My first exposure to Extreme Championship Wrestling came in January 1999 when I stumbled upon the program and saw a man standing close to the camera with a shredded towel draped over his head. He was cutting a promo on then ECW World Champion Shane Douglas about their match a pay per view. I was about 9-years old at that point and I was quite interested and maybe a little scared of this man. I wouldn’t want to ever piss him off.
That man was Taz, and at the time he was being built up as the next top guy for Extreme Championship Wrestling. Sadly, I wasn’t able or allowed to follow up on the angle and his career in ECW. About a year later, the man I was scared of arrived in the World Wrestling Federation and competed at the Royal Rumble in 2000 where he beat then undefeated Olympian Kurt Angle.
It was a great way to bring him in as he beat Angle right in the middle of the ring. That was the bright spot of his career in the WWF. After that, he was regulated to the WWF Hardcore division. I thought it was a complete waste of talent.
Yeah, Taz is a short guy but his bad-ass attitude and continued use of suplexs really put him over with me personally. I’ve been watching old school ECW stuff from the mid 1990’s and find myself being impressed with Taz. Considering I had never watched his stuff previously in the promotion and mainly knew about his WWF stuff, I find it to be refreshing how violent and ruthless the guy is.
Taz’s feud with Bam-Bam Bigelow and Sabu are really good feuds in ECW and highlight Taz very well. I honestly can’t name a feud in the WWF that I would consider to be good for Taz. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m thinking about his feud with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler in 2000. Shouldn’t be a hard conclusion to figure out which company booked Taz better.
Looking back on it, I thought it sucked that Taz left ECW to join the WWF especially when ECW had just gotten a television deal with TNN. Your World Heavyweight Champion bails less than three months into the run on television. I’m not going to say that killed the company or anything, but it would have been interesting to see how Taz would have done had he stayed. Sure, he had accomplished everything in ECW, but there were several people he hadn’t had significant feuds with. But, it’s a business and he needed to look out for himself.
I felt like Taz was more than capable of succeeding in the WWF as an upper midcarder or even main event guy. I don’t believe his size was that big of a deal. His gimmick made up for any of that and no matter how tall or small you are, if you are as ruthless as Taz, you can get over. His reaction at the Royal Rumble in 2000 is a prime example of that. His lack of a push is one of the greater failures, in my opinion.
When it comes to Taz as a commentator, that’s a different story. At first, he was a good one when he worked with Michael Cole on Smackdown, but I feel like once he went to the ECW brand and worked with Mike Adamle, he just lost his motivation. That lack of desire to make the product better has been apparent in TNA as well.
I tend to remember Taz as a wrestler in a very positive manner. When I watch Hardcore TV, I find myself interested in what he is going to be doing. Plus, he sold himself as a bad-ass very well. As I said previously, Taz is one of the bigger mistakes made by the WWF as they failed to push him to the highest level he could have gotten to.
What are your opinions on Taz? Feel free to share below.
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.