Exclusive: Tessa Blanchard discusses PCW Ultra, All In and the potential of a match with Charlotte Flair
From WWE's Mae Young Classic to Impact Wrestling and World Wonder Ring Stardom, Tessa Blanchard has taken the world of wrestling my storm.
A third generation wrestler, the daughter of Tully Blanchard and granddaughter of Joe Blanchard, Tessa has never been a stranger to the wrestling business - but now it's the 22-year-old's time to shine.
We recently spoke with Tessa ahead of her match for PCW Ultra in only their second ever woman's match, a match that saw the current PCW Ultra World Women's Champion go up against another huge name in wrestling, Rachael Ellering.
I asked the third generation wrestler all about the upcoming match, her experiences in WWE, how she plans to "continue the legacy" and so much more.
I saw yourself and Chelsea Green wrestling in an absolute knock-down, drag-out encounter for PCW Ultra and afterwards, there was A LOT of praise for the promotion. You've wrestled, well, everywhere! How does PCW Ultra compare?
It's funny you ask that because I was talking about it earlier. At PCW, the crowd, the locker room - just everything, from the moment you get there, it feels special. It's kind of like this unexplainable feeling when you come out of the curtain. I've only felt it at two other shows before - Lucha Underground and Wrestle Circus where you come out and you're taken aback by how special it feels.
I love how everyone in the locker room gets along, everyone wants the best for the show, everyone helps each other. It's an amazing environment, really.
And of course, you're the first ever female champion, defeating Chelsea Green to become the inaugural PCW Ultra World Women's Champion. I know you've held a lot of titles already, but how does it feel to be the first ever PCW Ultra women's champ?
It's a huge honour because PCW has this drive about them all about the States and beyond that but it's the premier promotion on the west coast. Everyone wants to be at PCW. When they asked me to come and wrestle for their Women's Championship, I was a little bit taken aback but it was a huge honour.
They told me I'd be wrestling Chelsea Green to be the Women's Champion and it just got that much more special for me because she's one of my favourite people to wrestle, she's an amazing talent and to come out on top was the icing on the cake.
Of course, you're facing Rachael Ellering in a few days at PCW Ultra Opposites Attack. For anyone who isn't familiar with PCW Ultra, your work or hers, what can we expect to see?
Rachael Ellering and I have gone back and forth for the past few years, shared the ring multiple times. The one constant is that we tear the freaking house down every single time. If you're there this weekend, that's what you can expect to see.
The one thing we have in common is that people say we are where we are because of who our families are and going into this, from the first time we ever stepped into the ring together, we wanted to shut those mouths up because we both work very, very hard and I have huge respect for hard work.
One thing that Natalya told me when we went to her in Tampa is there is never an exception for hard work. It doesn't matter what your name is, it doesn't matter where you've been or where you've come from - nothing matters as there is no exception for hard work. That has stuck with me and motivated me to try even harder.
Well, both women epitomise that sentiment, and Tessa goes on to say it's been a while since they've shared the ring, so the rivalry will come to a head in a major way this weekend.
The thing I noticed early on from watching your work that was a bit of a wake-up call for me, and it's been one of my favourite things about you since is your striking ability.
You have real aggression, legitimacy, intensity and incredible power behind your strikes. While you're clearly no slouch in the technical department, I believe that hard-hitting, aggressive style just immediately draws you in. Is that something you deliberately work on or are you just a naturally competitive person?
I think it's a bit of both. That is the way I come across. I watched a lot of old school wrestling where it was very aggressive, when you watch it, it looks like a fight.
Tessa went on to speak about Tully Blanchard vs Magnum TA, her father versus her stepfather, at Starrcade '85 as being her two relatives "beating the crap out of each other" - commenting that the match is essentially what she modelled her style from.
Yes, I work hard at it but when I get in the ring, I turn into a completely different person.
Speaking about the growth of women's wrestling, Blanchard said, "It can go as far as we allow it to. Every time we hit the top, it gets that much greater. All In is happening and Cody and Matt are giving us the platform to make sure the evolution of women's wrestling is in great hands."
When they asked me to be a part of that, that is going to be a big moment in history. I don't think people understand how big that is going to be.
Tessa Blanchard has become one of the biggest female talents in wrestling
On that note, one controversial subject that divides opinion - intergender wrestling. What is your stance on it?
I think that there is a way to do it and for it to be an amazing form of art. I wrestle guys quite frequently and I'm all for it.
Blanchard speaks about wrestling Brian Cage among others, and says sharing the ring with the guys has helped her so much with timing and transition - making her the athlete she is today.
Even training with Cedric Alexander, Cedric would push me and push me for six hour straight some times.
Tessa goes on to say he is incredible and she trusts him with her life, and training with him forces her to come up to his level, which sets her on a different standard.
Now, you've wrestled for WWE, Impact Wrestling and Stardom - three HUGE promotions. In WWE, I remember you faced off against Alexa Bliss, Carmella and Nia Jax, but one of the most memorable matches has to be from the Mae Young Classic and your match with Kairi Sane. How did it feel to be a part of the tournament?
Wrestling Kairi at the Mae Young Classic was incredible, we done two tours of Japan together and we were supposed to wrestle each other in a single match but she got pulled from the show due to injury so our singles match overseas never happened. I remember walking to the PC and Kairi was in the ring and told me we'd be wrestling.
Tessa says she was so excited and you could see it on her face after the match, praising Kairi's work rate and effort, saying she's so humble and takes nothing for granted. Blanchard says Kairi is such a good friend that she gets emotional thinking about it.
She says being part of the Mae Young Classic, a tournament all about women's wrestling, leaves her at a loss for words.
You recently debuted on Impact Wrestling in a way that I absolutely loved, you joined the commentary team for a match between Kiera Hogan and Taya Valkyrie. Is commentary something that would interest you in the future?
Honestly, I was a little bit nervous that night and I think they knew it, but when I went out, when I'm in front of the camera. I enjoyed being out there but my passion is as an in ring competitor.
You then went on to defeat Kiera Hogan and, well, beat her to a pulp with that trademark aggression I mentioned earlier. I think Impact's female division right now, even just with the three names involved there - yourself, Hogan and Madison Rayne - is great to watch.
For a company that had a certain stigma for a while, Impact is truly one of the most exciting things on television right now. How excited are you to be a part of it?
I'm thrilled to be a part of it. I don't think the women there are given the credit they deserve. Taya Valkyrie, Allie - I had one of my favourite matches against her. I would love to share the ring with Allie again. I remember Kiera Hogan before she started training and she was a backstage announcer . To see how far she has progressed in such a short time, I'm so proud of her because she wants this - and that attitude, that mindset is a constant throughout the Impact locker room. We push each other to be the best we can be, it's a selfless environment and I'm happy to be a part of it.
I recently saw your reply to someone on Twitter accusing you of "having things handed to you" which, in a business where you put your body on the line every night, must be infuriating. Being a third generation wrestler, do you believe you had a head start in the business or was really just a hindrance? Is there more pressure on yourself to perform in the right or achieve certain things?
My last name may get my foot in the door, get me in front of the right people or get me the shot but once I step into the ring, or step into the gym, it doesn't travel the miles for me, it doesn't take the bumps for me, so when I saw that tweet, it kind of hit home because some fans just look at us as wrestlers and think they can say whatever they want no matter how hurtful.
I have the mental strength to let it go most of the time. It didn't bother me that much but not just me, a lot of generational wrestlers, it does bother us sometimes, where people say you only have this because of your family, but it does nothing for you once you're in the ring.
It takes who you know to get there, but what you can do to stay there.
Blanchard said it made her work extra hard to get the most in shape and be the best wrestler and version of herself possible to prove the doubters wrong.
Speaking of your Twitter, even for the non-wrestling fan, I think you're an absolute must follow. I recently spoke with DDP and I think you might even give him a run for his money when it comes to inspirational quotes. Do you feel a certain pressure to be a role model or is that just your natural competitive side bursting through and motivating you, as well as others?
I think it's just my competitive side, sometimes it's me talking to myself, saying believe in yourself, remember where you came from, remember where you started, remember the people who helped you along the way and never take anything for granted.
If you can change your mindset, you can change the situation.
Speaking of second and third generation Superstars, there are quite a few around - and particularly females in wrestling, more so than ever before. You're going up against Rachael Ellering soon, but yourself and Charlotte Flair both share something in common that your fathers are Horsemen. Who would be the dream match for you in a clash of legacies?
Charlotte is the best in the world in my opinion and to share the ring with her would be incredible as she shares a special place in my heart. Especially because of our family history together. That match would be incredible.
Another person I'd love to face is Natalya. Third generation vs third generation. That would be really cool to play off of.
On the topic of "legacies" I've spotted you say on Twitter you're "continuing the legacy" - I know you still have years if not decades of wrestling ahead of you, but what would you like your legacy to be?
I'm very blessed to be able to carry on my family name. I want to do my grandfather, my father and my stepfather very proud but, while I want to carry on that name, I also want to forge my own path. I would say I want to inspire and motivate people, and God gave me the platform of professional wrestling to do that. If I inspire or motivate one person to say "because of you, I followed my dreams" then it's all been worth something.
Tessa Blanchard defends the PCW Ultra World Women's Championship against Rachael Ellering at PCW Ultra Opposites attack on Friday June 8 at the ILWU Memorial Hall in Wilmington, California. Also on the bill. Sami Callihan takes on Penta El Zero M for the PCW Ultra World Heavyweight Championship in a Steel Cage Match. Find out more here.