Matt Morgan talks about his departure from TNA and potential WWE return and more
I recently spoke with Matt Morgan for his first interview since leaving TNA earlier this summer. In the third and final part of the interview below, Morgan discussed his time with TNA, his TNA departure and return last year, working with Hulk Hogan, le...
Matt Morgan talks joining WWE, his stuttering gimmick, his WWE release, signing with TNA, more
I recently spoke with Matt Morgan for his first interview since leaving TNA earlier this summer. In the second part of the interview below, Morgan discussed his stuttering gimmick in WWE, working with Brock Lesnar, being released by WWE and if he saw it coming, working overseas, signing with TNA and much more.
You can check out the first part of the interview here, where Morgan discussed appearing on Tough Enough, meeting Vince McMahon at the Titan Towers gym, his time on the show and more. Make sure to check back this week for the third and final part of our interview. You can also follow him on Twitter @BPmattmorgan.
Wrestling INC: You were only in [WWE] developmental for a year before you were brought up to the main roster, right?
Morgan: If that. I recall only having about six months of experience from the first day in there to being with Team Lesnar on Smackdown. And the rib was, I only had experience as a babyface down in OVW because I was coined as this big babyface at the time. I was super limited and super green. Of course, I get brought up as a heel. So I just did the opposite of whatever the heels would have done to me had I been the one selling, things like that. I tried my best, but I was way too inexperienced.
Wrestling INC: Did you know that when you joined the main roster? Or were you like, "I'll pick this up, I can do this?"
Morgan: Everybody there knew it. From the writers, I remember [then-SmackDown writer] Dave Lagana calling and telling me when I was first pulled up, "hey, this is a huge opportunity for you. We know, we understand how green you are. You're going to get some stuff, some crap said about you because you are so new and you are so young. But, at the same time, that's why we've specifically paired you with Brock and wrestling against Kurt Angle, [Chris] Benoit, [Eddie] Guerrero, John Cena." Just guys that were a lot more seasoned, especially Brock and Kurt at the time, because John Cena himself was relatively new at that point himself, he was just starting to get really super over at that moment. I learned because I was married to those guys at house shows, I was able to pick up a hell of a lot of experience. Because of that, it made me more comfortable obviously. But yeah, of course I knew I was way too inexperienced to be called up. What am I going to say? "Excuse me, sir. I would like to stay in OVW for another year." You can't do that, because if I did say that, then I'm not ready to attack this head on. I don't have the same label as a guy that doesn't have the zeal to get out there, grow a pair and learn on the fly in that situation, which is exactly how that world works. I had no problem with it. I didn't even give it a second thought.
Wrestling INC: What was your reaction when you were put on Team Lesnar and working with all these guys on top right off the bat?
Morgan: It was me, Brock Lesnar, I was a tag team with Nathan Jones at the time, Big Show and A-Train. It was the biggest team in Survivor Series history. That in and of itself was a huge honor, because I'm a huge, huge fan for the big men that came before me. So I thought that was a cool honor. Like I said, I couldn't have been happier. I'm with the Heavyweight Champion. I'm learning from him every single night on the road. You want to talk about a quick study? As quick as Kurt Angle picked it up, Brock Lesnar picked it up easily just as fast. Good Lord, he picked this business up so fast, the psychology of it. He really worked with me and taught me how to work big. At the time, I didn't really understand it. I would say once I went to TNA I fully understood it, for the most part. The light bulb finally went on for me. We have a whole different psychology than any other wrestler does, big men do. We've got to learn the psychology just like everybody else, but then we also have to learn big men psychology. It takes big guys a little more time to get seasoned and get that experience, it just does.
Wrestling INC: Do they teach bigger guys like yourself, in the developmental system? I'm sure it's changed now, but at least back then in OVW, would they teach you how to work big? Or did they teach you more of just generally how to work and you kind of figured that out on your own?
Morgan: I had Rip Rogers down there training me, Danny Davis down there training me in OVW. They would take the info from years of experience and try to teach me what they would know about it, obviously. It's not brain surgery to figure it out. But, for whatever reason, I remember Kevin Nash came down there when he was about to be called up for the nWo stuff. He went down there to work some ring rust off, or maybe he was down there for an injury, I forget. But we had him down there for about a week or two and just being in the ring with him, no joke, no exaggeration, I learned so much more from him in those two weeks as far as working big is concerned, then I did full time when I was studying down there. That's serious. And then when I got called up, my eyes were glued on Undertaker and Kane 24/7. Those were my two guys. Those were my, as well as Big Show, those were the guys that I would not take my eyes off of. Any of their matches, how they walked around backstage, how they presented themselves, how they treated people, and most importantly, their psychology. There's not a better big man in the history of this business than the Undertaker. I mean, good Lord. What better person to watch than him? I remember watching him and Kane going over their match at Wrestlemania 20. I had nothing on that night, I wasn't on the card. Nathan [Jones] had just quit. Brock was on his way out for the NFL at the time. I had just gotten the bad news that I was being sent back down to OVW again for more seasoning. I was very cool with it. I was excited for it because I now knew what I need to work on. I sat there and I watched, right at ringside, everything that they were doing in that ring, before the show started. Two of the best big men ever going at it, super athletic big guys. They let me sit down there and watch them go over their match. That's how you learn.
Wrestling INC: When you went back to OVW, that's actually where you came up with the Blueprint, right?
Morgan: Kenny Bolin came up with it. He wasn't contracted with WWE at all at the time. I don't think he ever really was. But he was a manager there. When we did the Blueprint, it was basically a spin off of the next big thing because before I had been called up at all, to go up there and team with Team Lesnar or anything like that, I was a baby face and at the time they were calling me the next, next big thing. When I did my promo, [I said] "I'm not the next, next anything. I'm the first walking, talking, living, breathing athletic giant that this sport has ever had. Hell, if God had made himself the perfect blueprint of the perfect giant, you're looking at him." Arrogant as hell, but that's what I really felt and arrogant as that might be, that's who I felt I am. That's the character that I could connect with. It just rolled off the top of my tongue and I heard Kenny Bolin in the manager's office, calling me the Blueprint in the past. It was a couple months later that I could fit it into a promo, I guess you could say. From there the character kind of took off.
Wrestling INC: I remember during that time hearing about your promo ability. That was one of the things that I remember people were really high on. When they brought you back, it kind of reminds me of when Batista came in from developmental. He was put in as Devon's second and had the shirt and everything. They gave you a stuttering gimmick. Do you think that was to have you focus more on your in-ring? Or was it just something they thought you'd be able to do?
Morgan: That was Vince McMahon's idea, to give me something. I was still, they didn't want to do the Blueprint character because I had done it in OVW. Creative, the writing team and more importantly Vince, was the one that came up with it. He for years had been wanting to put this stuttering character on the right guy. I remember him saying, “Look, if this isn't you, you got to tell me now. It's not a big deal, we'll send you back down. Still improving and doing what you're doing. I hear you're doing really well. Just keep it up and we'll find something for you eventually.”
I remember being at the time like I'm still learning a lot, but I know I'm going to learn a hell of a lot faster if I'm on the road with these guys again at house shows. I would have said yes to anything. I mean if you tell me to wear a pink jock strap, I would have went out there with a freaking pink tutu, I would have done it, on a unicycle, to boot. I would have done it. That's how desperate I wanted to be back on the big show. Who doesn't?
I remember when he talked about the character to me, he used a really good analogy that made sense to me at the time. But again, no matter what he told me I would have done, because any time he gets an idea, you would assume that you would be used and used to the benefit of his abilities. In his defense he did. He absolutely did. It's just I take full credit for not getting fully over and not working. I'm very confident on the microphone, so I really believed I could eventually make it work. But what started happening was, which was kind of my concern at the time, was people are going to laugh. And I get that's what it's supposed to do. But then what I was told was once I started getting the heat on my opponent, and being a big, bad ass mother you know what, that there's the rub. No ones going to be laughing necessarily at that point. Well, they kind of were because I'm sitting there stuttering in the middle of my heat, talking trash to my opponent. So I just tried to go with it and make it as comical as I could and maybe that's why it didn't work. I take full credit on that one for it not working. You always take credit for it on your own. You can't always blame other things like writers or this or that. Just take it on the chin yourself as a learning experience. Me doing that character, it opened me up even more as far as, I don't want to say making an ass of myself, but being even more comfortable doing anything you throw at me.
I was a very confident man, very confident in my abilities and super confident in my athleticism and talking ability. What better way to prove that then doing something that isn't your strength? I was going to knock it out of the ballpark come hell or high water, that's the attitude I had by attacking it. That night when Vince talked to me about it, he wanted me to go down to OVW and practice it a little bit. I probably should have taken the man's advice, but I was so gung ho to show that this doesn't phase me and I'm going to freaking kill this thing, this character. I said to him, quite quickly, “Mr. McMahon, I can have this down cold by the end of the night.” We were at Chicago doing a taping for Smackdown. He was like, “Well, that's pretty fast, Matt. Don't you think you should give it some time? Work it into matches and promos down there in promo class?” I was like, “Just give me an opportunity. Let me come back in here by the end of the night, after the show if you don't mind, and I'll cut a promo on ya with this character.” And he loved it because Vince loves people that attack things head on. That's the kind of man I am as well. So cool. Smackdown comes, here I am in the bathroom mirrors in between matches, trying to work on this character. His facials, what words does he stammer on, and then I came up with the idea of when I would start to stutter on a word to replace it with a completely different word. Like I'd start to use the f word and then replace it with a ridiculous word. You know, like instead of using the f word use a funny word because I couldn't get the word out.
I went back to his office. He had John Cena in there at the time and he wanted me to cut it on John. I ripped into John with this stuttering character and they both were dying laughing. At the time John was like look, we need big guys, we need big heels on our show right now, we need some new blood. Hopefully this works out for you, big man. He was really supportive of it actually, of me trying it and keep going. Anyways, so I did it and they both liked it. I think it was a week later I debuted on Smackdown.
Wrestling INC: You weren't on Smackdown too long before you got your release. Was that something you saw coming or were you surprised by that?
Morgan: I did not see that one coming. I was working full time on television. I was in a current storyline with Carlito. Maybe I should have seen it once he got drafted and I didn't. But that's usually when that works. The bodyguard may get drafted to a different program or show. I had just got done wrestling Big Show and Akebono in Japan with Carlito. It was a pretty big match. I was in a feud with Big Show at the moment on television as well. So I definitely did not see that coming. Usually you see it coming when you're sitting at home bored. I should have seen it because the character was not taking off the way I'm sure Vince imagined it would. Again, that's on me. You got to own that crap. You can't just keep blaming it on people. I could sit here and say well, I graduated college magna cum laude with a degree in communication. Speaking is my thing. Public speaking is my thing. That's my strength. Well, okay. So what? How do we make it entertaining though? To their credit, that's how they figured they could make it entertaining. There you go.
Wrestling INC: What was the reason you were given for the release?
Morgan: That's easy. Inexperience. I was told to go out and get, Johnny [Laurinaitis] told me to go out and get main event experience. Go to Japan and get as much big money match experience as you can. I did. I went to New Japan. I worked every top guy they had for about a year. Went to All Japan for about eight months and worked every top guy they had there. I worked a lot of big names every one you could think of in Japan at least once to three times. So I did that.
And then when I came back to the states, Cornette had started with TNA. TNA was this upcoming promotion and I lived in Florida, so I went down to one of the tapings to visit with him and eat with him after the show. I talked to Jeff Jarrett at the time, and a little bit with Dixie Carter, I believe she had just taken ownership. Jeff knew I could talk. I don't think he knew much about my in ring work at the time. I know for a fact, he said, “Look, I know you're a big guy. From what I hear, super athletic. Let's sit down one day and let's figure this out, how we can get you in here.” I remember him saying, just be patient because they were waiting for the deal from Spike to go through.
At that time, WWE again wanted me to get that main event experience that Johnny Ace had told me to go out and get. I'd been to Japan. So, the next thing I figured was I'd do that in TNA. I'll go there and I'll do whatever I've got to do to work my way up that card. Start at the bottom, work my way up. I eventually did that as well. What I didn't expect was falling in love with that company as much as I did.
Wrestling INC: You came in there at a pretty interesting time. Like you said, they had just gotten the deal with Spike. A lot of people had written TNA off years before. They just got the big deal and everything. What was the vibe like when you signed?
Morgan: Real good question. It was amazing, I was shocked. Again, coming from Japan where not many speak English and the ones that do kayfabe the crap out of it. It's pretty much just me hanging out there with Mark Jindrak in between my shows. So when I came to TNA, I was kind of blown away at how relaxed everybody was. I remember I showed up in a suit and tie. And I remember Samoa Joe walking up to me, it was the first time meeting him, and the first thing he was like, “brother, you don't need to wear that crap here no more.” I was like, “what, my suit and tie?” He was like, “dude, it's 90 degrees out. It's summer time.” I'm just trying to make a good impression. I just wanted to look like a professional 24/7. That still is my opinion, by the way. But then the attitude behind it was pretty cool. It seemed like a place that you could let your hair down. For me, at that time in my career, when I needed it the most, that was very imperative to my ongoing training in gaining that main event experience because the guys that get themselves over, chances are it's because they finally dialed into who they really are as a man.
I don't know about you, brother, but it takes time as a man to figure out who you are in life, right? What you're about, what you're qualities are, what your value system is. Forget the character, just being a man. You only get that with years of experience in life situations. Wrestling's no different. With this, I figured I'm at TNA, it's such a good place because there was not as much pressure on you. There was no walking around on eggshells and because of that, I was finally allowed to be so comfortable there that I was willing to start trying things and relax more. I started to slow down on the mic when I spoke. I was starting to slow down my work in the ring and stalking my opponent in a heat versus hey, let's see how many athletic moves I can do. Crap like that that I used to make the mistake of doing when I came in there. It was really a good marriage between the two of us, me as well as TNA because they had Kevin Nash there, but he wasn't working a consistent amount of shows. He wasn't working all the house shows or anything of that nature. So I came in, learned from the Nash learning tree as well as Kurt Angle and a lot of the other. I could sit up all day talking about them. Sting, [Hulk] Hogan, [Ric] Flair. Tons of guys that tried to help me along the way.
But again, long story short, I was able to learn a lot. Because I was able to be so comfortable there, I got to tap into the Blueprint more and more and more and go okay, I'm this guy. This is who I am, like it or not.
You can check out the first part of the interview here, where Morgan discussed appearing on Tough Enough, meeting Vince McMahon at the Titan Towers gym, his time on the show and more. Make sure to check back this week for the third and final final part of our interview. You can also follow him on Twitter @BPmattmorgan.