Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: Terry Taylor Shoot Interview

Guest Booker with Terry Taylor
Presented by Sean Oliver and the Kayfabe Commentaries Crew.

Sean Oliver covers the history of JCP buying up smaller promotions and then doing an extremely limited amount with much of the talent that was picked up along the way with each merger. In today’s exercise, Terry Taylor is going to play the role of booker and come up with a better application of the UWF talent once JCP buys out Bill Watts in 1987.

Taylor was six when he first saw Florida wrestling with The Briscos, Dusty Rhodes, Pak Song and many other talents occupying the territory.

Terry was never properly trained to be a wrestler, he was a football player who ended up with a friend who got into the business and went on from there.

Instead of calling spots, Taylor assumed the wrestlers tapped the mat in some sort of Morse code.

While visiting his buddy at the arena once, he was mistaken for being a worker and Eddie Graham offered him a spot as a jobber.

He lost to Bugsy McGraw in three minutes and was paid 275 dollars.

Eddie Graham was the best booker Taylor ever worked for. He could book heels to be more despised than anyone else, which only made the faces that much more popular.

Taylor desired to be a ring general and requested to call the match whenever possible to learn how to put matches together.

Promos came from the wrestlers own mind and guys were never given promos to memorize.

He cites Kevin Sullivan as a guy who shouldn’t have gotten over due to his shortness, but could cut promos like few others and made himself a star.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLLkNizCrns

Guys had to learn how to cut a promo or face not having any chance of moving up the card. Scripting the guys word for word is too much of a crutch and doesn’t give the talent a chance to develop their skills.

Taylor emphasizes that bookers need to build heat on the heels in order to make business work time and time again.

WCW had 8 to 9 hours of TV to book in the late 90’s and Taylor had to watch MTV constantly to try and figure out what was hip to keep the show relevant to a young audience while he was booking.

Taylor was burnt out in Mid-South Wrestling in 1986 and wanted to jump to JCP for a change of pace. Watts convinced him to stay and become a booker for him instead.

The first angle Taylor booked was for Kelly Kiniski (under a hood as The Masked Superstar #2) to lose a mask vs. hair match in Houston. Problem was Taylor booked the angle before asking Kiniski’s opinion. Kiniski refused to lose his mask and the fans got a bogus angle where Kiniski was chased to the locker room by Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who then returned to ringside with the mask in his hand. Since the stipulation didn’t really happen, it hurt the box office the next time wrestling came to town.

Taylor jumps ahead to when he retired from the ring and started booking for WCW. He learned quickly that no matter how many ideas you come up with on paper, that you still have to convince the wrestlers to go along with your plans for the sake of the business.

His first booking gig with Watts in 86 only lasted two months as he was merely replacing a burnt out Watts until Ken Mantell could come in from his booking gig in WCCW.

Kevin Sullivan’s mentorship in WCW is put over. Taylor booked for several years before he quit abruptly over his frustrations with the company’s direction. The idea to beat Goldberg at Starrcade 98 particularly bothered him.

Taylor called up Vince McMahon and had a job in the WWF within the same week.

He defends the terrible Red Rooster gimmick by saying “Nobody remembers me but they all remember the Red Rooster, so Vince was right”

Vince Russo and Ed Ferrera had great heat with Taylor because he jumped ship from “the enemy” and joined the WWF writing team.

Russo’s outside the box ideas “were brilliant” and everyone had an angle ongoing.

Taylor only lasted 11 months in the WWF before he went back to WCW to help Russo book WCW into the ground. He stayed with WCW till the bitter end.

The WWF didn’t hire Taylor until a few years after WCW folded. He stayed on for a year before being removed, and that prompted him to jump to TNA.

Taylor blames WCW’s talent for changing angles around on the creative team and ruining the storylines, leading to the angles making no sense.

WCW would be changing stories while Nitro was on the air to try and keep up with the creative control demands the wrestlers made. There was no Vince McMahon to be the lone final say.   Bischoff bowed to the headliners.

Mid-South wrestling had long road trips and Watts asked the wrestlers to bleed almost nightly. These were two things that made Taylor complain a lot to the bosses and earn a rep as a whiner.

The UWF was doing great business but Watts had to spend a lot of money while trying to expand his territory and just couldn’t keep up with what the situation demanded.

JCP bought Watts out, which created issues in the JCP locker room since suddenly twenty five more wrestlers were looking for a spot on the card and jobs were no longer secure.

Taylor gets his timelines confused and says he and JCP booker Dusty Rhodes had heat because Taylor was caught making fun of Rhodes while they were both on an airplane snuggled too close together while working for McMahon. (They worked in the WWF together two years after the timeframe of JCP buying the UWF.)
Guys would work stiff with Taylor to try and knock him out of commission. If you were hurt, your spot was up for grabs.

The old guys would lock shoot submissions on Taylor to teach him how much real pain the moves cause when locked in. Taylor credits this for teaching him how to sell.

Booking committees hurt the biz because an idea can take one vision and after a series of compromises the vison can be morphed into something that has lost the direction intended.

A booker should not be an in ring talent as well because one job will suffer in order for the other job to be done well.

The thought of booking a fresh batch of talent like what JCP could have had after the UWF buyout excites Taylor.

He suggests maybe Jim Crockett should have had the whole UWF roster come on TV with him as he announced the purchases, only to have a handful of top JCP guys interrupt and ask Crockett why these guys are getting praise while the locker room that has busted their butts for years to make you money is being ignored…and things take off from there.

The Booking:
Taylor goes through the loaded JCP roster and picks out all the top talent he’d use. I’d copy down the twenty plus names, but there is no surprises picked. He then sends old guys like Baron Von Rasche, Wahoo McDaniel, and Bob Armstrong to the smaller JCP affiliates and ignores the jobbers like the Thunderfoots and their ilk. He later decides to use these guys to put over the UWF talent before sending them off.

An invasion angle makes for great TV. The n.W.o. and Luger’s 1995 WCW jump are cited as examples.

Another way of starting this invasion would be for the UWF talent to show up looking for work, only for JCP to rebuff them. Then a few mysterious backstage attacks happen to top JCP guys. This would lead to Jim Crockett announcing he was bringing in the UWF cowards to face justice in the ring.

The UWF guys would have to have a few violent assaults on JCP TV to put over their serious intentions.

UWF champ Dr.Death Steve Williams can either antagonize Ric Flair to goad him into a title for title match, or else just beat a series of top guys to prove his worth and earn a title match. Taylor then goes over a multiple number of ways that a Flair/Williams match could be built up over a month or so.

Three things are paramount to booking: The match, the finish and how to get a return match out of it.

Some guys should be booked to be on winning streaks, others can be on losing streaks, but booking win/lose/win/lose week after week won’t get anyone over.

World tag team champs Rick Rude and Manny Fernandez would be over confident and laugh at the smaller UWF tag champs Chris Adams and Terry Taylor, then grant them a tag match. Oliver and Taylor then run through the various things that could be done to build to a unification match. This includes locker room beatdowns, interference in each other’s matches, dueling promos and such.

In order to cull the herd, some loser leaves town matches are utilized to put over the importance of each match and the overall stakes involved.

The Freebirds keep using the “Freebird” rule to have random combinations of Hayes, Gordy, and Roberts work tag matches. After a few weeks, some JCP guys would form a trio of their own and challenge the Birds to a six-man match.

The end of the UWF invasion would be decided by the fan’s reaction.

Buzz Sawyer once ate a bunch of hot dogs before a match with Taylor and waited until the finish to have Taylor punch him in the gut, at which point he stumbled to the side of the ring and vomited.

Dick Murdoch converted a trailer into a bar and would charge the other workers a dollar a beer to share in his good time.

Taylor suggests Buzz Sawyer and Murdoch have a feud over drinking beer and sharing a desire for the same fat woman.

Tully Blanchard and Terry Taylor once had a twenty-minute draw on TV early in the morning while both men were hung over without sleeping. Blanchard carried him because he was a machine.

As far as booking goes, Blanchard and Baby Doll would reunite during the invasion, and start an angle with Eddie Gilbert and Missy Hyatt.

Taylor thinks women catfights should be ten seconds in length or less.

Missy Hyatt’s wrestling IQ is put over by Taylor.

Terry liked working heel far more than being a face. This was partly due to that allowing him to ignore the fans in public (but never kids).

The Rooster never felt he was a top guy, and was at his best when he was putting over the guys who needed the rub on their way to working main events.

The Taylor Made Man wishes that more of the talent tried to work like it was for real and not work such a spot oriented match.

Final thoughts: A greatly entertaining shoot as Taylor is humble and seemingly honest about his experiences. He broke down his booking ideas well and created a logical plan for the situation offered.

Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.

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