TJ Wilson was rightfully known as one of the most talented in-ring competitors in the world throughout his time competing inside the squared circle. Whether as a singles competitor or as a member of various factions or tag teams, it seemed as though Wilson could find chemistry with anyone either with him or across the ring from him.
Wilson joined me recently to discuss his love of working with the likes of Cesaro, the New Day, and, of course, the Hart Dynasty throughout his time with WWE. He also talked about his role as a producer for WWE and what it entails in a professional wrestling sense.
On the role of a producer in professional wrestling:
TJ: “So, the role of a producer is to kind of look at the show, kind of give our takes on what we see, and that’ll be prior to the production meeting. Then, we kind of get assigned our matches and our segments, and then we – I like to go and collaborate with talent, and we put together what we see on TV every Monday and Friday. It’s a team effort with everybody. With the talent, with the producers, with the writers, everybody. So, it’s a cool atmosphere that I enjoy backstage.”
How his role has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic:
TJ: “It’s definitely changed a lot of things. Wrestling, at its core, is all about fan and audience participation and fan interaction live in that Arena. Live in that bingo hall, live in that gymnasium, whatever it is, man, I’ve wrestled in all of them. It’s definitely an interesting thing to not have that audience out there, but in this moment, we’re not able to. So, the options are that we either just don’t have shows, or we do and there’s not a fan base present live in the stadium, the crowd. But, it’s definitely different, it’s definitely different.”
TJ: “In terms of changing my role, not really, because I think our talent, and I’m not just saying this, the talent that I work with is so good that I don’t have to – I just have to kind of remind them like ‘hey guys, obviously we don’t have a crowd here, so there’s a tendency to maybe to do things a little quicker, but you gotta just be the pros that you are.’ Our talent are just such pros across the board that it hasn’t been an issue in terms of that for me.”
The differences in preparation between working with a long-time faction like the Hart Dynasty versus working with someone like Cesaro for the first time:
TJ: “Man, that is a great question. That’s awesome. It is true, man, it’s so different. It’s so different. My very first match in July 1995 is teaming with Harry. So, when you fast-forward 15 years, and we win the WWE Tag Team titles together, it’s – obviously, that’s so insanely special, but it’s almost not that foreign. I’ve been wrestling with this guy, either against him or teamed with him, ever since I’d ever been in wrestling.”
SL: “Yeah. Not to bury it, but like, you’ve done it before, y’know?”
TJ: “Yeah. I’ve done so much stuff with him. And, so, it’s funny. I said this on the Bump a couple months ago when they asked me, and I said the difference – a big difference was me. A big difference was me. In 2010, I’m not the performer, I’m not the complete – not that I’m this complete performer, but I’m not as complete a performer in 2010 as I was in 2015. Not even close. So, in 2009, 2010, when I’m first on the main roster and we’re a team? Well, he’d been on the main roster before, but now he’s getting his footing there, like, we’re both kind of finding – and, y’know, along with Nattie as well, we’re both finding our way on the main roster, and we’re doing it together and as a group and collectively. Where, when you fast-forward to 2015, where I’m paired with Cesaro randomly – well, technically December 2014, December 1st we get thrown together on RAW – we’d had a triple-threat match a few weeks prior with Dolph Ziggler. I’d wrestled Cesaro a couple times on some live events, Smackdown, a couple RAW’s I think, NXT, and I had a lot of respect for him, a ton of respect. Not had, have, but I did at that time, too. I think it honestly, it’s on me, and I’m just more of a complete performer myself in 2015 than 2010. But, it just was interesting the chemistry that Cesaro and I had from the beginning.”
If he knew the plan for himself and Cesaro before the partnership ended:
TJ: “No, honestly. If I did, I’d have no problem sharing. I honestly don’t know anything in terms of long-term plans. I know when we lost the titles at Extreme Rules to the New Day in Chicago – which, that’s where I lost my tag titles with Harry as well, so there’s something about that building. No, those are amazing fans, I loved wrestling there, but I apparently can’t hold on to my tag titles there. That day, what I will say, that day I remember Cesaro and I wanted to go meet with Vince because we just wanted to get a grasp on where everything was going, and a lot of people came out of the meeting and they told us that the idea was we would be, we would kind of be the tag team, like the nucleus in the middle, and everybody would kind of work around us, through us. So, I don’t know. At least in April 2015, May, in that area, that was the plan. Those New Day matches were so much fun. Man, when I was home hurt, watching New Day, like how much – especially in like 2015, 2016, 2017, I was like ‘man, I want to be part of this New Day. I was a part of it. I want to be a part of this so bad.’”
TJ: “There was the one time that we (came) back after the 2-out-of-3 falls match in Extreme Rules in Baltimore, and I thought Vince was maybe gonna get mad at something, because he has a very good eye for this, and sometimes, something – you can do a 30-minute match, but something stuck out in his mind at minute six, and he can’t let it go, and you’re gonna hear about it when you get back. I remember we get back, and I thought the match was very good. He’s like ‘y’know, I’m going to have to start charging you guys!’ And I was like ‘oh, man, are we getting fined for something? What’d I do?’ And then, he was talking to New Day, and he was like ‘you guys are having way too much fun wrestling these guys,’ and points to me and Cesaro. I was like ‘yeah. I’ll take it!’”
SL: “That’s a good problem to have!”
TJ: “Yeah, hell yeah. I loved it. I loved every minute of it.”
Please credit Spencer Love/Love Wrestling with any transcriptions used.