Former WWE star Gabe Tuft, f.k.a. Tyler Reks, recently spoke to Raj Giri of WrestlingINC.com. During the interview, Tuft discussed breaking into the business, if he was ready for the main roster when he debuted, his first WrestleMania experience, his issues with John Cena. Here are some highlights:
If he was ready for his main roster debut two years after starting to train:
“Not even close, man! There’s always the question, ‘are you ever fully ready?’ I’d have loved to have had more experience on the main roster on house shows. When I debuted, it was me, Sheamus, Yoshi (Tatsu), and Tiffany (Taryn Terrell). We were just told, ‘hey, you’re debuting.’ We’d been on the road for like two weeks, and in front of the agents like twice a week and always just with each other. I had no experience outside of what I learned in FCW. Looking back you do that and then you’re in the ring with Chavo (Guerrero), MVP, Christian, Matt Hardy – if I’d have been able to do that on house shows and then debut– it’d be a different story.”
WWE having the same guys on top:
“The only guys who get over are the guys who are already over, and that’s the problem. When ‘Taker started to make fewer appearances and Edge had to retire because of his neck people like me and Hawkins were thinking, “they better do something soon, cause when all these guys are gone, they’ll have nobody left.” That’s the trend you see. You see guys like John [Cena] still on top and [Big] Show still on top. I know they’re working to build guys like The Shield and [Roman] Reigns and Moxley [Dean
Ambrose]. Had they started doing that a long time ago I think they’d be in a better position.
“I think creative is really dropping the ball. I don’t know if it’s because of the production meetings they have where Vince changes everything last minute or they don’t put a lot of effort in to it. It’s not planned out more than a couple of weeks in advance. There are never any long-term angles any more. If I grew up on that I wouldn’t have any long-term investment in the product, either.”
Five things he would change in the company if he was in charge:
“Number one would be foresight. Think beyond the next couple of weeks.
“Number two, I’d say we grade our talent better. I say that carefully because I don’t know what’s changed since I left. The Performance Center is up and running, but if not much has changed then somebody needs to be grooming them when they’re in NXT.
“Three, when they are brought up to the main roster someone should be assigned to that talent to keep grooming them. Someone to say “what are your ideas? I have some ideas for you.”
“Four, monthly evaluations where you sit down with your agent and they tell you how you’re doing. They tell you what you’re good at, what you suck at, and what they want out of you.
“Five, I’d say pay the guys better. It was getting crappy when I left, and the guys I’ve talked to now say it’s beyond crappy. People assume you once you’re on TV you make a load of money and drive Lamborghinis and stuff, and that’s just not the case.
“Here’s a perfect example: I hate to spill my salary on the internet, but when I left I got a bump to $100,000 a year. But a third of it goes to road expenses. The only thing they pay for is your flight. You pay for your own hotel, and car, and food. Could you imagine trying to eat out five times a day? As a body guy, you have to maintain your physique and that means eating five times a day. Spending all your money trying to maintain that? Good luck. Then Uncle Sam takes 20%-30%. You guys do the math and see how much I walked away with, which was next to nothing. I was making more money fresh out of college as an engineer fresh out of college in an entry level position than being on TV. That’s gotten worse from what I hear. They do a ton of tours, and some guys would be making $30,000-$40,000 in the day. I went to Europe and I think I brought home $5,000. Then there was one tour I flew overseas and did a ten day tour and made less than $2,000. I made less than $500 a show. The video games are getting worse – guys used to get paid up to $100,000 for being in the video game and now it’s much, much less. The reading audience will think that’s a lot of money, but when you’re on the road it’s not. We don’t all have busses like John and Punk and Show. You’re breaking your body to barely pay the bills.”
Tuft also discussed his issues with John Cena, how Cena reacted backstage in front of the locker room, quitting WWE in the midst of a push and the company’s reaction, the schedule, Triple H coming up with the Magic Mike gimmick, if TNA would be an option and more. You can read the full interview by clicking here