WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels isn’t the only star from the pro wrestling world to have his own outdoor adventure TV series.
TNA Impact Wrestling’s Eric Young brings his eccentric personality from the ring to some of the great fishing spots across the country in “Off the Hook: Extreme Catches.”
Viewers get a sneak peak of the show with a pre-Shark Week premiere 9 p.m. EST Monday, July 30 on the Discovery Channel. The show will air regularly 9 p.m. EST Sundays on Animal Planet starting Aug. 19.
“It’s been a blast,” Young said. “We started at the end of April and are still taping…People are stoked about it. Discovery is premiering the show on Discovery Channel. It’s an Animal Planet show, but they are going to air the first episodes on there. So everyone really loves it. I will tell you that anyone who has never done TV and thinks being on TV is all glitz and glamour is sadly mistaken. It’s hard work.”
The first episode takes the host to Florida where he fishes for sharks on a paddleboard. The next show chronicles his search for sailfish in Miami on a raft made of plywood and an inner-tube.
“I love Miami,” Young said. “The city is just so alive, and where we were was right on the water going out on this huge charter boat. They would stick me in this handmade raft that I built. We were there with a guy Captain Ray Rosher. He is like the king of catching sailfish. Some of the local fishermen there said that if you’re going to catch a sailfish, it’s going to be with Ray.
“His boat leaves out of the dock there, and the sailfish literally follow him. That is the legend this guy has. There is this sailfish tournament there out of these handmade rafts. They do kite fishing, which involves two kites that are way up in the air with three to four separate lines on each one. It’s a lot of reeling, letting out slack and reeling, checking the bait and constantly moving and working. It’s all done in this tiny handmade raft.”
Rosher showed Young how to build his own raft using plywood, PVC frame to hold the inner tube and catch sailfish over the course of five days. He saw Young on TV but didn't know much about him.
Rosher, who heads up the Miss Britt Charters, said: “[Young] picked things up pretty quickly. I built a raft for myself, and he built one, so we had a little competition going there.
“He was a really interesting guy and very athletic. He was really funny. I think that is his greatest asset that he is really entertaining. He is a great improvisational athlete and comedian. It was really fun. I think it's going to be a good show.
“He had one fish that was like a tuna that he got near the raft, and the thing started swimming in circles. Instead of passing the rod around the raft, he had a bunch of lines out with the kites and so on. When he was done catching the tuna, he had about five lines spun around him like a spider's web. It was like he was inside a web of line. It was hilarious. He had to reach through to grab the tuna, and he held it up.”
Young has wrestled anyone from Knockouts to Scott Baio, but the dangers of the sea are a different animal. Looking at his in-ring career, it’s easy to see EY is crazy enough for the gig. His wrestling persona is not far off from how he is on the show.
“I’m still Eric Young on the show,” Young said. “Maybe a cooler version of Eric Young I guess, but that is still part of my personality. It is really who I am. I’m a novice fisherman at best. So I’m kind of learning as I go. That part of the show is 100 percent real.”
Those who are familiar with the Canadian may know he enjoys activities such as playing hockey and riding motorcycles. However for the TNA star, fishing was an early hobby.
“Most of my fishing was done at a very young age,” Young said. “My mom said one of the first things my dad said to her right after I was born was, ‘Finally I’ve got my fishing partner.’ So a lot of time spent with my father was spent fishing, hunting, canoeing and stuff like that. As time went on, I got further and further away from it when I started in pro wrestling, and that consumed every second of every day up until this point.
“I’ve been out on a few charter boats. I love fishing. I always have but haven’t always had time for it. Now I have this cool show and am able to do all these amazing things, even stuff that regular fishermen don’t even know about. So it has been an amazing experience.”
Each week comes a new fish tale and exploit courtesy of Young, on his way to becoming the “MacGyver of fishing”.
“You see me doing different styles of fishing,” Young said. “Every episode is completely different. I’ve done catching sharks from a paddleboard and free-dive spear fishing. We just got done shooting one in Louisiana, scuba spear fishing on oil rigs. So there are all these amazing adventures that I’m going on.
“The constant theme for me is meeting these people. These men and women who dedicated their life to fishing, as for most of them, it’s their livelihood. It is what they do to make money, and you see how passionate they are about what they do and how they do it. They are just hard-working, tenacious people who are passionate about what they do. Being around that is contagious.”
TNA has been very supportive of Young as he juggles his commitments to the company with the project. He has appeared sporadically in recent weeks along with his onscreen wife ODB.
“My wrestling schedule has been really light,” Young said. “We used to tape the shows on Mondays and Tuesdays, so my fishing show schedule was based around that. This summer TNA and Spike TV decided to go live [Thursdays], so I’ve been kind of missing in action for the most part. They are proud of me and have been behind me the whole way. They want me to come back. They are biting at the bit and waiting for me to come back, and so am I. I miss wrestling, but this show has been amazing. I think people are really going to like it.”
Perhaps, instead of “Showtime,” his wrestling nickname can be “The Fisherman of TNA”?
He said: “I may have to bring back Shark Boy as my long lost brother or something. I’m not sure.”
“Off the Hook: Extreme Catches” premieres 9 p.m. EST Monday, July 30 on the Discovery Channel. Animal Planet will air new episodes 9 p.m. EST on Sunday beginning Aug. 19. For information, visit www.animal.discovery.com
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