The British Lions, Tommy Taylor and Christopher Gray, are two gifted young wrestlers originally from Leeds, England. The six-foot tall, handsome young grapplers came to the US on developmental contracts with WWE, and were training at the Florida Championship Wrestling facility until their recent release. With their no compete clauses about to expire, Tommy and Chris are gearing up for their own British Invasion of the US indy wrestling scene.
To better introduce themselves to US wrestling fans, Taylor and Gray were interviewed by Karen Belcher.
KB: Hello, and welcome. Everyone knows you were training at Florida Championship Wrestling on a WWE developmental contract until the end of April, but you were already wrestling before you came to the US. Who trained you back in Leeds, England?
Tommy Taylor: We both started training in 2002 with a British wrestling legend Sir Jeff Kaye. Who became a very close friend to us. He taught us the classic British style, which we both picked up and utilized when competing. I guess word got around that we were learning fast and had a bright future because we suddenly had different promotions and companies interested in us at the young age of 15 and 16.
Christopher Gray: I was trained by Sir Jeff Kaye, a World of Sport Wrestler, and later on his career he refereed. The World of Sport era of wrestling was a catch as catch can style that will never be duplicated. It captured the imagination of the entire United Kingdom and became the most popular show on television. World of Sport was wrestlers like Finlay, Regal, Davey Boy and The Dynamite Kid when they started out. His school was at a gym and basically consisted of mats on a floor — needless to say, I was taught the hard way.
KB: What promotions did you work for, before you came to the US?
Tommy: We started off for a few all at once, Midland Promotions, All Star, Colin Deaton’s World of Sport, EWF, Orig Williams promotions, NPWA, Premier GUV-NOR promotions, just to name ones off the top of my head. We pretty much worked 5-7 days a week from when we started back in 2002 through to 2007 when we moved Stateside!
Chris: Before I came to the US I worked for McGregor Promotions now known as Guvnor Entertainment, All Star Wrestling, Premier Promotions, Colin Deaton’s World of Sport, and a Welsh promoter named Orig Williams.
KB: What was the most difficult thing about switching from English style wrestling to WWE style?
Tommy: Punching and kicking! Haha, all the time we worked in Europe we never did it. It’s a common thing here, you see matches that can go 5 to 10 minutes consisting of fist throwing and boot pummeling, but then again less is more, right.
Chris: I never really switched my style because I felt I wrestled in a way that was unique and helped me stand out from the crowd within WWE. There is a specific way they like or prefer you to work, which caused for slight adjustments, but i maintained my style.
KB: Who were your trainers at FCW?
Tommy: It started off as Steve Keirn, Dr. Tom Pritchard and Steve “Moose” Madison. Later on in came Billy Kidman and Mike Mondo. All of them gave me a great insight into wrestling and the business.
Chris: Dr. Tom Pritchard, Billy Kidman and Steve Keirn — all three were amazing to learn from and work with. All of them were catering to around 70 talents and managed on a daily basis to help each and every one of them to better themselves. People like Dr. Tom, Kidman and Steve Keirn are invaluable to the future of wrestling with their experiences, and their willingness to pass on their knowledge to the future is key in keeping wrestling alive as a profession and a business.
KB: There have been some negative internet rumors going around about the FCW training center. This is your chance to set the record straight – what were things really like there?
Tommy: Fun for the most part. I enjoyed every day I spent there. From doing Promos to hour long drills. I loved meeting everyone and know I made some close friends there. It was very hard work though, and I respect anyone who steps through the ropes at the FCW school. I don’t know what the “rumors” are but I couldn’t have had, nor expected, a better experience.
Chris: I’m unaware as to what rumors you are referring to… As far as FCW and the “negative” rumours surrounding the school, there isn’t anything wrong with the school. It is the greatest place on earth to learn how to wrestle by the greatest teachers in the world. There were issues with construction, but that has nothing to do with the people in charge of the wrestling aspect of the school.
KB: Besides teaching you the physical moves, what did your trainers do to help you develop other skills, like delivering promos and ring psychology?
Tommy: We did promos out on location a lot, which made the whole learning process enjoyable. One week we’d be on a beach, the next at a bowling alley. Then we usually did group promos. I have a lot of great memories doing them. Ring Psychology was the most important thing they taught us. Steve Keirn has an amazing brain for the business, he would stop matches every 30 seconds and give you another insight into the psychology, not always the right way to do it, but as Dr. Tom always said, there’s many different flavors of Ice Cream!
Chris: They helped us on every aspect of professional wrestling as you stated with psychology, promos etc. but also as people. At FCW it was a family environment implemented by Steve Keirn. Everybody was there to help each other, and as a result help professional wrestling continue to develop and prosper.
KB: Who are your role models in wrestling?
Tommy: Dynamite Kid, Billy Robinson, Fit Finlay, Shawn Michaels, Ricky Steamboat, TJ Wilson, Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle just to name a few.
Chris: Sir Jeff Kaye, Finlay, Regal, Dave Taylor, The British Bulldogs, Jeff Hardy, Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, London and Kendrick. I also get a kick out of watching guys in Japan like Kenta and Marifuji.
KB: What are your signature moves, personally, and as a tag team?
Tommy: I like throwing a couple of monkey flips in there, maybe a butterfly suplex, and then I use what I call “the Rascal Roll”. It’s a reverse Fireman roll. As a tag team we do a lot of things together. We’re working on one now called “Kingdom Come”.
Chris: I like to use a double underhook facebuster where I hold on to the arms, roll over into a sitting position, and wait for the bones to snap and joints to pop lol! I call it Gray’s Anatomy after the tv show.
KB: What advice do you have for young people who would like to become wrestlers?
Tommy: Patience and persistence. Never give up. Always have a true respect for the business and those who have paved the way. Work on your image before you ever step through the ropes, try to be a role model yourself for the people watching. Oh and make sure you have a set!
Chris: As a young person myself in wrestling, it’s a lil’ strange to offer advice to others, but based on what I was taught, there are golden rules such as: keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open, respect everyone involved with wrestling — the fans, time keepers, bookers. The wrestlers’ respect is key for survival in wrestling. Don’t ever work for free; if you want to be a professional, act like one — you try getting an electrician to do some free work in your house — I’d give it 5 seconds before he tells you to fuck off! As a wrestler you’re working; many consider it a trade. It’s ignorant to think you’re paying dues by working for free; if you have any self respect you will charge a wage for your work.
KB: Great advice! Let’s do some word association:
Tommy: Respect. He stands by it, he gives it, and I have a huge amount for him.
Chris: An all round good man who loves wrestling and genuinely cares for all his students as if they were his own children, great guy.
KB: Sir Jeff Kaye
Tommy: Very good friend and mentor.
Chris: My wrestling Dad
KB: Dr. Tom Pritchard
Tommy: Inspirational. Made it an honor to be in the business.
Chris: A fountain of knowledge of which I miss being around so I can pick his brains and learn from one of the greatest workers of all time.
KB: Fit Finlay
Tommy: The very best.
Chris: Is what wrestling is about: there is nothing in wrestling he hasn’t experienced, a legit badass, consummate professional, and somebody everyone can learn from.
KB: The British Bulldogs
Tommy: Amazing yet sad.
Chris: The best tag team ever!!!
KB: Bret Hart
Tommy: One of the best technicians
Chris: This is going to be really cheesy but here goes… the Best There Is The Best There Was and The Best there ever will be
KB: Nic Nemeth
Tommy: Funny guy. HUGE future
Chris: GIMMICK!!! LOL! Nic is great fun. We share the same dry/sarcastic sense of humor. We would always wrestle at the school too, for at least 30 minutes just working on psychology, story telling, and how to develop a match. We’d share shoot holds and takedowns (it was mainly him educating me lol!) and although we haven’t spoken in a lil’ while I still consider him a good friend. Nic needs to be on tv — they’re wasting time keeping him in FCW. He’s someone they can make a lot of money with.
KB: The Hardy Boyz
Tommy: Always Exciting
KB: TJ Wilson
Tommy: Great friend and someone I look up to.
Chris: Again a great friend, an amazingly talented professional, and seeing as he came out of the dungeon, of course he is a class shooter as well. I learned a lot working with and watching TJ. He is another superstar who just needs the opportunity and he will be over in no time!
KB: DH Smith
Tommy: Also glad to call a friend and a great wrestler.
Chris: Harry’s life is wrestling — possibly the best wrestler on the entire WWE roster right now.
KB: Now that your no-compete clause has expired, what are your plans for your career? Have you been talking to any promotions about going to work for them?
Tommy: We have a lot in the works. We need all the help we can get though, because we’re from England, and to be honest we’ve never had to go out looking for work. I think we’ll push it to the limit for sure.
Chris: My plans are to work everywhere and anywhere, to establish my name as one of the greats in the world of wrestling. Myself and Taylor have shows lined up in late August for Full Impact Pro, GEAR wrestling and FPWA, also in September I have dates for Pro Wrestling Fusion.
KB: Do you have a website or MySpace page? What about contact information for promoters who would like to hire you?
If anyone is interested in booking or just have any questions please e-mail me at:
Chris: I sure do my MySpace is
KB: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Tommy: Thanks for your time and I hope you will say hi when we come to a show near you.
Chris: The British Lions are coming to regain our kingdom with wrestling matches that will set the world on fire claiming victory after victory and championship after championship proving that we are world beaters!!!
KB: Thanks very much, and best of luck in your careers!
– Karen Belcher
Courtesy of ProWrestlingDigest.com