For every Trish Stratus, there are many more males superstars like Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan. When it comes to second and third generation wrestlers, the gender gap is even larger. There are many more Randy Orton and Roman Reigns than Natalya and Charlotte’s. But that gap is closing and with the rise of women though things like NXT and talented trainers such as George South, Dave Finlay and Sara Del Ray, women are getting opportunities to be more than eye candy, showcasing talent and savy in the ring and out of it. Third generation wrestler Tessa Blanchard is not only the daughter of NWA and WWF great Tully Blanchard, but the step-daughter of NWA great Magnum TA and wrestling runs in her blood. We had the chance to ask this future superstar a few questions.
The daughter of original Horsemen Tully Blanchard, the grand-daughter of legendary promoter Joe Blanchard and the step-daughter of popular wrestler Magnum T.A. Is that more pressure on your shoulders or is it an advantage because there might not be anyone who comes into the business of professional wrestling with their eyes more wide open about the business than you are?
Blanchard: This seems to be a popular question. I have some big shoes to fill, huge legacies to live up to and just the mentors to help me do it. Having my father, stepfather, and grandfather all be who they are adds am immense amount of pressure. It’s the kind of pressure that pushes me to want to be THE best. My step dad has always said that if I want to make it I have to want and work to be THE ABSOLUTE best. The Blanchard name will get me bookings, it will get my foot in the door, and it’ll get me in front of the right people. However, the Blanchard name isn’t going to take the bumps for me, isn’t going to prevent me from injury, isn’t going to do jack squat once I step through those ropes and into that ring.
What was your journey like to get to this point? Was wrestling something you always wanted to do and did you father(s) support your choice to follow their footsteps? What led you to training with veteran wrestler George South?
Blanchard: The journey is fun, and when it stops being fun that is when I should stop doing it. Wrestling wasn’t my dream until about 2012 at the WWE HOF and WrestleMania weekend. Seeing all the legends, the current roster, the fans, it was captivating. But then seeing all the work that goes into these events, the work the talent puts into their image and their craft, that is what made me hungry to pursue wrestling myself. George South runs his training school about 20-30 minutes from my house at Highspots Superstore. I got in touch with them and began my training around late December of 2013. From working with fellow indy guys and under the direction of George South I have felt improvement and have started to believe that I can do this and I can go all the way.
A lot of people ask how your father feels because he was in the business… How does your mother feel about you becoming a professional wrestler?
Blanchard: She is very supportive. She’s a total mom, she wants to come to all the shows, watch me train all the time and wants to cook all of my meals. She’s very excited for me to be following in my fathers footsteps and encourages me to pick every brain that I can for me to improve!
Since you debuted earlier this year, you’ve had the chance to work with a few women on the indy scene such as Chasity Taylor and Amanda Rodriguez. Who are some of your favorite ladies to get in the ring so far and who on the independent scene are really looking forward to getting into the ring with?
Blanchard: I have enjoyed the matches that I have had with Chasity Taylor, we have great chemistry in the ring together and we cooperate very well together. Two of my favorite opponents were Veda Scott and Jenny Rose. Veda Scott and I worked at an AIW Girls Night Out show in Cleveland, Ohio. Jenny Rose and I worked in the final round of the ECWA First ever women’s Super 8 Tournament in Carney’s Point, New Jersey. Both females are amazing talents and I would love to share the ring with them again!
There are a few next generation women in the business now… Immediately you think of Natalia (Natty Neidhart, Jim Neidhart, Hart Family) and Charlotte (Ashley Fleihr, Ric Flair). What kind of relationship do you have with those women and what kind of inspiration do they give you by being women versus the usual male (such as Randy Orton) following in the footsteps of previous generations, paving the way for you own career?
Blanchard: The Fleihr family has always been so kind to me, I am so proud of Ashley. She has worked her hind end off for the body that she has even before WWE. Girls like her and Natalya give hope to the women’s division. They go out to the ring and they show that it doesn’t matter that they are females, they are just as good and just as deserving.
You were really young when your father was performing in the ring full-time. Do you have any memories of your father in the ring performing that sticks out as a favorite memory? What lessons have you learned from watching your father and step-father in the ring as a child?
Blanchard: The last memory I can remember was when I was a little girl and I went to see my dad wrestle in Lenoir, North Carolina. By the end of the match my dad was covered in blood and I was crying my eyes out in tears hoping that he was okay!
We won’t make you chose over your father or step-father… So who besides those two, who were some of your inspirations growing up? Who was your favorite wrestler, male or female? Is there any female wrestler you try to emulate or are you more interested in doing your own thing in the ring?
Blanchard: Leilani Kai is one of my favorite females. I don’t think she was ever given enough credit for what she was able to do in the ring. Johnny Valentine is my all time favorite heel, he is a huge inspiration.
We mentioned Charlotte and currently she is the NXT champion in WWE’s developmental territory. Many fans can’t wait to see the two daughters of former Four Horsemen tear it up in the ring. Is that something you are looking forward to? And have you been approached yet for a spot in the WWE’s NXT?
Blanchard: I won’t go into much detail. But I definitely look forward to the day that Charlotte and I can share a ring together.
Last question… Where do you see Tessa Blanchard in one year, five years and ten years down the road?
Blanchard: I’m on the independent scene right now, working hard every single day, no time off… and you better believe I’m hunting a contract brother.