TNA broadcast team member Taz on C.M. Punk, The Great Muta, why he feels TNA can bounce back and is not going out of business
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On if TNA is on the upward swing in 2014 after a disappointing 2013: "I think I can speak on behalf of most of the guys in the company, the roster, the creative team, production--I mean, I’m sure they all-- it’s nice hearing someone say that probably. Look, you guys know TNA has been the whipping boy in the industry online for a couple of years now. I mean god, I’ve been here now five years and I’ve heard from where I came in, 'you’re going out of business, the place is going out of business, yadda yadda.' Ok yeah. Enough with that. They’re not going out of business. As long as you have a TV contract, you’re not going out of business. As long as you have a niche audience that you have with over a million people 52 weeks a year with original programming on world wide TV; you’re not going out of business.
"That’s for all you smart marks because you think you know everything and you really don’t. So that’s number one. Number two; I agree there was some--it was a rougher year maybe? You’re right, I kind of agree with you. Look, you have down times, you have up times. I mean that’s--same with WWE. Same, I’m sure with ROH.I remember when I was with ECW, it was the same with us. Everybody thinks that everything we did in ECW was the cat’s meow. And everything Paul (Heyman) touched was gold. No it wasn’t. Paul would be the first one to tell you not everything worked. For all of us. The wrestlers back then and the current wrestlers now.
"Listen, fans need to realize that our industry is the most unique because there is no down time. There is no off season. So you hear wrestlers or promoters or whomever in interviews say that a lot what I just said. There’s no off season like the NFL or the NBA or Major League Baseball, NHL. True, right? But put it in perspective and really think about that. There’s no off season. Therefore, these creative teams in TNA or WWE or wherever that get bashed and ripped by hardcore wrestling fans. Which are the fans that--believe me when I tell you behind the scenes we all truly love cause we know no matter what, through thick and thin, they’ll always be there. The thing is man it’s not an easy task to write 52 weeks of TV and stay fresh. With the most--an audience that is so fickle and that expects so much more and to top yourself every week. That’s an extremely, extremely ambitious thing to do.
"I’m telling you, I’ve been in creative meetings with the WWE. I’ve been in meetings with TNA and I’m not on the creative team but I’ve been part of giving input at times.--Guys, there’s so much more involved with it then you’ll ever, ever, ever, ever know. And how difficult it truly is. So to understand, I don’t want to speak for WWE but I think the industry as a whole that’s doing TV every week could understand that it’s a deal where--you gotta try to keep it fresh, keep it hot, keep doing stuff that keeps people talking. Keep your talent over. Get the guys and gals over that you’re trying to get over and hopefully they click and connect with the audience.
"You gotta do that every week! So you know there are times where TNA--yeah. We might have some shows that are horrible but then there might be some shows that are great. I can tell you those shows that were horrible; the intentions were for those shows to be great. Okay, so it’s like a baseball player. He gets to the box. He gets up to the plate. His intention is to make contact and get on base. His intention isn’t to hit a foul ball or foul out or strike out or hit a pop up. He wants to get on base. Okay. Same with us. We want every show to be a homerun. Every show. That’s the goal. That don’t always work. Look, I just wanted people to understand that that’s kind of the ebb and flow, the ups and downs of the industry.
His thoughts CM Punk situation: Ahh, great question. Great conversation. Love to talk about it. So. I’m old school, okay? I’m gonna kind of talk out of both sides of my mouth for a second and then I’ll sum it up. I’m old school in a sense that I feel that you’ve gotta complete your obligations. Okay? But I do understand the grind. And I know Punk personally. I haven’t talked to him in a couple of years but I consider him a friend.-We fell out of touch with each other. I respect his work. We’ve always had a good friendship in our time in WWE together. I was already retired from the ring but Punk was always a legit, cool dude. I’m a big fan of his in-ring style and a huge fan of his personality and his whole gimmick. Love it. Okay so I don’t have no problem with CM Punk; I’m a fan. But I understand that you have an obligation.
"You have to go through with your obligation and suck it up. And do your job. But this is about emotion. And Punk knows that more than most guys because he’s been extremely successful. And his promos are off his emotion. And when you start to lose some of that emotion, for whatever reason, it’s tough to perform. We are performers. We’re a hybrid. We’re an athlete, we’re a stuntman, we’re an actor. We’re a little bit of everything. So there’s a lot of things that go on. And when your emotions start to leave for whatever that reason is and it’s usually cause of business being done bad by you; it’s tough to suck it up and grind out. I would tell ya, obviously I’m not in the WWE.
"I was not in the locker room. I do not know what happened. I don’t know the details of why he left. But I could tell you, knowing CM Punk like I know him, like I used to know him. And knowing our industry and knowing Punk as a guy who respects our industry and respects the code of the wrestler. I’m sure this wasn’t a spur of the moment, impromptu thing where he just popped and left. This had to be a build up for him internally, in his body and in his mind and his soul, that he had enough of whatever is going on there and he had to bolt. So I can’t sit here and knock the man.
"Because there has been times for me in certain companies in this industry, that I love so much, that I’ve felt like I can’t take it no more and I‘ve had people kind of talk me off the ledge. I’m just saying that as an analogy. But I think that a guy like Punk kind of hit his boiling point for whatever was going on there and--look, my point is I don’t think he just said that’s it, I don’t like where you’re going creatively, I’m done, I quit. I don’t think that’s what happened. I think just knowing the business and being behind the scenes for a lot of years; it’s usually a build up. And quite frankly, what did he have left? Five and a half months? I can relate to that. In our business when you have five and a half months, that’s not really--I gotta be honest. That’s not a ton of time. So he had to be--again I don’t want to get into the guy’s psyche--but he had to be at a point where he was just not happy, that he couldn’t suck it up for another five and a half months. None of us know the details of his contract. We don’t know these ins and outs of his deal. It’s nobody’s business. So who knows? Who knows? Who knows what it was? Maybe it could have been something on their end; that they didn’t do on their end towards him.
"You don’t know. No one knows the details. It’s no ones business. Every contract too; let’s just talk about that real quick. 95 percent of the wrestlers, no matter what company it is, everyone’s kind of got different deals. Especially when you earn some respect and you’ve got some legitimacy and you’re credible. And you’ve been a world champ. Everybody has different little nooks and crannies in their contract. That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. This is not some standard hojo contract. So everyone’s got different type deals. So that’s something too. You don’t know what was in his deal. But look, he’s an emotional guy; that’s why he’s a successful guy. And I guess it just got to a point where maybe emotionally he was tapped out or mentally tapped out. You just can’t perform when you’re like that. And again I don’t want to speak for the man; I’m just trying to give you my perspective."
On if there was any point when he was with ECW that he almost walked out: "Yeah. Absolutely. Many times. Many times. Like I said earlier man; it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. It was great, don’t get me wrong. I wish I could redo that time, it was the greatest time of my life. It was awesome. I’m forever grateful to Paul Heyman and ECW. And guys like Sabu and Raven and The Sandman and Tommy Dreamer and Shane Douglas and RVD and guys that we all just drove that machine. And we all got each other over, no matter if we were friends or not. We all made each other stars. I’m forever grateful for that. But yeah, there were ups and downs. There were times where me and Paul were banging heads. And I didn’t agree where he was going maybe with me creatively. But quite frankly, the times that I was most angry with Paul were things that he was doing with the company or creatively with someone else that I was most angry about.
"I just differed with him on. And it wasn’t a thing where, 'well Paul I think you’re pushing this guy to hard and you shouldn’t be.' No sir. That was not my deal. I’d never get in the way of anyone’s push. But it was more of a deal where I was like, 'Man I think you should go in this direction. Maybe market the company this way. Or you know what? Let’s give this guy the push.' And we would just differ on it. I’m not saying I was right. But that was many years ago. So yeah there were times where I was disappointed in what he was doing with me creatively and what he was doing with the company. But dude, that’s any job. Any job. I don’t care where you work. People need to realize this is a job. We have jobs. We have a job to do. You know I say it all the time.
"You work at Burger King. Your manager tells you, 'Alright. Make a whopper.' No, you know what? Mr. Manager, I feel like making fish filets. 'No, no, no. You’re making whoppers.' No, no I’m gonna make fish filets. 'Alright, you know what? You’re fired.' (Laughter) That’s the deal. I’ve been saying that for years. That’s the best analogy that people can relate to. That’s what this is. It’s a fricking job. You gotta do what you’re told. You have some input. The more credibility you have at times and user put in and championships you’ve held. Yeah, you got some input; you got some leverage. You can talk up and give some input. You’re not a machine. I don’t want to exaggerate here. But at the end of the day, you gotta job to do. Same for me in TNA. There’s things I don’t agree with. I’ll give my opinion. We’ll discuss it. Majority rules. Alright, we don’t agree with you. Ok cool. Go that way. I supported that. I’m going to support that. That’s what you do on a team. A quarterback--if the receiver don’t agree with the play the quarterback and the head coach and the offensive coordinator call; the receiver is still going to bust his ass doing that play correctly, right or wrong?"
On what direction would he go if he had complete control of TNA: "I would bring MVP in to be the investor. (Laughs) If I was in complete control of TNA, I would do anything--if WWE right now was going left; I would go right. And if they started going right; I would go left. So that’s what I would do. I would try to be the complete opposite of WWE. That’s just my opinion. I don’t have millions invested. I don’t make tons and tons of money as an upper management guy. I don’t go in focus groups. I’m not part of that whole research team. I--this is just some blue-collared guy from Brooklyn that wrestled for a living that talks about wrestlers now giving you my opinion. Doesn’t mean I’m right. I’m probably wrong.
"But that’s just what I would do as a wrestling fan and a former wrestler; is try to be--look I think our show last night, it looked awesome. I mean hi-def, beautiful bright lights, awesome lighting grid, the whole nine yards. Thousands upon thousands of people. You know all of this stuff, it looks great on TV. The way its shot. Awesome camera work. All these camera shots. Tons of money going into the production. Me? I’m old school. Give us a couple of cameras, a spotlight over the ring, dark out the arena, let’s get after it. That’s my idea, you know? But that doesn’t draw millions. Or NWA would still be in business. And ECW. So what do I know? But that’s what I would do."
On The Great Muta coming to Lockdown; how much has changed in a year: "I think that’s awesome. I mean, geez. Who doesn’t have mad respect for The Great Muta? Great Muta is just the bomb. I mean just a legend. Iconic figure in our industry worldwide. I mean no doubt about it. So I think that’s awesome. Very excited. I have not seen Muta in years. Looking forward to seeing him again. Last time I saw him it was in Tokyo, many years ago when I was wrestling there. But I’m looking forward to seeing him. And yeah a lot has changed from Aces and Eights being gone. I thought the Aces and Eights deal was a very cool concept. Some people loved it; some people hated it. I liked it a lot. Even if I wasn’t a part of the gimmick, which I was, I still would’ve liked it. I really liked it a lot.
"That was during a time where we had different heads of states in there running stuff. I thought it went a little long for my liking. A little long but I thought it was really cool. I thought it helped create some bars. I thought it was a cool gimmick. It think it really helped Bully Ray immensely. And now Bully Ray is at a point where he helps things. He don’t need things helping him anymore. And that’s kind of what our business is about; is you want to put a title on a guy to help make the guy. And once that guy’s made, let’s get it on someone to help him. And now once that guy is made, he can help someone else. It’s kind of like hot tag. You just tag in and out. And that’s kind of what happened with Aces and Eights with Bully Ray I felt.
"You know that really helped him, pole-vault him, really give him a platform to show the world who he is as a character. And he kicked ass on it. He did an awesome job on it. I think that you gotta tip your cap to guys like Eric Bischoff who were heavily behind the Aces and Eights concept. I thought he did a great job with it. And the rest of the creative team with Matt Conway and Dave Lagana. I thought they did a great job with that. There were a lot of guys in that thing at one point. It got a little crazy. But then it simmered down and all that stuff. And that was for a reason. Now Aces and Eights are a thing of the past. And that’s cool. We just move on. We keep evolving. So the whole investor angle, I’m not sure where it’s going. It’s really cool.
"You saw with Dixie Carter last night, she was kind of-- her character was freaking out a little bit backstage. Nervous, oh my god the investor’s here now. Boom. Now we’re going to see the fallout, right? We’re gonna watch Impact this week to see what MVP’s gonna say. What he’s gonna do? How do The Wolves play a part of this? Who else is involved with this if anyone? What’s Dixie Carter’s reaction? Sorry, I’m giving you the whole announcers deal right here. Breaking it down for you. But those are the questions I think true fans would ask."
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