Impact Wrestling superstar Tessa Blanchard recently spoke with Wrestling Inc. president Raj Giri. As the daughter of wrestling legend Tully Blanchard, Tessa was asked about her experiences growing up in a wrestling household. Blanchard told Giri that her father retired before she was born, but she did see him wrestle once and admitted it was a scary experience. She also had the opportunity to meet other wrestlers when she attended WWE shows.
"Well, I'm 22 years old now. My dad was out of wrestling before I was even born. Then, when I was younger my dad had come out of retirement so I was present for one of his matches. We were in New Bern, North Carolina, and I don't even remember how old I was, but I was a little girl," Blanchard said. "I remember being scared because my dad had bled in that match and that was my first--I think that was my first experience to see my dad in the ring, which scared me considering I was a little girl, but I also remember going backstage to a RAW and SmackDown meeting Hulk Hogan and Triple H. I didn't really understand because I was so young, but looking back now, those were amazing memories."
Blanchard revealed that she initially didn't tell her father or any of her family that she planned on pursuing a professional wrestling career. She was estranged from them at the time and admits that she wasn't in a good place in her life. Finding a wrestling school to join was her outlet, and she instantly fell in love. Her stepfather Magnum T.A. was the first to see her wrestle and he gave her advice that she still follows to this day.
"I actually got into pro wrestling without even telling my dad or anyone in my family for that matter. It was probably around 2012, the year that my dad was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. I think that trip to Miami, Florida planted the seed that perhaps this is the thing that I wanted to do. My brothers and sisters all went to Miami with my dad, but they were all interested in checking out the beaches, or cool restaurants, but I was like, Dad, can I wake up at 5 a.m. and go check out WWE Axxess with you? That stuff intrigued me and being around people that work for WWE at the time, and being around people who are part of the roster, just being exposed to that was very unique for me. That was the trip that planted the seed," Blanchard said. "Fast forward to when I turned 18 and I got kicked out of my house and I lived on my own for a year and during that year I didn't speak to my family too often - in fact, I did not speak to them at all. I was probably heading down to a not-so-awesome path. I remember waking up and I asked myself what I was doing. I don't know what it was exactly, I don't really remember but something made me look up a wrestling school. I found out that Highspots was about 20-25 minutes to where I was living at the time. I went there and spoke with the owner of Highspots, and I told them that I wanted to be a pro wrestler. They had me watch a training that day with Cedric Alexander and George South were all in the ring, and they ended up pulling me into the ring and had me run the ropes and taking bumps. I remember it hurt so bad but I loved it, I loved it so much.
"I remember it was like three or four months in they came back and said that I couldn't train here anymore because I know who your dad is and that he doesn't know you were training," she continued. "I didn't want him to think that we were hiding something from him, so I was like, no, I will handle it, don't worry about it. I remember calling my dad and my stepdad [Magnum T.A.]. I remember telling my step-dad because he lived in Charlotte, North Carolina--well, they still live there, but I told him, 'hey, I am training to wrestle. It's about 20 minutes to where you guys live and I wanted him to come and check it out.' That week he didn't come, but the week after that he did, and I got super excited to when he came in, as well as my brother. I told Cedric [Alexander] that let's do our thing, to get in the ring and train and to do our spots. I remember my step-dad coming through the turnbuckle and we were talking for a moment; he was like, 'Okay Tessa, you are not good, but you have got it. You just have to go out there and become undeniable.' That is where my #Undeniable hashtag came along, but also that was how I told my family that I was wrestling."
Giri also asked Blanchard about whether coming from such a rich wrestling pedigree raises expectations for her. She explained that while she embraces the pressure of living up to her family name, she also wants create her own legacy.
"Yes and no. I always say that it is a blessing and a curse. I am very--I feel very honored and blessed to carry on our family name and legacy in the business, but also, I want to forge my own path at the same time," she said. "I always say, it does add pressure and that extra weight on my shoulders to be the best to do my grandpa [Joe Blanchard], my dad and stepdad proud. That type of pressure is what drives me. It drives me toward my purpose if that makes sense."
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.