Eric Young Wrestles the Beasts of the Deep

Courtesy Animal Planet

When professional wrestler “Showtime” Eric Young was born, his father told his mother, “Now I’ve finally got a fishing partner.”

“A lot of my childhood memories are about fishing with him,” says Young, a larger-than-life personality who has created several entertaining storylines for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. “Him having a couple of adult beverages, me an orange soda, just enjoying the river. A lot of times we didn’t even catch anything.”

For Young, not catching anything is no longer an option now that he hosts the adventure-fishing show ‘Off the Hook: Extreme Catches.‘(The second season debuts at 8 p.m. Sunday on Animal Planet.) In the first season he fished for shark from a paddleboard, went barehand “noodling” for catfish, and attempted whitewater kayak fishing for bass. On the new season’s first episode, the garrulous host learns the traditional Hawaiian technique of dispatching octopus – biting their brains.

“It doesn’t actually taste like much of anything,” Young reports for ‘Men’s Journal.’ “It kind of tastes like salt and rubber. It feels like a little macadamia nut. You bite down, they go white, and that’s that.”

A gravel-voiced prankster in front of the camera, bearishly bearded after a stint as a clean-shaven peroxide blond, Young seems engineered for the role. “Both my parents can attest that I just like to entertain people,” he says. “My mom would buy boxes of old clothes at the Salvation Army and I’d dress up and put on shows.” An all-around athlete as a kid (baseball, hockey, skateboarding, rugby), the Ontario native was attracted to pro wrestling for its dual mix of physicality and showmanship.

While he’s a natural on ‘Off the Hook,’ at age 33, he doesn’t see his wrestling career ending anytime soon. Some of the wrestlers who influenced him most when he was growing up, including Ric Flair, the late “Macho Man” Randy Savage (“an absolute legend in my eyes”) and the somewhat unsung Terry Funk, were noted for their longevity, and Young wants to follow suit.

“I’m a durable person,” he says. “I think I was created in a lab for pro wrestling. I have abnormally large bone structure.” As a toddler, he was afflicted with an immunodeficiency that killed off his white blood cells; having survived it, his blood is less susceptible to bruising and clotting.

“Basically,” he says, “I’m a really cheap version of Wolverine.”

That comes in handy when you’re trying to snare an alligator gar with a nylon rope.

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