Current ROH World Television Champion Shane Taylor sounds off on wrestling Bandido at Best in the World, capturing the gold, why he chose Ring of Honor, and much more.
Always having felt overlooked and underappreciated by officials and fans from the moment he walked in Ring of Honor Wrestling’s doors years ago, Shane Taylor decided to take matters into his own hands and wreak havoc on the ROH roster until he got what he believed he had earned: an opportunity.
Despite falling short of winning the ROH World Television Championship on a few different occasions over the last year and a half, Taylor finally clinched the gold in a Four Corner Survival match during a recent War of the Worlds tour. He’s been on absolute tear since and has his sights set on beating Bandido when they clash for the championship at Best in the World.
Although Taylor is currently fully focused at the task at hand in Baltimore, he also has aspirations to become the greatest TV champ ROH has ever seen by surpassing Jay Lethal’s astounding 567-day record. Speaking of Lethal, Taylor hopes their paths one day cross as well, in addition to all the other incredible international talent ROH has brought in so far in 2019.
Daily DDT spoke with Shane Taylor ahead of Best in the World this Friday, June 28, to preview his anticipated title defense on the show and talk his history with Bandido, what winning the ROH TV title meant to him, teaming with Keith Lee, his family and much more.
Daily DDT: How do you think your upcoming match with Bandido will differ from other matches you’ve had over the course of your career in Ring of Honor?
Taylor: Because I was never a champion before. I do best when there’s a target on my back. I do well when my back is against the wall. I do well under pressure. I thrive under it, I always have.
This puts me in a familiar position I like being in, a position to be able to shut mouths, open eyes and prove people wrong. Right now, there is a contingent of ROH fans who believe that Bandido is going to walk out of Best in the World with the ROH World Television Championship and I get to break all their hearts June 28th.
DDT: You and Bandido have already faced off once before at Steel City Excellence. What did you learn from that encounter that will help you avenge that loss to Bandido at Best in the World?
Taylor: Bandido is more resilient than I thought he was. I’ve hit guys with lesser shots than I put on him and put them away. That’s something I didn’t expect and didn’t count on but now that I know about him, all I have to do is go in for the kill. I know that all I have to do is put him away this time.
That’s exactly what I’m going to do. There will be no remorse. I’m not only going to have to beat him, I’m going to have to put him down and hurt him. That’s just what’s going to have to happen for me to be successful.
DDT: Bandido is just one of the many new names who has joined ROH in 2019. Who among them do you feel has been the biggest get for ROH so far, and who among them are you looking forward to working with eventually?
Taylor: I mean, you can’t really pick one. All the guys are fantastic international talents, world-class athletes, world-class performers. For ROH to get all of them is fantastic for us. It keeps competition high, it keeps eyes on the product, it keeps people with dream matches and dream scenarios. I’m sure all of them have aspirations to win championship gold in Ring of Honor and I’m looking forward to not only beating Bandido but beating the rest of them as well.
DDT: After unsuccessfully vying for the ROH World Television Championship on a few occasions, how satisfying was it for your to finally win it on the War of the Worlds Tour?
Taylor: You can’t even put words to it. For years, I was overlooked and underappreciated and to be able to say “I told you so” every time I walk out there with that ROH World Television Championship drives me to keep getting better and keep doing exactly what I’ve been doing. Like I said, I like to prove people wrong, from the fans all the way to the bosses who sign the checks.
To me, when you don’t believe in me, when you don’t think I can’t do something, you put yourself in a really terrible spot because everything I think about is making you look stupid and in Toronto, that’s what I was able to do. I made everybody, everybody, who didn’t think I was going to be champion, look stupid.
DDT: When you came to Ring of Honor, was it always your goal to become ROH World Television Champion?
Taylor: When you get to certain platforms, goals change. When I got to Ring of Honor, the goal was to win every single championship Ring of Honor has to offer and that’s still my goal. That doesn’t change. As of now, Matt Taven is the only Grand Slam champion that we have and I’m looking to add my name to that list. As of right now, all of my focus is on being the most dominant Television Champion there’s ever been.
When you look at the single reign stats, you got, as far as days, Jay Lethal with 567 days and 35 championship defenses. I aim to shatter both of them because then Ring of Honor can’t use him as their poster boy anymore. They’re going to have to use me, they’re going to have to show my face, they’re going to have to show the world that I am the man in Ring of Honor. For me, that’s what my focus is.
DDT: You’ve spoken before about how much your family means to you. How much will this match against Bandido mean to you from where you started out?
Taylor: It’s a culmination of years of hard work and dedication and doubt and all kinds of emotions, but come when my music hits at Best in the World, all that goes away and the focus is on Bandido. If my focus isn’t there, he wins and I lose and I go back to square one. That can’t happen. Once I beat Bandido, I will then reflect to see just how great of a moment it was for me and my family, but for right now, everything is just eyes on the prize.
DDT: Will any of your friends or family be in attendance at the event to see you compete on the big stage of ROH?
Taylor: Not that I know of, but they’ve surprised me before. Again, prior to me going out there, my focus is so on what I’m doing it wouldn’t even phase me. I wouldn’t even be looking for them. It’s all laser focus. If some of them show up, great. If not, the job remains the same and that’s to put Bandido down.
DDT: Best in the World has always been one of ROH’s biggest pay-per-views of the year. Do you think a strong showing at this event could do a lot to help strengthen your stock even more in ROH?
Taylor: Of course. I mean, the eyes of the world are on us. Every performance you have in this company, on this platform, the people notice, whether that be good or bad. Another standout performance, another Match of the Year performance by me will only go to show what I’ve been saying for a decade-plus now that I’m one of the best big men in the world at this job, at this profession. And I get the chance to go show it again.
DDT: What was it that brought you to Ring of Honor? With so many wrestling companies out there right now, what was it about ROH that intrigued you the most?
Taylor: The history, the legacy, the intensity, the physicality. That’s what separates Ring of Honor from just about every other company. When you think of past champions, you look at your [Bryan] Danielsons, your Samoa Joes, your Tyler Blacks, your [Austin] Aries, your Nigels [McGuinness]. Guys that created a legacy for us to follow for the guys and girls that are there now.
I wanted to add my name to that legacy and now that I have, the goal is to make sure my name is the most thought-of name in that legacy. I have said before that by the time I’m done, which is no time soon, I want my era to be recognized like Joe’s era was and Danielson’s era was. No matter what talent that we have, I want people to say “That was Shane Taylor’s era of Ring of Honor.”
DDT: You’ve been a part of a few different tag teams in ROH from Keith Lee to most recently Silas Young. Which do you prefer between singles and tag team competition?
Taylor: There’s no preference for me. The job is to go out there and beat your opponent. If I have my partner with me, then cool, and if not, I do it solo like I have most of my career. Nothing really changes for me on that end. The difference in match style, if you get tired or you’re taking punishment, you can tag out. Singles, you can’t (laughs). That’s just preparing yourself mentally for that, physically for that, to be able to withstand the punishment, to be able to have the mental toughness, to get through anyone, that’s key. That’s the biggest difference.
DDT: What’s one thing you think ROH fans don’t already know about you that would surprise them?
Taylor: That would surprise them? Hmm, I don’t know, it takes a lot to surprise people nowadays. What you see is what you get with me. I could care less about the social media aspect of the world that we live in and all of the people that think that just because they watch us on TV that they somehow know what we do better than us.
For me, this is who I am, unlike anyone else they’ve ever seen in this sport. I march to the beat of my own drum. I make my own rules. I broke the system and I broke the trend and I broke the stereotype that they’re accustomed to. There’s really nothing that would surprise them about me other than the fact that I speak the truth and in this profession, that can be a dangerous thing.
DDT: Who has been your favorite rival in Ring of Honor so far?
Taylor: Obviously, when I first got there, it was Keith [Lee] and myself against then-War Machine, Ray Rowe and Hanson. They’d be right up there. That was introduction to Ring of Honor going through them (laughs). Of course, Jeff Cobb is right up there. Bandido is looking like he’ll be a formidable rival for a very long time.
The matches I’ve had with Jay Briscoe, Kenny King and all of these guys led me to where I’m at now. The lessons in those matches helped prepare me for this championship run I’m about to go on and I wouldn’t have it any other way. All the bumps, all the bruises, all the knocks, all the minor injuries, all of that is well worth it.
DDT: Was All Star Extravaganza VIII your pay-per-view debut for Ring of Honor?
Taylor: I want to say, probably. Obviously, in that moment, you got butterflies going, your head’s in a million different places, but to be able to be in the ring with people of that talent level on that stage and then to just be where I’m at now and to look at the growth and transition has been quite a ride for me. I’m excited to keep it going.
DDT: Whether it was in that match or just at the start of your ROH career in general, were there any pieces of advice you received that stuck with you?
Taylor: I’m trying to think now of things specifically from that match. I just learned pacing is a big deal. With guys like Ray and Hanson that bring so many weapons to the table, pacing is key. Just when you think you got them, you don’t.
The ability to plan my attacks, the ability to be strategic at a higher level than I’ve ever done it is something I took away from that. To continue evolving that into where I’m at now, putting that plan together with the offense and with the defense is what makes you a world-caliber talent and that’s what I’m trying to do.
DDT: Aside from Bandido, who is your dream challenger currently in ROH for the World TV title?
Taylor: For one, seeing as how I’m chasing his record, the answer for that one would be Jay Lethal. Again, he’s a guy that Ring of Honor sort of looks at as their standard bearer. He’s the guy they want to put on all the posters and they want to make their representative for the company.
But I’m champion and I’m going to do things the way I see fit. I would love that match and eventually I’m going to get it. I’m looking forward to that, but as far as on a world stage, I’ve said before Tomohiro Ishii, Minoru Suzuki, really anybody from any company that feels like they can bring the physicality and intensity that I’d bring for that match. I’d love to do it.
DDT: It was at Best in the World four years ago that Jay Lethal won the ROH World Championship while still the ROH World TV Champion. Is that something that’d eventually interest you as well?
Taylor: It’s definitely something I keep in the back of my mind, but again, the second I take my focus off of just defending my championship is the day that I lose it, so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. But it wouldn’t be a bad look for your boy to be holding the World Television Championship and World Championship at the same time.
See Shane Taylor and the rest of the Ring of Honor stars in action at ROH Best in the World on Friday, June 28, streaming live on pay-per-view, Fite TV, and HonorClub for VIP members.