Tyler Black (WWE’s Seth Rollins)
This interview with Tyler Black, currently known as Seth Rollins in WWE, was originally published on The Wrestling Voice on April 12, 2008.
Most known for his work in ROH, Tyler Black is one of the fastest growing stars on the Indy circuit today, having paddled around the alphabet soup from promotions like SCW, IWA-MS, PWG, AAW, FIP, and more. National TV has even been home to this wrestler as he was part of the short-lived Wrestling Society X and has made brief appearances on TNA iMPACT! But perhaps the shining light in his relatively young career has been his run with Age Of The Fall where he has won over a crowd full of die-hards with gutsy, compelling performances in singles encounters & tag team battles that has already seen him wear some gold and will surely see him hold some more by the year’s end. In just a couple of months, Tyler Black went from someone fans had briefly heard of to one of the most anticipated wrestlers on the card for wrestling promotions.
Shockingly, this solider for the Age Of The Fall is only twenty-one years of age and has only been wrestling since 2005. Take that into consideration when seeing where he’s at in his career right now and just ponder where he’ll be when he’s twenty-five or thirty. What won’t be shocking though will be the waves this man will make in the business if he follows along his current path of progression that he’s done since his national TV debut last year. Who knows for sure the next outlandish act by Tyler and his Fall allies will be, but what is definitely for sure for is that one day soon, someone will fall to the modified DDT known as God’s Last Gift and this young wrestler will hold a World Championship.
Douglas Nunnally: So let’s start off with a blunt question – how great was it to main event ROH’s sixth PPV knowing that you’ve been in ROH less than a year?
Tyler Black: Six months exactly and progression is always a good feeling, so knowing that I had progressed enough in such a short amount of time to put myself in a situation of that caliber is a nice pat on the back. Luckily, I am a perfectionist so I know I have a long, long road ahead, but stopping to smell the roses, it felt pretty damn good.
Douglas Nunnally: People are already talking about your match as an early match of the year contender and the match that will make you a bona fide superstar. What did you think about the match?
Tyler Black: I was really happy with the initial response. I think I had kind of lost some confidence going into that weekend because my neck was giving me a lot of trouble and we had spent most of the week in Jersey at a hotel so my game planning was not up to par. But it turned out alright, I think. I’m anxious to see how it comes out on tape.
Douglas Nunnally: What exactly was going on with your neck?
Tyler Black: It’s just the rough and tumble sort of shit. I think every worker goes through it at some point in their career. Nothing terrible I hope.
Douglas Nunnally: As a major heel in ROH, how did it feel to get the crowd so behind you in the ROH Title match?
Tyler Black: The crowd response was like nothing I have ever experienced. A lot of that is due to Nigel being so hated so I feel lucky to have been the right guy at the right time. But having the people behind me certainly gave my adrenaline a nice little boost.
Douglas Nunnally: Now like I already said, you’ve been in ROH for less than a year and you’ve already been in a few major angles, a Tag Team Champion after beating the longest reigning champ, you’ve gone toe-to-toe with Danielson and McGuinness, and even main evented a PPV coming within seconds of winning the title. Where do you honestly go from here?
Tyler Black: There are so many things left to accomplish. Winning a world title, wrestling in Japan, and spreading a positive message are just a few goals I have. There are endless possibilities ahead. Who knows where I’ll find myself a year from now?
Douglas Nunnally: We’ll get to that question later. Did you think that you’d get this success running in?
Tyler Black: I am always confident in my worth, but to prove that to everyone else is tough to do. So yes and no. I imagined I’d have a fair share of success being teamed with Jimmy and Necro, but it’s gone a little beyond what I expected this early.
Douglas Nunnally: How did the idea of Age Of The Fall come about and where did you come into it get involved?
Tyler Black: AOTF started as Project 161. It was the brain child of Jimmy and to an extent Gabe, but once I was brought on board, we all collaborated to make the angle flow and change into a movement. It’s really evolved a lot since the first ideas were tossed around.
Douglas Nunnally: What was the original Project 161 supposed to be about and what kind of changes were made to make it AOTF?
Tyler Black: The 161 deal was just the idea for the actual attack on the Briscoes. AOTF was hatched out of that and now has taken on a life of its own. I never expected it to go the route we have, but that’s my favorite part about good angles – they’re practically living, breathing entities.
Douglas Nunnally: What was your overall impression of Gabe Sapolsky, the booker of ROH, at first?
Tyler Black: Nice guy, great mind, and looked nothing like I imagined.
Douglas Nunnally: What did you think about the debut with Briscoes in the controversial 161 angle?
Tyler Black: I thought it was gold. I think Jimmy’s promo was really underrated too. I thought the execution & build was done really well and I think it will go down as one of the most remembered moments in ROH history. I am glad I was able to be a part of it.
Douglas Nunnally: How did you think the fans would react to you being so new to the company in a major angle?
Tyler Black: I was never worried about that. I expected the natural backlash, but I wasn’t concerned that it would affect the angle. I knew what my role was and I just did my job. If I did it well enough, the fan base would accept me and that’s what happened.
Douglas Nunnally: How do you think it’s going so far?
Tyler Black: No complaints on this end. We’ve only just gotten our feet wet.
Douglas Nunnally: What was going in your mind when you were told that you would be ending the Briscoes reign?
Tyler Black: It was a quick decision and I was really nervous. Not so much about ending their reign, which was a great honor, but mostly about wrestling in the main event in Manhattan. It was only my second match in NY and my first was against Sugarfoort & lasted like a minute. I was a little jittery for sure.
Douglas Nunnally: Had you guys been given any notion that you might win them down the line or was it completely unexpected?
Tyler Black: It wasn’t really discussed to be honest. The decision was made on a whim and I think it worked well.
Douglas Nunnally: Did you think ROH mishandled your title reign by having it so short?
Tyler Black: It is what it is man. We’ll get ’em back though.
Douglas Nunnally: How did you think WrestleMania weekend went for Ring Of Honor?
Tyler Black: Probably in the top five of best double shot weekends ever. That weekend was great for the business as a whole as well. I can only hope that it becomes a stepping stone for a great 2008.
Douglas Nunnally: How nervous would you say people were backstage in ROH?
Tyler Black: Not at all nervous. Everyone in the ROH locker room is a top notch performer and they just went out and did what they do which is be the best wrestling company in the world.
Douglas Nunnally: Any special or unlikely people show up backstage during the weekend’s festivities?
Tyler Black: Not particularly. A few TNA guys here and there, [Matt] Sydal, and [Colt] Cabana. Just friends of friends. It was a good time.
Douglas Nunnally: Sad you got to miss out on Ric Flair’s Hall Of Fame induction?
Tyler Black: Little bit. Much sadder I had to miss his last match though.
Douglas Nunnally: Did you ever get round to seeing it and his goodbye the next night?
Tyler Black: I watched Mania at a local Hooters with my buddies and then I watched the goodbye ceremony the following night on Raw. Some people will be naysayers and shit on it, but I am a mark & I love Ric Flair and I think WWE took the right steps to honor his career.
Douglas Nunnally: What’s the one thing about working for ROH that you’ve found out that not many people know?
Tyler Black: It’s not that glamorous. It’s work.
Douglas Nunnally: With ROH’s ties to Dragon Gate and NOAH, is there any desire for you to try and work over there?
Tyler Black: On my end, yes. On theirs, who knows? Traveling is one of the great perks of this job and I can only hope I get the opportunity to work in Japan sometime.
Douglas Nunnally: Anyone in particular you want to work with from either promotion?
Tyler Black: CIMA. He is immaculate.
Douglas Nunnally: Come to that conclusion over the Mania weekend, did ya?
Tyler Black: Nah man; CIMA is just one bad ass guy. Always has been.
Douglas Nunnally: Now switching from ROH, I’d like to talk about your time in WSX teaming with Jimmy Jacobs as the Do It For Her team. How did you get involved with WSX?
Tyler Black: Credit for that goes to Keith Lipinski. Kleinrock needed an emo tag team and Jimmy was the obvious choice for one half of it, but there was no clear cut front runner for his partner. Dr. Keith knew my work from IWA-MS and threw my name at Kleinrock & MTV and the rest is history.
Douglas Nunnally: What was your impression on the company?
Tyler Black: Wasn’t really a company, more of a production, and it was very business-like. It felt like Hollywood, as opposed to Indy wrestling, which was a nice change of pace.
Douglas Nunnally: How did the taping schedule and crowd type compare to the other crowds you’ve wrestled in front of before?
Tyler Black: The taping schedule was the shits because we’d get to the set every day early and have to stay in gear all day. On days we wrestled twice it was the worst because your body gets really tight after a match and loosening back up is a pain. The crowds were fine. The difference was we had to play to a camera and not a live crowd, which was something I had no experience doing.
Douglas Nunnally: Were you sad to see it go?
Tyler Black: Yeah, LA was good to me.
Douglas Nunnally: Did you think WSX had a place in wrestling?
Tyler Black: I think it was a lousy attempt at a good idea. It was poorly managed and promoted as well, but I think it could have done good things for bringing in new fans had it been pushed a little harder by MTV.
Douglas Nunnally: If WSX returned, would you like to start back up with them again?
Tyler Black: I am under contract with ROH so unless they could reach some sort of agreement, I doubt it would happen.
Douglas Nunnally: How did you get your start in wrestling?
Tyler Black: Started going to Indy shows when I was a teenager. Been a fan my whole life.
Douglas Nunnally: What kind of Indy shows were there? Any wrestlers you saw we might know?
Tyler Black: Just local shit ones in bingo halls. I used to watch Jimmy & Danny Daniels tear the house down and sometimes Punk would be around. Eventually, I got to some IWA-MS events near Chicago and that pretty much opened the flood gates.
Douglas Nunnally: Did you always want to be a wrestler?
Tyler Black: No. I used to want to play football or basketball. I really started thinking about wrestling when I was 16 or so.
Douglas Nunnally: What was your training like and how long did you actually train for?
Tyler Black: Started in October of 2004 and lasted for 3 months. Marek Brave & I would drive three hours to Chicago two to four times a week to train with Danny Daniels in a ring set up in a semi-graveyard. We’d train for three hours and then drive home. It was a good time. Beat me the hell up though.
Douglas Nunnally: What part of did the training surprised you the most?
Tyler Black: Probably the casual nature of it. It was also hard to learn that there wasn’t just one way to wrestle, just like there isn’t one way to paint or write.
Douglas Nunnally: What wrestlers would you say inspired you in wrestling?
Tyler Black: Hulk Hogan & Shawn Michaels.
Douglas Nunnally: How did the name Tyler Black come about?
Tyler Black: Tyler is from the character Tyler Durden in Fight Club and Black is from Sirius Black in Harry Potter.
Douglas Nunnally: What was it like starting out for Scott County Wrestling?
Tyler Black: A bunch of kids who love wrestling and we got our hands on a ring and started trying to do what they do on TV. Just backyarders man. No bones about it.
Douglas Nunnally: How did you get started with IWA-MS?
Tyler Black: Danny was still working there at the time and he asked Ian if his two kids could get some work and Ian liked what he saw out of me and Marek and so we just started working there.
Douglas Nunnally: How did you and Jimmy Jacobs meet?
Tyler Black: I am not sure. I assume it was on some show in the Midwest when I was starting up.
Douglas Nunnally: Besides your ROH success, what would you say your fondest memory of teaming with Jacobs is?
Tyler Black: Either the WSX stuff or our Pro Wrestling Guerilla match with the Motor City Machine Guns. That was fun cause it was so out of the blue and it turned out pretty good.
Douglas Nunnally: Looking forward to that re-match coming up on the 18th in ROH?
Tyler Black: Who isn’t?
Douglas Nunnally: What’s one thing not many people know about him and would be surprised about?
Tyler Black: He loves John Denver.
Douglas Nunnally: Do you share that love?
Tyler Black: I have never given the man a listen.
Douglas Nunnally: Being an Indy wrestler, the paydays can often time be disappointing or non-existent. Are you currently wrestling full-time or do you have a part-time job?
Tyler Black: I am close to making a living from it now, but I still work part time to pay for bills.
Douglas Nunnally: Do you think you’ll make it full-time by the end of the year?
Tyler Black: Who knows? I hope so, but I am not expecting too much.
Douglas Nunnally: Do you think it’s frustrating how big the amount of people not able to support themselves by wrestling is?
Tyler Black: No. What’s frustrating is the amount of people in the business who don’t take it seriously. During the wrestling boom a decade or so ago, shit just got watered down and everyone decided, “Hey, I can be a wrestler!” Consequently, you have guys who will always work for less. But promoters get what they pay for.
Douglas Nunnally: Would you say that’s the biggest problem in wrestling today, the watered down portion of the business from everyone thinking they can do it?
Tyler Black: Evolutionarily speaking, it feels like the business is at a standstill. Sure, the Indys are watered down, but that’s not where the real problem is. I think there are a lot of issues with the way wrestling is perceived that are holding it back. I don’t have answers though. No one seems to.
Douglas Nunnally: From IWA-MS to AAW to PWG, you worked in most of the Indies around. In a weird question, what would you say the worst experience you’ve had with an Indy promotion is?
Tyler Black: I have driven six hours to a show that didn’t happen. That sucks a lot. Getting stuck in airports overnight is the shits too.
Douglas Nunnally: Let me guess – you didn’t get reimbursed for the gas money from that six hour trip, right?
Tyler Black: Ha, we actually did get paid in full. I am sure that promoter wanted to shoot himself that night though.
Douglas Nunnally: Any interesting road stories you can share with us?
Tyler Black: Too long to say, my man.
Douglas Nunnally: Any chance of a summary of one or a short one?
Tyler Black: One time Josh Abercrombie took a bump on the tile floor of a BP station.
Douglas Nunnally: What does the future hold for you? Any plans for TNA or WWE?
Tyler Black: The future is a mystery. I am enjoying my time with ROH and taking it a day at a time.
Douglas Nunnally: What are your thoughts on each company?
Tyler Black: WWE is still the mountain, TNA I cannot watch alone, and ROH just needs more money man. As far as product goes, they can match WWE. It’s just a matter of time and money.
Douglas Nunnally: Do you have any time currently to watch any wrestling going around in the world?
Tyler Black: YouTube is a great invention and I try to watch RAW weekly and the PPVs.
Douglas Nunnally: What would you say some of your favorites are going right now in terms of wrestlers, promotions, and/or angles?
Tyler Black: Angle-wise, nothing is really keeping me tuned in to TV and I don’t watch a whole lot of wrestling aside from WWE and ROH. I guess my favorite wrestler to watch right now is probably Austin Aries. I think he is at the top of his game right now and he is a great guy to learn from.
Douglas Nunnally: Steroids are still the big issue in wrestling today following last year’s tragedy. What would you say the steroid situation is like on the Indies?
Tyler Black: The business is vanity. The steroid problem will never go away.
Douglas Nunnally: Do promoters ever step in and address the situation?
Tyler Black: No. Why would they? It’s bad for business and it’s a personal decision.
Douglas Nunnally: How about the issue of a wrestling union?
Tyler Black: It would be a great coup for us, but I just don’t see it happening for a lot of reasons.
Douglas Nunnally: What would you say the biggest reason against it happening is?
Tyler Black: Money. Greed to be more specific. And think about how many assholes would try to claim themselves as professional wrestlers; it would be a huge hassle.
Douglas Nunnally: Would you say the Benoit tragedy has influenced or changed you or your style of wrestling?
Tyler Black: Nope. I have never taken any steroids. Never had any addiction problems and I never will.
Douglas Nunnally: Have you seen its influence on the Indy circuit at all?
Tyler Black: Yeah, I think guys were more cautious at first, but now it’s starting to get back to normal. It’s hard for people to learn until it happens to them. I think the next decade will see a lot of crazy stuff going on.
Douglas Nunnally: How did the ROH locker room react to Chris Nowinski speaking to them on concussions? Do you think it paid off?
Tyler Black: It’s not like he sat us down and gave a big speech or anything. He was just there and I know a lot of guys had questions regarding his book & his studies. It was an educational process for a lot of us and I think guys are a little more cautious now about certain bumps & taking time off.
Douglas Nunnally: What would you say your goals in wrestling are?
Tyler Black: To travel the world and to main event WrestleMania.
Douglas Nunnally: To end up the interview with a question from the beginning, where would you like to see yourself in a year?
Tyler Black: Tearing it up in an ROH ring and hopefully changing the world a little.
Douglas Nunnally: Well, thanks for taking part in this interview and good luck with ROH in the future.
Tyler Black: Thanks, Doug.