Friday, March 2, 2012

From the Vault: WWF/WCW's Terry Taylor

Back in 2004, Rockin’ Randy Ricci set up an interview for me with Terry Taylor, a ring veteran from WCW, WWF, UWF, NWA, among many others. Randy is someone I have always respected and held with high regard in the professional wrestling business. He took a real interest in me as a young 19-year-old kid who just loved wrestling. He cared about me, my family, and what I was about as a person. It’s rare that you find that human connection in the sometimes brutal, unforgiving world of professional wrestling. When my mom passed away in 2005, Terry emailed me. I don’t usually share private emails, but I thought what he wrote was really profound and helped me during a difficult time in my life. I’d like to share it here:

“Hi Tony, Randy called and told me about your mom. I wanted to send you an email to let you know I'm thinking about you today.  You may not feel like it now, but time does heal. You'll never forget your mom, but you'll know she's no longer hurting. If you're a Christian (and even if you're not) the verse in the Bible that helps me get through painful events is Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose." That doesn't mean everything that happens feels good or seems good at the time, but they all work together in the end for our good. That verse gives me great comfort when everything seems to be falling down around me. I hope it does the same for you. I'll close now, but if you ever need to express how you feel or just want to drop a line, please do. I'd like that a lot. Take care. Your friend, Terry”

I thought this showed what kind of person Terry Taylor was. I was just a simple wrestling fan writing for a website, and he was a legend in the business, and he took the time to email me and care about my feelings, what I was going through. His words were true. It didn’t seem good or feel good at the time, but in the end, life has turned out so magically for me, with my writing, my career, and my love life. He was right. I was so touched by that email. To me, I’ll never forget that. You always remember who was there for you at your worst.

I hope you enjoyed my backstory, and I hope you enjoy my interview from 2004, via, with wrestling legend, Terry Taylor.

Tony F: It's an honor and pleasure to be here with a man who has done a lot in pro wrestling and been just about everywhere. I'm here with Terry Taylor. Terry, thank you so much for your time and for granting me this interview.
Terry Taylor: Thanks, Tony. It' s a pleasure to be here with you.

Tony F: The first question while many should be familiar with who you are and what you have done, there might be a few who are not. So tell those people who are you, and where you have been, and what you have done in pro wrestling?

Terry Taylor: Whew, this one question is loaded. It looks like this question has three parts. I'll answer all three parts individually.

Who am I and what have I done?

I am a lucky man who was lived out his dream. As a kid, I was a huge fan of professional wrestling and can't imagine doing anything else with my life. In answering the what have I done part of the question - here goes:

I wrestled in almost every one of the 28 territories that existed for the 16 years in which I was an active performer. I held most major singles and tag titles in every territory in which I worked. I have wrestled Killer Karl Kox, Dick Murdock, Harley Race, Ric Flair, Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle, the Undertaker, and so many more. Please don't perceive anything I've said about my career as boasting, I'm not proud - I'm grateful for the run I've had. The second part of my 25 years in the wrestling business has been in the television production, wrestling production, creative departments, and talent relations departments of both WCW and the WWF(E). I have been lucky enough to personally witness most every major event in WCW and the WWF during the Monday Night Wars. I was there for the first Monday Night Raw. I was there in Minnesota for the first Monday Nitro. I was there for the Goldberg phenomenon. I was in the WWE for Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Mr. McMahon. I was in Kansas City the tragic night Owen Hart lost his life. There were so many great events I can't remember them all, but I do remember what a wild ride this past 25 years have been!

Tony F: Coming on October 2nd in Whitewater,WI, you will be doing a mini-camp and a show for Rockin Randy Ricci's North American Wrestling Federation (NAWF), tell us about that?

Terry Taylor: I am really looking forward to October 2, 2004 in Whitewater. I'm going to be able to do two of my favorite things. One is to wrestle in front of a crowd which I really enjoy, the second part is my favorite thing to do - conduct a seminar. This seminar will last as long as it needs to and we will cover EVERYTHING a young wrestler needs to know to get noticed by TNA or WWE. I have the unique perspective earned from 9 years as an executive for both WWE and WCW. I honestly believe I can help young wrestlers see what they need to do to get noticed. My singular goal is to help the business I love to continue and prosper and fresh talent is the way that happens. Twenty five years ago my life changed and I became a wrestler. That was the first step in this incredible journey that has been my life. The old-timers passed down their knowledge to me - entrusting me to protect it and then pass it on. I'm excited to share the knowledge I have just like it was shared with me. There is a financial commitment asked off the people that want to attend. That will weed out the people that aren't totally dedicated to improving their craft. Who knows, the next superstar in the wrestling business may attend this seminar. In the future, someone will be the main event at main event at Wrestlemania, why not someone from this seminar?

Tony F: Tell us about how you met Rockin' Randy and your relationship with him?

Terry Taylor: Rockin' Randy and I have been friends and business associates for 8 years. There are very few people in wrestling that I trust and Randy is one of them. He has integrity and gives people more than their money's worth. He has been promoting for years and does his very best to entertain the fans.

Tony F: Have you ever done mini-camps before?

Terry Taylor: I have done a lot of these mini camps over the past 5 years. I trained HHH and the Big Show when we were in WCW. HHH was trained by Killer Kowalski initially and I am certain he would tell people that I helped teach him how to be a star. I spent one year in the mid nineties teaching at the WCW Power Plant. I don't know anyone else who has trained talent, written TV for both WCW and WWE, been in the Talent Relations Department of both companies, and has hired some of today's hottest stars such as Lita and Ronnie "the Truth" Killings. I understand what it takes to make it in professional wrestling and am willing to share my experience with the people that attend this seminar.

Tony F: Wrestling wise, what are you up to these days?

Terry Taylor: I am a wrestling producer for TNA Wrestling. My job is to help take the writers vision and to co-ordinate with the other agents to make the show look like what the writers want. I also teach techniques in the ring before the shows. The teaching is my favorite thing.

Tony F: What do you think of the current state of the business?

Terry Taylor: I don't think anyone would disagree that our business is in a down cycle. I have been around long enough to have seen many down cycles and then many boom cycles, too. I don't believe it serves a purpose to criticize, so I won't. The causes of a downturn in business are usually similar. Typically, a stagnant talent pool, poor stories, and poorly developed characters are the main causes of a down cycle. If one believes the business is in a slump - see if one or more of these factors apply.

People ask me all the time how to get into the wrestling business. I tell them it's the best time and worst time to get into the business. People may not understand that statement. How can it be the best and worst at the same time? Doesn't have to be one or the other? Don't those two opposites mutually exclude each other?

The explanation is simple enough. It's the worst of times because there's only one or two places to work full time so it's very hard to make a living. There's only so many job openings and there many people applying for those few positions. It's very competitive.

On the other hand, it's the best of times because the bar has been lowered so far. It's much easier to get into the business because size, skill, and dedication to ones craft isn't necessary. Anyone with $2,500.00 can find someone to train them. The sad state of the business can be attributed partially to this. At one time, wrestlers worked every night for years all over the country and world learning how to draw money. Today, wannabe wrestlers never learn the fundamentals, the psychology, or the respect for the business. They never sacrificed their bodies, time at home, or everything else to be wrestlers. The business will make a comeback, it always does.

Tony F: How do you like working for NWA-TNA?

Terry Taylor: I love it! There are so many good people there and like when I started 25 years ago - I feel like I'm a part of something that can make a difference in people's lives. There isn't any stress and I really enjoy working for TNA.

Tony F: How do you feel about the current Indy wrestling scene?

Terry Taylor: The independent wrestling scene is a mixed bag. Young wrestlers must do outrageous moves, bumps, and high spots to get a reputation. That reputation can get the wrestler more independent bookings which gives him much needed experience. The other side of this is that the style of work needed to get over on the Indy scene won't work in WWE or TNA. So, if a young wrestler makes a name on the Indy scene and gets a try out with TNA and WWE - he'll have to learn a different style. It's almost unfair to these young people, they're in a no-win situation. It's going to take an exceptional talent to graduate from the indys to either WWE or TNA.

Tony F: Do you do many Indy shows these days?

Terry Taylor: Ten years ago, I retired from in ring performing. I had just had my eleventh knee surgery and was ready to stop. During the last year or so, I have accepted bookings to do autograph sessions and then some wrestling matches. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about taking my shirt off in front of people again, but I did and have really enjoyed it. The fans are always respectful and are a pleasure to be around. I have been married to my beloved wife for 20 years and for the first 15 years I was gone 20 days per month. I have set a limit to how many times per month I'll travel, so it's worked out well. I have a few openings left for 2004 and if we fill them - great, if not I'll be just as happy to stay home with my family. After saying all that, if someone wants to contact me about a booking please give them my email address Tony.

Tony F: Have you ever thought about training future wrestlers and opening up a school?

Terry Taylor: Yes, I actually had everything in place in 2002 to open a school here in Atlanta. At the last minute, the liability insurance didn't come through. Our society loves to sue one another and while I try to look at the positive side of humanity - the reality of a lawsuit is real. Without the liability insurance, it wouldn't be possible to make a school work. In the last few weeks people have been talking about WWE recognizing the need for the system of small territories as a minor league feeder system for their Raw and Smackdown brands. It has been suggested that I might run a small WWE funded school and territory in Atlanta, but I have no desire to do that at this stage of my life. WWE is a fine company and whoever does do it can count on backing from a first rate organization.

Tony F: Do you enjoy your current place in pro wrestling?

Terry Taylor: A good test for how one has lived their life is to ask, "If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything?" My answer to that is that I have no regrets about the run I've been given and that the wrestling business has been good to me. A preacher at our church once told a story that kind of defines how I look back at my life. He said that a friend of his once said, "If I were as powerful as God, I would change some things." And in the next breath, he said, "If I were as wise as God, I wouldn't change a thing!" That's how I see my life. It's almost like I've been given a charmed life. I have done everything I want to do and I have the best home life a man could have. Please don't consider that as bragging, I'm not bragging - I'm thankful for everything I've been given. So, if you ask if I'm happy with my place in professional wrestling - ABSOLUTELY!

Tony F: Thanks so much again for your time, Terry. It was a true pleasure. Anything you want to say before we go or plug?

Terry Taylor: Thank you, Tony for this opportunity to speak to the fans through you. I hope anyone that is considering a career in the competitive world of pro wrestling will come to the Wrestling Seminar in Whitewater, Wisconsin on October 2, 2004. I won't pull any punches and am happy to share with the attendees the information I have regarding what it takes to make it in WWE or TNA. It may be the day someone takes their first step on their way to a career in the ring. Thanks again and God bless.