Michael Tarver, best known for his stint as a member of the original Nexus, stopped by VOC Nation’s Talkin Sass podcast to talk his WWE career. Tarver recounted getting signed following driving to New York for a tryout.
“I had only worked for about four years on the indies before I got my contract,” Tarver said. “Drew Taylor and I got in a car from Youngstown (Ohio) and drove up to Rochester, NY for a tryout at a Smackdown taping. When I get there Brodie Lee was there – so much talent – Mike Tolar was there…a bunch of people were there.
“What happened was, I just walked in. I wasn’t booked! I told this story a number of times, I don’t know if it (ever) got back to WWE. I literally just walked in.
“We go to extra talent, change, go to the ring, go to catering, and I’m literally standing there and Jamie Noble (points at me) and we get in the ring and have this match. I’m so nervous; Edge and Mark Henry and all of these Superstars that I’ve only seen on TV are taunting me and making fun of me.”
According to Tarver, WWE was already aware of his work.
“WWE does their homework, they watch everything. Johnny Ace was telling me about matches that I had before I got there; I was like ‘how did you know that?’
“So he said ‘I’m going to send you down to OVW.’ I leave the office and I go down to find Drew, we find a little corner and sit down, I said ‘Drew they’re sending me down to OVW.’ We literally sat there and cried.”
From there it was on to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), WWE’s developmental program at the time. Tarver recounted getting booked for his first match right out of the guy.
“I drive to OVW, I’m nervous,” Tarver recalled. “Bruce Prichard was there. I just volunteered to jump into a drill. It was a psychology drill; it wasn’t (just doing) a bunch of spots, you had to connect the five moves together. That night we had a house show and they put me on a match with Ace Steel.”
Shortly after signing Tarver was brought in as one of the members of Floyd Mayweather’s entourage for Mayweather’s WrestleMania 24 match against Big Show. Tarver believes he was used in the spot because WWE wanted trained wrestlers in the spot to keep things running smoothly.
“The perfect way to do it was to take a couple of guys from developmental that no one has ever seen before, dress them as Floyd’s entourage,” Tarver said. “That way they’re in and smart to the work and everything is safe. I got so much heat.
“I flew down March 25 which was a Tuesday, and by that Sunday I was in the main event of Wrestlemania. I got so much heat, it was crazy. They took the four guys that were part of the entourage and they booked us in special hotels.
“We’re riding around in limousines; they wanted to keep the work alive – complete kayfabe. We’re (shoot) riding around with Floyd Mayweather for four days.”
When Tarver was called up with the Nexus two years later, he was, in his opinion, buried before he could get started. According to Tarver that’s just how the WWE system is.
“The irony of how WWE works, you could be the man or the woman in developmental, and (when you) get to the main roster, it doesn’t matter how good you are,” Tarver said. “If one of the main people there don’t like you they will do everything they can do to bury you. I got to the main roster and just got buried.”
Who was the one most responsible for bullying Tarver? According to him, it was WWE’s top star at the time and the Nexus’ biggest rival.
“It was Cena,” Tarver said. “I don’t have any heat with him now, I make jokes about it. But there was a target on my back. I don’t know why he targeted me, but it is what it is.
“We ended up on good terms (but) I had to defend myself a lot. Everyone was high on me, and then all the sudden they all turned on me. People wouldn’t shake my hand – they wouldn’t even speak to me.”
Ultimately Tarver would disappear from WWE after suffering a groin injury and would be released in June of 2011. While his experiences with Cena were bad, Tarver revealed he did have some allies in the back.
“I thank God for people like Mark Henry and Teddy Long,” Tarver said. “Mark Henry would pull me aside a lot (and tell me to) weather the storm. ‘You got heat right now, just weather the storm.’ MVP would give me really good advice, Matt Hardy was always really cool. They’d say ‘you’re only getting this kind of heat because there’s something really there.'”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit VOC Nation’s Talkin Sass and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription