Shane Taylor's pro wrestling journey started well over a decade ago, but he's finally experiencing his potential fulfilled, and the success he deserves. Even if he doesn't think he's getting the push he deservers.
The current Ring of Honor television champion, Taylor has worked to establish himself in the company for several years now. From dark matches in 2014, to a more regular run in 2015, this year has seen Taylor reach the peak of his career as Television Champion. However, when speaking to Fightful, Taylor said he's not quite as satisfied with ROH brass as he is with being a title holder.
Recently, Ring of Honor announced that they had "bought out" the contract of Taylor after he expressed his frustration on social media about how the company marketed him. Taylor spoke to us recently about these issues -- as real or kayfabe as they may be.
"I’ve said this entire time, that my biggest gripe with Ring of Honor is that fact they don’t promote me like they do their other champions. They don’t promote me like they did Jay Lethal. Because for whatever reason Ring of Honor still feels, like their brass, feels like maybe Shane Taylor is not the marketable guy for them. But like I said, Shane Taylor is dominating these Match of the Year lists. Shane Taylor is what everybody’s talking about. Putting me on TV weekly only helps Ring of Honor," Taylor told us.
It hasn't been specified if Taylor's "buy out" is legit or a part of Ring of Honor canon, and he wouldn't comment on the matter directly to us.
Taylor spent the last several years as a hired gun, throwing down beat downs to the highest bidder on-screen during Ring of Honor programming. This didn't lead to many championships along the way, but served to utilize him in a variety of roles. Taylor told us that he grew out of the spot, and a conversation took place that led him to realize he wanted bigger things.
"The second I got off the phone with my big brother was the moment that the switch flipped. For people that know me personally, a motivated Shane Taylor is the biggest problem you’ll ever have. So, once I decided, “okay, just putting food on the table is not enough, just being successful here, just being here is not enough.” I had bigger goals, bigger dreams, bigger aspirations in Ring of Honor and I wanna to start achieving those. My name is gonna be the one on the marquee. My name is gonna be the one that people are gonna remember. My name is gonna be the one that people are talking about as they leave. Once I decided to do that things took off," said Taylor.
Taylor's role in Ring of Honor wasn't a public point of contention or anything, as Taylor insisted that he kept it professional and worked for his chance. Though he'd already worked in tag teams, stables, and as a utility player after working dark matches, he knew that singles stardom was on the way. Confident in his abilities, he touted the reception to his matches against the likes of Jeff Cobb and Bandido as an endorsement of the move.
"People—and I’m trying to figure out how to put it in a way that people who aren’t where I’m from will understand—when you have an opportunity to do something, you figure out a way to do it. Whether that be right, wrong or indifferent, you make a way. You find a way. So tag team stuff wasn’t working. Well, it worked for a bit. Then I had to find another lane. The Rebellion thing didn’t work, I had to find another lane. Singles stuff, that was my calling. That’s where things started to click. And then for me, in order to be the best fighter that I can be you have to make sure physically you’re able to do that. You can go out there with any style, any performer and hold your own and tear the house down and that’s all I’ve been doing. So, all of those changes are for that purpose to present the best form of Shane Taylor that people are going to see night in and night out. That’s why when they have these Ring of Honor match of the year lists [“Shane Taylor versus whoever it is,” “Shane Taylor versus whoever it is,” “Shane Taylor versus whoever it is”] dominates the list. Because Shane Taylor, right now, is money in Ring of Honor. I tell everybody “if you want the money, come and get it," Taylor said, speaking to us in the legendary Maple Leaf Gardens.
That aforementioned 2015 run featured Taylor being paired with Keith Lee, another super heavyweight who has went on to immense success. While Taylor wasn't quite finding his footing at the championship levels in recent years, Keith Lee was. Lee continued competing as a high-level singles wrestler in EVOLVE and WWN before being signed by WWE. Taylor has heard the comparisons, and he knows they'll continue, but it doesn't bother him.
"Those are gonna come because of how close we are. But when I mention talking to those people he was one of the ones I talked to and he told me these opportunities don’t come to us if we stand back and wait. You have to go take what’s yours. So, there is no comparison between the two of us. He will get gold when it’s his time and he’ll do a hell of a job with it. Just like I have my gold now, and I am on pace and will be the most dominant Ring of Honor World Television Champion there’s ever been," Taylor said.
Where Taylor and Lee continue to draw comparisons is the versatility for their size. Both accomplishing in-ring feats that decades ago were rare to almost nonexistent for super heavyweights in pro wrestling. Despite the fact that he came into wrestling and made his name as a "big guy," he wasn't worried about preconceived notions as it relates to that.
"There was no stigma for me," said Taylor. "What people think I can do has never mattered to me. What I can do is what matters to me. And I don’t concern myself with the opinions of sheep. Whether I want to break out some lucha stuff, if I want to break out some high flying stuff or if I want to stick to my bread and butter, which is punching people in the face, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. My offense is predicated by who I’m facing and no more, no less. Listen, like I said, the moment predicates my offense. If that’s what I feel like I gotta do to put the opponent away, then I bust it out. If I gotta bust out moonsaults, whatever I gotta do, that’s what I’m gonna do."
With competitors All Elite Wrestling and NXT going live weekly, or at least regularly, ROH COO Joe Koff noted in a recent interview that live weekly TV for the company could be in the cards. Taylor is fully supportive of that, but wanted Ring of Honor to support him, as well. At least based on public perception, that hasn't happened as of yet.
Taylor and I spoke at the historic Maple Leaf Gardens, where he successfully defended his ROH World Television Title. The defense was his fourth in six weeks, continuing to back up the words the oft-soft-spoken man conveyed to us. With each interview, Taylor becomes more assured, more confident, and the chip on his shoulder continues to grow.
You can see our full conversation with Shane Taylor above. Subscribe to Fightful Select to get early access to content and interviews, and exclusive podcasts.
Ring Of Honor's Death Before Dishonor and their subsequent TV tapings take place September 27-28 from Las Vegas, Nevada, and can be streamed on ROH HonorClub.