Terry Taylor is a soft spoken man who majored in economics in college and spends a lot of time with the chiropractor.
It is hard to believe he makes his living as a professional wrestler
Taylor has been a professional wrester for five years and the only real visible clues to his line of work are the assortment of scars on his face and hands. It is a demanding occupation but one Taylor quickly admits he "loves."
The 29 year old wrestler spent some time discussing the myths and mishaps of his business. That time proved to be very precious, looking at his schedule.
"I have wrestled every day for the last 11 weeks. I am trying to get 10 days off in June, but now it looks more like just a couple of days in June." said Taylor.
The demands on the wrestler are great because of the popularity and success he has had since his first days in Florida.
Taylor admitted he never planned n professional wrestling as a career when he was growing up. He did compete four years on the high school wrestling team and three years in college.
"When I got out of college, " Taylor said, "I really did not know what I was going to do. I went by home and there was a tryout camp. I went through the two-day camp and was one of two people who made it."
For the next five years, Taylor bounced around the country working in Knoxville for three months, Atlanta for six months, Kansas City for five months, Charlotte for six months and Nashville for 18 months. He has been working in Alexandria for the past 16 months.
"While that seems like a lot of traveling" added Taylor, "it is really a double-edged sword. What other career can a person make good money and get to see so much of the world?"
Wrestlers can be moved from area to area on their own accord or at the discretion of the promoters.
Taylor explained, "Wrestling promoters are responsible for territories, as established by television rights. Mid-South Wrestling covers five states. When I left Nashville, I looked around on my own for the best deal I could find and then came south."
When Taylor finally settles in an area, he is never really settled. Because Mid-South is in five states, Taylor may be wrestling in Oklahoma one night and be in Mississippi or Arkansas the next. Some days he will wrestling in one city in the afternoon and then be at another match late in the evening.
Besides the financial aspects, there has to be other motivations that will make a man put so much time, energy and stamina into his job.
Taylor summarizes his motivations with, "I really love what I am doing. You have to love it or you will get out."
There are times when Taylor's love is stretched. Because what he does has so much notoriety, even the simple task of taking his car to the garage can be a problem.
"people look at us as 'their' wrestlers, so they want autographs and to talk. That is a responsibility I must take care of because of the nature of the job, but sometimes people don't understand when you feel bad."
The pressures of Travel are compounded by the injuries of the sport.
Taylor said, "You might have jet lag, be in pain and not slept but you are expected to not be snobbish or put off."
That became very obvious when during the interview, Taylor was approached by a waitress for an autograph. Despite the fact that he was headed to the chiropractor and had spent the night with a sick friend, he flashed a million dollar smile and signed the pad.
"There Is no H in Ronda?" asked Taylor of the waitress. He had noted her name tag before she had asked for the autograph.
She was impressed.
That kind of small detail is why Taylor's popularity outside the ring has grown.
Taylor is very proud of his profession and does not like anyone who does anything to hurt the sport.
"I think the people in New York, like Hulk Hogan, are hurting the profession," explained Taylor. "What they lack in wrestling ability, they make up with show biz. That is OK there, because with millions of people to draw from, you don't have to give your best all the time to get the audience to come back.
"Here, you have to do all you can to make the matches exciting. The main thing we want to do is please people and have them return, Professional wrestling is like professional football in the aspect you have to have that balance of sports and entertainment."
To promote the sport, Taylor does a lot of work on his own time. One promotional appearance happened recently when he appeared on radio station KQID, giving away tickets to an upcoming match.
"I set that up myself," said Taylor, "because I feel the best way to get fans is to get them to one match. I fell if they try it once, They will like it."
Promotion is just one part of Taylor's duties. He also serves as his own manager, accountant, bookkeeper, strength coach and trainer.
Taylor added, "The federal government looks at all wrestlers as individual contractors. I am in business to sell my wrestling talents. I book my flights and pay for my own expenses, some of which are refunded."
Despite the work and hours, Taylor kept coming back to the fact he loves the sport and would not think of doing anything else.
"I feel like all of this time I am putting in is an apprenticeship. I feel like I will reach the level where I can sit back and have them call me to fly to a wrestling match."
Taylor gets his chance to reach that goal tonight when he appears in the featured match in the Superdome in new Orleans. Taylor faces Ric Flair in what is billed as a world title match.
"If I win," Taylor claimed, "I immediately take over his bookings."
That means instead of wrestling in Alexandria Sunday night, he could be headed to Puerto Rico. It also means a chance to work at a level where the annual salary runs between $300,000 and a million dollars.
NO matter how that match turns out, Taylor will stick with wrestling (something he hopes to do until he is 40) 'With the work also comes the responsibility of being the role model for a lot of young people who attend the matches.
"that has never bothered me. In fact that is the great part. I try to show people you can win without cheating. There are too many anti-heroes in the world. I may come off as dull Terry Taylor, in contrast to some of the louder wrestlers, but I feel that is the best way to wrestler and I don't have to cheat to win."
Taylor touched on the subject of professional wrestling being faked.
"I saw the '20/20' report where on wrestler said it was all fake and we cut ourselves with razor blades. Again, they were talking to the people in New York and not getting a fair picture."
Taylor pointed to his forehead and asked, "Would I have all these scars if it was fake? Do you know anyone who would cut himself on purpose with a razor blade? That just isn't correct."
The wrestler has his share of doubters, especially at bars.
"They just don't realize the nature of my job makes me tough. I try to avoid fights but some people just keep calling me names and saying that I am a fake."
It seems a little foolhardy to pick on Taylor, who weighs 230 pounds.
"Some people also say wrestlers are friends and we go out and eat afterwards," added Taylor. "We are trying to make matches as exciting as possible. Doesn't it seem stupid to be seen in public with someone you fought?"
Another line Taylor gets is about practice matches. "That is impossible because of our schedule. I barely get to go to the gym four times a week and make the regular matches."
As the interview wound down, Taylor was approached by a young girl, asking for an autograph. He again flashed a huge smile and signed the lid of the box holding her meal.
Pain or not, the fan got a treat.
Taylor's profession is attracted on a regular basis, but you can't fault the Florida Wrestler. He is proud of his work, dedicated to doing the most he can for the fans and loves his hours in the ring.
Regardless of how tonight's match comes out, he already has all the class of a world champion.