also known as a BUSTER
Lords of Pain recently published an extensive, candid interview with WWE's latest signee, ROH World Champion Tyler Black. In it he discusses, in-depth, his reasoning behind signing with WWE, the process that goes into being signed, and his thoughts on the modern wrestling world in general.
It a 4,000-word beast but its nothing a bit of selective CTRL + F-ing can't handle.
It a 4,000-word beast but its nothing a bit of selective CTRL + F-ing can't handle.
Hustle of lordsofpain.net said:A little while back, I mentioned that my Tyler Black column was merely an appetizer, promising a main course to come. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I hope you’re hungry, because it’s time to eat. In this very special edition of Believe The HIPE, I present an interview with the current Ring Of Honor World Heavyweight Champion (and one of the biggest topics of conversation in the IWC, at the moment), Tyler Black. This is actually going to be a combination of things. I had an interview with him in 2008, and because a lot of you didn’t get to see it, I’ve included it here. Combine that with the new interview, and some questions I’ve asked him on Formspring, as well, and you have a pretty in-depth look at the man and his career. Some of these questions are from various readers, but I’d say most of them are all mine. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
The obligatory introduction.. thank you for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it. With that out of the way, how are you doing?
- Lean and mean, my man.
Good to hear. First and foremost, when did you realize that becoming a professional wrestler was more than just a pipe dream and it was what you really wanted to do?
- Probably when I was 16 or so. That’s the age when I started hitting the gym. I decided then that I couldn’t do the whole 9-5 thing, and that if I didn’t at least give wrestling a real shot, I’d end up regretting it in the long run.
What was your training like as you got into the business? Who trained you, and where were you trained at?
- I was trained by Danny Daniels in late 2004. Originally, a buddy and I moved out to Pennsylvania and tried out for ROH’s second class. We both made it in, but were then informed of the financial demands and had to move back to Iowa due to lack of funds. I then read an article on ChicagoProWrestling. com about how Danny was going to start training guys. I went to an IWA-MS show and told him my deal. He told me to round up a group of guys to travel from Iowa to Chicago to train with him twice a week. So I did. We did that for about 4 months straight. Training in odd places where wrestling rings seem to find themselves.
Who were your wrestling “heroes” before coming into the business?
- Hogan and Michaels were the main guys I looked up to.
People have referred to you as the “future of wrestling”, with myself being included amongst those people. What do you think about praise like that?
- It’s very flattering, man. Although, that is quite the billing to live up to. Hopefully, one day you’ll be able to tell people you told them so.
Obviously, when people get into the wrestling business, they want to be as successful as they possibly can. Other than the “easy” answers (be a world champion, etc), do you have any other dreams or goals that you hope to have accomplished when all is said and done?
- I have two specific goals left to accomplish. First, I want to travel and see the world more. I have been fortunate enough to wrestle in 4 countries, and I love experiencing new cultures, so I hope to do that more often. And secondly, I want to main event Wrestlemania. No joke.
What’s the worst injury that you’ve had to deal with since you’ve started wrestling?
- I broke my jaw very early in my career. That was the shits. Other than that, I have bad shoulders. I have separated them on 3 different occasions. And I have some chronic neck stinkypoop going on, but who in this business doesn’t?
If you could describe your wrestling style in 5 words or less, what would those words be?
- I am a pro wrestler.
I like that. When you’re not wrestling, what are some things that you enjoy filling your life and free time with?
- I work part time at a Noodles and Company (Writer’s Note: He doesn’t work there anymore.). So that takes up my time. I work out daily. I listen to music. I love video games; specifically Rock Band and Guitar Hero and Madden. During the warm months I like golfing a lot.
What advice do you have for those who are trying to get into the wrestling business, or who are thinking about doing so?
- stinkypoop or get off the pot. I hate guys who half-ass it. It makes our business look bad and unprofessional. So, get your stinkypoop together and work as hard as you can.
Or, in other words.. hustle. Good call. Whether its because of the fans, the scenery, or whatever other reason you might have, what is your favorite city to work in?
- Los Angeles has always been good to me. New York is pretty rad too. The best fans in the world live in Berwyn, Illinois though. They pack that little Eagles Club and they just let it all out. AAW is good fun.
Other than wrestling itself, obviously, what does a normal Tyler Black workout routine consist of?
- I start all my workouts off with some jump rope and stretching. Then I split my week up into body parts and go to work. If I’m in the mood I’ll end the day with cardio and abs. Pretty standard fare.
How many hours a week do you spend working out?
- Including matches, like 10.
Honestly, are you a fan of other wrestling promotions, large or small, that you don’t wrestle for?
- Yeah, man. I still watch WWE as much as I can. I’m not religious about it like I used to be, but they put on some of the best shows in the world. I never really got into the overseas scene, but a good * match is very entertaining. Or the NOAH juniors.
What is, in your opinion, the best match you’ve ever competed in? If its a different match, what is your favorite match that you’ve ever competed in?
- Hmm…tough call cause I usually hate all of them. But if you are forcing me to choose; I think my favorite match I have had thus far was probably my match against Nigel at Take No Prisoners, or the AOTF/Briscoes street fight from Supercard of Honor III.
What would be your favorite match of all-time that didn’t involve you in any way?
- Haha, there are two. One is Samoa Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi in the Manhattan Center. That was unreal to watch, even on DVD. And, as cliché as it is, Shawn and Ric Flair from Mania. Wrestling is about storytelling and evoking emotion. That match excelled on both of those levels.
I’m gonna have to agree with you on both counts. To this point in your career, who has been your favorite person to wrestle against, and why?
- I really like wrestling my friends, so anyone I broke in with I have a good time with. But I know you’re looking for names, so probably Bryan Danielson. I always feel like I get the most out of my encounters with him.
A lot of RoH fans complain that the Age Of The Fall had no clear direction and that they had no idea what you stand for. What DID you stand for, and what wre your goals as the Age Of The Fall?
- The message is very, very simple, but for some reason people continue to skew it. Because we are what you want us to be. And in a nutshell, that’s what we were saying about life. It can be what you want it to be. Life does not have to be 9-5 cube farms, or office jobs, or yearly performance evaluations. You don’t have to feel like time is wasting away. We were saying all along that we wage a war of action. We dream it, and then we see it. Changing the world starts by changing yourself. I was a middle class kid who grew up in Small Town, Iowa. No stop lights and one convenience store. Anyone can do anything. I truly believe that.
Other than what people say on your MySpace page, how much attention do you pay to what the internet fans have to say about you, whether its positive or negative?
- I check message boards and read reviews. I don’t particularly let it influence my actions though. However, it’s good to gather feedback from outside sources. It helps with objectivity, and that, in turn creates clarity. And with clarity I am able to improve more than if I pretended fans didn’t exist.
It’s 5-10 minutes before you’re set to come out for a match.. what are you doing as you wait until its your turn to walk out from behind the curtain?
- Game planning. Ha. I am just getting ready for the match. I usually do the wetting of my hair around 10 minutes before I go out. Then I mentally prepare myself for what’s about to happen.
You’ve attained a pretty nice level of success in wrestling for someone so young. How do you prevent it from getting to your head?
- Maybe it has gotten to my head. Who knows? I don’t know man, I just do what I do. If people are interested in applying labels to my personality, then that’s fine by me. I am pretty secure and I have good people around me, so I feel like I am doing something right.
What was the first wrestling match you ever remember watching, and how old were you?
- Man, I must have been like 4 or 6. I remember The Warlord vs. Davey Boy at some random Royal Rumble back in the early 90s. Maybe it was a Summerslam. All I recall was watching it with my Grandma and eating Tostitos chips.
If you weren’t a pro wrestler, what would you be doing with your life right now?
- Finishing up college, I assume. Probably getting a degree in some sort of journalism.
What do you feel about the stereotype that all pro wrestlers are all drug addicts of some sort who have absolute train wrecks for a personal life?
- Sadly, stereotypes exist for a reason. I think wrestlers get pigeonholed though, and that sucks. Because vanity is an issue in our sport, anyone with half a physique “must be on steroids.” It’s a little silly, but it’s just the nature of our news media. Wrestling is an easy target. We as a whole business just need to move along and do our work. For every bad apple there are 100 good ones. So I’m not too worried about it.
What was it like working for Wrestling Society X?
- Great. They put us up in a posh Sunset Strip hotel for two weeks and we got to wrestle for 5 minutes a day. Ha. I have no complaints about my WSX stint. There were a lot of interesting people to get to know and LA is good to me.
What’s your typical weekly schedule like, as far as traveling to shows and wrestling goes?
- I work out Monday through Thursday for around 2 hours per day. I then spend my evenings at my regular job Monday through Wednesday. I get home around 10 on those work nights and just relax. Thursday is my preparation day. Kind of just getting things in order for the weekend. Whether it be flying or driving I am usually doing a great deal of traveling until at least Sunday, sometimes Monday. It’s hectic and time seems to move pretty fast. Oh well, at least I have my youth.
What Would Tyler Do? (Honestly, I don’t even know how many people out there will “get” that one.)
- He’d sneeze on braised endive.
Ha. How often are you recognized by people when you go out in public? On that note.. and be honest here.. how “approachable” do you think you are when fans recognize you?
- I rarely get recognized unless it’s outside of a show or something. I think maybe twice in my life people in public do the whole “Hey are you..” sort of thing. And I like to think I am pretty approachable. There are sometimes when I can’t sign an autograph or be conversational, but for the most part (unless you are a nuisance) I am always up for interacting with fans. Meeting new people is good stuff.
What’s one thing that even some of your biggest fans and followers would be surprised to learn about you?
- I love the Backstreet Boys. I think people fail to understand the spectrum of my musical vision.
Nothing wrong with that. At all. How do you feel about the ability (or inability, I suppose) to garner actual heel heat on the independent wrestling scene, due to the so-called “smarkdom” of the independent wrestling fans?
- I think it’s not relegated to the independent scene. Once wrestling turned into sports entertainment, and mixed martial arts came on so big people won’t buy into a lot of what is going on. It makes sense because ultimate fighting is a real life version of what wrestling portrays. I think eventually wrestling will gain respect again as an entertainment product once people start understanding that at no point are we trying to tell anyone that what we are doing is real. I wish wrestling were looked at the way we watch movies. Movie fans look for great and captivating stories and pick and choose their favorite actors for a great many reasons. I think a lot of near sighted stinkymouths have put a negative stigma on wrestling. We’ll get ours though. We always do.
How did the Age Of The Fall come about, anyway? Whose idea was it, and when did you come aboard during the planning process?
- AOTF started as Project 161, which was basically the brainchild of Jimmy and Gabe’s (Writer’s Note: That’s fellow AOTF member Jimmy Jacobs and former RoH booker Gabe Sapolsky). I was involved very early in the process, which really started gaining steam after we got the lineup for it set in stone; which would have been last June if I can remember correctly. After the initial angle in Chicago, we just took things to the next level. One thing led to another and we just started targeting all the things we hated about life and about society. It’s really the first time anyone in wrestling has used an angle as a political and social platform. I hope we can keep up and do even more with it in the future.
Viral marketing, building feuds on MySpace, blogging.. Age Of The Fall were ahead of the curve, apparently, and seem to find new ways to make things entertaining and exciting in wrestling. How did the idea for all of that take shape?
- If we weren’t gonna do it, then somebody was. Wrestling has always been a reflection of society and we are living in the information age. I think it was just a natural progression, but I am glad we got to be the first ones to get a hold of the concept. To hell with Chris Jericho. We did it first.
What are your thoughts on Eric Bischoff’s recent comments about RoH, where he called the company a “backyard vanity project for marks” and said the company has never drawn any money?
- He is so out of the loop, it’s ridiculous. Dixie Carter is no different than Cary Silkin (Writer’s Note: Cary Silkin is the owner of RoH) is no different than Vince McMahon. All promoters are all vain in their own right. Bischoff is just a mouth, and he has a right to his opinion…even if it’s a stupid one.
What are your thoughts on the end of the Age Of The Fall storyline? Do you think anything could/should have been done differently?
- Yeah, I wish Gabe could have booked it. It would have been proper then.
Following your stint with AotF, RoH saw you break out and really come into your own, showing that you were more than capable of hanging with, and being one of, the premier names in the company. What do you attribute your rise to the top of the company to most?
- Opportunities given by those who had faith in me…and a lot of hard work.
Describe what was going through your head in the first few moments after you won the RoH World Title.
- It was and is and always will be a very surreal experience for me. No matter what, I will never see myself in the same light as the other guys who have held this title.
What is the main difference between the 2008 Tyler Black and the 2010 Tyler Black, other than being the RoH World Champion?
What is it like working with Jim Cornette?
- Incredibly enlightening. He teaches me something new every day.
How would you compare the booking style of Adam Pearce to the style of Gabe Sapolsky?
- Gabe was more conceptual and Adam is straight forward. Both styles were effective in my opinion.
What was the process of getting the WWE developmental contract like? Did you reach out to them? Did they reach out to you? Was it something that happened quickly, or was it a long and drawn out?
- I reached out to them and it took a couple of weeks to get a hold of them. After that, it was done and done.
What are your opinions on the “you sold out” line of thinking by independent wrestling fans when wrestlers leave for WWE or TNA?
- I often wonder if those people are really THAT stupid that they truly believe in the concept of being a sellout.
How do you compare yourself to names like CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson and people like that who went from RoH to great success in either WWE or TNA?
- I don’t. I leave that up to you.
Of everyone on the current WWE roster, who are you most looking forward to wrestling? Who do you think you match up with the best?
- Undertaker; Mysterio.
Of anyone on the current WWE roster, who do you think you’d form the best tag team with, and why?
- Joey Mercury..because I love him.
What do you think you can bring to the WWE product that isn’t already there?
- Honest youth. Not forced Nexus-style youth, but a true arterial connect to the youth of America.
If you had a choice, would you rather be on Raw or Smackdown?
Do you watch NXT at all? How would you feel about being on a future season of the show?
- It’s ok. I would love a shot on there.
Will you use God’s Last Gift as your WWE finisher if you’re given the chance, or do you think it’s time for something different?
- I would like to carry over what I have been doing. I think people like me for a reason.
What are your opinions of TNA?
- Great talent. Bad product.
Were you ever contacted by TNA to join their company before you signed your WWE deal? If so, what made you choose WWE over them?
- Yes I was in contact with TNA. I chose WWE for a variety of reasons; the main one being the opportunity is much greater there.
What are your opinions on the way former RoH wrestlers are used in TNA as compared to how the former RoH wrestlers are used in WWE?
- TNA doesn’t get anyone over.
Ouch. Are you the Raw General Manager?
- Are you?
What are your thoughts of the Nexus storyline?
- Great way to make new guys.
As one of the greatest tag team wrestlers of the past several years, what are your thoughts on the current state of tag team wrestling in WWE and TNA?
- WWE has no such thing. And TNA’s is really good I think. MCMG and GenMe are the best in the world.
Do you prefer working as a face or as a heel?
How many states have you wrestled in?
- A lot. Like 27 or 28.
Who is the biggest non-wrestling celebrity that you’ve ever wrestled in front of?
- Violent J.
Miracles, bro. Miracles. What is the largest crowd you’ve ever wrestled in front of?
- NYC. Hammerstein Ballroom.
If you could have a match with one wrestler that has passed away, who would it be?
- Owen Hart.
Who do you think is the hottest woman in wrestling history?
- Ms Elizabeth in her prime was good. Maybe Layla. I think girl is sexy as stinkypoop.
Do you have any regrets at this point in your career?
How long do you want to continue wrestling? Do you have a planned age that you would like to retire at?
- Til I can retire safely.
When your career is over, and you look back on everything you’ve done, what do you most want to be known for? What do you want your legacy to be?
- That I was an honest wrestler, and that I treated people well.
What is the strangest thing a fan has ever asked you to autograph?
- Cell phone.
Do you think Jimmy Jacobs will ever come back to ROH?
- I do believe we will see his return sometime in the future. He’s too good not to be there.
How does it feel to be the John Cena of Ring Of Honor?
- Have you ever asked John Cena what it feels like to be the Tyler Black of WWE?
Your opinion of John Cena?
- I think he’s great. His mic work is unparalleled and his work has improved over time. He is a hard working man.
Which protein shakes, bars, etc do you use? Also, do you use any types of powders?
- I use Gaspari’s Myofusion powder. If I eat bars, which is rare, I like Supreme bars. They are yummy and low in sugar.
What question do you get asked more than anything else? *crosses fingers that it isn’t anything listed here*
- “So…. like UFC?”
How much do you think Mike Martz will help the Chicago Bears offense this season?
- A lot if the players can gather his offensive scheme. Cutler will be much better this year I think and if everyone is healthy we could make a run in the playoffs.
The floor is now yours, Tyler. If there’s anything you’d like to say right now.. whether its to me, your fans, your haters, another wrestler, or some random unnamed person.. go for it. Rant for as long or as short as you’d like to.
- Life is cold. So bundle the flog up.
I want to take this time to, once again, send an extremely heartfelt “thank you” to Tyler Black for the interview. He remains one of the more down-to-earth and “real” wrestlers I’ve ever met or spoken to, on any level. I wish him nothing but the absolute best in his future, wherever and whatever that future might be. Oh, and to those that laughed at me after I claimed, in the first interview, that he’d be a future RoH World Champion, I have one thing to say..
Nanny nanny boo boo. Stick your head in doo doo.