A Real School Of Hard Knocks

Orlando Sentinel – May 27, 2001
By Ric Russo

Terry Taylor Is Putting Together An Academy For Sports Entertainment Field.

Terry Taylor has worked with some genuine pro wrestling legends during his 21-year career. Eddie Graham, Cowboy Bill Watts, Ric Flair and Vince McMahon are just a few of the men who have influenced the former grappler.

Now, Taylor is putting together a business that will allow him to pass along everything he’s learned to anyone looking to break into the sports entertainment field.

Next month Terry Taylor’s Professional Wrestling Academy will open its doors in Lawrenceville, Ga., just east of Atlanta. Its slogan: “Where Champions are Taylor-made.”

“I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve worked with a lot of very smart people, innovators in pro wrestling, and most of them had very different ways of doing things. So I have been exposed to a lot,” Taylor said.

All of his experiences will come in handy because Taylor says he will wear many hats when the school gets off the ground.

“There isn’t anybody out there teaching the art of professional wrestling. It’s my hope I can take all I’ve learned about every aspect of it — the ring work, interviews, developing story lines — and teach it to the students at my school.”

Taylor, 45, has done a little bit of everything since making his pro wrestling debut in 1979, when he joined Eddie Graham’s Championship Wrestling from Florida. His good looks and superior athletic ability made him the perfect baby face for most of his career.

During his final run as an in-ring performer with WCW he played a heel and went by the moniker Terrance Taylor, the Taylor-Made Man, who teamed up with Tom Zenk to form the York Foundation. Alexandra York, the beauty behind the brawny tag-team, was played by current WWF diva Terri Runnels — the ex-wife of Dustin Rhodes.

Taylor did have an ill-fated run as the Red Rooster during a stint in the WWF, a character he doesn’t like to talk about much.

“At the time I just didn’t understand the gimmick,” said Taylor, who spiked his hair and painted it red when he wrestled as the character. “Vince told me I looked more like a schoolteacher than a wrestler . . . It was something he thought might change my image.”

Besides performing in the ring for 17 years, Taylor has worked as a booking agent, directed television programming and has written scripts for World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation.

“A lot of people probably don’t know that I am one of the few people who has written for both WCW and the WWF,” said Taylor, who was released from his contract in late March when McMahon bought WCW from Time Warner/AOL.

At the time, McMahon told Taylor he didn’t have a job for him, but that could change. For now, though, the school is getting Taylor’s full attention.

“When WCW closed up shop, my wife and I did a lot of soul-searching as to what direction I should take,” said Taylor, who grew up in Florida and graduated from Vero Beach High School.

“We decided to go with starting up the school. Right now we’ve got a warehouse that will serve as our headquarters and training facility, and we’re working out some of the other details as we speak. I had no idea how much work went into starting up an operation like this.”

Taylor is shooting for June 22 as his grand opening. He has lined up two WWF superstars — Triple H and The Big Show — to appear in support of their former mentor. Back in the mid-1990s when Triple and Big were both were struggling to make a name for themselves in WCW, Taylor was working out with them regularly at the famed Power Plant training school.

DeWayne Bruce — a k a Sarge, the lead instructor at the Power Plant — is someone Taylor hopes to hire as an instructor for his school.

“Sarge is the hardest-working, toughest SOB I’ve ever been around. In all the times we’ve worked together, I’ve never seen him get tired,” Taylor said. “If he’s available I would love to work with him again.”

Taylor stuck with WCW until 1999, when a personality clash with the promotion’s chief, Eric Bischoff, caused him to seek employment with McMahon. One of his duties with the WWF included writing television scripts and developing story lines.

Taylor says his time working with McMahon helped prepare him for what he’s entering into today.

“Vince is so knowledgeable about everything that’s going on. I learned so much from being up there and working with him on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

McMahon donated one of the former WCW rings to Taylor to help him get started, and Taylor often calls his former boss for advice and just to talk about what’s going on.

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