Jericho is joined on today’s show by former ECW & WWE Superstar, Taz.
Jericho opens the show by asking Taz how he’s managed to develop the “Taz Show” into a audio giant, recently passing 500 episodes. Taz points out that much like Jericho, he’s driven and motivated to make anything he does successful. He admits that he misses wrestling from time to time but he knows that he’s “too banged up” to wrestle again. He also admits that he misses the colour commentating aspect of the business on occasion.
Taz points out that doing his show requires him to watch RAW, Smackdown and NXT every week. Jericho informs that he finds it very difficult to watch the shows, but he admits that this might be because he’s still involved in it. Taz agrees, pointing out that he found it very difficult to watch the shows when he was wrestling or commentating as well. Now, his job forces him to watch the product.
Jericho points out that Taz was a fantastic colour commentator, and he asks Taz what makes a great colour commentator. Taz says the first rule of being a colour commentator is checking your ego at the door. He recalls putting over Kurt Angle’s suplex on Smackdown one week and Vince McMahon thought it was great because this gave Angle’s suplex a lot of credibility, given how well known Taz was for his suplexes.
In addition, Taz thinks it’s essential that colour commentators have history working in the business. He feels that in-ring experience allows colour commentators to talk about each situation in the ring with credibility, much like how ex-football players make great colour commentators for football games.
Jericho asks Taz how he started working as a colour commentator in WWE. Taz recalls working an angle with Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross in the early 2000s. He was thrown on commentary with Michael Cole one night and Lawler was supposed to come out and attack Taz after he called one match. After that match ended, nothing happened. Taz and Cole didn’t know what to do so they just called the next few matches.
Finally Lawler came out and attacked him, and he eventually made his way backstage. McMahon met him backstage and said, “You’re very good at this”. He wasn’t sure what McMahon was even talking about because he didn’t realize he was auditioning to be a commentator, but compliments from McMahon are few and far between, so he thanked McMahon and walked away. A few weeks later he received a call from Kevin Dunn, asking Taz to fill Jerry Lawler’s role on an overseas PPV. He was very nervous but challenged himself to make it work, and that’s what he did.
He admits that McMahon would over-produce the commentators from time to time, but he learned a trick from another commentator that helped him. Sometimes when McMahon would scream something in his ear he’d purposely ignore it. McMahon would get angrier and angrier but Taz would continue to ignore him. Once they’d go to commercial Kevin Dunn would ask him why he didn’t say what McMahon asked and Taz would say that there must be audio issues because he didn’t hear McMahon in his ear at all.
Jericho asks Taz about his debut in WWE. Taz points out that he was booked like a killer in ECW and when he transitioned to WWE he assumed he’d be presented in the same fashion. Shortly after arriving in WWE, McMahon talked to Taz about his suplexes, pointing out that it looked as if Taz was injuring people with those moves. Taz pointed out that this was his job, so he didn’t see what the issue was.
McMahon wanted to repackage Taz and have him work from underneath as a babyface, but Taz admits that he couldn’t sell to save his life, so this made it difficult for him to work as a sympathetic babyface.
Taz informs that debuting at Royal Rumble 2000 in Madison Square Garden was the greatest moment of his wrestling career. However, at the same time it was a very bittersweet moment for him as he walked to the ring to a thunderous ovation. He knew in that moment that his ovation wasn’t generated by WWE, and somehow he knew that this was going to create problems for him.
He admits that he cried like a baby prior to leaving ECW. It was very difficult for him to make that transition, and his relationship with Paul Heyman deteriorated during this time. Taz and Heyman had a verbal agreement on a new deal, even though he was suspicious as to whether Heyman would ever be able to pay him the terms he agreed to. Having to call Heyman to tell him that he signed with WWE was one of the hardest things he’s ever done. Luckily, their relationship has mended over the years and he speaks with Heyman from time to time.
Taz talks about the origins of his character in ECW. He points out that Heyman was the master of hiding a talent’s weaknesses enhancing their strengths, and Heyman certainly did that with him. He points out that he was only brought into ECW originally to get Sabu over but after that he asked Heyman for more dates. Before he knew it he was an ECW regular.
He liked the idea of having a different colour scheme for his gear, drawing inspiration from Bret Hart’s pink and black. He understood branding very early on, and the orange and black quickly became his brand. From there he added the towel which he’d wear over his head, and Heyman told him to always wear a black towel because it was menacing. He admits that he’d never wash that towel because he wanted it to stink; that way fans would smell it on his way to the ring and would be even more intimidated by him.
Taz talks about his experience working with Bam Bam Bigelow. He points out that Bigelow was an incredibly tough guy. They’d often work very physical with each other, and he admits that Bigelow wasn’t a guy you’d want to exchange punches with. He informs that it was Heyman’s idea to have him and Bigelow go through the ring during their iconic match. He says Bigelow was a great guy, an underrated worker, and he loved him.
Jericho informs that his first match in ECW was against Taz, and he took Taz off of his feet with a German Suplex. This made Jericho a major player in ECW with one move. Taz had no issue with allowing Jericho to take him off of his feet, he just wanted assurance from Heyman before hand that they were going to book Jericho strongly after this match.
Jericho asks Taz to name his favourite match of all time. Taz says he really enjoyed all of his matches with Sabu. He thought they had great chemistry together and they’d really go after each other, in the ring and behind the scenes. He admits that there’d be no Taz without Sabu, and he really loves him.
That sums up today’s episode of Talk is Jericho. You can listen to the show yourself anytime here, and I’ll catch ya next week for another recap!