Taz was a guest on a recent episode of The Apter Chat with Bill Apter and Josh Shernoff. The interview touched on many points of Taz’s career and eventually got to his debut at Madison Square Garden. After Taz’s debut in WWE, his push died down, and Taz said that he knew that would happen when he heard the crowd’s reaction to his debut.
“When I debuted and that popped happened, and all that jazz, and I talk about this on my show many times, when I was walking down the aisle and I had that black towel on my head in [Madison Square] Garden, it was an amazing feeling,” said Taz. “But before I even got to the ring, I knew I was screwed. I knew that I was in trouble. Because I heard the pop, I’ve been in the business long enough, I knew the business and I knew that the pop was not made or built by the WWE. That was made from myself and the guys that I was fortunate enough to put me over by ECW. That pop? That’s what that pop was. It was not them from advertising a tribal 13 logo, which was cool because people didn’t know it was me coming. That pop was because of the fortunate history that I have had, in the tri-state area especially. Being a New York guy that was also from ECW. I knew that I was doomed because that’s how WWE was back then, it’s a lot different now. Today, if I debuted like that, I’d be getting pushed to the moon.”
Taz also revealed that he used to not be comfortable talking in front of a crowd. Eventually that would change and he would go on to have some good promos in ECW. He wanted the chance to work the mic when he joined WWE, but Vince McMahon wouldn’t allow it until he got into an angle with Jerry Lawler, which led to him being at the announcers table.
“[Vince] didn’t want me to talk,” Taz revealed. “I didn’t get on the mic and believe me, I had some pretty good promo work at ECW and I had my catchphrase ‘beat me if you can, survive if I let you’ and he didn’t care. He kind of wanted to re-brand me. And they don’t tell you that. You kind of have to figure that out on your own. So fast forward a little bit, maybe a year or so, year and a half, I got into an angle with JR [Jim Ross] and that was at the Garden where I got verbal with JR and cut a promo on JR. Then they had Jerry Lawler punch me and he knocks me on my ass. I get into a big pull apart with king and me and king get into this angle for a couple weeks. Well, that angle is what put me at the announce desk because they had me take out Lawler before SmackDown, or something like that, and I sat next to Michael Cole. I was supposed to sit there for a segment and then Jerry Lawler was supposed to attack me from behind through the audience. I sat there, and I had never done this, and Vince [McMahon], Kevin [Dunn] and these guys were like, ‘just talk, rip Jerry Lawler, rip Michael Cole, just rip people, just be a rude, be a heel, be nasty.
“So I sat there and I didn’t really know the timing or what to do. Michael Cole kind of held my hand through that one match. I knew right away, and I wasn’t trying to be an announcer, I knew right away that the cadence with Michael Cole and I flowed pretty good in that one match. I don’t even remember who the hell was wrestling. The match ends. Nobody attacks me from behind. There’s no Jerry Lawler. Now it’s SmackDown, so we’re not live. We’re in a break, that would be a commercial insert, and I’m sitting with Michael Cole and we’ve got headsets on, so you don’t really want to say to much because all of the bosses are backstage. And I’m saying to myself ‘where’s Lawler? Why am I out here still? What am I doing?’ They said nothing to me.”
Taz received a call from Kevin Dunn several days later for an opportunity to announce a WWE UK PPV. Taz ended up taking the opportunity and impressed the two people that mattered most.
“We got done and it sounded pretty good. I was walking backstage, there was this big corner hall, and there was nobody around this one corner. I see Kevin Dunn coming out of the truck with just Vince [McMahon]. So at the time, that’s the power right there. That’s the WWE. It’s just me walking at them and Vince smiled at me and Vince just said, ‘you’ve got a future.’ ‘That was awesome.’
Soon after the PPV, Taz become a full-time commentator for WWE. He said that McMahon wanted him commentating for as long as he wanted. Eventually Taz wanted to move on from WWE.
“Real simple. I left WWE on my terms, which I’m proud of,” Taz said. “I have no ill will at all towards WWE on iota. I had a contract sitting in front of me right before WrestleMania, my deal had ended it was the week before ‘Mania… I needed to get out of there. I needed out. I needed out. I needed out. I did not want to be there anymore. I needed a break from everything. The company. I loved everybody there, I just needed out. I was burned out. It was a tough decision.
“I was there almost ten years. Almost a decade. It got to the point where it was just… Vince was a little bit micromanaging at that time on all the commentators. You felt like you had no creativity. I was just not having fun, at all. I knew that there was some interest and intrigue from TNA. It looked like they were having fun. They had some talent there, a lot of guys that I didn’t know. I wanted to call some of their matches and I felt like that was a good way to give me an injection, a new injection of my career.”
Taz left WWE in 2009 and while has been part of a few projects for WWE, he has never made a full return. He noted that he has no regrets for never making a full return to the WWE.
“A lot of wrestling fans have this preconceived notion, that once you are in the wrestling business, or in the WWE per-say, and you’re doing well and you get fired or quit; that you want to go back. You’re jonesing to go back. You need to go back. No. I’m grateful and I’m blessed that I don’t need to go there. I have nothing against those people. I’ve done some business with them. They had me do some stuff on the WWE Network a while back. That ECW thing they did.”
“I have no ill will. I hope they succeed and keep making millions. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. But I’m happy. I’m the happiest I’ve been in my whole career to be frank.”
For more of Taz’s interview on The Apter Chat with Bill Apter and Josh Shernoff, you can listen to it in the audo player below. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Apter Chat with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.