Make sure to check back soon for the second and final part of the interview, where Taz talks about his promos in WWE and if they were scripted, differences in working for Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon, Triple H giving him and Tommy Dreamer the pedigree before their ECW title match and more.
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You have your show, Bodyslams and Beyond, which is now available as a two hour video stream. How did your venture into the internet radio community come about?
"It's all through CBS Radio. CBS is trying different genres in the world of streaming audio and video. A lot of big broadcasting companies in the radio world feel that audio is becoming on demand, especially with podcasting. They want to put a lot of time, effort and money in video on demand and live video. It's something they've been throwing around for over a year and a half. When they brought me in, I was just doing the weekly podcast, but I wanted it to be more, so I put more into the show. Instead of being a guest driven show, it was more of a topic driven show. That perked the interests of the CBS radio executives instantly. Within a month they said 'Not only do you have the ability to do a daily show because of your history in radio, but the ability to be broadcast on VOD. When comparing your numbers when you have a guest compared to just you, and your history as a trainer, a wrestler, a broadcaster, that you cover all facets of breaking down a match, a show, a wrestler.' They felt if I was interested, they would roll with it, and I was all in. I had done radio for CBS years ago when I was in WWE as a color commentator, so we had a history. I fell out of doing radio, but it was good timing. I was interested in doing stuff with Podcast One because they had Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, JR. It didn't work out and they weren't that interested. Sirius wasn't that interested. Whenever someone wasn't interested, it built my fire hotter and hotter. I put my thinking cap on and talked to CBS two weeks after that. It just took off, it's awesome."
Was TNA supportive when you started?
"Yeah, TNA was totally cool with it. Once in a while they'd promote it on the show. If I had a guest on from TNA, I could promote it. TNA was great about that, great about cross promotion."
How would you say that your time was with TNA overall?
"It started out great. The first few years were awesome. They always treated me cool. My passion for them about 3-4 years started to dwindle. You see a lot of the same mistakes behind the scenes and with office people. It was very disappointing. My opinion, people high up in the chain seemed content with being number two. I used to say 'if you're content with being number 2, you're going to end up being number 3.' That's kind of what happened. I believe you strive to be the best, kill and destroy everything in your way. It was weird getting used to that mind set over there, being content with that. I'm not talking talent, here, I'm talking front office people. I couldn't jump into that. You gotta try to be number 1.
"I had a great time there, I'm thankful they gave me the opportunity that they gave me. I have no regrets at all. The last year and a half or two years, they wanted me to become a part of the machine, and I couldn't embrace the thought process there and the lack of fight I saw from the top people. I couldn't align myself with it. Then the financial issues, paying people on time. I understand sometimes there's cash flow problems, but it happened too much. I just had to get out of there."
What do you think they can do to turn things around at this point, or is it too late?
"I don't think it's too late. It looks like their ratings are pretty decent. I hope they strive to be the best. I don't want to see them go out of business at all. There's a lot of people that I like that still work there. There are people there I don't like at all, but I don't want to see them out of work. I want to see everyone do well, it's good for the business. They still have an opportunity to do great, good stuff. I think they have a creative issue there, and a brand awareness problem. When you're there, you really know it. There's not enough money spent on building awareness for the company. That's not the talent, production, creative team's fault. You have to spend money to make money, and they don't spend money on brand awareness. They always had good talent. When I first went there, I was so excited to be a color commentator to get an opportunity to call matches for some of the talent that was there, and is still there. They always had a good roster, always."
Is there too much wrestling on TV now for a company to be a viable alternative?
"I don't think so. I think it really depends on the type of wrestling fan or enthusiast you are. If you want to just watch Raw every Monday and don't want to watch three hours, and you want to watch an hour and then watch Monday Night Football, that's cool. There's also the opportunity if you're a die-hard fan, there's a plethora of wrestling on television and the internet. From New Japan on AXS, to Ring of Honor, to WWE and TNA. To Jarett and Global, I say the more, the merrier. ESPN's relationship with WWE, shows you the strength and popularity of the industry. For ESPN to cover and have a relationship with the WWE is huge. I don't know if the people who work for TNA, ROH, Lucha Underground or any of these company, they all should be happy that's happening. WWE is the hood ornament of the industry. If WWE's getting that type of exposure, it's good for the business as a whole."
WWE seems like they're getting more mainstream coverage than ever, but their ratings are lower than when they got no mainstream coverage.
"It's weird. I think there's more platforms, more way to watch stuff. Maybe it is a little too over-saturated. If you're getting too much of it, maybe you're not that big of a fan. If you're not getting enough of it, maybe you need more. Everyone's different. I was never one of those guys who got hung up on ratings. I know it's important, but you can't worry about it. When I worked for Vince McMahon, he said the same thing to me that Paul Heyman said to me and that CBS says to, the key is, it's not ratings, it's content. Keep making good content and the rest will work itself out. There's not a perfect science on these numbers either. People get hung up on it a lot, and on my show, it's not something I talk about a lot. I've seen how it works behind the scenes and I know there's a lot of gray. I'm not going to talk about something that's flimsy or a perfect science, when I don't know how accurate these numbers are. I don't pay much attention to it. Unless it's a rating that's flopping and is something newsworthy to me. My listeners don't want to hear that and my viewers don't want to see it."
On your show, you talked about Seth Rollins vacating the WWE Title due to injury. It comes at a rough time, with the WWE missing Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Randy Orton. Do you see it as an opportunity? (NOTE: this interview was conducted before Sheamus won the WWE Championship at the Survivor Series last week)
"Absolutely. From a wrestler? Geez. Huge opportunity for so many guys, and it trickles down to NXT. If you're an NXT guy or girl, whose opening match, you know it's going to be a trickle down effect in a positive way where they pull up a couple of these talents from NXT. When they pull up, you slip into their spot. It's a massive opportunity on the main roster as long as it's given to, say, a guy like Cesaro. I hope they do. Or say a Kevin Owens goes higher than where he's at with the IC title, or ADR, with the US title or whatever he's doing with Zeb Colter, which is weird in itself. They can go all different routes. They have guys that are game ready, plug and play. While everyone else is panicking that Rome is burning, Vince McMahon has dealt with a lot worse than this, than his champion blowing his knee out. I knew there would be a tournament gimmick, and that'll work perfect. It's an opportunity for a guy like Roman Reigns, and people called in and said it was a great opportunity for Roman Reigns to turn heel. My point about that it's cool if Reigns turns if he can, but you don't turn a guy until he's at his peak as a babyface. Roman Reigns is not at that spot. John Cena all those years has been, but usually you don't turn him unless everyone's connecting to him. Reigns has heat with some fans, and some love them."
You've moved your show into a daily format, and it's also available on video. What kind of challenges have you met as you've grown?
"A lot of challenges, awesome challenges. It's extremely hard. Every day I have a microphone and a camera in my face for two hours. So I'm giving ten hours a week of original programming by myself. Every day I have to come up with a show alone. I love it, I'm having a blast and I'm very fortunate. Thanks to all the listeners, because it's growing rapidly. CBS seems ecstatic with it, which is why they give me such a platform. This is just the beginning of it. I'm under contract with these guys, god willing, I'm going to be with these guys a long time. It's not easy. You hear a lot of wrestlers that think because they can cut a promo, they'll get into radio. I used to think that too, I realized how hard that was. It's different, man. All those years as a commentator, I had a picture to play off of. I had a match to sink my teeth into, you sit there with a partner. The ratings weren't contingent on my performance. Now downloads are contingent on me and my creative. I can't point at the play-by-play guy or if the talent sucks, or if that match was horrible, or the production crew's not that good. It's me. I'm the promoter, marketer, I book the guests, I analyze and break everything down. For those that have never watched my show, I bring a lot of energy and I'm two hours full throttle. It's not a laid back show, it's sophomoric, I goof around a lot, I don't take myself too serious. When I have a guest, it's not an interview, it's catching up with guys, learning about them. You can't take yourself too serious because I'm gonna rib you. I have great callers that call in, and they can't take themselves serious either. I get on them, they get on me. We have a lot of fun. I'll cover some sports, too. It's 80-90 percent pro wrestling."
It goes by really fast too. Where all can people catch it?
"The best and easiest way is TazShow.com. It's video on demand, so you can watch it any time you want. I do audio and video live. About an hour later, the daily podcast drops. Two hours after the show, the VOD drops. Clips and the full show. CBS owns that, that's their gimmick. That's the platform for all audio and video of my show."
Make sure to check back soon for the second and final part of the interview, where Taz talks about his promos in WWE and if they were scripted, differences in working for Paul Heyman and Vince McMahon, Triple H giving him and Tommy Dreamer the pedigree before their ECW title match and more. The Taz Show: BodySlams & Beyond is now available as a live video stream on TazShow.com. Audio of the program was launched in September and can be found live and on-demand on the Play.it podcast network. The show is broadcast weekdays from 7:00-9:00AM ET.