I had the chance to interview former WWE Superstar JTG, who talked about various topics including his time in WWE, if Impact Wrestling has contacted him, Roman Reigns and much more.
Did you grow up as a pro wrestling fan? And if so, who were some of your inspirations?
“Yes, I grew up a wrestling fan. Both my parents were wrestling fans, both my parents used to go to Madison Square Garden every month, the WWF used to run there every month, and my parents were there religiously. I grew up on it. I wanted to be a professional wrestler since the age of two.”
How did you get your start in the business?
“I started off in the business through OVW in Louisville, Kentucky. That was the hot spot, that was the developmental territory. A lot of guys were being signed there. I saw a lot of great talent such as Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Shelton Benjamin, Renee Dupree – a lot of talent came through there and I definitely wanted to be where the hot spot was at. I got myself there, I was there for four years before I got signed or even got looked at by the WWE.”
How did you meet Shad and who paired you guys together?
“Okay, so with Shad and I, everything was a coincidence. We both happened to be from Brooklyn and we just happened to be a great tag team. But I was originally tagged with Abraham Washington, I don’t know if you guys remember Abraham Washington, him and I did the gimmick together. We weren’t really stealing we just had the look, the look of Cryme Time, but we were really just one dimensional. He had personal issues he needed to take care of, I was on my own solo, and Paul Heyman decided to put Shad and I together after he had a storyline with CM Punk finish up, and Paul Heyman put Shad and I together, and we were an instant hit there on television in Louisville, Kentucky.”
Who came up with the Cryme Time gimmick?
“It kind of came up organically. We were down in OVW, and Al Snow said ‘You guys are over, and you’re heels, but you guys are over and you can’t wrestle every week. We’re running out of opponents for you guys. You can do other things to get over other than winning a match and being champion, so why don’t you guys do some vignettes or do a promo – do something unique to get yourselves over.’ Shad and I decided to do some training videos or vignettes. We got the cameraman and went and shot different stuff in different areas and just had fun with it. We heard that Vince McMahon got with it and he was very entertained by the videos, and he signed me – cause I wasn’t signed at the time, Shad was signed. He signed me just off those videos.”
What are some of your best memories with Shad Gaspard?
“I have a lot of great memories with Shad, I don’t know if I could narrow it down to just one. But he helped me out a lot when I was coming out through OVW because it was very difficult. A lot of the talent were getting paid to be there. Me on the other hand, I took the Greyhound bus ticket to Louisville, I stayed at a motel and I had to get a job. I had various jobs there in Louisville, Kentucky. I had to go to training, I had to go to work out, so it was very overwhelming but the passion got me through it. Shad saw I was hungry and determined, he helped me get my first apartment, he gave me his ID because I wasn’t 21 yet, and he worked at the bar, so he gave me his Atlanta ID and I was able to get into the clubs. He helped me out a lot when I was going through the developmental territory. So we were sort of a duo before we got the tag team.”
Were he and Shad’s first WWE release because of the Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch incident or was there more to it?
“I think that was, I talked a lot about it in my book, it was pretty much the heat that we had with Cade and Murdoch, they played a big factor in it. Also, with John Cena, Shad got into an altercation with John Cena, that I talked about in my first book, and it was just a sequence of negative interactions. It was just a train wreck.”
How did you feel about your singles run in WWE?
“I don’t like to have regrets. There are some things I could’ve done different, some things I wish I hadn’t listened to and applied, some things I wish I did listen to and apply, you always look back in retrospect and say ‘I wish I did that.’ But everything was a learning experience and everything happened for a reason. But my singles run could’ve went a lot better (laughs). I had all the components. I had the charisma, I had the look, I had the talent, I had the unique style in the ring. I was told Vince McMahon was a big fan of me, he told me I was very charismatic, and that would get me far, but I also had to play the game, which I talked about in my second book.”
Do you prefer working as a singles competitor or as a tag team?
“I get asked that question a lot, when I look back at my career, I had fun working as a tag team. Doing the Cryme Time gimmick was a lot of fun on camera, plus there was less work because when you get tired you can tag out. Everybody wants that singles career, everybody wants that spotlight on them. I’ll say my tag team career.”
What led to your second release from WWE?
“I was home for nine months, but I was told that ‘creative has nothing for you at the moment.’ They give that speech to everyone.”
What has it been like to work the indie scene?
“I kind of like the independent – if I could stay and work every weekend, doing independent – I think I like it. I get to pick which town, I got some shows coming up, like I’m going to the Dominican Republic to wrestle. That’s great. I get to pick my own price. As long as I can stay busy doing what I love to do, I’m happy. The contracts make it kind of difficult because you can’t do much, plus I can also audition and do a lot of acting since I live out here in Los Angeles.”
Has Impact Wrestling contacted you to do work for them? And are you interested in doing work for them?
“I heard some rumors that they were interested in Shad and I. If they contact me and the money is right, I wouldn’t mind going over to TNA and – before I became a professional wrestler I told myself I just didn’t want to be a professional wrestler, I wanted to be a WWE Superstar. There’s a big difference. But if they’re talking that right money, of course I can’t turn down good money. Remember, my gimmick is ‘Money, Money, Yeah, Yeah.’”
Do you still keep up with the WWE product?
“Not religiously. I keep up with the majority of it on social media and I watch all the big events like WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble, maybe SummerSlam if there are one or two main events I want to catch.”
What were your thoughts on seeing The Undertaker retire at WrestleMania 33?
“I don’t know if that’s his last match. I enjoyed the match between he and Roman Reigns. I didn’t know which direction it was gonna go, but being a talent and a performer and not knowing what direction the match is going to go, and you get emotionally invested in it, it’s a good match. I personally enjoyed it. I don’t think it’s his last match. I think he has just one more in him. But I personally don’t think Roman Reigns should be his final opponent.”
Do you have any good stories or memories with him backstage?
“You got me on the spot, I got a few but I’m trying to think right now. Nah not right now but he was always the locker room leader – oh there is one. SummerSlam in Los Angeles. You might have watched this if you watch Dave Chappelle, like Prince. He has like an aura right? Same thing with Undertaker. I was at SummerSlam and me and Beth Phoenix were sitting next to each other, and we kind of just looked at each other – it was weird there was no communication. We just kind of looked at each other and we felt something, and then we looked around and we saw The Undertaker. Then we were like ‘Oh sh*t did you feel that?’ We were like ‘Yeah, he has some type of aura around him.’ I was like ‘Yeah sort of like Prince.’ She was like ‘Yeah exactly, like the Prince episode!’ I thought it was bullsh*t. I don’t know if he meditated before he does his match but you definitely felt his presence without knowing that he’s there. But that’s real.”
How much different is the money on the indie circuit from the WWE?
“Oh it’s a big difference. Especially because in WWE even with no wrestling you’re guranteed. Then there’s royalties, merch, I don’t know how the WWE Network affects the talents pay, with WWE you’re guaranteed. The indie circuit it’s funny cause promoters might now pay you, they’d be like ‘Oh we were short, we expected this much people’ and it’s always – you don’t know the turnout.”
What do you think about the Dive situation on Twitter?
“I definitely believe there are too many dives and also too many damn super kicks. I didn’t even watch the pay-per-view (PPV), but I watched the highlights of the PPV, and I’m going through the tape going like ‘Damn there goes a super kick, there goes another superkick, superkick, super kick. It’s like Jesus Christ, I remember when Shawn Michaels used to do that it meant something. Now it’s just like a ready move. Let’s say Shawn Michaels wanted to come back and do one more match. He’s gonna have to throw like 4 super kicks to make it mean something.”
How do you feel about Jinder Mahal winning the WWE Title at Backlash?
“That was actually inspiring because me and him got released at the same time, and to see him come back and repackaged – that definitely gave me some type of hope. I don’t know if – I mean it’s wishful thinking, but I don’t know if I could go back and become WWE Champion but they gave him an opportunity and I’m just happy to see that the got the ball and I’m ready to see him run with it.”
What are your thoughts on the heat Roman Reigns has right now?
“I haven’t really followed the product, I thought he was a fan-favorite (laughs). I know he was getting booed but I thought that changed. I didn’t know he was still getting booed. That sucks. Why don’t they just turn him heel? I wish Roman Reigns the best of luck. I wish he would take that vest off though, that’s my only complaint. Everyone from The Shield has changed their look and he’s still looking like he wants a Shield comeback.”
Would you like to return to the WWE? Have they contacted you about a return?
“No they haven’t contacted Shad and I. I’m open to it but like I said it’s about that money. It has to be about that money. Before I was a fan and I was hungry to get in, but now I’m thinking more as a businessman and it has to be beneficial to me and especially my time. So I’m open to it. Just in case anyone is listening from WWE (laughs).”
What are your thoughts on JBL being perceived as a bully? What have your interactions been like with him?
“I could see why people perceive him as a bully. He wasn’t a bully to me, he actually tried to help me on a few occasions by pulling me to the side and giving me some advice. I have seen him be a bully to other people, yes.”
Do people just take him the wrong way or is he legitimately strong in the way he comes off?
“Oh yeah he’s very strong the way he comes off. I can’t sugar coat that (laughs). I can’t remember for verbatim but when he has his headset on or something or he’s trying to get a point across, he’s very aggressive about the way he expresses it. Even if he’s wrong, he’s gonna make sure you know he’s right.”
You can listen to the entire interview here:
You can buy his book, “DAMN! WHY DID I WRITE THIS BOOK TOO? ( How to play THE GAME ),” for just $9.99 on Amazon.
Follow JTG on Twitter @jtg1284
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