'WOW Women of Wrestling' Champ Tessa Blanchard Is Ready to Make History
When Tessa Blanchard decided to join the family business, the third-generation performer knew she had to work that much harder to succeed. Though the newcomer wanted to live up to the last name of grandfather Joe and dad Tully, this mentality translated to blazing a trail all her own.
The 24-year-old now finds herself a top star on Impact Wrestling and the WOW Women Of Wrestling, where she holds the WOW world championship. Heading into the 24-episode Season 2, Blanchard believes the AXS TV series takes it up a notch with the roster looking to impress.
“The characters and wrestling have evolved,” she said. “There are some new faces, so it adds a new dynamic to WOW and in-ring performances. I think there are a lot of surprises that people are in store for compared to Season 1.
“A lot of people are seeing characters and performers that maybe they haven’t seen in the wrestling world before. They are new to WOW. They have a lot to prove as well.”
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The franchise player added even more legitimacy to the in-ring product after the promotion announced her involvement. Blanchard believed there was a preconceived notion that owners Jeanie Buss and David McLane were just hiring actresses, models and people from Hollywood.
“It couldn’t be further from the truth because we have women from all walks of life who are very athletic,” she said. “They are athletes who found this love for pro wrestling, and they are getting in there with some of who I consider the best in the world and showcase what they’ve learned and what they can do.”
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Blanchard takes pride in the fact the company’s confidence in her as a strong ambassador and leader. She feels the WOW locker room is about supporting one another.
“When I first started wrestling I think a lot of people thought I would get opportunities and be shined in a certain light because of my last name,” she said. “…I wanted to always get in that ring and back it up. I feel like over the past few years I’ve been able to show I can do that and become one of the best in the world, male or female.
All locker rooms are different, but at WOW everyone wants everyone to succeed and learn more and do more and achieve more. That’s a special thing because you don’t see that all the time, especially on the independent scene.
“I think that is something that sets WOW apart as well is the camaraderie with everyone wanting everyone to do well. The girls who are more experienced are able to help the girls who are less experienced to learn more and find out more about themselves, which in turn makes everyone more versatile in my opinion.”
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Blanchard is developing a solid reputation for versatility and the ability to stand across the ring from anyone, male or female. Those looking for proof need not look any further than her main event battle against Sami Callihan at Impact’s Slammiversary. It was the first time an intergender match headlined a big pay-per-view card.
“I think times are changing, and I’m excited I get to be part of that change,” she said. “Some may say I am that change. That’s something that is extremely invaluable to me. Just like any style of wrestling, some may like it and some may not. There is strong style, lucha libre, all different styles of wrestling and intergender wrestling. I think there are some incorrect approaches to it, but if done correctly, I think it can be a really cool thing. I’ve proven through some matches that I can go out there and someone who hated intergender wrestling will come to me to say, ‘Now I get it.’ That’s amazing to me.”
One thing this Diamond strives to do is make history in her own way. With women’s wrestling having a lot of firsts, Blanchard is grateful to have the platform to leave her footprint through things like intergender wrestling.
“I think women are some of the greatest athletes,” she said. “I think that for instance, I worked really hard to be where I am right now. To be even have the opportunity to be in the ring with some people who I consider being the best in the world such as AR Fox, Brian Cage, David Starr, Tracy Williams, Scorpio Sky, Sami Callihan, Sawyer Fulton, both Crist brothers.
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“To have a match and go out there and tear the house down and it not get looked at as a man versus a woman but two professional wrestlers out there killing it, it’s something that is cool to me. And I worked so hard to be placed in that position. I don’t think there needs to be a definitive title. As a woman, I think you can go out there and compete realistically against other male competitors and go after a title in that way.”
At the same time Blanchard is proud to hold WOW gold and defend it against top challengers. During the Season 1 cliffhanger, three nipping at the champ’s heals are Jungle Grrrl, Jessicka Havok and The Beast. Blanchard teases those aren’t the only ones.
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“There are competitors like The Beast, The Lioness, new faces to in Adrenaline — who is known as Diamante from LAX — in Impact and on the independent scene, Sassy Massy — who is known as Alisha Edwards — who are taking everyone by storm. It’s going to be an exciting season,” she said.
Blanchard’s family, who also happens to include stepdad Magnum T.A., are her biggest fans. No matter where travels lead, they often take time to send messages and feedback on matches. Perhaps what got proud Hall of Fame father Tully Blanchard inspired to get involved in the business again and sign with All Elite Wrestling was partly from watching his daughter?
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“Maybe so,” Blanchard said. “To have my dad more involved is just a huge blessing for professional wrestling in general because, all biased aside, he is one of the most brilliant minds in wrestling. He is someone, all biased aside again, someone I would watch to make my wrestling more realistic. In a world where you have people ask if wrestling is fake, but back in the day if you watched Wahoo McDaniel and Johnny Valentine, you said nah that is real. If you watch the Road Warriors versus the Brain Busters, nah that is real. If you saw Tully Blanchard versus Magnum T.A., nah that’s real.
“That’s something that I want in my matches. I want people to say, ‘Tessa Blanchard, that was real.’ I would watch a lot of old school wrestling with my father and stepfather to help learn and hone my craft and get that across in my own wrestling. So, to see him come back in today’s day of wrestling and help some of the younger minds, it’s a cool thing to watch. They are very fortunate to have his mind.”
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Despite all she has accomplished at such a young age, Blanchard continues to set goals for herself. Sounds like this shining star is just getting started.
“Right now, I have the longest women’s wrestling match in history. Right now, I’ve had the first televised women’s match in China. I was the first American to win the AAA Reinas de Reinas championship,” Blanchard said. “I’m finding these different ways to make history in my own way. My main focus is to face some of the best in the world and hopefully through intergender wrestling, hopefully sooner rather than later I’ll be making history in another way.”
WOW Women Of Wrestling, Season 2, September 7, 8/7c, AXS TV