June 22, 2011
Gary Mehaffy
www.facebook.com/garymehaffy

An interview with Dave Taylor

How are things with you at the moment?

I’m sat outside – it’s 90°C, it’s red hot!

You’re painting such a terrible picture! The great British summer is upon us here - it’s about 9°C and overcast here!

(laughs) Everything’s good. The England tour was very good, I had a good time.

For those don’t know, can you give us a quick recap of how you got involved in the business?

My whole family are wrestlers. My grandfather was a wrestler, my father, my four brothers, were wrestlers. My grandfather went to the Olympic Games, amateur wrestling, twice – 1932 & 1948. My father wrestled for the Olympic Games trials in 1948, but he didn’t make it, so he turned professional. He was 17 at the time and he wrestled until he was 56 or 57. He was British Champion for 17 years – the Lord Mount Evans belt. We’ve still got the belt. He passed away about 10 years ago. All the family were (wrestlers) – my brother Steve, my younger brother Eric & another younger brother called Joe.

Was it assumed that you would become a pro?

Yea…..I started amateur wrestling when I was 15. I won the British Championships at 17 and at 18 I came into this business!

You spent a lot of time in the 80’s & 90’s across the UK and then into Europe. Who were the guys you would have wrestled at the time?

When I first started going to Germany….people won’t even have heard of them! Kojak Mal Kirk was there, Mick McMichael & Jeff Kay were refereeing at the time up there, but they were mostly guys from out there. A Hungarian called Michel Nada, Franz Van Breuden from Belgium, a guy called Jude Harris – he was from Halifax in England – he lived out there. I can’t remember their names now, there were that many! There were a lot of guys out there but they were all European, there weren’t many English guys there. Then after that I worked for a promoter called Salenkowicz, and then after he finished there was Otto Wanz.

From the CWA?

Yea, he started that. Then there was (Dave) Finlay, Tony St. Clair, Danny Collins & myself. There was always a couple of Japanese in every year and like 2 or 3 Americans in, like Bull Power/Vader, John Hawk/JBL, Razor Ramon/Scott Hall, Papa Shango, he came in. There were a lot of guys who came in, but they were learning and that was the best place to learn, in Germany, because you worked every single night. You’d be there 6 or 8 months. When I started going to Germany I’d be there 9 months out of the year - every year for 10 years. It was great! We started off in Germany and then you went down to Austria – Linz, Graz, Vienna – and then back into Germany – Munich, Nuremburg. It was great.

How did the call in the mid 90’s to go WCW come about? Was it a result of your friendship with Regal?

Yea. What happened was I was in Hamburg in Germany, for Rene Lazatez. It was a 6 week tournament in Hamburg and I was finishing for Rene and going to Otto. So it was 6 weeks changing over to doing 7 or 8 months! Rene wasn’t too happy with that, but I said “Look, I’ll get somebody to take my place, no problem.” So I got in touch with (Steve/William) Regal and said “Do you fancy going to Germany?” He said yea, ‘cause that’s the place to start, you know what I mean? I got Regal in there in Germany and Rene liked him. He came and worked with Otto Wanz, and he was there working with us, and then he came to WCW. He’d been there about a year or 18 months and he rang me up……..it was to go Germany! You remember Cactus Jack getting his ear ripped off?

Yes.

It was on that tour. They called me – would I be able to go out there (to Germany) immediately. It was a Sunday morning & they needed me there for Sunday night. So I went “Yea, I’ll try” and I tried to get a flight. I could not get a flight at all to get out there, so I couldn’t do it. They actually used Alex Wright.

Oh yes, “Das Wunderkind”!

Yea, that’s how Alex Wright got started…..I think (Ric) Flair was in charge at the time – he was the booker – and they came back over here (the USA). Within 3 months Alex Wright was over here and then Regal called me and said “Look, they’re interested in you, do you want to come over?” – I think it was ’96. They were doing the World War 3 pay-per-view, with a 60 man battle royal. I came for a week, did that, went back home & then (Eric) Bischoff called me and said “Do you want a contract? You can come back!” So I went back about a month after and I’ve been here ever since!

You described in our previous interview (December 2010) when we talked about how WCW was going down the tubes in 2000/2001 it was as a result of “…the inmates running the asylum.” Do you have any regrets about your time there?

No I loved it. It’s just that they started paying too much money out for guys. It’s ok if they’re producing – you know, if you’re earning $1,000,000 a year then you’ve got to produce something, haven’t you? But these guys weren’t. They were when they first came in, but then all of a sudden they’re working once or twice in 3 months and they’re getting, like, $32,000 a week and stuff like this, and it was guaranteed money. There was no incentive to work. Even myself – I once sat in my apartment for 3 months doing nothing – and I’m still getting paid – and I told them, I called them every week and said “Look, I’m sitting here every week doing nothing, I want to do something.” “Don’t worry it, you’re still getting paid!” But that wasn’t the point! The point is you want to keep the business going, don’t you? That’s what I thought it was – there were too many guys getting too much money. It didn’t have to be a profitable company, WCW, because (Ted) Turner owned it, they were his TV stations, so it was just a big circle, you know what I mean?

Yea.

As long as it’s always ticking over it was ok, but then I think when all that money was being paid out for Scott Hall, Nash, Hogan that’s when it started to go down.

If we can fast forward to late 2007. You were aligned with, or were responsible on television, for bringing Drew McIntyre onto the main roster in WWE. How talented do you think he is with what you have seen of him?

Well at the time, they said to me “You’ve got a dark match tonight, your partner’s Drew McIntyre.” I said ok, but I’d never seen Drew, I didn’t know about him. They said to me “How does he work?” and I said “I don’t know. I mean, how would I know? I haven’t been in England for, like, 12 or 15 years!” They sad “You don’t know him?” and I said no, and that was the first time I met him right there and then! They stuck us together in a tag and they liked it, and then they had me being his mentor. I didn’t think he was quite ready, which proved to be right. After they got rid of me they sent Drew down to Tampa. He’s a great lad, he’s a good worker, he’s a good talker – he’s got the whole thing, you know what I mean?

I had seen him, possibly a year before he was signed. I had gone to an independent show here in Belfast – Sheamus was on it as well. You could see that both were trying to get noticed, but I didn’t think at the time they were quite ready to make that step.

The thing is, it wouldn’t matter how good you are, you wouldn’t be ready for this (WWE) when you get here because it’s a totally different ball game. I was training guys in Deep South, the WWE training camp in Atlanta, and when they got called up I’d say “Right, what you’ve got to do now is forget what we’ve taught you! You’ve got to start learning again, because you have to do what they want.” They (the wrestlers) were doing what we wanted at the training camp but you can’t go to Vince and do what we want, you’ve got to do what they (WWE) want. It’s all new learning again. It’s difficult, especially when there’s, like, 60 guys down in Tampa all training and it’s hard to stand out. One of the young guys said to me “The business is good, but it’s not as good as it used to be. I think it’s because when my dad took me to the wrestling show and I looked at wrestlers, they all looked like men! Cauliflower ears, big guys – men!” Now? They look like male models. They’ve all got tremendous bodies, but they belong in a catalogue selling suits or underwear! Twenty years ago they had Rick Rude – he was a big, good looking guy with a fantastic body, but that was one guy!

He was the exception.

Yea. Now, they’re all like that! Everybody’s the same, they’re all like carbon copies of each other. Nobody really stands out. They don’t look like fighters anymore, which they used to do 20 years ago.

Since we last spoke in late 2010 you were on the ROH card in April facing Colt Cabana. How did that come about?

I don’t know, they just called me! I think it might have been something to do with Colt Cabana, he’s a great fan of English wrestling & European wrestling. He was doing some sort of gimmick that nobody could beat him, he’s a technical wrestler…..that’s how I stood up and I went down to him. It wasn’t long, we did about 7 minutes, but I got a standing ovation at the end of the show.

I know that he (Colt) saw it as a great privilege, because as you said he is a big fan of the British style of wrestling.

It’s good when you go in there and get a big pop, but the Ring Of Honor fans, they’re different types of fans. They’re different than WWE, they’re different than anywhere. They all think they’re smart marks, but they’re not. The guys are killing themselves there, smashing each other to bits, and I walked in and I just did a little wrestling match with Colt Cabana and got as much heat as anybody there. Then at the end I got a standing ovation saying thanks for coming, everybody in the arena chanting “Thanks for coming!” and I lost to him, you know what I mean? They weren’t interested in who was winning or losing, it was strange.

Do you think that ROH ultimately sees itself as a feeder for the so called “big two” or do they think they can turn into a viable alternative for the guys in the business?

I don’t know……I was speaking to Nigel McGuiness yesterday (June 19th). What did they (TNA) call him?

Desmonde Wolfe.

Nigel killed himself working for them (ROH) and I told him years ago, I said “Look Nigel, you’ve gotta stop this. You’re going to kill yourself and you’ll have no longevity.” Well, he’s finished. He’s 33 years old. He’s finished. They’ve just let him go from TNA and he’s finished. WWE won’t use him because he couldn’t pass their medical. The guys there (ROH) are good guys, but they’re letting the audience tell them what to do. I’m good friends with Claudio (Castagnoli) and Chris Hero because they came to a wrestling school I used to have, and they asked me what I though of their match. I said “Great, but too much. Too much, and you’re letting the people tell you what to do. They wanna see you go over and land on the concrete on your head and you’re gonna do it.”

I saw that Claudio & Chris had tryouts last week at WWE.

Yea they did, yea. They did very well. I think they’ll be there shortly. They’ll take them, keep them together for 3 months and then split them up. That’s what they do!

As with a few of the guys I’ve been talking to, do you have much residual pain from your years in the business?

After this time in England, I’ve never felt as much pain in all my life! (laughs) I’ve always said it – we’re working, and then you get in a car and drive for 4 hours then when you get there you can’t get out of the thing! Over here (the USA) you work, you go to your hotel, you get a good night’s sleep, you travel the next day. In England, it’s straight in the car, through the night, travel back – I had difficulty walking by the end of 2 weeks! I think it was the training seminars which do it more, ‘cause I get too involved! I’m in that ring, I’m bumping – up and down, up and down – for 3 ½ hours, whereas in a match you’re doing 10, 15, 20 minutes. In a training seminar, you’ve got 20 guys, and because they don’t all watch what you’re doing you’ve got to do it with every single one of them. I thought I was gonna be crippled! In fact, my wife said to me “If you don’t stop this, it’s absolutely stupid. You’re going to be crippled!” But I feel ok now, I’ve had a week off! (laughs) I’m ready to go again.

How do you see your future in the business? Do you think it will be more training?

I think it will be more training. What happens is – I can still do it, it’s just that I don’t have the desire and a lot of the guys I work with don’t know enough to work with them. It’s too hard to work with them. I had one match in England with a guy (a couple of weeks ago) – it was pathetic! He didn’t know anything, and after that match I thought “I can’t deal with this!” Then I worked with Drew McDonald – easy night, great. Then I worked with a guy, I think you call him Paul Grant, and I didn’t know him, and I’m thinking “Oh, I hope this is not the same!” but I enjoyed it that much I said to him “You’ve just stopped me retiring!” I said that three times, because I’m sick of working with people that can’t work and you can’t do it by yourself, it’s impossible. When you get ones that can’t work, it’s too hard, so you just have to smash them to pieces instead of working, but I don’t wanna do that! I wanna work. That’s the problem, (it’s) the same here. I’ve been working a few shows, working with Reid Flair. He’s a nice lad, he’s ok, you know what I mean? But I don’t feel like teaching him how to wrestle! (laughs) If they go to wrestling school, that’s fine, but I don’t feel like going into the ring and dragging each other around. (For me) I think more training……and I saw a few pictures of myself when I was in England and I look like shit! (laughs) When you start thinking to yourself “God, I look like shit!” then you start thinking to yourself “I better stop this!” Even though the crowd’s still with you – when I was in Preston (England) the crowd was good, they were behind me, they were chanting stuff, but I saw some pictures there and I’m thinking “Oh my god! I look my age now!” I think that’s another why you wanna stop.

garymehaffy@hotmail.co.uk

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