“#’Nobody Has Put on Better Matches’”
For Taylor, his first crack at the top prize is a long time coming. “When you look at my resume over the last three years, I don’t think it’s a crazy statement to say I have been the MVP of ROH,” the wrestler says. “Nobody has been more consistent, put on better matches.”
Before one of the biggest matches of his career, the former TV champ sat down to talk about potentially making history.
How important is this opportunity?
Shane Taylor: You’re talking about a legacy and lineage of a championship that is synonymous with being the best in the world. To have my name mentioned as a challenger, it’s exciting and humbling. There has been only one African American male that has made the history that I’m attempting to make and won the ROH championship, and that’s Jay Lethal.
You’ve been wrestling for almost 15 years. Has there been much progress in that time regarding diversity in the ring?
We’ve taken steps forward. I don’t think talent has ever been an issue. The issue comes in with management. They end up stereotyping Black people into roles that can be readily identifiable or comfortable with the masses. It doesn’t work when you’re only putting people into a box. If you can create multilayered characters for guys like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or Triple H, then you can do it for Bobby Lashley or Kofi Kingston, or Keith Lee.
Put people on the creative team who understand these cultures. That would give a more authentic version of these characters fans can relate to because you’re not giving them a cookie-cutter version of some Black person. It’s not a caricature of the culture. You get to see what these talents have.
How close are you to your former tag partner Keith Lee?
As close as ever. My crew is different from a lot of people’s in pro wrestling. It’s a family feel, and we motivate each other. That goes beyond pro wrestling. It’s fantastic to see Keith Lee win the NXT title and North American title simultaneously and make history.
You’ve been something of a mentor in your own group, Shane Taylor Productions. Do you see working with Sons Of Savagery (SOS) and O’Shay Edwards as giving back?
I saw them in the ROH Dojo and, at the time, decision makers didn’t know what to do with them. I was like, “OK, give them to me.” I see what they can be and what they can do. I know what it’s like to be starving for an opportunity. In less than a year’s time, O’Shay made his ROH debut and is turning heads. SOS and myself are in line to be No. 1 [in the] six-man tag teams.
You’ve come a long way. Can you put the upcoming match with Rush in some kind of perspective for us?
You’re talking to a man who was born on the East Side of Cleveland, Ohio. A guy who has seen and done just about everything there is on the wrong side of things. I’ve seen the violence and drug use. I’ve had friends die in my arms. I went to probably 100 funerals by the time I was 13. It changes your moral compass because you switch from life to survival. That mentality translates directly into pro wrestling for me.
I knew that a lot of the characters who looked like me on TV, I couldn’t relate to. What I wanted to do was represent someone that people like myself could relate to. I wasn’t being a stereotype. I wasn’t trying to promote the destructive aspects of our culture as so many media platforms do. For me, it’s a breath of fresh air that through all the obstacles and the roadblocks, we’re on the verge of making history and climbing this mountain. I couldn’t be any happier because it’s not just me, but my team, my culture that gets to see me on this platform.
Ring of Honor TV, Syndication and HonorClub
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