Tessa Blanchard On Making History At ‘Hard To Kill’, Changing The Perception About Intergender Wrestling
Tessa Blanchard looks to make history in a way that’s never been done before, and we could be calling her IMPACT Wrestling World Champion after this Sunday.
Blanchard recently spoke with Wrestlezone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard ahead of her championship opportunity at IMPACT’s Hard To Kill pay-per-view in Dallas this Sunday. Blanchard will challenge Sami Callihan for the IMPACT World Championship in the main event match, a feud that’s been a highlight of IMPACT for nearly eight months. Tessa says that it’s a special thing to wrestle in Dallas due to her family roots in the area, but also because Dallas is where her issues with Callihan really kicked into gear at Slammiversary in June.
“This has been eight months in the making. It’s the better half of a year and oVe and Sami has been my focus, but it’s been a rollercoaster. It’s been really tough at times but also very validating. At Bound For Glory this year I was so close to the X Division title, making history at Bound For Glory, and Sami and oVe made sure that that didn’t happen. Sami and I fought at Unbreakable for a shot at Brian Cage and Sami made sure that that didn’t happen for me. It’s been a series of things,” Blanchard said, “one after the other, of Sami making sure that things don’t happen for me, making sure he can prove inequality, how vicious, mean, rough he can be.
“If I come out on top on Sunday, it’s going to show me and it’s going to give me the confidence that the past eight months from working with oVe, the past few years of me wrestling, the past 24 years of me being alive hasn’t been for nothing. It’s all led to this moment—every up, every down, every hurdle has all led me to this Sunday,” Blanchard said. “No matter what the outcome is, it feels special and important, and it feels like Sami and I have the opportunity to—all of our beef aside—we have the opportunity to change the way people perceive professional wrestling. To be a part of something so huge and so groundbreaking is very special.”
Intergender wrestling is not new to Blanchard, who started her wrestling career a few years ago wrestling the likes of Cedric Alexander, Caleb Konley and George South in the Carolinas. Blanchard also competed against men on the indies fairly regularly and she says wrestling men feels pretty normal to her and just considered it ‘just pro wrestling’ and nothing more.
Blanchard’s foray into wrestling men on IMPACT Wrestling programming really started in April, when she was announced for a match at the company’s “United We Stand” event in Rahway, New Jersey against Eli Drake. Blanchard’s opponent was later changed to Joey Ryan after Drake said he did not want to participate in the match and later explained why he objected to being in the match. Blanchard says when she looks at intergender wresting, it’s just another style to her, much like ‘strong style’ and Lucha libre fits into the scheme of things. She says she’s OK if it’s not for everyone, but sees intergender wrestling done right as a way to empower women and hopes fans can stay open-minded about its position in today’s wrestling world.
“I remember a lot of people asking me how I felt when he said that he didn’t want to wrestle me at United We Stand. It just makes me rebound off of the fact that when I look at intergender wrestling, I look at it as a style, just like there’s ‘strong style’, just like there’s Lucha libre, there’s intergender wrestling. Intergender wrestling is not for everybody, and just like every other style of wrestling, it might not be for everybody and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s completely fine and everyone has their own opinions, their own views,” Blanchard said.
“What I hope is that everyone stays open-minded to intergender wrestling because I stay open-minded to it and I love it. I think there’s a way to tell that story and there’s a way to do it. It’s such a gratifying feeling when somebody who’s maybe not all for it can watch one of my matches and then come up to me afterward and say ‘OK, now I get it. Now I understand what you meant.’ I think there’s a way [to present intergender wrestling]. I don’t always agree the way it’s done, but I do think there’s a way to go out there and tell that story and make it an empowering thing for women.”
Blanchard started 2019 as Knockouts Champion, and she says it feels like things are coming full circle as she prepares to win another championship. She says while she has faced a few setbacks along the way, she overcame them and remains very focused on her opportunity this Sunday to make history. Blanchard says things are finally starting to fall into place and she sees herself as the one to finally dethrone “The Draw” and win the IMPACT World Championship.
“It’s been a little bit of a mental battle at times but my entire career has led me to this moment and since I started wrestling I had said that I wanted to make history. At the time, I didn’t really know what that looked like but now everything is starting to make sense. When it’s right, it happens organically,” Blanchard said, “and this has happened very organically. This Sunday at Hard To Kill I have extreme confidence and belief in myself that I will be the one to take the World Championship from Sami Callihan.”
IMPACT’s Hard To Kill pay-per-view airs live this Sunday, January 12 at The Bomb Factory from Dallas, Texas. Check out the full audio interview below: