Recently, Impact Wrestling announced they had “released” Tessa Blanchard and stripped her of the World Championship. Since then, a spirited discussion regarding Tessa’s future and past has ensued. Honestly, I just couldn’t sit idly by while I saw a majority of people talking about someone they don’t know in a way that suggests they do. I have worked with Tessa Blanchard for two years since she joined WOW – Women of Wrestling, and the person that is being castigated by the people on social media is NOT the person that I have worked with all this time.
I want to preface everything by first stating that I do not know the full extent of the accusations levied against Tessa regarding the incident overseas with La Rosa Negra. What happened is between Tessa Blanchard and La Rosa Negra and it clearly left La Rosa Negra feeling hurt, offended, and angry. No one should ever feel like that. No one should ever make another person feel like that. Do I wish that Tessa would own up and apologize for what took place? Absolutely I do. Many of us have expressed that the best way to handle these situations is to confront your mistakes, accept responsibility, and work to make things better. I hope resolution comes some day for that altercation. Until then, I can only tell you about the person I have worked with for the last two years.
When Tessa came to WOW, I heard the same rumors that everyone else heard. I heard she was difficult. I heard she rubbed people the wrong way. Also, when she came to WOW, she was a hot name on the independent scene and earned her share of notoriety. I thought she would come into WOW with a big head and a star mentality. I thought we were going to be dealing with a Terrell Owens-type personality, and I did not look forward to it. I remember before I met her, I ran into two friends of mine in the hallway of our hotel and we discussed how we heard all these negative things about her, and we all just rolled our eyes. We just had a feeling we were about to encounter someone awful.
Upon meeting Tessa, we were at David McLane’s house. I was in a creative meeting with David and another writer. We were finalizing plans for our show that week. Then, Tessa Blanchard bursts through the door. She was loud. She was laughing. She had a smile on her face. She seemed in good spirits. She went upstairs to throw down her bags and when she came back down, she immediately introduced herself and shook my hand. She looked me in the eye and smiled. Then, she proceeded to ask me if anyone was hungry and started making everyone dinner. It was as bizarre and surreal as it sounds. Tessa Blanchard just started making everyone food. I thought it was a sweet, nice, kind gesture. It was important to her that everyone was fed and content.
While Tessa was being incredibly kind to me in front of David and other people, I was curious to see how she interacted with the wrestlers. I was curious to see how she treated people when David and management weren’t around at all.
The truth is, after that initial meeting, I’ve seen that same Tessa Blanchard. She took some of our rookies and helped them improve their craft. They even started to take on her mannerisms in the ring and while preparing for a match. The younger wrestlers really enjoyed working with and learning from someone around their own age. It seemed to make for a more peer-centric training process.
One of my favorite interactions with Tessa came during a day when we had to COMPLETELY change the creative structure of two of our three shows that week on the fly. It was a hectic experience. It was nerve racking. It was stressful, but surprisingly, the two people that seemed to rise to the occasion were Tessa and I. Upper management seemed fried. They seemed creatively drained. So, Tessa and I stepped in and we began booking the two shows. Now, immediately, I thought, “Tessa is going to book this show and have herself come out on top.” I just had a feeling that she would selfishly book the show to make herself look better.
When all was said and done, Tessa and I booked two solid shows–eight episodes of television–without anyone else’s involvement, and the thread we created would have one of our newest stars going over at the end of the night. That star would have been a woman of color, and we thought it was the perfect ending for our shows that week. It would send the fans home happy and give us the opportunity to showcase a new star. For Tessa, though, it was never about race. We went through booking the shows and made sure that our best people were featured front-and-center. In the end, we had one of our strongest babyfaces–again, a woman of color–on top of the main event in victorious fashion. It just made sense to us.
Not once did I see Tessa Blanchard say anything racist to or about anyone. Not once have I ever heard a racial slur come from her. Never did I ever see her treat anyone differently than anyone else. Never did I ever see her treat anyone unfairly.
The other words I see thrown around about Tessa are, “locker room cancer.” This one pisses me off quite a bit, because the Tessa Blanchard I know is the epitome of a locker room leader for us at WOW. As I said before, she would show up and help train new talent. She wanted to become a trainer with WOW and pass on her knowledge. Tessa Blanchard has proven herself to be one of the most devoted people to that locker room.
The greatest example of her leadership comes from the most recent tapings we had back at the end of 2019. There was a person at the training center that took part in our shows that truly can be described using all the words that are being thrown around about Tessa. This person really is a locker room cancer. I’ve worked with them a couple of times now, and I am miserable and hate their presence each and every time I am forced to be in the same room with them. It is an awful experience. This person is a bully. They are a racist. This person is xenophobic, and this person is a serious pot-stirrer. This person threw their weight around the entire time they were on our show, and it made all of us sick. One person was willing to stand up to her, though, and defend the people too meek to stand up for themselves. The person that stood up to this cancerous bully was Tessa Blanchard.
This person decided to yell at the entire locker room about something meaningless and superfluous. Many people’s faces cringed and distorted at the way this person attempted to yell at everyone and get the attention on themselves. Tessa raised her voice right back and said, “We do not need this. There’s no need for yelling. There’s no need for raising our voices. Let’s all just calm down.” Tessa quickly diffused the situation, and we were all grateful she did.
Later in the evening, the bully decided to start an altercation with two other wrestlers. The bully stated that “liberties were taken” in the ring by two wrestlers. Tessa spearheaded a group of people defending the wrestlers in question, because as anyone could see, the match went fine and no liberties were taken. If anyone could see anything overly-stiff happening in the ring, it would be me. I sit less than ten feet away, and I see everything. There were no liberties taken. This person was trying to cause problems, and Tessa shut them down. Other veterans in the locker room agreed with Tessa and sided with her. The situation, again, was diffused, but Tessa was not about to sit idly by and allow a bully to try to put people under their thumb.
So, while everyone sits there typing words like “cancer,” “bully,” “problem,” and “racist” about Tessa Blanchard, I can unequivocally tell you that you’re wrong. If you haven’t worked with her in the last two years or if you haven’t worked with her at all, then you do not know the person about which you are writing and talking. Is she an angel and a sweetheart? Absolutely not. I’ve seen her angry, cranky, and sullen. Is she as volatile as people are making her out to be? Again, absolutely not.
Keep in mind, I walked in with the pre-conceived notion that I’d be working with an absolute pain-in-the-butt, but that is not the person I’ve come to know over the last two years. The person I’ve worked with, the person I’m proud to call a colleague, is a leader. She treats everyone with fairness and respect. I cannot speak to events that happened prior to meeting her in 2018, but I can tell you that the Tessa Blanchard I know is someone that I will gladly have in my locker room any day.
Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of classless people come through our doors. I’ve seen problematic individuals. I’ve seen basket cases. I’ve seen hot messes, and I’ve seen cancerous people. Tessa Blanchard is none of the above. So, the next time you decide to write about someone, ask yourself if you have all of the facts. If you don’t, then you need to reconsider your language because while there are plenty of people that deserve our hate and our disdain, there are people out there trying to better themselves.