Matt Morgan Talks About His First Meeting With Vince McMahon, Leaving TNA
Breaking into the business and first meeting Vince McMahon at the gym in WWE Headquarters:
“I was … wondering how do I start. So I moved back and was in my parents house in Connecticut where I took a job with Enterprise Rent A Car in Stamford. I remember Titan Towers was literally a block away. Literally, I could throw a football and hit it from where I was working at Enterprise. A lot of the wrestlers would come in there. So I would sit there and jump all over them and walk them to their car, rent them their car, hook them up, things like that, and beg them for info on how a guy gets started.
“I remember one time Tom Prichard came in. Of course, I knew who Dr. Tom Prichard was, who didn’t? I was a wrestling fan. He gave me the idea to start showing up to the gym, they have a gym there at Titan Towers, and start coming in there. I had a friend who wrote for the magazine, for the Raw Magazine at the time, and so between those two I would go work out at the gym on Friday nights. [I thought] hopefully, maybe I’d bump into Vince McMahon because I heard he worked out on Friday nights with his trainer.
“I went every Friday night for about eight months straight without seeing the man. I kept hearing that I just kept missing him. So, I was coming up from work on Friday nights, so I didn’t have many hours to be able to do this. One night I finally hit it and I met him and I introduced myself. He obviously looked at my size and was asking how big I was and things like that. “What’s your name? Where are you from?” That kind of thing. He was pretty shocked I was from Connecticut and he hadn’t heard of me and I explained to him that I never wrestled, never trained, I didn’t know much of anything, I had my money taken from me from an independent trainer in Hawaii. I asked him, “what’s the best bet for someone like me to make their start in wrestling? I really want to do this.”
He goes, ‘You don’t play any other sports?’ I go, I’ve got a combine with the Rams coming up very soon.’He goes, I think you would owe it to your family and yourself to at least go to the tryout. You at least owe it to yourself. There’s no guarantee in wrestling, no matter how big you are.” I was like, ‘okay, and if it doesn’t work out?’ He was like, “well, you talk to Tom Prichard and maybe Tom can set you up with something.’So I talked to Tom Prichard. The combine for the Rams did not go well, [but] I couldn’t have cared less because my mind wasn’t even on it. I already wanted to be in wrestling. When your mind’s set on something else, it’s kind of hard not to make up for that. So when your mind and your heart is really set on something, after I talked to Vince McMahon, it felt like the dream was starting to come together in a weird way, a very slow, weird way. What was the next step to take?
So I called Tom Prichard. My NFL camp didn’t work out. He said, ‘they’re doing this Tough Enough thing now. You would be great because you have zero experience. We wouldn’t have to untrain any mistakes you made on the indys that you learned. I can’t guarantee anything will work out for you. You clearly have to go there, bust your ass and impress whoever’s judging this thing, whoever the talent scouts are because it’s just as much MTV’s decision as it is WWE’s. So got out there, bust your ass, show them your heart, your passion, and hopefully you can make it. That would be my advice to you to get started.'”
Being given the stuttering gimmick in WWE: 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, ìLook, 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, ìMr. 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, ìWell, 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, ìJust 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.
His Decision To Leave TNA:
“I just think it was… I was about to start a story line, a pretty major one actually. Unfortunately it just didn’t materialize and they went in a different direction with another person’s character. I 100% understand why they had to do it with this particular character, but as far as I’m concerned with my storyline, that left me odd man out where I was going to be taking some time off and sitting at home again.
I remember talking to Dixie [Carter] about it and her telling me to hang in there a little bit more and things like that. “I’m sure creative will come around, we can find something.” The problem with that was, again, I was going to be sitting. I’m in my prime right now and I just felt it wasn’t best for me and my family, most importantly, I have a kid on the way. I’m having my first child coming and I’m a nervous wreck about it as it is, let alone sitting at home doesn’t make that any better, financially speaking. I had to do what was best from my family’s financial standpoint.”
Morgan also talked about working with Hulk Hogan and Brock Lesnar, his stuttering gimmick in WWE, if he’d return to WWE and more.