Shane Taylor will never forget the day he received his Ring of Honor contract.
Seeing the paperwork firsthand was a surreal experience for the pro wrestler who worked the better part of 10 years for this opportunity and platform.
“I literally sat at my computer for about a half hour not doing anything but holding the contract in my hand,” Taylor said, going back to almost a year ago.
“I know it sounds super cheesy, but it really was one of those moments. It was a dream come true. To do all this work and be able to say, ‘Hey, I did this. I’m actually about to sign this. I’m actually about to be a part of this.’ It’s something very, very few people get to do when you look at the legacy and history of a company like Ring of Honor and the names that have been through here. No matter what, I am now a part of that history and tradition. So, for me, that is an incredible feeling.”
The imposing athlete believes he has come a long way in a short time. He is grateful to have individuals in the locker room to learn from and go to for advice.
“You look at a guy like Dalton Castle. He has helped me so much. Jay Briscoe has been instrumental in showing me small things along the way to help me put other things together and present a package I can be proud of,” Taylor said.
“The help is paying off already. Each time I go out there, I feel myself getting better. I feel myself getting more comfortable. For a while, once you get here, you feel like any small mistake you do is going to cost you big. People here are so accepting and willing and know that when you are new, you’re going to have those learning curves…It goes with the process. Everyone is super helpful. Jay Briscoe has been right there with me every step of the way. He doesn’t have to do that after all. He has been the man here for 15 years, two-time world champ, the whole nine. There are so many guys like that. It’s the most genuine locker rooms I’ve ever been a part of where everyone legitimately wants everyone to be good as possible and successful. When you have that, you are putting the best product possible. Having the title ‘Best Wrestling on the Planet’ isn’t just a moniker here. It’s what they believe and how they go about everything.”
Taylor knows with so many talented personalities, it can be hard to separate from the pack. He knew early on that it was important to stay true to himself. After all, fans resonate with those who appear genuine and real. That mindset has been instilled in him from the start. Another challenge he faces as a big man is to present something unique in presentation. It’s not uncommon for a Punishment Martinez or War Machine taking to the air.
“For guys who can do it well, why would you not add that to your arsenal to stand out more,” Taylor said when asked if larger stars are relying too much on flashy aerial moves and taking unnecessary chances.
“In my eyes it’s doing the things I like to do and making them as brutal as possible and look as vicious as possible and using that in my arsenal versus the high risk moves. When you do those, even as a bigger guy and they look great and the crowds go absolutely bonkers for them, but you are also putting yourself at risk more because you are a bigger guy.
“The impact your body takes is going to be way much more than a smaller guy. Every time you do that you could be taking time away from your career. For those guys who want to do that, I say go for it. If that’s what you feel like you need to do. Back in the day you had guys like Vader who can bust those things out. That’s what separated them from the rest. I get the idea behind it. But I also feel it reaches a point where if everyone is doing it, then it’s no longer special. I try to go the traditional big man route and use things I know to separate myself as opposed to doing high risk.”
Taylor is confident in his abilities, but also strives to improve. This proves true even when it comes to appearance. He used to focus on portion control versus what he was actually eating. Today he looks more at the overall diet and breaking down how his body responds to the food is actually eating.
“I dedicated myself to doing it and not falling off the bandwagon. Saying, ‘It’s okay to cheat this day,’ he said.
“I was super dedicated and making sure I kept my goals in mind, which was to be one of the guys this company can look to for the future. I wanted to be the guys who can step up and be one of those main event players. And by no means am I done with that transformation. There is a lot more I want to do.”
Taylor has gone from 385 plus to 315 since he started this journey. He isn’t looking for a six pack. However, his goal weight is around 275-280 and packing on another five to 10 pounds of muscle. The company has certainly taken notice of his work and rewarded him with increased television time. Taylor is slowly coming into the forefront working against top tier stars and positioning into the Television title hunt.
“I think even though I lost my match with Jay Briscoe in Collinsville, Illinois, I’m proud of that match,” he said.
“It was the first time I was able to step up against one of the mainstays here and hold my own and show that I can go. I wanted to show that if I can go with Jay, I can go with anyone on the roster and do it well. Also, my match with Hirooki Goto from Global Wars in Toronto. That was also a big, huge deal for me because one of my goals has been to go to New Japan. That has been one of my ultimate goals since I started wrestling. Even if it’s one-time thing, I want to say I did that and achieved that. Having that opportunity to step in the ring with him and a future legend like Jay Briscoe has been great.
“…I’m in line for the TV title. But I know so is Punishment Martinez and Silas Young. Not sure what is going to happen. I feel over the next few weeks, we’re going to get that into focus and come up with something. You’re talking about that next crop of stars. Kenny King has been here for a while, so you’re talking about a guy who can connect the past, present and future of Ring of Honor. Punishment and myself and Silas represent that next group of guys to really take the company on our back and see what we can do. I’m excited.”
Ring of Honor Final Battle airs 9/8c live December 15 at 9/8c on Pay-Per-View
Ring of Honor television can be seen in syndication through Sinclair Broadcast Group affiliates, online and Sundays, 10/9c, CHARGE! TV.