“Girl bust that ceiling out, the Sky’s the limit now, the world is changing fast.
All you’ve been through aint in vein so come on baby make it rain down shattered glass”
They say that the measure of a man is how he handles defeat. But what about woman? When a woman, a young woman, 24 years old, stands on the brink of history, not once, not twice but three times… and comes up short each time … and yet comes back for more, what does that say about her? What does it say when that same young woman punishes her body in ways that women before her never have done in the wrestling business? What does it say when that woman is willing to break her own body just so she can break the chains of female wrestlers everywhere… only to fall short at the last hurdle every time?
To know the answer to these questions, one must first know Tessa Blanchard.
The crowd have all but filed out of the arena in Chicago by the time Tessa Blanchard finally begins to remove her wrist tape and unlace her boots. The X Division Championship match she competed in has already been over for more than an hour and for most people, Bound for Glory 2019 is already becoming a memory. In the coming weeks there is new shows and a new Television Network so the Impact wrestling talent and fans can be forgiven for looking toward the future. On this night however, Tessa Blanchard isn’t looking towards the future, she is thinking about the past. Not the past that comes with carrying the legacy of a 3rd Generation name or the past that comes with being the Stepdaughter of Magnum T.A. but rather, her own past.
As she begins to remove her ring gear, sweat covered and a little bloody, she is alone in the Knockout’s Locker room, but her head is anything but quiet. Bound for Glory is the third time she has felt like she does, and she is sick of it. The first time was at Slammiversary just 3 months ago. The Fairy-tale ending was set up perfectly; for the first time in wrestling history, an Intergender match would headline a major PPV and on that night Tessa Blanchard would defeat her nemesis Sami Callihan and strike a blow for equality everywhere by proving that on any given night a tough as nails woman could beat a sick and deranged man… except that didn’t happen.
On that Summer’s night, despite fighting and clawing and coming within seconds of making history… Tessa Blanchard came up short. Despite the standing ovation from the Impact Crowd after the match, the tears of Tessa Blanchard tasted bitter as they rolled down her cheeks. She told herself that if she could have just one more match, the outcome would be different.
Stepping into the Locker Room shower, Tessa lets the water flow over her, but it can’t wash away the memory of the second time she felt that same sting of defeat. August 2019. The Rematch. Callihan vs Blanchard. This time with even bigger stakes. This time, the winner would go on to headline Bound for Glory against Impact Wrestling World Champion Brian Cage. Not only would a woman have the potential to headline another PPV against a man, but she would have the chance to walk out of that match as World heavyweight Champion. Having came so close to defeating Callihan the first time, there was no way Tessa would fall twice and how appropriate that the show in question was called Unbreakable because after all, what is a Diamond if not unbreakable?
But that was the fairy-tale talking again and despite everything, at unbreakable the Diamond broke and Tessa Blanchard fell to Sami Callihan once again. In an arena full of people, that night, Tessa Blanchard sat in the ring and never felt more alone. The dream was over.
Tessa steps out of the shower, towels off and begins to dress. It is getting late now nut whatever, she wont sleep, she knows this. Tonight, was meant to be Third time lucky. It wasn’t the Main event and it wasn’t the World Title, but it was still historic. A multi-person ladder match where she was the only woman, fighting for a chance to raise a Championship that helped define Impact Wrestling, a Championship that only men had ever held, the X Division Championship. She had won titles in ladder matches in other places before but this one would be sweeter. Until it wasn’t.
Fingertips! Literally fingertips are how close Tessa Blanchard came within to being Impact wrestling X division Champion at Bound for Glory only for interference from OVE and a brutally opportunistic moment from Ace Austin to bring her and her dream crashing, literally, to the mat.
Tessa Blanchard walks out of the Odeum in Villa Park, Illinois, the crisp Fall air biting at her bruised and tender skin. Where she goes from here, she isn’t sure but as much as the three setbacks she has faced have hurt her, Tessa will not allow herself to be measured by these losses. There are just too many reasons not to allow it.
For a legendary Grandfather who never held a World Title. For a Hall of Fame Father who never won one. And for a Stepfather who would have been one if not for cruel fate. Tessa Blanchard carries the dreams of these men along with her own and those of women and girls everywhere. Someday, some place, Tessa Blanchard will become the first woman to be World Heavyweight Champion. On that day, the last glass ceiling in pro wrestling will shatter. That fact, and Tessa Blanchard, are undeniable.