ROHs Shane Taylor discusses ROH, Keith Lee and keys to his success

ROHs Shane Taylor has had not only a storied career but a storied life as well. He first began to earn a name for himself as part of a tag team with current WWE NXT talent Keith Lee, but it is not his career successes but the life choices that steered him on that path that he is most proud of. Taylor has forged ahead and seen not only personal but professional growth.

Since joining Ring of Honor, he has been part of tag teams, factions, and is striving to be the best singles competitor in ROH today. Don’t be deceived by his look, because the talented ROHs Shane Taylor is committed to his craft. During our interview, Shane Taylor opened up about who has been in his corner professionally and how he continues to learn regardless of whom he is in the ring with. His commitment to improving says a great deal about who he is as a person and a performer. As a father now, Shane Taylor sees things differently and is as devoted to fatherhood as he is to be a role model for those that watch him. Whether it is wrestling or life, ROHs Shane Taylor wants to provide hope by showing how hope can become a reality.

In this interview, he discusses where the name ‘notorious’ came from, who he preferred watching when he was growing up, and what works for wrestlers today in order for them to be a success.  

Fans can communicate with him on various social media platforms such as Twitter, where he can be reached @shane216taylor

Shane Taylor
Photo / Shane Taylor

Share with us what was your early inspiration to compete, who motivated you, and why.

Like a lot of guys, professional wrestling was something that allowed me to have an escape from my normal life. I grew up on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. My history was that when I was growing up I lived in a very rough neighborhood where people like myself could quickly become statistics and be lost in society. Professional wrestling was something that always bonded myself and my family, as it was always something that we all gathered around and enjoyed. It was always something that I dreamed of doing after college. Wrestling was where I wanted to take that chance and fill a lifelong dream like so many others.

It was the ability to go congregate together that my family and watch pay per views. We didn’t have a lot of money. Each house, my aunts and uncles lived around the corner, would get one pay per view a year and we would go as a family and watch it. In a city like Cleveland, it was just about being around family and having that time together, that was what brought us closer. Doing that along with the other day to day stuff was simply how we were able to achieve that.

Was there a preference in who/what you watched and why?

From a physical standpoint guys like Vader and Stan Hanson. It was guys that were never really the bodybuilder type. They were just big and strong dudes that would just go out and beat folks up, that was always something that I admired because I am not about to have a twelve-pack anytime soon. Just to see those guys and their athleticism and the way they moved.

Vader being well over three hundred pounds, to be able to do moonsaults and things like that, along with guys like Bam Bam (Bigelow) as well, to be super agile, super athletic and make the most of their size and still be able to have that tremendous presence of being this monster guy was always something that I dreamt of. It was something that I wanted to emulate, as well as guys like Taker when you talk presence. That guy walks on the stage and every eye turns to him. He commands that stage. He is owning the room, and that is something that I still try to work on to this day.

Do you think with today’s audience it is harder to try and convince fans that a guy the size of ROHs Shane Taylor can ‘go’?

That’s a tough question because I think there are a lot of fans out there that take things at face value. That there are ways that you have to do certain things and you can’t do certain things. I think that for guys with the ability and the size to dispel any myths, the sky is the limit. For example, if you look at a guy like my boy, Keith Lee, who is going out there and doing planchas and is going out there and doing topes and hurricanranas and things of that sort, he is doing a lot of things that traditionally you don’t see guys of that size do. When people see that, it’s an automatic jaw-dropping, eye-popping moment. For the guys that have the ability to do that in this day and age of professional wrestling, you can almost write your own ticket.

Discuss your early training and development in Texas? How did your training with Raymond Rowe, Bill Collier, Jax Dane, and J-Rocc differ from one another?

Each of those guys brought so many different things to the table. When you talk about a guy like J-Rocc, his mind for wrestling and his ideas of how things go as far as character stuff are things that are still with me now. Then you look at guy like a Ray Rowe, the things I learned from him as far as technique and positioning and where to stand and how to stand and how to guard my steps and how to preserve my time, those things he will still be like ‘Hey, you’re doing this wrong, you’re doing that wrong.’

ROHs Shane Taylor: But that’s what I love about him because I try my very best to continually work to get better.

So having guys like that in your corner, who will give it to you straight no matter what, that want what’s best for you, is something that I love. You have guys like Bill Collier as well, who just presents such a physical position to get better you can’t help but up your game. I’ve learned so much from those guys or being around those guys. I was very fortunate to have guys like that in my corner.

Wrestling to me is like math. There are ways to do things and then there are those old rules. As long as someone can come up with something that gets the job done, that being to get the fans to invest in them, they are successful. You can do what you want as long as it works. That’s my angle on it, do what works. There are some guys that think the older school ways to do things are the best ways to do them, and they are entitled to their opinion because they’ve done it and it’s their belief. Then you have guys that are very much entrenched in the new style who are also successful. So this goes back to doing what works for you and what gets the people to love or hate you.

I think it ultimately comes down to experience.

The older school way of doing things versus the new, you are dealing with a society that’s different now. Our attention spans are shorter now then they were 10 years ago, 20 years ago. So I think the game is just faster. You can see it across all sports and not just wrestling. When you look at basketball now, all the highlights are all threes and dunks. There are very few people that love a defensive basketball game full of post play and mid-range jump shots. Its all highlight reels and dunks and half-court three-pointers and things that make people go ‘Ooooohhh,’ so I think its more wrestling just conforming to that model in society now.

That’s not to say that old school ways don’t work though, because they absolutely do. I think it depends on your experience and where you are at and the crowds that you are in front of. I just saw someone doing a shooting star DDT and I’m like how do you get something better than that? How do you up the game from THAT?

That is the crazy and unique challenge of what we do because someone is going to up the game, there is always going to be someone out there innovating.

There is always going to be someone out there doing crazy things that you never thought you’d ever see. It’s a very unique challenge, and only time will tell if people keep pushing the envelope or start thinking ‘Okay maybe now it’s just getting really out of control, let’s reign it in a little bit.’ As long as it’s putting people in seats then they are doing what they have to do. Then hey, I am all for it.

Tanahashi is just an example of a guy that has been doing his thing for years and just always seems to always get better each and every year. He is inspiring to guys like myself and so many others

What inspired the “notorious” nickname?

The ‘notorious’ nickname came from the years of me living in Cleveland and being on a not so great path. There were a lot of fights, and because of my mindset and my recklessness, I was a ‘down for whatever’ kind of guy. That led to a lot of people knowing who I am, and not always for the right reasons. So that is where that came from. Growing up in Cleveland, you had to have a different mindset than your average person, and not to glorify that lifestyle because I am not proud of anything I did there in that time in my life, but you had to survive. You have to keep going.

Being a father now definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things, because I have something to live for, and someone to live for. Now I do my very best to set the example for what not to do and give kids like I was someone to look to and say ‘There is another way to do this, now I don’t have to act like this. I can take the pro wrestling route or I can take this route and still be successful.’ Ultimately, at the end of the day, my goal is to inspire kids like myself that come from not so great backgrounds to rise above their conditions and change their lives for the better.

Agility and mobility are so key for wrestlers. What would you say has been your key to success in maintaining that in your career?

It would just be different ways of training. It would be from trying to power lift to doing lighter weight training. Switching up just normal cardio with kickboxing and boxing. Things I have done my entire life but really started to focus on as far as not just going to work out but actually training specific things. Training for explosion and training for flexibility and things of that sort. All of those things have contributed to me keeping my agility, and improving it over my career.

These things along with keeping myself conditioned and doing whatever I have to do to expand my game. I want to be able to go in there with any opponent and give a great performance. What I am going to need when I am in the ring with a Keith Lee is going to be different from what I am going to need when I am in there with a Will Ospreay. I want to be ready to do all of those things at a moment’s notice.

We (Flip Gordon and I) had a chance to match up with one another to determine the number one contender for the Ring of Honor TV title.

Flip Gordon came out on top in that one. He is a very resilient dude. I am looking forward to a rematch one day with Flip, so I would be down for that as well. He is an incredible guy, great competitor and highly successful. I think he signed a multi-year deal with ROH and there is nothing but big things ahead for him.

Shane Taylor
Photo / Twitter user: @RonnellHunt7 / Shane Taylor

The Pretty Boy Killers burst onto the scene in Texas but joined ROH. How did that pairing with Keith Lee and ROHs Shane Taylor all come about? And why did it come to an end?

That tag team formed from a mutual desire for Keith and myself to make a splash in pro wrestling. We were both doing okay. We were doing our thing in Texas and we talked and we decided that there weren’t many people that looked like us. Ones that could do what we do. While separately we thought that we were doing well, we thought that we could really make a splash together. We did that. Our goal was to get noticed and get jobs and contracts in pro wrestling.

When we started in Ring of Honor, we were doing great stuff and an opportunity came for him as a result of that, plus the independent work that he was doing, and he decided that what was best for him and his family was to go that route. I support him in that because look at where he is now. He bettered himself, it was the right call. Now he is with NXT after competing all over the world having incredible matches with (Minoru) Suzuki and (Tomohiro) Ishii and Zack Sabre (Jr).

He’s been absolutely killing it so I couldn’t be prouder of him.

I think all of our matches with War Machine surprised people by being as good as they were. I don’t think people thought the rivalry was going to be as good as it was. But I think that is an example of what all of us bring to the table, I think the drive of all four of us was to go out there with a chip on our shoulder, and prove to Ring of Honor fans and officials, the brass and whoever else was watching around the world that we’re four guys that were going to go out there and try and steal the show every time we are in the ring. When you had both of our teams together, it was excitement and it was brutality.

ROHs Shane Taylor: It was hard-hitting and something people loved to watch.

All of my success could be attributed to my time with Ray Rowe and Keith. Those guys taught me and they gave me everything that I know. I go out there with my personal drive to always prove people right when they back me. To prove to them that their support was worth it, that is something that drives me every single day. As well as to prove to those that didn’t back me that they were absolutely stupid for not doing so. The success that I have in anything is a direct result of wanting to prove him (Ray Rowe) right and prove right so many people that stood in my corner. That is always going to be a thing for me to look forward to.

Ray Rowe saw a guy that was willing to listen. He saw a guy that was willing to be coached. I don’t think he had any sort of expectations of what I would do or how successful I would be. I think he initially said ‘Okay, all you have to do is listen,’ and I did. Once he saw that, we started to train together, we started to get closer. Now he’s closer to me than almost anyone in the world. Blood couldn’t make us any closer. The guy is like my big brother and he’s always been there and been the voice I wanted or needed.

Describe your time with The Rebellion and how that all came about?

When you are working with guys like Caprice Coleman, Kenny King, and Rhett Titus. There is so much experience there, the things they have seen and done. The ability to pick their brains is something that I value, and it is something that helped me tremendously, just knowing when to do certain things in certain situations and when not to do something in other situations. They also helped me with how to get the most out of a moment. Those are things they still teach me about, that they still work with me on. So having those guys in my corner has been tremendous.

I’m very proud of Caprice, Kenny and Rhett and the things they are doing now. Kenny is doing something different now and had a buzz with The Bachelorette. And Caprice, not only doing in-ring work but with commentary. He also did The Pulpit and everything that is asked of him. When he says things like he is the most versatile guy in ROH. He isn’t lying because he is what he says.

ROHs Shane Taylor: So having those guys in my ear and in my corner has been super helpful.

ROHs Shane Taylor has had tremendous success in Ring of Honor. He has been part of several feuds and factions. However, his most notable success involves Shane Taylor capturing the Ring of Honor Television Championship. Shane Taylor appears prepared to fight the establishment and fans shouldn’t be surprised. He doesn’t take what is in front of him for granted. But is as committed to being a good person as he is a successful wrestler.  The future is bright for Shane Taylor.