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Dave Taylor Appreciation Thread


SaitoRyo
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I appreciate this may not resonate with everyone, but here goes...

I have spent most of my morning listening to Dave Taylor interviews at work. I always liked watching Taylor, but I had forgotten just how unique and hilarious he is. I was compelled to do this because of the recent WCW Thunder dump that arrived on the Network. During this period (late 99), Taylor shows up in a lot of six man tags with Regal and Chris Adams. He is as smooth as silk. 

Taylor's a bloke (in the truest sense of the word) who basically just fell into high-profile jobs with WCW and WWE, when he would have been happy wrestling his whole life in the UK, Germany and Japan. People just gave him gigs because he was well-liked, solid in the ring and was always in pretty good shape. He could have a decent match with anyone and had a great attitude about it to boot. Didn't care who was going over, didn't care how much time he got or where abouts on the card he was. Just got on with the job and did it to a very high standard. 

I would implore everyone to listen to Taylor podcasts/shoots that are out there. I know his Highspots shoot from 2012 is filled with priceless quotes and stories. 

Please share your Taylor stories, quotes and some cracking matches, like this one: 

 

Cracking European uppercut on him, doesn't he? 

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His last WWE run was unbelievable - that they'd hire a non-star 50 year old, that he was still a decent worker, and that as a result he, Regal and Finlay were all full-time wrestling for WWE in 2006.

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I'd post some highlights from my FSM piece with him, but there's too much to not just do the whole thing:
 

Quote

"When I were amateur, I hated professional [wrestling]" Dave Taylor tells FSM. " I just thought it were all pathetic because I were like a real wrestler. But after my dad had beat the shit out of me a dozen times and my grandad had beat the shit out of me, I began to realise that it's a lot harder than what I thought it were!"

 

To say Dave Taylor hailed from a wrestling family would be a spectacular understatement. His grandfather Joe won the British amateur featherweight championship four years and placed fourth in the 1932 Olympics. His father Eric took his skills to the pro ring and was the first British Heavy-Middleweight champion of the Mountevans era, holding the title for 13 years before becoming an independent promoter. Eric's cousin Jack competed in the 1956 Olympics. Dave's brother Steve was a regular pro on television. And Dave's daughter Donna had a brief pro career, becoming a fourth generation competitor.

 

But it was grandpa Joe who gave Dave Taylor, already a keen amateur, his toughest wrestling lesson. "I'd just come from the British championships in Edinburgh, and I'd got third place and I thought I were the bees knees. We had a wrestling mat on the farm where I lived and my grandad came over, I think he were about 65, and he said 'Go on, we'll have a pull.'

 

"I'm thinking, I'm a lot bigger than him, a lot younger than him, I'm thinking 'Shit, I don't want to hurt him.' Well he beat the shit out of me. I could not believe it, a little skinny old man dragged me all over the mat. I could not believe how good he was at that age. And I thought I were the man!"

 

Taylor continued to improve in the amateur ranks, reaching second place in a later British amateur championship for those between the junior and senior divisions, and even harbouring thoughts of going to the Commonwealth or Olympic Games himself. "I don't know if I would have been good enough or not; maybe if I would have stuck with it."

 

That ended when he joined his father Eric on a tour of Sweden where "I got more per day than I got per week working at a brick factory." He chose to follow his father's career path rather than that of his grandfather. " My grandad weren't a fan of professional... He didn't particularly like it, but he knew we had to make a living. Plus he were a real small guy, he only weighed nine stone, so it wouldn't have been a lot of good for him in then days. He was smaller than Jim Breaks, who was like one of the smallest wrestlers there was."

 

For the first two years of his pro career, Dave mainly wrestled his father, who would appear under a mask as La Masque Argent or the Exorcist. " Every show that he promoted I normally wrestled my dad. He promoted a lot in those days because he'd just got Les Kellett so they promoted four or five times a week. Eventually I had to say to my dad, 'Look, I need to wrestle somebody else, cause I'm not learning anything' [new]."

 

From there Taylor continued his grappling education against the likes of Lee Sharron and Bobby Graham. "It were best to wrestle the old-timers because it were them that learned you what to do. They stopped you from doing stupid things, when you thought 'I'm going to do this', they'd just hold you down, tell you 'Calm down, you'll get your shit it, don't worry about it, stay here.' And that's how you learned to work. That's what's wrong with today: nobody's wrestling older guys, they're all wrestling guys the same age as them and both of them know nothing."

 

Taylor's first international experience came with a trip to Mexico where he came to like the style despite a tough first experience, wrestling in Arena Mexico the same day he arrived in the country. "Trying to keep up with the speed that they were going and not knowing anything they were doing, with the altitude, I nearly died. I could feel my lungs bleeding, I was sucking air up my arse!"

 

Despite the promoters leaving Taylor to get to shows around a strange country by himself, he enjoyed his run and would have stayed longer had it not been for a leg injury. "The money were good there: I was living like a millionaire. Of course, when you changed the money back into English, it weren't worth nothing!"

 

Another adventure came when fellow Brit Chic Cullen invited him to Canada's Stampede promotion. Dave's older brother Steve had been wrestling there for around a month, suffering at the hands of villains, with the plan for Dave to come to the rescue. That's not quite how things worked out.

 

"Cullen picked me up at the airport and says the plan had been dropped and 'They're going to call you Tim Shea, the sheep farmer from Australia.' Everyone's asking me why me and Steve looked alike. Plus there were a picture of us in the programs with 'Steve Taylor and Dave Taylor' written underneath it!"

 

Despite the unusual billing and the payoffs being too low to extend his stay, Taylor gained from the experience. "The work was excellent, everybody were good. When you work with good people you learn, and I learned a lot there."

 

Taylor retained his new-found Australian heritage, under his own name this time, on a trip to South Africa. He made a spectacular debut, albeit behind closed doors. "You had to have a wrestling license. You had to go in front of the Board of Control and wrestle, which I couldn't believe. I thought it were real and you had to wrestle real. They put me in the ring with this guy and I'm thinking it's straight, so I beat him in about 20 seconds: I flattened him. The promoter Johan Hefer runs over and says 'Come here, come here, what you doing? It's a work!' So I got my license in a few seconds!"

 

The situation was somewhat reversed when Taylor found himself in a misunderstanding during a Middle Eastern tour. "Wrestling Indians was the closest it got to being real, without being real. This Indian came into the dressing room and he had a turban, cauliflower ears and a flat nose. I didn't know that if Indian wrestlers have seen you wrestle and respect you, they bow down to you and kiss your feet. So when he did that I jumped up and did what the sand wrestlers do: I hit myself in the thighs and stared right at him.

 

"This guy ripped his turban off and wanted to go at me quickly. He said 'You insult me, I'm Asian games gold medallist.' So I said 'OK, me British champion, Olympic Games. Go on then.' I were bullshitting on my side, but he weren't bullshitting! He went 'Sorry, sorry, sorry' and shook my hands, and I thought 'that were near, that were very near.'

 

Of all his foreign destinations, Germany became Taylor's home-from-home. It had been a long time coming as he'd visited as a child with his father and been told to come over if and when he grew up and turned pro. When he took up this opportunity, Taylor was invited for a three-day tryout: "I were full of piss and vinegar. I thought I knew everything."

 

Such over-confidence proved problematic to say the least. "I worked with Mal Kirk and he said to me 'Can you throw an elbow?' I said 'Yeah, no problem, I can throw elbows.' He said 'Ok, hit me with three or four, do this and that.'

 

"In the ring I went to hit him with an elbow and smashed him right in the mouth, bust his mouth open. I couldn't do an elbow! Kids todays are like 'I can do everything!' and I were just the same. He didn't do anything about it, which was a good job as he could have killed me! He came out the ring and he said 'Look, when you can't do something, just say you can't do it.' Mick McMichael took me into the arena the next afternoon and showed me how to do it right, and I've been throwing uppercuts ever since.

 

Taylor's initiation didn't get any smoother. "Three days in to the tournament, I worked with Dave Morgan. I'd heard that he'd mess you around. He did something at the end of the round and I back-kicked him -- it could have been a little stiff... He looked at me and went 'Oh! Funny bastard, huh? You want to go?' My asshole dropped out!

 

"I asked Mick McMichael who was refereeing 'What's he talking about, he wants to go?' He said 'Take no notice of him, he's a bullshitter. He's trying you out.' I said 'Well, it's fucking worked!'

 

"I'd always been told by my dad 'Don't back down, you can do the job straight.' I thought, well, the only thing I can do is kick him in the balls. But I went to link up with him and everything were fine. Back in the dressing room, he walked in front of me and stopped and I thought 'Uh oh, here we go.' He looked at me and said 'Hmm, you wanted to have a go at me, right?' and I said 'Yeah, I did, yeah.'

 

'OK' he said, and he put his hand out and said 'You'll do me.' He were just trying me out to see if I would have a go, and when he saw I would he respected me. After that we travelled together, worked out together; I were one of his only friends for 10 years."

 

Taylor would eventually begin working as long as nine months a year in Germany and Austria: "If you did your job right, it were the best place to be."

 

While his visits to the UK became increasingly rare, Taylor did win the British heavyweight title in King's Lynn in 1991, following in his father's footsteps. "I'd been working with [champion Dave] Finlay for a couple of years. We'd do him over, a draw, stuff like that, but I never won. It were the most heat I've ever seen in England at any show: people couldn't believe it would happen, it had escalated up to this. It established me more and I enjoyed it. And Fit couldn't wait to get rid of the belt: he was sick of carrying it around!"

 

Opportunity knocked in 1995 when WCW was looking for bodies to fill out a 60-man, three-ring battle royale on the initial World War III pay-per-view and Steve [now William] Regal suggested Taylor's name. He made an unintentionally solid first impression.

 

"I were down to the last 10 in one ring, and then you had to all get into the main ring. There's Hogan, Macho Man, all the big stars. I go to climb in the ring and Paul Orndorff got hold of me, so I punched him. But it connected and smashed his mouth open. And he went 'Whoa!'

 

"And then Hogan goes to get hold of me, so I turned round and gave him an uppercut and he goes 'Whoa!' and I could see on his face he's thinking 'Fuck that!' I thought 'Shiiit, I just hit two of the top guys here', and Orndorff could have kicked my brains in because he's a genuine tough guy. Ever since that, whenever I see Hogan he goes 'Here he comes, Mr Uppercut!'"

 

Despite the mishaps, Taylor was offered a full-time contract and became a 'Squire' to join 'Lord Steven Regal' and 'Earl Robert Eaton' in the Blue Bloods. He also took part in an infamous "junkyard battle royale" for the WCW hardcore title and was one of the few participants who enjoyed the experience. "I loved it! I thought it were the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life because I just kept running up and hitting Knobbs of the Nasty Boys with a hubcap. I just kept rolling about in tyres."

 

It didn't go so well for everyone however. "It were a genuine junkyard out of town. We went there during the day to look at it and we had to plan escape routes for the finish when explosions went off. I'm looking at all these cars and I said 'Look, don't anybody slam anyone through these windscreens because it's laminated glass and when it breaks it's like a bunch of knives sticking straight up.' When the match starts, first thing that happens, one of the Mexicans backdropped somebody into the windscreen. He couldn't get off the windscreen because he was pinned to it."

 

Following WCW's closure, Taylor spent time working as a trainer in several of WWE's developmental territories before making an unexpected comeback to the ring around the age of 50. Spotting an extra payday he volunteered to work as a stunt double in the motion capture studio for a WWE video game. After Taylor spending an entire day replicating the moves of most of the performers on the main roster, stunned agent Tommy Dreamer asked if he'd be interested in joining the roster of the planned ECW touring revival.

 

"I said yes and they asked me to make a vignette aligning myself with Regal and Finlay. I got 50 of the trainees sat in the room watching the TV and it were Finlay and Regal wrestling each other. One of the guys shouts 'Dave, come to the back, your pals are wrestling.' So I go 'This is wrong this, they shouldn't be fighting each other, they should be fighting Americans. If I were there with them we'd be the strongest team they'd ever seen.' Then I kick them out of the dressing rooms, and go a little crazy. I sent the tape, they got it Friday morning, then Friday afternoon they call me and tell me they want me on Raw on Monday. Straight in, no dark matches, nothing!"

 

During a two-year in-ring run for WWE, Taylor's most notable match was a four-way tag team ladder match, though initially road agents suggested it would be an easy night for he and partner Regal. "They kept saying to me 'We don't want you to go up that ladder' cause I were like 50 years old. I said 'Do you think I can't climb the bastard ladder?! I can climb straight to the top of that ladder with no hands!' They were like 'Bullshit' so I went straight to the top of the fucking ladder and said 'Look, can anyone else do it?'

 

In the event, Taylor wound up following the suggestion, to great effect. "The thing that stuck out most to anybody were not Joey Mercury's eye getting poked out, not the winners going over and winning the belts, but me and Regal arguing about going up the ladder because we were scared of heights. JBL put it over like we had vertigo! It wasn't planned, it was just when we in there that we did it."

 

After Regal was drafted from Raw to Smackdown, Taylor drifted into teams with Paul Birchall and Drew McIntrye before being released in 2008. Since then he's made several independent appearances but after a lengthy break following a hip replacement, has found it hard not wrestling regularly.

 

"I love being on the road, just everything about it. My dad finished wrestling about 55 because he'd had both his hips done and the doctor told him must never wrestle again. It's not like today: my doctors told me, yeah, wrestle again, no problem. He went downhill that quick, he got a bit of dementia. You imagine, you've spent all your life travelling, going to different places in the world -- even if you were in England you were going to some place every day, five, six times a week. And then all of a sudden nothing? Ooh, it's bad.

 

"I go berserk sometimes here. I go to England at least four times a year to get out. I have to do, otherwise I'm just a gardener! You climb the walls. I talk to Regal now and he's telling me he's going to India, England and Brazil inside a week. And I tell him 'I know it's hard, but I wish I were doing it.'"

 

That said, Taylor is clear the end is in sight. "I don't think I'll be doing any more wrestling in the states. In Europe they're more respectful of older wrestlers. In America they look at you and they're like 'You old fart, you stink, you're useless.' I'll never wrestle here again. I'd like to go to Germany and do a retirement match or a legends match, maybe somewhere like Hannover where I worked half my life. I've got a couple of matches left in me."

 

And while he didn't think of himself as a veteran until working in the US, Taylor's attitude to a potential final bout mirrors back to that of his original teachers. " I don't want to be wrestling some young guy and having to slap them or fight them because they want to get their shit in. I want to wrestle somebody who can work."

(Mandatory plug that this is included in my book at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Have-Good-Week-Till-Next/dp/1983116246/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3CZ4RE0G297II&keywords=have+a+good+week+till+next+week&qid=1553185452&s=gateway&sprefix=have+a+good+week%2Caps%2C150&sr=8-1)

Edited by JNLister
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And there was still loads of stuff I couldn't fit in, so we turned it into a training-based interview:

 

What challenges did you find with the German tournament format, where you'd wrestle in front of the same audience every night, but against different opponents?

 

Some guys couldn't keep it up, especially Americans. They'd get good heat and then they'd put heel against heel, or babyface against babyface and if you didn't work it right they'd start booing one of you or cheering one of you, which you didn't want. Heel on heel, one would maybe turn babyface and start selling. But it didn't work because the next night people are [still] feeling sorry for you.

 

What did you learn from taking the English style to the US?

 

Anybody from England, 'they were all shooters'. I don't know why. Let's face it, most of the guys [in the] US are better wrestlers than we were because they all wrestle in school and college!

 

In one match I put Sting in a toe and ankle, take the leg for him to spin me out and me take a bump. I'd been doing this a couple of times and he never spun me out. The third time I did this, after the match, he came up to me and said "You keep putting me in them holds and I can't get out of them." I said "Fucking hell, it's for you: just turn over and spin and I take a front bump." But he said "Yeah, but I don't know it!" I were trying to make him look good by doing this. I realised to myself, if they don't know it, it's hard. So then you start reverting and doing American stuff, or you put a hold on and let go of it yourself.

 

I were always taught to work and make your opponent look good, and then if you beat him, you look better. If you give your opponent nothing, like a squash match, you beat nobody. But in America it's all for yourself. The guys try to make themselves look good, but they don't realise you can't look good without your opponent. If you don't sell, you don't get any heat. But they don't get that, some babyfaces. They go "We didn't get any heat." Well, you didn't look like you were getting beat! You just looked like you were going to win from the word go, so you don't get any sympathy. 

 

When you run a training seminar, how much planning of a schedule do you do?

 

It depends what they know, If you get six [guys], two of them might know nothing, so I don't plan anything, I just go as it goes. Every day will be different. I don't go in "Today I'm going to learn you this, this and this", it just comes. They say "What are you going to teach us today?" and I say "I don't know, let's see how it goes. You two, get in here, start to wrestle." They start to wrestle and then I'm in then. "No no, this is wrong, you've got to do this, you've got to do that."

 

I've been to one place and they've said "Can you show us how to jump off the top rope?" and I've said "Yeah, I could, if that's what you want." So I had them jumping off the top rope, landing on their heads -- they loved it. I said "But what are you going to do in between that. You've done a back somersault, you've landed on the ground, what are you going to do now?" "Well, I'll run off and do this." "Yeah, but what after that?" "Ooh, I don't know." "Exactly." That's why you need to learn to wrestle, because you cannot do a twenty minute spotfest. And if you do, it looks like shit. And if anybody watches, they know it's a spotfest, even the fans know it's a spotfest. 

 

Can you train somebody to fit a particular gimmick?

 

You can't teach anybody anything; they've got to learn everything. They will find their own thing eventually. Even the top guys, they all started off as something different to what they are now. The writers will look at somebody and go "ooh, right, we want you as the English proper gentleman" and you might start off as that and then suddenly you're the English tough guy or brawler or whatever. In America they've got this thing about the English, we all wear a bowler hat and talk with us fucking noses clamped up and that is what they perceive all of us to be. 

 

There's not a lot of outright gimmicks now. You can't go in and tell somebody "you're going to be the Boogeyman". Whoever thought of Boogeyman? It were him! And they looked at him and thought "shit, that's good!"

 

Down in Orlando now there'll be seventy guys there, twenty women and fifty men, you couldn't pick anyone out now and say "We want you do to this as a gimmick." They all make their own stuff up, they have like promo classes. They put stuff together themselves. It's all so creative, it's unbelievable. It's all taped and they send it up to WWE and the look at it and if it's any good they try it.

 

[The writers] don't know what they want till they see it. You can't say to them "What do you want? What would you like me to do, because I can do anything you want." They don't know. They only know when they see it, if they like it. That's the truth of how it is, which is very hard.

 

You've mentioned that you think wrestlers should go to as many different trainers as possible. Why is that?

 

You just pick out bits, the bits you learn off people. If I have you for a week, there might be one thing that you do good. Just do that one thing and then you've got something off somebody else, something off somebody else. You can't be like your trainer. And you've got to work with different people to learn different things.

 

That's why if you're learning to wrestle, you've got to go to as many different trainers as possible, because that's the way now. There's no one person now you're going to learn everything from. Who like that are you going to work with now in England? Doug Williams, that's about it, because Doug's the only one who knows a lot of the stuff.

 

You might say to yourself "I haven't learned nothing off you, I'm never going to do any of that stuff you've showed me." Yeah, but you know it in case anybody does it to you. You've got to know both ways. You can't just know how to put a headlock, you've got to know how somebody puts a headlock on you. 

 

I once wrestled Shane Helms in Cardiff, me and Regal against Shane Helms and Chavo Guerrero. After the match, about a week later, Helms wrote about it on his site. I felt fantastic when I read what he wrote. He said "You don't know how good somebody is until you work with them." It were because he'd go and put me in a hold and I'd know what hold he were going to put me in, so I'd move that way for him to do it. He didn't have to drag me around: I'm going that way. All these guys now, you've got to pull them, you've got to drag them, you've got to bend their arm to get a hold on. And even then you might not get it on!

 

I said "yeah, I know what you're doing and where you're going," and he said "but I've never worked with anyone like that before! I went for your leg to put a single-leg Boston on and you're there, you're in it!"

 

You've got to learn as much as you can from everybody and even if you think "Oh, he's shit", there'll be something he's told you or something he's showed you that you'll use years after. You're not going to learn it in three months or six months or five years, it's going to take ten, fifteen years, and then you'll go "Shit, I've got it!" And you might not ever say you've got it -- I've never said "I've got it." You just learn every time you work, and if you don't, you shouldn't be in the job because it's different every day you do it. 

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The point on the US guys assuming all Brits were shooters is down to the influence of Billy Robinson, surely?

 

I was once in a pub in Jersey with Ophidian, out of off of CHIKARA. He went to the bar, and we didn't see him for a good twenty minutes. I was just about to set off looking for him in case he'd somehow got lost, when he came back and said he'd got to the bar and ordered, and an old couple sat at the bar heard his American accent and did a full "not from 'round here, are you?". They asked what he was doing in Jersey, and when he said he was working a wrestling show, they suddenly warmed to him, and explained how the bloke of the couple had been at school with Dave Taylor, and they just stayed their exchanging Dave Taylor stories. Just a tremendously unlikely situation.

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17 hours ago, Loki said:

His last WWE run was unbelievable - that they'd hire a non-star 50 year old, that he was still a decent worker, and that as a result he, Regal and Finlay were all full-time wrestling for WWE in 2006.

Him and Regal being two old men afraid of heights, daring each other to climb, in that impromptu 'sorry-for-December-to-Dismember!' ladder match at Armageddon 2006 is still one of the funniest things in wrestling, I think. 

It's the kind of genuine in match comedy you don't really see, anymore, from vets not afraid to show a little arse. Always brilliant moments. Eddie's cheating comes to mind, too. 

Edited by Gay as FOOK
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