Shawn Spears recently joined Tony Schiavone and Aubrey Edwards on the AEW Unrestricted podcast where they discussed the new TNT Championship landscape and Spears' current role in AEW. Spears talked about being in the audience on episodes of Dynamite saying that he and MJF have had free reign to do whatever they want.
"So the idea was Tony's actually," Spears revealed. "The night before television, he called. We talked about for about 20 minutes, and he said, 'I have this idea. I want to put you and MJF in the crowd, and I kind of just want to give you guys free reign to go out and do what you guys want to do and bet on some matches.' I thought that was a hilarious concept, and you pretty much can't ask for a better charismatic dance partner that MJF.
"So when they kind of put us out there, they just said, 'yeah, do whatever you want. Have some fun. I'm like, 'well, can I eat food while I'm out here? I'll be hungry.' They're like, 'yeah, go ahead.' MJF's kind of just like, 'can I have a glass of wine?' They're like, 'yeah, go ahead.' But the concept from there just kind of kept building, and here's the thing, and I tell this to some young talent, being out there as an audience member is an opportunity in itself."
Spears elaborated more on how young talents can use their role as an audience member as an opportunity to showcase themselves as best as they can. He talks about challenging young talents in trying to take the spotlight from him.
"You might not get that television time in the ring performing or you might not get that promo time backstage in a segment or live mic in the ring. That in it of itself, being an audience member, is an opportunity," Spears noted. "The camera is going to catch you. I said it recently to a few other talents. We were out in the crowd, I think it was couple weeks ago, I said, 'I dare you to steal the camera from me. I dare you. If you can do it, then I'm not doing a good job, but good luck, and I tailgated on the back of a golf cart.
"So it's just finding different ways to stand out, show some personality, without taking away from the actual in-ring product. It's a very slippery slope, and you kind of have to pick your spots, but at the same time, it's an opportunity to showcase any kind of personality, get over any kind of catchphrases you're trying to do or it's just in general have a good time. That's what it's all about."
Spears comments on having some type of audience in the ring. He says it adds to the show and gives it a slight boost to help the in-ring talent.
"It adds to the show, I think, for the performers in the ring," Spears stated. "When it's silent or when that energy of the audience isn't there, you feel the bumps a little more. You feel yourself losing breath a little quicker.
"The energy, the adrenaline isn't pumping as much as it normally is in front of a live audience, so I think to have your peers out there and people that understand the industry and people that overall want to have a good time are kind of helping the match or helping the segment, whatever is actually taking place at the moment. It is a massive boost to us as in-ring talent. So I'm just trying to help in any way I can, at the same time, taking advantage of a good opportunity."
Tony Khan has opened up about AEW's packed shooting day in Atlanta where they shot weeks worth of content so they would have something on TV if things were locked down due to the coronavirus. Spears talks about the conversation he had with Tony Khan about being on commentary for those tapings and the nerves he was feeling about doing commentary.
"That was a very packed day. Funny thing is, Tony I don't know if you're aware of this, you might be actually, I was supposed to do commentary with you," Spears revealed. "I was told the night before because we did live TV, and I was called after that. Tony Khan's like, 'hey, I think you're going to be on commentary tomorrow with Tony Schiavone. It's going to go for about a month,' and I was like, I haven't been nervous like a ton in a very long time.
"I get nervous before every match, but I wasn't like, oh my God, like I was in that case because number one, I'm out there with arguably one of the greatest call men in the business today, but now I got to step up and hold my own. So it was it was a big challenge that I got really excited about, but I was also very nervous about. Luckily and thankfully, it worked out for the best because you have one of the greatest of all time Jericho coming in, and it just added a whole different dynamic to the show.
"Obviously, Jericho did a fantastic job of building up each talent and making matches feel bigger or feel as big as they were so that was wonderful, but I was really looking forward to that. Hopefully will get to do it again soon at some point. You're gonna have to try steal it though baby. When I get going, I get going."
Schiavone gave his perspective on the situation saying that he went into the tapings thinking he would be doing commentary with Spears and Jericho would only be doing things with The Inner Circle. He learned on the day of that Jericho would be with him throughout the entire tapings.
"Listen, I don't want to steal it from you because I want you to be Shawn Spears on the microphone. I wanted Chris Jericho to be Chris Jericho, so don't worry about me trying to steal it from you," Schiavone replied. "I think there will be a chance. Shawn, I knew that when I arrived that day, it was gonna be me and you.
"Then I was told Jericho was here. I thought Jericho was just going to sit down and do like a couple of matches that related to The Inner Circle, and I didn't know till Jericho sat down beside of me that it was going to be Jericho the entire day. So that's how wrestling is. You never know sometimes until the last minute."
Spears talked about his past commentary experience, and he talked about the new-found appreciation he has for the job. He also gave credit to Jericho and Schiavone for the job that they did.
"I remember I did it once for AEW Dark. I did commentary with Excalibur," Spears recalled. "It is an extremely, extremely difficult job. It gave me a whole new appreciation to how on point you need to be and how careful you need to because I was a almost like a color aspect of it. I was a heel. I was a bad guy on commentary, but I have to walk that fine line when I'm talking about babyfaces.
"There's so many in's and out's that you need to be aware of it all times. It's a very difficult job. So kudos to you and Chris, Tony, because you guys did a wonderful job. Obviously, it was all over social media. You guys killed it."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.