Tyson Kidd Talks About His Role in WWE, His Experiences With Stu Hart & more

Spencer Love of WCSN sent this in:

Few names in Albertan professional wrestling over the past two decades are as highly regarded as that of TJ Wilson. The former Tyson Kidd was not only one of Alberta’s brightest stars throughout his time in Stampede Wrestling, the PWA and beyond, but has continued to impact the province’s independent scene through his work with the likes of Michael Richard Blais and Brandon Van Danielson.

Wilson recently joined Spencer Love on the Conversations With Love podcast to discuss a wide variety of topics, including his early days training in the Hart Dungeon, breaking in with Stampede Wrestling, the Matrats promotion, his role as a producer in WWE, his feelings on professional wrestling being called “fake,” and whether Edge’s return has inspired him to attempt an in-ring comeback.

The full interview can be found at the following links:

WCSN: http://wincolumnsports.ca/conversations-with-love-76-tj-wilson-tyson-ki…
Podbean: https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-g333q-db9204
iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-win-column-sports-network/id9…

Staying sane during COVID19:

TJ Wilson: “Yeah, you know, it’s definitely - we’re definitely going through an interesting time that none of us have ever been through. Luckily, for me, a big outlet is working out, so I’ve transformed my garage into a gym, and I’ve been able - one of the few things that carried on through this whole pandemic has been RAW and Smackdown, so I’ve been working. So, at least that’s keeping me sane, and anyone else that’s able to work, that’s great for them and the ones who aren’t able to, I feel so bad for because it’s gotta be crazy. I have family members that weren’t able to work during this, and it’s just tough times. Very tough.”

On the role of a producer in professional wrestling:

TJ: “So, the role of a producer is to kind of look at the show, kind of give our takes on what we see, and that’ll be prior to the production meeting. Then, we kind of get assigned our matches and our segments, and then we - I like to go and collaborate with talent, and we put together what we see on TV every Monday and Friday. It’s a team effort with everybody. With the talent, with the producers, with the writers, everybody. So, it’s a cool atmosphere that I enjoy backstage.”

How his role has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic:

TJ: “It’s definitely changed a lot of things. Wrestling, at its core, is all about fan and audience participation and fan interaction live in that Arena. Live in that bingo hall, live in that gymnasium, whatever it is, man, I’ve wrestled in all of them. It’s definitely an interesting thing to not have that audience out there, but in this moment, we’re not able to. So, the options are that we either just don’t have shows, or we do and there’s not a fan base present live in the stadium, the crowd. But, it’s definitely different, it’s definitely different.”

TJ: “In terms of changing my role, not really, because I think our talent, and I’m not just saying this, the talent that I work with is so good that I don’t have to - I just have to kind of remind them like ‘hey guys, obviously we don’t have a crowd here, so there’s a tendency to maybe to do things a little quicker, but you gotta just be the pros that you are.’ Our talent are just such pros across the board that it hasn’t been an issue in terms of that for me.”

On breaking in with his home-town promotion, Stampede Wrestling:

TJ: “That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. It was very interesting that - so, I loved wrestling. I really liked wrestling, I’ll take that back, I really liked wrestling when I was a young kid, but I was not - my cousin showed it to me, and then I wanted to emulate some of the moves on my sisters, and then wrestling got banned in my house at a very young age. Fast forward a few years, and I go to school with Teddy Hart, and we were in the same class. He kept inviting me over to his house, which he called a gym, and when you’re a kid, the only gym you really know of is like a gymnasium where you play sports in school. So, finally, I give in and say ‘okay, I’ll come over,’ and I go to his house and he lived in a - his dad owned a gym, BJ’s Gym. He lived, the family lived in (the) quarters above the gym. So, he lived in a workout gym, which was mind-blowing to see at that age. Next thing you know, I’m going up to Stu’s (Hart’s) for Sunday dinner, and here’s Bret Hart, and here’s Owen Hart, and here’s Davey Boy (Smith), and here’s Jim Neidhart. It’s like ‘wha - what? I see these guys on TV, what’s going on?’ I just became engulfed in all aspects of it, in wrestling and in the Hart Family.

TJ: “I mean, to wrestle in Stampede, and especially that one year that Stampede Wrestling was back on TV in ’99-2000, that was such a cool thing because Stampede had gone off the air in ’89, and now here we were ten years later in ’99 restarting Stampede Wrestling TV. Things like that were very, very cool milestones in my career.”

Being a part of such a talented group of wrestlers in Alberta at that time:

TJ: “I tried to. I try to live in the moment. It’s obviously a little - sometimes we don’t always see exactly what’s in front of us and we’re always looking ahead. And that’s all of us, and I’m as guilty (of) that as anybody. But, I tried to immerse myself and slow down and enjoy what was in front of me. I remember, for example, you bring up Chucky, Michael Richard Blais, and BVD, I remember saying like ‘hey,’ - so, there was a little break, and then Stampede Wrestling restarted in the fall of 2005, and I remember saying ‘hey, I want these kids that I’ve been training, I want them at ringside almost like New Japan with the Young Boys.’ I’d been going to New Japan at that time, and I was like ‘I want them kind of down there.’

TJ: “In my mind I knew, I thought I knew what I was creating. I ended up creating (a) way bigger thing than I had bargained for.”

SL: “As usually is want to happen.”

TJ: “Yes. In my mind, I was like ‘okay. What I’m gonna do is I’m gonna sneak these guys on to shows here and there and get them that experience.’ And they were young, 16, 17. But that was the same - I had my first match at 15, so I understood that you could. If you’re a kid, I felt, and someone kind of helped you along and kind of gave you a bit of your first break, you will never forget that.”

TJ: “I remember telling the guys that I was meeting with about that, and I said ‘if we use these kids once in a while - we don’t have to put them on shows if you feel that’s going to take away credibility from other things, that’s cool. But, if we use them sporadically, these guys will never forget. And, you know, believe it or not, we don’t have a giant budget, so we need people to come set up the ring and do stuff like that. These guys will come down, and they’ll be in that Ogden Legion all day long doing whatever you want them to do. They’ll set up the ring so they can get in the ring in the day and get some reps in. They did agree, hesitantly, but they did agree and I had an idea that maybe it was a triple-threat with Michael Richard Blais, who was Chucky at the time, BVD, and Plexis. I think it was like a triple threat, and I said ‘hey, here’s the thing, it can go 30 seconds, it can go four minutes, it doesn’t matter, and then Duke (Durrango) and Rik Viktor come and attack these kids and get heat for beating up, bumping around these kids.’ That’s was what I kind of sold them on, and everyone was cool with it. But then, you fast-forward, like, this is going ahead, but then you fast forward six, seven months, the most over guy on our shows was Chucky. I had no clue what I was getting myself into, but I knew these guys were really good, and I knew they wanted to get even better, and I knew they would - I was training them at the time, so I knew how hard these guys wanted to train and I knew how serious, how serious they took wrestling and how much they loved it.”

What he saw in Michael Richard Blais and Brandon Van Danielson:

TJ: “It was something funny, I came home from England in 2005, and I was home for two weeks. I’d been in England for four months, almost five months, then I was home for two weeks and I was going to Japan for the Best of the Super Juniors tour. I had like two weeks in between, and I was like trying to just get in shape, and I was training (with) my Japanese in the mornings, and then I would come in at night, and these guys were there training. I was like ‘okay.’ I said ‘hey, guys. I have two weeks right now, but when I come back from Japan, if you guys are still here - I see you guys all the time, and you guys…’”

TJ: “I’d come in and I would do stuff. I knew who they were, but I wasn’t essentially training them hands-on at this point. I’d see something and say ‘hey, try this. Hey, try it like this.’ Chucky had been around for a while, he’d been around since he was a kid. Brandon I kind of knew online or whatever, now he started coming around, and Plexis as well. So they trained with me a little bit during those two week, and then I said ‘hey guys, when I come home, if you guys are serious about this, let’s seriously train.’”

TJ: “I came home from Japan, and I was like ‘okay guys, so this is what I do with my Japanese trainer. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m not gonna be - you guys are kids, I’m not gonna be super hard on you, but I’m not gonna take it easy also, so we’ll find that balance.’ Man, those kids showed up every day and they trained hard every day. Right away, I was like ‘okay, this is really fun,’ and I think at that time maybe, I think maybe we were training twice a week, or three times and we bumped it up to four or five, because I was loving it. You started seeing, like, these guys were just, they were these young sponges that just, they absorbed everything. Every day at practice, they would just be that much better, as silly as that sounds, they were just so much better every day. I loved being a part of that. It inspired me to keep getting better, too, and not just kind of stagnate.”

How much he keeps up with the Albertan wrestling scene:

TJ: “A little bit, here and there. I mostly find out - I’m in contact with MRB daily, so he kind of keeps me up-to-date on his end of things. Otherwise, y’know, I still have a lot of friends there, obviously, and I find out little things here-and-there, but I don’t keep up with it as much as obviously I would like to be able to in terms of kind of knowing.”

TJ: “When I did the PWA, when I was at that Anniversary show, it was really cool. It was a lot of people I’d maybe seen but hadn’t met, or I’d just kind of like glanced across maybe something online, so it was cool to actually meet them and then watch their work. It was cool to kind of put a name to the face of a bunch of people.”

How he maximizes his impact as a trainer without physically being able to perform inside the ring:

TJ: “So, I believe - and obviously, anyone is probably going to have good things to say about themselves - but I believe I have a very good eye for this, and a very good eye for footwork. Especially when I’m in the right setting, I can help create really, really fun stuff in matches and stuff towards the end of a match. That’s something I really love to do. That’s what I’m able to do now as a producer, and in this role. So, physically I can’t, I can’t physically come in and show you, but we have enough talented guys, such as - like, for example, if I was, and I do plan on opening a school at some stage, too, but if I had a school, and I had a guy like MRB almost as my - like, I would want to be as hands-on as possible, but if I had a guy like MRB as the physical coach, he’s so good in terms of he can do, in terms of movement, he can do all of it. So, I can easily show you, through him, exactly what I’m saying to you. He understands it, just (because) again, he’s - I’ve been talking wrestling with him for 15 years now, which is insane.”

His training with Tokyo Joe:

TJ: “Oh, man. Okay, so, Ross Hart had always stayed in really close contact with Tokyo Joe. Tokyo Joe was wrestling in Montreal, and he was supposed to, he was going - he was doing one of the little excursions that they do in Japan, so he was in Japan, he was wrestling there, and then he (left) for 12-18 months to Montreal. He was wrestling in Montreal, and then, before he went back to Japan, he came to Calgary. He was only supposed to be in Calgary for, like, two weeks, but there was - the ring truck had slid off the road in a bad snowstorm, and then Joe was out there looking at the truck and whatever, and as the tow truck was - a tow truck had come, sorry - a tow truck had come, and as the tow truck’s getting ready to tow the ring truck and get it out of this ditch, another car comes sliding off the highway and it crushed Joe between the ring truck and the car. It totally destroyed both of his legs; one he was able to keep, but they had to amputate the other. So, two weeks turned into Joe living in Calgary for like 40 years.”

TJ: “This guys’ eye for wrestling was unbelievable, so Ross (Hart) always kept close contact with him. At one point he was a scout for a long time with New Japan, and Ross brought him to a Stampede show to kind of point him in my direction. Joe, whether he saw potential in me or not, I don’t know. I know that he can be very tough, he could be very tough and very brutally honest, but maybe even using that to push me. But, I remember he was like ‘ahh, you’re too small, you’re not nothing special, something,’ and I was like ‘what?! Man, no way!’ Now, if you know me, I’m too competitive, so now I’m like ‘okay, I’ll show this guy.’ And so, then, Ross started bringing him to the Dungeon, and then he started training me. I remember him blowing me up, doing all this Japanese training with these Hindu squats and these sumo squats and all this stuff. Then, we’d wrestle, and he was like - then, I think he stated to finally, not finally, he started to see like ‘okay, there is something there,’ but he needed to kind of, like, get deeper. Man, he changed my life in every way, man. Not just in wrestling, but in life. He made me a much tougher person in terms of just knowing that you’re going to have to deal with some stuff.”

TJ: “It was funny, man. It was literally like, I think it’s Bugs Bunny, it’s like Bugs Bunny where Bugs Bunny - I’m sorry, Wile E. Coyote and the dog, they clock in, and the coyote’s trying to get the sheep and the dog’s beating him up, then they clock out and they’re friends again? Man, that was Joe. That was Joe. We would pick him up for training in the morning, and he’d be so nice from his house to the gym. Once we got to the gym, there was a different Joe, and it was awesome man. I say this in a loving way. But that Joe, he could be pretty mean, and he was very honest, and he was very serious. And then, the second training was over, we’d go eat, it was this sweet, sweet guy. We’d drive, drop him off, and I just remember Dave Swift and I always being like ‘man.’ The 20 minutes of Joe we get before training and the hour and a half we’d get eating with him after and driving him home was awesome, but that three hours, four hours in the middle, that guy’s tough as hell man. It was literally clocking in and clocking out.

SL: “I love the comparison, man. ‘Morning, Sam.’

TJ: “Yes, exactly! ‘Morning, Sam,’ dude, 100%, I swear, that’s what it was like.”

When he considers his formal training starting:

TJ: “No, that was Ross and Bruce Hart. They really taught me a lot. Man, the truth is, we kind of had the keys to the kingdom. I had Ross and Bruce Hart training me, they both (are) great guys, never charged me a penny. I mean, I know now I’m really intertwined with the family, but at the time, I’m a 15, 16 year old kid that’s kind of been around for 5 or 6 years. So, they saw me, they knew me as like a kid kid, but I’m not related to them, and they didn’t charge me a penny and they didn’t - they helped me so much. Davey would help us a lot, I remember Owen running Teddy and I through a match in the Dungeon.”

SL: “Wow.”

TJ: “Yeah, man. Literally, Bret - there was a period of time where we were training at Bret’s house almost daily. I mean, I’ve had help from everybody, man, but Ross and Bruce were my first real hands-on trainers in terms of - so, we kind of just put our own little match together, and we had help from everybody. I remember Davey watching it over and was like ‘okay.’ It was just a little three-minute match we did at these Rockyford rodeo shows in Rockyford, Alberta.”

SL: “You love to see, you even put up that clip I think - shit, time’s all blending together at this point, but of yourself and Davey in the Dungeon when you guys were kids. Just stuff like that’s so cool to see, man.”

TJ: “Yeah, see, so that clip is - like, Bruce and Ross are running that practice. That was, I think the date is like October 2000? So, I don’t meet Joe for another year-and-a-half. Or, I’d met him. I’d seen him at Stu’s, but I don’t start training with Joe until about 2002.”

His experiences getting stretched by Stu Hart:

TJ: “Oh, man. Unbelievable. Unimaginable. Oh my god, man. It happened - nah, it didn’t happen too, too often, but when it did, it was like ‘okay, this is gonna suck,’ and it usually involved a film crew, and so you’re like ‘oh my god, I’m getting killed on tape, too, like, this sucks.’ But, it was also an honour, and even I knew that as a kid. I’m trying to think how old I was the first time I got stretched. I might have been 15 or 16 the first time, and there was a TSN special for the Stu Hart birthday show in ’95.”

SL: “That was his 85th show or whatever, correct?”

TJ: “The one - I’m trying to remember what it was. Davey versus Bret is the main event. It’s in December ’95. That’s when I get stretched. So, I’m a 15-year-old kid. I get stretched on some - they were recording something either right before that or right after, and I just happened to be down there, like, cause we were up at the house, and then I got called on to the mat. I just remember being like ‘okay,’ and just trying not to, like, sell anything and it hurt sooo much, man. Stu was a master when it came to submission wrestling like that, and he had this almost routine where it’d be like everything just connected to the next. Just when you thought ‘oh, man, I don’t think my shoulder can take any more,’ and then like, it would stop, and then I would be (in) some hold that puts pressure on your neck. You just were relieved that your shoulder was feeling better. Oh, man. It was awesome, though. I wish I had that knowledge now, how to do - like, I mean, he was, in ’95 man? He was 80 years old! So, it was his 80th birthday show. He was 80 years old, man, and he’s doing that! It was crazy. Unbelievable. And, never past the point! He always knew the point! It was crazy.”

SL: “A very respectful submission artist, for lack of a better way to put it.”

TJ: “At least to 15-year-old me! I remember coming down for practice later on, now I kind of feel like I’m becoming more of a man, and I remember coming down to practice and, same thing, man, you come down to the Dungeon and you see, like, you see they have all this lighting and stuff in the Dungeon, you’re like ‘hold on, this practice is a little different than - what’s going on here?’ And then it’s like ‘yeah, guys, so today, Stu’s - these people are filming this thing on Stu, so Stu’s going to come down and stretch everyone,’ like, ‘oh, man, with an audience now?!’”

TJ: “I remember that practice was like four hours long. Duke (Durrango) loves this story, because there was a guy, and he’s a friend of mine, Duke said he never looked at him the same ever again. He literally - his eyes got bugged out, and he ran away.

SL: “Duke told me that one!”

TJ: “He would not let Stu touch him.”

SL: “It’s incredible, because he’s the only guys from everybody that I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to that was down in the Dungeon, whether it’s yourself, or Duke, or I spoke to Randy Myers a couple of weeks ago, and they’ve all had a fairly similar experience of ‘it sucks, but it’s a right of passage, and a bit of an honour,’ y’know?

TJ: “Oh, I mean, absolutely an honour, and it is a right of passage, and like, I mean, if you think about it, in the course of a 24-hour day, if Stu Hart put you in some holds for about 20 minutes in a 24-hour day, it’s not the end of the world. It feels like it! In those 20 minutes, it feels like it, but once it lets go, the relief feels so good.”

His memories of the Matrats promotion:

TJ: “Oh, man. It’s so funny, I was watching a DVD with Nattie last night from Matrats.”

SL: “Oh, cool!”

TJ: “Yeah, man. I loved Matrats. It was - so that was almost like, when I look back at it, that was almost what later on becomes me training MRB and BVD. I was training - it was actually Teddy’s idea to train kids, back in ’99. He had that same kind of concept that, like, ‘well, we got trained as kids, so it’d be good to’ - like, as a kid, you’re a little bit more fearless and a little bit - there’s a certain way that if you train, you don’t just throw them in there with like a 300-pound guy and, y’know, bodyslam a 16-year-old 50 times and then try to take his money, kind of that old-school way.”

TJ: “Yeah, man, Matrats was so fun. I remember this guy - so, same thing, Stampede Wrestling being on TV, man, it all started from that. Stampede Wrestling was on TV, (and) this new company had come to film the shows. I guess the guy had come to a show - he wasn’t really a wrestling fan at that point - and he was like ‘okay, I got the gist of it,’ and he goes to leave. Now, I think he (saw) Ted and I wrestle each other at the Pavilion. So, I come out, Ted comes out, and he’s like ‘what’s - who are these guys? They’re way smaller. What’s going on?’ He just (saw) the way we were moving and he was like ‘oh, wow, this is interesting!’ So, I remember - dude, I didn’t even know this guys, really. He came up to me like three months later at the Odgen Legion, he said ‘hey, I have this idea about this Matrats show, tell you about it later,’ and I was like ‘okay, dude. Whatever.’ And, to his credit, I’m still in contact with him, he’s a good guy, but when you’re around the Hart house for, so, by that time, it was 10 years, 11 years, when you’re around there for that long, do you know how many promise-makers I’ve come across that didn’t follow through with a single thing they said? Come on.”

SL: “Dime-a-dozen by that point, hey?”

TJ: “Of course! I mean, I get it. I get it. And so, then, he came and he kind of starts telling us the concept, and next thing you know, like, they have this awesome studio and we’ve become really good friends with this guy. Now, we’re able to set up our ring, this ring in the studio, and now we’re able to run these practices. We’re training kids, now we’re running practices in this nice studio that’s - it’s just us. Before, we’re at BJ’s Gym, so we’re kind of bothering members during certain times, and we have a little curtain and it is what it is, but now we have a full-on studio! It was awesome, man. Matrats was so awesome. We filmed - the first day we filmed two pilot episodes, then we did a third show for Eric Bischoff and Jason Hervey. Then, they were really interested, they wanted to get on board, contrary to Bischoff’s memory of Matrats that I've heard on podcasts. But, I have a great memory, so, I mean, there’s no debating it. I have the tape somewhere, too, of him in the crowd, and then I remember him coming backstage saying that was the best show he’d seen. It wasn’t the best show, but we did have a lot of action.”

SL: “But, we’ll take it!”

TJ: “We just had fearless kids, man. We just had fearless kids. Then, we ran this show at the Palace, which, I don’t even know what it is now in Calgary, but at the time, it was a club. That was the show I just watched. So, we invited - there was a bunch of distribution companies for television that had come to that show, or representatives that had come to that show. And, of course, in typical fashion, it was, to be honest, probably - the show’s not bad, but it’s probably our worst show of the Matrats shows we did. Of course”

SL: “Like you say, in typical fashion.”

TJ: “Yeah. Then we ran two more, kind of I guess you’d say illegally at the studio, because at the time, there was a commission in Calgary. We knew the girl, she worked out at Ted’s dad’s gym, so we just, we ran these two shows, and she’s like ‘hey guys, uhh, if you guys run a third, we gotta shut it down,’ or something like that. We didn’t have all the licensing stuff. We could have gotten it, and we should have. I don’t know if it was a money thing at the time for us, (but) the Matrats, that company had sunk so much money in to Matrats, and I don’t know that this is - I’m not using this as an excuse, I just remember talking to the guy on the Monday, and he said ‘yeah, tomorrow we’re supposed to, I’m supposed to fly and go meet with these guys in person, and it’s looking good.’ That was September 10th. Monday, September 10th, and the next day, some real crazy stuff happened.”

SL: “To say the least, and the show was nothing from there (laughs).”

TJ: “Yes. I’m not saying that’s the reason. Maybe Matrats would have never been anything anyways, but it’s so fun to watch back, (because) you watch it back, man, and obviously a lot of it’s inspired from Dynamite and Davey and Bret and Tiger Mask and, y’know, RVD and Jerry Lynn at that time. If you watch it back, man, this is way before, that first taping was December 2000. That’s - Ring of Honor doesn’t come around until 2002, and then that style kind of starts gaining some steam. But, man, we had like - I’m trying to think, so I’m very good friends with him, he’s married to Nattie’s cousin, Pete. Dude, he turns 15 that day. Like, he’s a 15 year old. He literally turns 15 that day that we film that pilot, and he has this - I don’t have the tape of it right now, but, like, he has, in that moment, and I still think kind of holds up in terms of innovation for sure, this awesome triple-threat match at 15-years-old, man. Unbelievable. Now, all of a sudden, we had like this giant screen and we had like a paid audience of like, actors and actresses. It just was insane, man. It was awesome. It was so cool. I was 20 and I was blown away, I couldn’t imagine being 15.

SL: “Well, and it sounds like at 20, you’re like one of the older individuals there.”

TJ: “And that was the thing. I think the rule - I’m trying to remember what the name was, I don’t want to butcher it, it was like Minudo or something - there’s a band in Mexico or something, and it had (an) age limit. Once you hit a certain age, you were out. It was almost like a boy band or something. At least, that’s the way it was explained to me. So, that was kind of this guy’s concept, it was like 21 and under.”

SL: “Huh. Very, very cool.”

TJ: “So, there can’t be like a 30-year-old coming in, a 45-year-old grizzled guy coming in and beating up these kids. So, it’s always kind of displayed as kids versus kids, to a degree obviously. A 20-year-old and a 15-year-old, in theory, should be different, but when you’re me, and you hit your growth spurt way too late in life, there’s not much size difference. Harry was 15, I’m 20, he’s way bigger than me!”

SL: “Well, it’s sort of like junior hockey in a sense that like, yeah, you’re obviously gonna have a bit of a physical difference between everybody, but it’s as close to competitive as you can get, right?”

TJ: “Yeah. It was a cool atmosphere, because same thing, we all were just, we all just were matrats. There was not like a political thing, and everyone was coming and training and working hard, and like - man, it was such a fun time, man. It really was.

Working with both Matrats and Stampede simultaneously

TJ: “Was doing both, was doing both. That time - so, it actually is very interesting. I remember it was my idea, I was like ‘hey, we should get on this show,’ and we hadn’t done - we were wrestling Stampede Wrestling matches kind of sporadically at that time, but I remember I was saying ‘hey, we should get on this one,’ and the owner was like ‘well, why?’ I said ‘well,’ I said ‘WWF just bought WCW.’ I said, ‘I know Lance Storm is under contract with WWF.’ I said ‘he’s on this Stampede Wrestling show coming up, so it’s gonna feel kind of big. We should talk to Bruce and see if we can do, like, a Matrats match, so we’re almost like our own little thing.’ The funny thing is, I’ve already wrestled all the guys on the roster, but now we’re pretending that I’m part of this whole inclusion thing. They were like ‘okay, cool.’ So, they talked to Bruce, and everything gets okayed, and it’s this cool show in June 2001. And, maybe a week or two before is when - like, cause nobody (knew) when the WCW guys are gonna debut, or what’s going on. A week or two before that, in Calgary, Lance debuts on RAW and superkicks Saturn! So, like, here’s this guy at a sold-out Saddledome show, superkicking Perry Saturn on Monday Night RAW and then running away with Shane McMahon? Well, in two or three weeks, that guy’s wrestling at the Odgen Legion!”

SL: “Incredible. You couldn’t ask for better timing, hey?”

TJ: “Against Christopher Daniels, who, like, that’s coming off (of) Beyond the Mat”

SL: “Man. We could do, like, 40 podcasts just talking about wrestling back then.”

TJ: “Yeah, oh absolutely man. Easily.”

Winning the Stampede Wrestling North American Heavyweight Championship at McMahon Stadium:

TJ: “Man, that was so crazy! That was so nuts. So, the full - the full, non-disclosure story of that was like, it was supposed to be a tag or something, then they decided it’s me versus Apocalypse. Then, it was supposed to be - for that reason - it was supposed to be a non-title match. It’d be me winning (a) non-title match. Well, now, somewhere along the way, they announced it’s a title match, and they’re like ‘oh, we can’t get out of it,’ and I was like ‘of course you can, but okay!’ Then, they’re like -

SL: “I’ll take it!”

TJ: “They’re like - yeah - they’re like ‘I don’t know, we really don’t want you to lose.’ I said ‘yeah, I get that, but,’ I said, ‘I don’t mind losing.’ They’re like ‘no, no, no, like, you can’t.’ ‘Okay.’ So, we figured it out. Dude, it - again, to the best of my knowledge, I believe that show, that game, sorry, had like 25 or 30,000 tickets sold, something like that for that Stamps game against Winnipeg. Same thing, man - dude, it’s so funny. I’d just come home from England, and I had a tryout. I knew my tryout was the first week of October. So, I come out. That day, I wake up, and it is a crazy storm outside. Crazy. Like, wet snow, yeah, wild man. You can see it on YouTube, it’s like - it’s crazy. I’m slipping all over the ring. I remember they were like ‘hey, you’re going to come out in these jerseys.’ And I was like ‘yo, can I wear these jerseys? This’ll help.’ And they’re like, ‘somebody on our side said no, you have to give them the jersey back.’ I was like ‘oh. Okay.’ Dude, I got a little bit of frostbite on my back. It just was freezing cold out there. It’s - I think like 13,000 people or something (showed) up to the game. That’s how many people didn’t come that already had tickets, because it was just a wild storm, man. It was like a, almost a blizzard in September. It was wild. Which is not uncommon for Alberta, but always that first day that it hits, that first day it hits, everyone pretends they’ve never seen snow before.”

SL: “Oh, 100%. I’m certain that like half of those people were on there, they were just driving five kilometres an hour”

TJ: “Exactly, yes. I’ve done many PWA shows at that speed driving up from Calgary to Edmonton.”

The differences in preparation between working with a long-time faction like the Hart Dynasty versus working with someone like Cesaro for the first time:

TJ: “Man, that is a great question. That’s awesome. It is true man, it’s so different. It’s so different. My very first match in July 1995 is teaming with Harry. So, when you fast-forward 15 years, and we win the WWE Tag Team titles together, it’s - obviously, that’s so insanely special, but it’s almost not that foreign. I’ve been wrestling with this guy, either against him or teamed with him, ever since I’d ever been in wrestling.”

SL: “Yeah. Not to bury it, but like, you’ve done it before, y’know?”

TJ: “Yeah. I’ve done so much stuff with him. And, so, it’s funny. I said this on the Bump a couple months ago when they asked me, and I said the difference - a big difference was me. A big difference was me. In 2010, I’m not the performer, I’m not the complete - not that I’m this complete performer, but I’m not as complete a performer in 2010 as I was in 2015. Not even close. So, in 2009, 2010, when I’m first on the main roster and we’re a team? Well, he’d been on the main roster before, but now he’s getting his footing there, like, we’re both kind of finding - and, y’know, along with Nattie as well, we’re both finding our way on the main roster, and we’re doing it together and as a group and collectively. Where, when you fast-forward to 2015, where I’m paired with Cesaro randomly - well, technically December 2014, December 1st we get thrown together on RAW - we’d had a triple-threat match a few weeks prior with Dolph Ziggler. I’d wrestled Cesaro a couple times on some live events, Smackdown, a couple RAW’s I think, NXT, and I had a lot of respect for him, a ton of respect. Not had, have, but I did at that time, too. I think it honestly, it’s on me, and I’m just more of a complete performer myself in 2015 than 2010. But, it just was interesting the chemistry that Cesaro and I had from the beginning.”

If he knew the plan for himself and Cesaro before the partnership ended:

TJ: “No, honestly. If I did, I’d have no problem sharing. I honestly don’t know anything in terms of long-term plans. I know when we lost the titles at Extreme Rules to the New Day in Chicago - which, that’s where I lost my tag titles with Harry as well, so there’s something about that building. No, those are amazing fans, I loved wrestling there, but I apparently can’t hold on to my tag titles there. That day, what I will say, that day I remember Cesaro and I wanted to go meet with Vince, because we just wanted to get a grasp on where everything was going, and a lot of people came out of the meeting and they told us that the idea was we would be, we would kind of be the tag team, like the nucleus in the middle, and everybody would kind of work around us, through us. So, I don’t know. At least in April 2015, May, in that area, that was the plan. Those New Day matches were so much fun. Man, when I was home hurt, watching New Day, like how much - especially in like 2015, 2016, 2017, I was like ‘man, I want to be part of this New Day. I was a part of it. I want to be a part of this so bad.’”

TJ: “There was the one time that we (came) back after the 2-out-of-3 falls match in Extreme Rules in Baltimore, and I thought Vince was maybe gonna get mad at something, because he has a very good eye for this, and sometimes, something - you can do a 30-minute match, but something stuck out in his mind at minute six, and he can’t let it go, and you’re gonna hear about it when you get back. I remember we get back, and I thought the match was very good. He’s like ‘y’know, I’m going to have to start charging you guys!’ And I was like ‘oh, man, are we getting fined for something? What’d I do?’ And then, he was talking to New Day, and he was like ‘you guys are having way too much fun wrestling these guys,’ and points to me and Cesaro. I was like ‘yeah. I’ll take it!’”

SL: “That’s a good problem to have!”

TJ: “Yeah, hell yeah. I loved it. I loved every minute of it.”

His feelings on professional wrestling being called fake:

TJ: “I mean - so, predetermined is not some secret. It’s not letting the cat out of the bag, it’s long out. I’m not obviously - I’ve never in a match purposely tried to injure somebody, hurt somebody. I want - my job and my goal is to - there’s many. I want to entertain the audience. I want the people to get their money’s worth. And, I also want to come back, and my opponent (to) come back to guerrilla in the exact same shape we left in. We’re just going to be more blown up, we’re just gonna be tired, and that’s it. In terms of that word, I get it. I get why people use it. I - there’s some ignorance to it, and I get it. Wrestling is not for everybody. So, someone who says that, obviously wrestling is not their thing, that’s fine. I’m a giant UFC fan. Huge. I watch UFC all the time. People get very funny - it’s almost like, which is big right now because of this Last Dance documentary, it’s like Jordan versus LeBron. Just because - if you think one guy’s better than the other, you’re not actually - that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re insulting the other. If I’m a fan of UFC, I can also love wrestling the way I’ve loved wrestling my whole life. You don’t have to pick one or the other, and I think people get defensive and that’s when they start throwing those kind of words around, which is, y’know, it is what it is. I’ve had people say it to me, not meaning it in an insulting way. They just say it like ‘oh, but that stuff’s, like, fake, right?’ And, it’s like -“

SL: ‘Not particularly’

TJ: “But like, it depends, like, yeah - again, I’ve never really tried to piledrive somebody, but at the same time, I have rods and screws in my neck, and they’re really there!”

TJ: “A lot of times, it’s just kind of ignorance, and not always hate. Sometimes, it is trying to be hateful, so that person that’s saying it out of hate, they just - they don’t matter, to be honest. No matter what you say, you’re not gonna change their minds, so it doesn’t matter.”

If seeing Edge return has inspired him to get tested:

TJ: “It’s funny, man, and I know it’s going to keep happening as different guys come back throughout the years. Like, when Bryan (Daniel Bryan) came back, I got a lot of tweets and a lot of messages, and now with Edge, and now I get a lot including both of them. I get it. The difference is I just have a very different injury. If you look at Edge, his neck surgery’s through the front of his neck because, as weird as this sounds - like, this sounds, I almost hate saying it, but like, where his fusions were, that’s almost the - this is the part I hate saying, because it just sounds so dumb, but it’s almost where the normal fusions in wrestling are, between your C5, your C6 and your C7. I have my C1 and C2 fused, which is as high up as it goes. That’s why mine’s in the back of my neck, they didn’t go through the front. But, my surgeon was amazing and he did save a lot of the muscle. And, I know - I get it. People will see, they know, especially I have Workhose Fitness, (a) supplement company that I’ve created. So, I post a lot of workout videos, and you see pictures of me in shape, and I am in physical shape in terms of working out in a gym. (It’s) very different than ring shape. I’m sure I’m in horrible ring shape right now, but I do attack that damn assault bike daily, so maybe I would be alright. But, (it’s) very different between looking good wearing a pair of shorts in my garage and wrestling in a ring. It’s very, very different.”

TJ: “I did, one time, over the past couple years look into maybe doing a little something in a Royal Rumble, just kind of as that, so that could be my last chapter, so the last time you see me is, y’know, this little thing, and it didn’t work out. I did look into - I did get looked at, and things are good, but things are not at that level in terms of my neck, and y’know what? I’m at peace with everything. I haven’t wrestled in five years almost. June 1st, 2015 was my last match, and I’m at peace with it. I love what I do now, and being a part of working with the talent. Right now, at the moment, I’m working with a lot of the women and it’s very, very cool because they’re on a curve, and they’re almost playing catch-up. Like, I was explaining this the other day, and I’m sorry this is such a long answer.”

SL: “Don’t worry man, I told you, there’s no time limit! (laughs).”

TJ: “That’s awesome. I was explaining this the other day. So, Money in the Bank this Sunday is going to be the fourth women’s Money in the Bank, and that’s (because) they did two that first year. They did one, and then one two weeks later. So, this is going to be the fourth woman’s Money in the Bank match. How many have the guys had? Twenty? There (were) pay-per-views before where we’d do two in a night, two guys ones. So, how many women Hell in a Cell matches have there been? Charlotte and Sasha and Becky and Sasha?”

SL: “Just the two or three at most.”

TJ: “And how many men’s Hell in a Cell matches have there been? Know what I’m saying? There’s been, like, three women’s Royal Rumbles. There’s been thirty guys’ Royal Rumble’s! So, like, we’re playing catch-up, and I love - right now, I work with the women a lot, and I love it. I absolutely love it, because they’re so good. They’re so good, and they’re so hungry, and they - they remind me of a better version of me in like 2011. In 2011, I had a big chip on my shoulder, and I felt like I had a lot to prove every time I went out there. It led to good performances, but sometimes backstage, I could be - not to the talent, but just in general - I could be angry. I always will make jokes about 2011 Tyson, but he’s long gone. But, that chip on the shoulder, and that (mentality) performance-wise? All of the women right now have that, and it’s like, I love being a part of it. I get so much joy out of watching them, and being a part of that process, that like - I know there’s maybe at least one fan out there that will be sad, but I don’t have that need at this stage to get back in the ring, and I don’t think that I will. I had a 20-year-career.”

TJ: “Dude, there are a million what-ifs. Right after I got hurt - I say this to the both of them all the time - right after I got hurt, Gable and Jordan, they started coming up, and I was like ‘oh my god, we’ve got the same dynamic, like me and Cesaro, a bigger guy and then the littler guy.’ Like, man, I would love to wrestle Roman Reigns. I would love to wrestle Gable, or Shorty G, I would love to. I’ve wrestled Seth (Rollins) before, not on TV, but I’d love to wrestle Seth, or Dolph (Ziggler) again, anyone that I had wrestled before, I’d love to wrestle these guys. I’d love to wrestle these other guys for the first time ever, like a Gable. Believe me, I sit and think about it, but it’s just, unfortunately - I also am realistic, and I’m not - it doesn’t eat at me, and I’m okay with it.”