I spoke to TNA star Tyrus recently about his time in WWE, finding out he'd get the Funakasaurus gimmick, being accused of stealing money from a promoter, and signing with TNA. You can also check out the audio versions of the interview both above and at the bottom of the page.
"He contacted me to do a booking in Toronto, I think. It was a tour, and he wanted me to do five matches, and the pay wasn't very good. It was basically a favor for a friend. He said he was going to be on the tour, so I figured if I'm wrestling him it'll be fun, no big deal. I got a TNA thing, and let him know. He sent me a deposit for $250, which is next to nothing. I let him know two or three weeks out. It wasn't a big venue, not like I was making $5000 a show or something. It was a small venue, and he told me I'd make my money selling merch. I told him I'd make up the date, and I'll get booked on something else and make it up. At first he said that was alright, then said he didn't know if he was going to run again or something. I got busy, I was going to Japan. I'm not going to pass up going to Japan to wrestle a small venue in Toronto. Not that I don't love Canadian fans, but I'm not going to pass up wrestling in front of 20,000 to wrestle in front of 2,000. Long story short, he sent me an email. I get 100 emails a day sometimes. I told my manager about the $250 deposit, and he said we'd get it back out to him. Then my manager asked me if I knew this guy was advertising me all the way up to the show. These promoters will keep advertising you, then the night of the show they'll make it look like you didn't show up. Then the fans are mad at you, not them, and they keep the ticket sales from you. It's a little shady thing they do. We sent him his $250 and told him not to contact us again. He accepted the money, then after that there was that story. He got paid back. If you make a deposit for a furniture company or something like that and return it, a lot of times you have to wait 30 days or something like that. I'm extremely busy, out of the country and wasn't thinking about a $250 deposit. I wasn't being a jerk or anything like that. He complained after he got the money, which seems pretty childish."
Has the promoter made any more contact with you or your manager?
"No. We paid him so there was no reason to. As far as I'm concerned if you want to sit on blogs and talk bad about somebody, you probably shouldn't even have accepted the money if it was about the principality of it. That's not what he did. There were people that sent me emails when I took this booking about this guy. I try not to judge anyone until I work with them. There was a wrestler that used to work for him that said there was a lot of inexperience and to be careful. So he's got drama as a regular thing for him. I don't know the man, I spoke to him twice via e-mail. He doesn't even do the decent thing and say that he got paid. I'd get it if I didn't pay the guy back. There are great promotions like PWS. Out of 20 promotions, there is maybe 1 that does shady stuff. I'm not in the business of ruining towns. It's really kind of laughable. It's silly, if I didn't pay him back, he'd have the right to write that letter. If he hadn't have paid me, I'd have wrote that letter."
You've been getting attention from your Youtube shorts. The one with the John Cena fan was really funny. What motivated you to start doing those?
"Because it's a real thing! That happens to me everywhere I go. There's always a Cena fan that wants to talk to me about it, and it drives me absolutely nuts. They'll come up to me in Cena stuff saying 'Why didn't you wrestle Cena?' Bro, I don't know. 'Isn't he the best?' Must be. Did you want something, or just want to talk to me about John Cena (laughs). I would make jokes when we train at Hard Knox South that I have a big feud with Cena that he didn't even know about. We got to talking about it and I was going to make a sitcom out of my feud with John Cena that he doesn't even know about."
So you do train at Hard Knox South? Has he seen these shorts?
"I train at his gym in Florida, yes. I haven't been in Hard Knox South much lately. I was once in the past couple of weeks, I've been traveling a lot. I haven't seen him. We usually see each other once every two weeks when we're lifting. I mentioned to him that I was going to do something like that and he'd just laugh. He's pretty laid back about stuff like that. It's not discrediting him or a 'we hate John Cena,' or trying to get credit by taking shots at him. This is me taking shots at what a lot of wrestlers go through when dealing with die-hard fans. Back in the 80s it was Hulk Hogan, today it's John Cena. Fans are so stuck on John Cena, they punish you for not being John Cena."
There were comments a while back that got a lot of attention about you comparing Cena to PN News. Was that just a playful thing?
"Yeah. I did that because he compared me to the XFL. I was like 'what did I do?' I said 'okay, cool. I'm getting mentioned on two wrestling promotions, but I can't let him ride on that, can I? Hell no. Get him.' I said the only thing different between Cena and PN News was a push, and everybody laughed. He's the pinnacle of our business. He's probably not going to hear people yelling at the middle of the mountain at him. Just having fun with him. It was a good concept and the first time I put a series together. I'm going to keep doing it because I enjoy it and it shows another side of me. It won't always be about that. He's legit a die-hard Cena fan, so it's easy to keep that improv going. He was really upset when he misspoke about Cena beating the Rock at that WrestleMania, and I just let him have it. He goes on this rant and called me a clown, and he forgets that he's as big as my leg because he's so passionate about Cena (laughs)."
I spoke to EC3 a while back, and he said fans haven't seen you scratch the surface yet. Now you're a number one contender for the title. What does that mean for them to invest in you that way?
"I've been chomping at the bit for my time. WWE I got close with a different kind of character, but not to the ceiling I'd set for myself. TNA was the same kind of thing. Being able to do business, being able to do what is asked of you, and doing it to the point where they think 'maybe we shouldn't ask him to do that, because he did this amazing' is what it comes down to. I used to get frustrated when things didn't go my way. I'd get quiet, not talk to people. Not everyone's going to want to work with you when you're frustrated all the time. I learned from that and my mistakes in WWE. TNA was a fresh start and a new character, and went back to things that I knew well. It was a chance to reinvent myself and start from the bottom. It got to a point where I could get over with the physical presence and the intimidation, and then you give me the character stuff. I can talk all day, but I wanted to get over like that. You want to be both. I didn't get a chance to showcase everything I had to offer in WWE for whatever reason, whether it be time constraints or trying to protect things or whatever. I've always done what I've been asked to do. In TNA there's more freedom to express yourself and take chances, and I think I've done that. There are a lot of good guys there. Shane Helms has been so instrumental helping me out and being in my ear. Bobby Lashley, who has no ego in the ring. EC3, Bobby Roode, Kurt Angle. It's been unreal, man. I come through the curtain at Bound For Glory, and the first person I see is Kurt Angle. He had some criticisms, some things he didn't want to see me do again. That means so much from a guy who doesn't need to do that. He doesn't need to sit there in front of a monitor and watch every match. When he's willing to extend the wing, and he believes that you're special, you'd be an idiot to not jump over that. I was one of the few guys happy he didn't go back to the WWE, because in TNA he's been a cornerstone. He's just unreal with support and confidence. When one of greatest of his era supports you and has no ego, you just thrive. He could just go hang out in his trailer, have his match, and go back."
What are your thoughts on Kurt Angle taking time off and leaving TNA? Do you think we'll see him back in TNA?
"I sure hope so. But I also know he just had neck surgery. There's some stuff he's dealing with. If anyone needs to rest, it's him. He's been going hard forever. Whenever he comes back healed up, watch out. He's always bounced back bigger and better. I hope he's back. It's great for TNA when Kurt Angle's a part of it."
They ran those vignettes for your WWE debut. Was the plan all through those to swerve fans and debut the Funkasaurus character?
"It literally happened maybe a week before the debut, and the vignettes were already running."
So the plan was to play the dominant role you had before? What were your feelings when this happened?
"Yeah. I didn't comprehend. I got very defensive. I thought I was being tricked because I spent so much time working on this character. Training and working like a heel, and I got scared to death because I didn't know what the next step was. I had been a babyface for maybe a half-hour in developmental. I don't look like a babyface. I have tattoos, I was with Alberto beating up Edge & Christian for a year, what am I going to do? They're going to laugh me out of the building and wrestling. After I spent some time with Dusty Rhodes, and Triple H was really supportive, I changed. Even the boss was really supportive. When he decides that's his vision, you go with it. Even Michael Hayes, he was really supportive. They knew I was getting thrown a curveball, but could I pull it off? I was able to do so, but I wasn't comfortable at first. When it took off and I saw how much the kids liked it, I took it from there."
So who approaches you about this?
"Triple H. The boss."
You also went through NXT Season 4. What was that like? We heard stories of EC3 and Daniel Bryan getting in trouble for rigging events.
"When EC3 and Daniel Bryan did that, it was probably the most hilarious thing I've ever been blindsided by. If anyone should have been upset, it was me and Ted, because we were winning! I looked at him and said 'it's on.' We started rigging everything. Arm wrestling contests, piñata stuff, we all started cheating, and they didn't know what we were doing. We took turns on who was going to win. We became our own booking crew. We were a lost season. The year before had been taken off TV, we were only on the internet. I thought they saw it as something they had to do on Tuesday. We could complain about it or make it cool."
You're in a similar role now as you were in WWE with Alberto Del Rio. How would you compare those situations?
"With Del Rio I was more of a student. The fact that they had the confidence in me my first time up to be against two of the best technical wrestlers of all time in Edge and Christian, that's a lot of pressure. With EC3, it was more of a partnership, because we came up together. I'd experienced a little more in the WWE, and I would apply it to our situation. Things I saw, things I experienced, I think it's helped us. We have a partnership."
It's a good dynamic you have?
"Yeah it's fun. Everybody can't be cool. I don't like anyone. I don't really like EC3 if you look at the character, it's just the job I'm doing. When he's showing me pictures of his cats, I look off to the side. That's what a bodyguard does. Even when I worked for Snoop Dogg, some of the things he'd say, I'd be like 'whatever, good job boss, you showed him.'
Did you ever have any interaction with Sasha Banks when you had worked for Snoop?
"No, I'd never met her. I met her at her Boston tryout that she got and did really well at."
TNA is doing a lot of international stuff. Is that something you enjoy, and something you see them doing more?
"I think the international markets are our frontier right now. I think the more success we have internationally will help us re-plant in the United States as well. I think Bound For Glory was a great launching pad. We had a jam-packed house in Charlotte, North Carolina. They were on their feet all night and really excited, and everyone gave 110 percent."
You've also been involved with movies and voice acting. Is that something you're looking to do more of?
"Yeah I'm doing those, and I've been doing a lot of radio shows. I actually just signed deals for two movies, I have those coming up later this year. One is going to be me just being a straight up evil Tyrus, and the other is going to show some crazy range. I'm excited about the opportunity and still be able to wrestle."
So you are going to catch up with John Cena with these movie roles.
"You don't want to set the bar too high (laughs). Tyrus, Brodus Clay, George Murdoch is trying to make his mark. You can't have unrealistic goals. 'See you at the Academy Awards, Rock' you can't think like that, you have to be realistic."
What other projects do you have going on?
"SwollShop.com, I'm a contributor on Fox News now. I'm working on a crazy scifi movie. It's basically me vs. aliens, so that will be weird, but it's a comedy, so that will be fun. Then an MMA type movie that I'm real excited about."
How did the thing with Fox News come about?
"Twitter. Greg Gutfeld is a great guy."
Where can the fans follow you on social media?
"SwollShop.com, that's my social media management. They handle all my social media. TyrusSmash on Instagram, Twitter is still @BrodusClay, and the website is TyrusSmash.com. You have to remember, fans, while I read everything, when you're sending me messages, they're going through other people's eyes. You're writing to a third party, so keep your game straight."
You can listen to the full audio of the interview below, or above in the video player (shortly).