Former WWE superstar and commentator Taz was recently a guest on the Talk Is Jericho podcast. During his conversation with Chris Jericho, he discussed what it takes to be a good commentator.
Taz was the color commentator for SmackDown for much of the 2000s. When he left the company in 2009 he joined TNA and remained its color commentator until 2015. Taz said the most important thing as a commentator is to humble yourself and leave your ego out of it because your job is to put other guys over, not get yourself over.
"The first thing, if you are a color commentator, not play-by-play, so if you are a former pro wrestler, and I learned this from Vince McMahon; you have to take your ego and what you did because it is not about you, it is a humbling job. I put over more guys as a commentator than as a worker, but you have to take your ego, and put it behind the curtain as Vince McMahon told me. You have to be able to, the key is you have to put your agenda and ego aside and keep it in the Gorilla position," Taz said. "You can't bring it to the announce desk. I am someone that believes that as a former world champion and as a color commentator. That is not a knock on any current color commentator, but I believe in the guys that have been to the dance, drawn some money and know what it takes to have a title. It is a big deal to have that responsibility, as you know, and it is a big deal."
Taz also believes it's important for color commentators to have wrestling experience. He said he respects Corey Graves is a former NXT tag team champion, but he called out Byron Saxton, who is a former wrestler but doesn't have any significant experience.
"I believe, and I know that it is going to sound negative on those that weren't world champions; Corey Graves was a former tag team champion in NXT. Byron Saxton barely worked, so that to me jumps out. I believe in that. You can't tell me as a fan, if I have never been a wrestler, you can't tell me what it is like to be a world champion if you have never done it; I'm sorry," he said. "I hope for the best of those guys, and no disrespect to those guys. I met Corey Graves, and he seems like a great guy, but that is my opinion. You need some legitimate sea legs under you as a professional wrestler, I really believe that. I think putting your ego and checking it, and having the chops to talk obviously."
Taz also discussed whether Vince McMahon communicates with commentators during broadcasts. He said sometimes McMahon does some over-producing and it what make him feel stifled as a commentator. He would sometimes refuse to acquiesce to McMahon's requests.
"It depends. Vince McMahon would overproduce us at times. He wasn't constantly there. That is a bit of an exaggeration. The problem is that he would be distracted in Gorilla with something and then get on the air and say something to you, but then it would contradict what my partner says. For me, I think all announcers need to be produced. There was this time when Vince McMahon would tell me to say something and I would never say it," he said. "Then he would get hot and yell at me to say it, and I would just no-sell it. During the break, Kevin Dunn would ask if I can hear Vince McMahon but I would say that I couldn't hear him at all as a sell. I learned that from one of the commentators. Sometimes you just get to the point where you do enough shows; I mean, sometimes Vince McMahon would give you some really good stuff, but we are the last voice to sell tickets. We are the last voice at that time to sell pay-per-views, so Vince McMahon knew that and he would utilize the announce talent."
Taz said he has no regrets about how he left the WWE. He said he left on good terms but he needed to get away because he felt like he wasn't being true to himself if he stayed.
"I learned so much from the business from being an announcer there. We had these pre-show meetings with Vince McMahon and Michael Cole. Some people think it is a script, but you can't do the job with a script, you have a short time to get me through each segment, which isn't easy. It is a really tough job. Vince McMahon understood. I learned rapidly that the announce talent is the last voice to get people to pay. I think that it is a big pressure job. There were times I wouldn't be on the air, or me and Michael Cole would show-prep. We just didn't want to be around. I don't know if it was the pressure, but I think it is the lack of freedom as a broadcaster," he said. "It would piss me off a lot, even though I can't speak on Michael Cole. I am a guy that has something to say; if you have something to say, and you are creative, you say it. Well, I would feel like I am just a puppet. A highly-paid puppet. It got the point where when I left, I was around my third contract, I felt bad because I wasn't going to resign. I told Kevin Dunn that. I left on my own terms. I told them that I needed a little break. Kevin Dunn was so cool. He told me to think it over, and I remember because it was the week going into that. I just didn't want to do it anymore. They treated me great. I flew on Vince McMahon's plane. I was home all the time, but I needed a break. Me and Vince McMahon hugged, he had tears in his eyes because he told me he didn't want me to leave, I just told him that I needed a break. We left on good terms."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Taz and The Moose with a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: Talk Is Jericho
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.