By James Guttman
On last Thursday's Impact, fans rejoiced in seeing a man rise up "out of nowhere" to become the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. It felt like a dream as he stood holding the title to end the broadcast.
But who's kidding who here? Eric Young didn't come "out of nowhere". In fact, out of everyone on the roster, he's one of the people who's past we're most familiar with. He has been a solid part of TNA for over a decade and proudly carried those three letters with him every time he's laced up his boots.
To say his championship win was something of a surprise is to discount all the hard work he's done since January of 2004. Clawing his way, match-by-match, up the card, Young has personified the type of work ethic that rookies pray to achieve. No matter who he was in the ring with or what drama he was dealing with, Eric gave it everything he had every time people watched. He was the type of star that could earn applause and make memories out of moments that others wouldn't.
The sad thing is that few realize how important that diligence truly is in today's wrestling world. They look at Magnus and how his allegiance to Dixie Carter was all he needed to waltz into the World Title picture. After a time when shortcuts seemed to be rewarded, seeing a hard working TNA loyalist reach the top through blood, sweat, and tears is almost a foreign concept. It seems backwards when you think about it.
So here's the question. If Eric Young had been spending his career working hard and climbing the ladder, why would his eventual ascension to the throne surprise anyone? Isn't that the point of climbing the ladder? Isn't that why we all cheer perseverance? With grandfathers telling grandchildren for centuries about the importance of working hard, how is it a shock when that hard work pays off? Hasn't Eric's entire career been leading to this one defining moment?
Simply put - it has. With this win, though, comes a whole new set of questions. After all this time of wanting, waiting, and working, how insanely difficult is it going to be for anyone to unseat our new champion? Does Magnus realize that Eric Young the champion will be ten times harder to take out than Eric Young the challenger? Worst of all, does he know that the flood gates are about to open?
Every man in the TNA locker room who has been pushed aside by Dixie Carter as a potential challenger to her handpicked British champion now has a fresh chance. After months of a Magnus-dominated title picture, there's new hope for those deemed "unworthy" by the protective TNA President. If Eric Young's title reign is anything like his TNA career so far, he won't avoid any challenge. It leaves the former champion standing shoulder to shoulder with the "peons" he once mocked in the locker room. It leaves his precious former championship just out of the reach of his freshly manicured hands.
It makes Magnus mortal again - not just in the eyes of the fans, but in his own eyes as well. If it hasn't registered for him yet, it's will when next time he hears the words, "This is your champion speaking...", it won't be his own voice. It'll be the voice of Eric Young, our long-overdue TNA World Heavyweight Champion.