an invaluable experience to bring back to her work as champion in Impact Wrestling, which is a division and company she plans to continue to elevate.
“When I first started wrestling I knew that I wanted to work as long and as hard as it took to be able to have a great match with anyone,” said Blanchard, who is now headed to train all week in Mexico and perfect her study of lucha libre before shows in California on Friday and Tijuana on Saturday. “Like Gail Kim, like Mickie James, like Charlotte, like Natalya. I want to be great. I want to be the best in the world one day. Impact is full of such talented individuals and we are awarded such amazing minds such as Gail Kim, Jimmy Jacobs, Don Callis and so many more people who are so invested in each of us individually.
“I don’t want to be good, I want to be great. Now that I am Impact Knockouts champion, that vision and the work that follows will not stop.”