Jayson Anthony Paul, also known as JTG(Jayson the Gangsta) is an American professional wrestler who is currently signed to WWE. Paul began his career in 2006, working in the WWE developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling(OVW) under the ring name "The Neighborhoodie". He was part of a tag team that called themselves the "The Gang Stars" and won the OVW Southern Tag Team Championship on two occasions. In 2006 the team was promoted from OVW to the Raw brand under the name "Cryme Tyme", with Paul changing his name to JTG. A few months later at the New Year's Revolution pay-per-view, Cryme Tyme won a Tag Team Turmoil Match, earning them a shot at the World Tag Team Championships. Paul, along with Gaspard wrestled at the Jersey All Pro Wrestling 10th Anniversary Show on October 27, 2007. . Cryme Tyme returned to WWE on the March 31, 2008 edition ofRaw, as where they defeated tag team Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch in their first televised WWE match. n April 15, 2009, Cryme Tyme were drafted to the SmackDown brand as part of the 2009 Supplemental Draft. JTG was announced to be one of the Pros for NXT Redemption, mentoring Jacob Novak. In the 2011 WWE Draft, JTG was drafted to the Raw brand in the Supplemental Draft via WWE.com on April 26, 2011.
JTG talks preferring Vince McMahon to Triple H, heat in WWE, more
I recently spoke with former WWE star Jayson Anthony Paul, f.k.a. JTG, who was promoting his new book, Damn, Why Did I Write This Book?. You can follow JTG on Twitter @jtg121084, and Instagram @JTG121084. Below is the full interview:
So what made you write a book?
"Throughout the years of working for WWE, I would tell stories to friends, family members and wrestlers, and I'd get the same reaction at the end of the stories. They'd start laughing hysterically. They'd say 'you need to get this on paper, you have a unique way of telling stories.' I brushed them off and said 'I'm no author, I'm not going to write a book.' After my career in wrestling I just decided to do it."
How long before your main roster debut in 2006 had you been wrestling?
"I had been wrestling since my 18th birthday. I started training outside of Charlotte. I moved there to pursue wrestling, and I had family there, so it was easy to move there. I was getting screwed for a few months, my trainer wasn't showing up. I was starving to wrestle, so I decided to go to OVW. I went to OVW when I was 19."
It wasn't long after that you got moved to the main roster, right?
"Yeah, I got signed when I was 21, the summer of 2006. In the fall, Shad and I made our debut."
What got you into wrestling? Were you a fan growing up?
"Yeah, I was a big fan. My mom was a bigger fan, she got me in to wrestling. She was there when the Iron Sheik beat Bob Backlund, when Sheik lost to Hulk Hogan, when Jimmy Snuka jumped off the cage. She was at MSG for a lot of the monumental events."
When you made your debut, did you think you were ready?
"I'm kind of glad I was thrown to the wolves. In retrospect, I was ready. Sometimes when you jump in to something new you have the mindset that you're not ready. I had a great debut, but if you read the book, you know things take a big turn (laughs.)"
You tell a really great story in the book about meeting Triple H, too. How did the pairing with Shad Gaspard happen?
"Paul Heyman put us together. Shad had just worked a title storyline with John Cena in Louisville, and after that, they put us together as a tag team. The following week we won the Southern tag team titles."
How was it working with Heyman?
"He's an absolute genius. Sometimes when he tells you something it doesn't make sense at first, then you see it play out and you see his big plan. He's a genius when it comes to pro wrestling."
Do you know who came up with the Cryme Tyme gimmick?
"Well, there's two aspects to the Cryme Tyme gimmick. There's the look of the characters. At first I didn't want to do it. My original partner was Abraham Washington. He called me up when we were in amateur class in OVW. He said we had an amateur show coming up, and he said if we were trying to get signed we needed to come out with bulletproof vests, fitted hats, a whole bunch of chains. We should wrestle in jeans and Timberlands. I said absolutely not, it's too stereotypical, and I already bought tights and wrestling boots. He talked me in to it, and we did the amateur show. We blew the roof off at the amateur show. The characters, me and Shad came up with that. We did some vignettes down in OVW after we won the titles. Our trainer Al Snow said 'you don't have to wrestle every week to get over, do something to get your characters over, show some personality.' Shad and I went out on your own and put those vignettes together that you saw on WWE. It was two different vignettes, but with WWE there was better production."
How did the WWE feel? Did they love it or were they hesitant?
"The way they acted, there was no hesitation. They loved the characters. They loved Shad and I, our personalities, and the way we took initiative by going and filming our own vignettes."
You tell a funny story in your book about yourself and Shad meeting Triple H and him commenting on your suits. Without giving too much away, what were things like after that meeting?
"After that it was like 'hi and bye.' If he had to work with us, he'd give us a little advice. But it was kind of like 'hmm.'"
Did you feel like when one of you got heat, both of you did? Would one thing transfer equally to each other? You talk about how in a tag team, a lot of the responsibility is together.
"I believe we both got heat equally. They didn't look at us individually until the end of Cryme Tyme."
Why do you think that you guys got a lot of heat?
"I know that we got heat when we first got there, we got over with the audience really quick. There was a lot of jealousy backstage."
You guys were released not long after your first debut, do you know what led to your first release?
"I definitely know what led to the first release. If the fans want to know, they have to get the book (laughs)."
When you all were brought back, did you change anything?
"Yeah, we tightened up our ring mechanics. We went from the bulletproof vests to the motorcycle jacket with my face on the back. I wanted to be more flashy and colorful."
Do you think backstage heat is a hard thing to recover from? Especially if you're a top guy, is that a doomsday for your career?
"You can definitely recover, but it depends on the individual you have heat with. That's the big question right there. If you have heat with someone on the same tier as you, it can go away in a couple of weeks, a month or two. If you get heat with a top dog or the face of the company, that's big heat. That's going to be pretty hard to shake off."
What are your thoughts on Triple H?
"I think he needs to be a little more approachable. I think that he doesn't need to be giving guys the run around. It's not just me in the book, I talked to my peers, and we all have the same issues. He's hard to get ahold of. I think the product would be better if the talent could come and talk to him."
How would you compare working with Triple H as opposed to Vince McMahon?
"It's night and day. Vince's door is always open. Every time I went to his office we would talk business. He's a straight shooter and if he didn't like your idea he would say 'let me think about it, change this and change that.' He's very approachable. Hunter, he keeps putting you off."
What are your thoughts on the day that Vince McMahon retires, if he ever does, and Triple H and Stephanie take over. Do you think the company is in good hands?
"I want to hope so. If he can put his ego aside and be more accessible to talent and keep his door open, it could be on the same level of success."
Do you feel that WWE's approach to black wrestlers in WWE is stereotypical or behind the times?
"Oh yeah, I agree. I think the reason is that on the creative team there aren't enough people of different backgrounds and age groups. If they bring in someone who can bring in someone who can bridge that generation gap I think the African-American wrestlers will have more up-to-date stuff."
When you all came back, you briefly aligned with John Cena, and he spray painted "CTC" on a limo, but it never went anywhere. Do you know why that happened?
"I'm just going to go ahead and chalk it up to heat. They started the angle on TV because in my opinion we were hot, we were over with the fans. They put John with us to improve his popularity, his street cred."
When they broke you and Shad up, how did you look at that move?
"I definitely saw it as a big opportunity. Shad and I both wanted that, we both wanted singles careers and wanted to see how far we could go. We both kind of pushed for that, but looking back I wish we could have done things a little bit differently with the split. Every tag team does a split and has a fight at a pay-per-view. Me and Shad could have done it where we just went our separate ways but didn't have some big spill-out fight, and still had each other's back. One could have been a babyface, one could have been a heel, but at the end of the day we still have each other's back."
Did they have any plans to you when Shad Gaspard was sent to Florida?
"They started pitching ideas for my solo career. They didn't have any master plans, but they started pitching ideas."
You were critical of WWE in 2012 on Twitter. I had heard from people who weren't happy about some of their payoffs around then. Quietly behind the scenes, what were people saying to you about what you were putting on Twitter?
"They definitely respected me for speaking my mind. They definitely got an up in what they saw in their next check. They said that it was a mistake, but it definitely wasn't a mistake, they were trying to get one over on the boys again. That's my opinion. Something had to be said."
Did any of the higher-ups talk with you privately or just tell you that you were getting squashed by Ryback?
"Nobody talked to me privately. I just felt blackballed, but I knew what I was getting myself in to?"
Did you feel like that was a turning point in your time with the company and your chance to be an upper level guy?
"For me? No (laughs). If they would have did that, I would have? no. Just no."
You were on hiatus before you had a match with Santino. Were you told anything about that?
"No, I wasn't. One week I didn't get my flight information, and then I started not getting it consecutive weeks. I was just like 'Okay, they're not flying me in.' I had family events and weddings, and I'd tell them if they needed me to let me know and I'd take my gear with me. They were just like 'Oh, we don't need you. Go to the wedding.' The writing was on the wall, pretty much."
Did you have any contact with the company after a while?
"No e-mail, no calls, no nothing."
Were you surprised when they started doing releases that they kept you?
"Yeah, I questioned it. It was in the back of my mind (laughs)."
Your tweet when you got the news, everyone seemed to find hilarious, and also seems to have inspired the name of your new book. Have you talked to anybody from the company since you left?
"I talked with a few of the boys and they told me how much they loved my book. They enjoyed it and want me to do a part two."
Are you planning a part two?
"Yeah, I'm planning a part two. I'm getting a lot of good reviews, and it gives fans and potential wrestlers a look behind the scenes and the subculture of the wrestling business."
What are your feelings on TNA?
"Well I haven't been following TNA, or WWE, or Lucha Underground. Most of the information I get is on social media. The last full wrestling show I watched was WrestleMania, which was a great show. Other than that I don't really follow wrestling. I do indy shows here and there. For me to go back on the road full-time, I'm a businessman now. When I came in to the wrestling business I was young, it was a childhood dream, and I was naïve and not too business savvy. Now I'm thinking about my money and my family."
You say you don't follow wrestling now, is that because of the product, or has being involved taken passion out of it?
"Oh no, that's definitely not what it is. When my mom visits, she's still a wrestling fan. When I come out and I'm watching Raw and there's a character I like, I'll watch the segment. I'm a big fan of the Bray Wyatt character. When he's on I'm going to stay in the living room. I also like Dean Ambrose, I'm a fan of his character, he's very unique. Seth Rollins is very athletic. Dolph Ziggler. Any of those guys on are on TV, I'll stay and check them out."
Throughout your time in WWE, do you have a favorite match and opponent?
"My favorite match and opponents were working Chris Jericho and Big Show at Summerslam. That was absolutely great. That was the same arena that I debuted in, and I was currently living in Los Angeles, so I had family there. Plus it was for the titles at Summerslam."
Before that you also pinned Chris Jericho on Smackdown.
"Yeah, that was close to my hometown. That was the best opponent I ever worked with. Working with a vet like Chris Jericho who's only worried about making the match the best it can possibly be. He puts everything aside and works ego-less, and wants to put on a good match."
Global Force Wrestling with Jeff Jarrett is getting off the ground. Is that something you'd be interested in?
"It comes back to the zeroes, the money. The travel wouldn't be that bad because they're based out of Las Vegas, and that's only three hours away. It all depends on the money."
And of course your new book, "Damn, Why Did I Write This Book?" is out. How can fans get ahold of your book?
"It's up on payhip, and it'll be up on Amazon as soon as I figure out this damn e-book Kindle format (laughs)."
You can purchase JTG's new book, Damn, Why Did I Write This Book?, at PayHip.com by clicking here. You can follow JTG on Twitter @jtg121084, and Instagram @JTG121084.Photo credit: RajOMac