Ryan Nemeth of The Wingmen was on today’s episode of the Talk Is Jericho podcast. He and Chris Jericho were discussing the early days of WWE developmental with FCW and later the early days of NXT. Nemeth recalled some of his memories of that time, and he revealed his favorite thing to do.
“It was really cramped,” Nemeth recalled. “There was an ice closet with an ice machine. People would get changed in there. There wasn’t a locker room. So many rings in there and then it turned into NXT midway through when I was there, and everything shifted. I loved being around [Dusty Rhodes]. Him and Dr. Tom [Prichard], you just ask them something and it also was a good way to get out of taking bumps. You would just be like, ‘Hey, what about this?’ And it was just a long story.
“You’re like, cool story and also easy day of practice. I loved everything about his promo days and seeing him sort of oversee the little regional TV show we did there, FCW, was really incredible. For a few weeks, he would say, ‘I want you guys to write up what you think next week’s TV show should be minute by minute.
“Actually, here’s an example of what the format looks like, duplicate this,’ and I thought that was really, don’t know if they do anything that there now, but super helpful because you could see why certain decisions are made and why not every single person could be on every single show, not every match can be so long. You need commercial breaks and whatever.”
Nemeth recalled a rankings system of sorts in FCW. He revealed his standing during that time and what happened as things started to change in WWE developmental.
“They used to have this dry erase board. It was ‘FCW Top 10’, and usually whoever’s champion was number one,” Nemeth said. “It was an ever-changing way of thinking, this is publicly what everyone thinks about you here. I remember being three or four for so long and thinking like, I don’t know if I really deserve that, but this is reassuring. Someone here thinks either I have something to offer, which is nice.
“Of course, if you’re caught looking at it, ‘what, are you a mark?’ I would always ask after every match and every training session, whoever is the producer that day or the coach, ‘What’s the deal? What am I good at? What am I bad at? What should I work more on?’ And there’s a lot of amazing trainers there, so you have a lot to learn, and then suddenly, there’s a change of regime of who was in charge. And then I went from one of the top held in high regard people on every show to now I’m in the training class with the brand new football guys, instantly overnight.”
Nemeth discussed what went wrong during this time. He recalled his talks with the NXT office.
“I don’t really know exactly when Triple H took over. It’s kind of a blur,” Nemeth admitted. “There was a day when he would come in and say, ‘Alright, guys, I’m running this now,’ and then the next day, Johnny Ace (John Laurinaitis) would come in and go, ‘Just so you know, I’m still in charge.’ And we’re like, ‘What is happening here?’ But the head coach Bill [DeMott] took over, and it was almost like oopsie, I don’t like you. And I don’t know what that’s based on.
“People just like certain people and don’t like certain people, but I remember having to come in the office one time, and he said, ‘Why are you getting these reviews?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know. My reviews used to be awesome a week ago, but you’re writing them.’ It was interesting to go after a match and Norman Smiley is your agent, and you say, ‘So what do you think?’ And he would tell you the details. I think, okay, cool and then hear from someone else, ‘Wow, you’re really bad.’ Okay, so which one is the truth? That’s maybe just the nature of anything in entertainment.”
Nemeth also noted that he was in the developmental system for an extended period of time. He spoke on his personal goals that he set for himself and explained what he felt he excelled at.
“I also thought, man, I’m really spinning my wheels here, and I’m still newer than most of the people involved in the wrestling business. And this is kind of a shi**y way to think, but I’m also a grown up,” Nemeth stated. “I’m pitching things all the time to be people’s managers. I think I excelled more at the promos at that point. I wasn’t an amazing, in-ring technician, but I could captivate or get attention.
“So I was pitching that kind of thing, and there’s an idea where I would be the personal scribe of Damian Sandow. We were doing that in promo days a lot. I thought it was gonna be so good. Just a number of different ideas. Anything with my brother (Dolph Ziggler) and once NXT became a thing, no longer a game show, we did a pilot episode, and even on that pilot episode, I was factored in very highly. And then suddenly, the show starts airing, and it’s like, you’re the backstage interviewer now. And I thought, dude, come on.
“This sucks, and maybe looking back on that, it could have been a long, lucrative career, but I didn’t want to do this. I wouldn’t be happy, and then I started thinking, I got to set a deadline. If something doesn’t happen by this date, I should go somewhere else and wrestle somewhere else or something needs to change. It’s a part of your youth where you don’t know what the answer is, but this is not working. Someone here hates me I think. It’s not gonna happen. And that week was approaching and then I got released.”
During the conversation, Nemeth was reminded of a phone conversation he had with someone in the NXT office. He revealed how frank the conversation was about why he was getting released by WWE.
“Well, now that we’re thinking about this, I remember I called one of the new office guys who was under Triple H,” Nemeth recalled. “And I said, ‘Hey, man, I think that someone just doesn’t like me here. I think I’m doing really well. I’m trying hard and all my coaches and trainers think I’m great,’ and he was like, ‘Yes, I can confirm that someone does not like you. I was like, ‘Okay, so we’re kind of out loud acknowledging this,’ and then when he called me to release me, I was like, ‘Do you remember the phone call we had?’ And he goes, ‘Yep.’ I’m like, ‘Is that what’s happening?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah.’ I was like, ‘Okay, great, man. Cool, thanks for the phone call.'”
Later, Nemeth was asked about his favorite match so far. Nemeth discussed one match that holds both a personal meaning to him and a match that helped his development as an in-ring worker.
“Favorite match, it’s been so far, for a long time, we did a tag match in NXT where it was Brad Maddox and my brother vs. me and Trent Beretta,” Nemeth named. “That was just such a fun match. I’d done really small, little things with him before wrestling, but to have an actual main event house show NXT, go as long as you want and to have a giant house because of him, of course. And to be in a hold, I was like, ‘Let’s go to the next thing.’ He’s like, ‘Just hang on, listen to them,’ and he’s calmly talking.
“Oh, this is how you wrestle. So little was planned out and to have him go, ‘Why don’t you get out of this and give me a couple arm drags, I don’t know,’ and I was like, ‘What? Okay, is this how this works?’ And it was just way better than any of the really planned out things we’ve been doing. People were going crazy, and I know it’s partly because they’re here to see their big hero, Dolph, but also, it’s just relax. It’s a good time.
“I had a singles match with Billy Gunn on the indies. He was one of my coaches in NXT, and I just thought there’s something about him that really resonates with me for some reason, where it’s not about the technical, this move into that move. It’s more like people will like something or they hate it, and it’ll be entertaining to them. It’s always jives me with him, that kind of mindset.
“He even said, ‘Do a 450. Who cares? Why? For what? How about we just look at someone’s eyes and go like this?’ I watched it on YouTube recently, 11 minutes go by, we still hadn’t touched each other, and the people are going absolutely nuts. And I kept thinking, dude, this is so fun. This is the best, and of course, there’s sentimental nostalgia about people like Billy Gunn, who they grew up watching. I get that, but also, I felt pretty cool.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.