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The Strange Exit From TNA of Terry Taylor

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Last week, on the same day that Randy Savage died, an email was sent to everyone in the TNA.  The email was short and succinct: it noted that TNA's Head of Talent Relations, Terry Taylor, had decided to leave the company, effective May 31st. The email thanked Taylor for his contributions to the company and, in that firmly established wrestling cliche, wished him the best of luck in his future endeavours.  It also mentioned that Dean Broadhead and Caroline Williams should be contaced for any contractual and compensation issues, and that former WWE office worker Bruce Pritchard should be contacted for any other talent issues. It was all very cordial, but most suspected there was more to the story, and, of course, there was. 

The story that Taylor had decided to leave on his own (after being there since 2003) didn't pass the laugh test. As Mark Madden noted in his most recent Wrestlezone column: "NO WAY a wrestling lifer voluntarily resigns from one of just two viable workplaces. Where is Taylor going to go? What's he going to do? Work Indies?" I don't agree with everything Madden says, but, on this matter at least, the man has a point.

Most of the dirtsheets admitted he was fired, although even then they weren't giving the full story. PWI wrote off Taylor's firing as a decision Dixie had made after deciding on a "change of direction". There was no big story here whatsoever.  Um...okay, Dixie, a woman who has shown herself to be stubbornly unwilling to get rid of anyone on her team (Taylor was firmly established in her circle, and was also tight with Russo) just suddenly decided to get rid of one of her closest allies? PWTorch also downplayed the news, and even suggested Pritchard was a worse replacement because he wasn't well-liked by the wrestlers. Keller also sympathised with Taylor on his podcast, noting he had a "thankless job" and he did the best he could. (Looking at the complete cock-up Taylor has made of the job, notably Daffney's situation, but other talent mistreatment issues too, I believe an actual rooster could have done a way better job than Taylor did.) 

In his column, Madden, while not naming names, criticised certain journalists for this, claiming: "There's a major story there...let's see if any of pro-wrestling's so called 'journalists' have the guts to go after it."

Why would some reporters be unwilling to reveal the full story? Well, readers should bare in mind that these reporters often have sources to appease in this company, one of which was heavily rumoured to be Taylor himself.These people are, obviously, out to paint the company in the best light possible. Indeed, I noticed that when Daffney announced her lawsuit, few reporters said flat-out, "they didn't pay her bills", which was obviously the case. It was just worded as "there were issues brewing over how her injuries were being taken care of." Strange way of putting it. Why not just say they weren't paying her bills and that's why she was suing? When I noted my suspicions about certain writers, one TNA person confirmed to me: "Yes..PWI are in the pockets of TNA. Taylor stooges information to people like Rob Feinstein and PWI all the time. Mike Johnson gets all his information from Jeremy Borash. They settle their little burns with people by passing information along. Eric Bischoff also passes information along...I can tell you, there's a great deal of information that never saw the light of day. The sheets only know what management want them to know." Want to know why it took so long for the talent mistreatment issues to come out? Well, there's at least some of your answer.

Indeed, out of everyone, it was only Dave Meltzer (who has generally been very honest about them) that told the truth about the matter. In this article about Daffney's lawsuit against TNA  I noted she was not the only person filing suit against the company. There were rumoured to be at least a dozen injury-related lawsuits (although I've been  told at least one has been settled in mediation). More damaging, I also mentioned the heavy rumour that one former knockout had filed a sexual harrassment lawsuit against the company. What I didn't mention, although Randy Ricci would claim on his blog, was that Terry Taylor was one of the major names brought up. (In respect to the wacky Karen/Serge stories flying around: regardless of what happened there, this current lawsuit has been filed by another women. The Karen/Serge issues are, seemingly, settled, despite claims that Karen is the KO suing. She's not.) It was apparently all these lawsuits, and anger from Panda Energy execs, that caused Carter to go into hiding (well, stay off twitter and start keeping a much low profile, at least.) For the record, Taylor isn't exactly new to being named in lawsuits: his name also showed up a few times in Konnan's lawsuit against TNA, which they quickly settled out of court.

 Interestingly, Meltzer reported this in the May 30th edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 

Terry Taylor was fired on 5/20 as head of talent relations in TNA. Taylor, 55, was believed to have been let go due to allegations made against him in a lawsuit filed by a former talent. It is not necessarily the Shannon Spruill (Daffney) suit, although his name was implicated in that suit of stalling when she tried to get the company to pay her hospital bills before the company ended up not paying them, and also being pressured to perform after suffering a concussion. Bruce Prichard will take over the duties. There are reports the job of negotiating contracts will be taken over by Dean Broadhead, the company’s CFO.

Aside from the lawsuit issues, one person close to the situation also suggested Taylor's "stunning incompetence" with VISA issues (notably the Angelina Love debacle) and his poor job in general may have also been a factor in his firing. This is possible, but considering he's been clueless at this stuff for years, and has still kept his job, I'm leaning towards it being the lawsuits more than anything else.

It was apparently TNA's Chief Financial Officer Dean Broadhead (a Panda Energy person) that got rid of Taylor. Not Dixie. So any hopes that she's has finally started to hold her people accountable can be squashed once and for all at this point. Randy Ricci claimed on his blog that Russo's job at risk too. Considering how long Russo has clung onto his job, I'll believe it when I see it. Although, clearly, with Taylor gone, Dixie losing power, and Panda Energy stepping in, Russo's position isn't as firmly established as it once was. Bryan Alvarez made some mention of everyone in TNA frantically "choosing sides" the day he reported Taylor's exit from TNA, and I believe he was referring to this. The staggering incompetence and mis-management of Dixie and her buddies may finally be coming back to bite them in ass, as Panda Energy realize the legal and financial mess she has gotten them into.   

Unsurprisingly, the excuses for Taylor within the wrestling community have already started. Les Thatcher claimed his friend had been "scapegoated" when confronted with the story about the sexual harrassment lawsuit on Doc Martin's Wrestling Weekly radio show. Bill Berhens also said on his May 27th Who's Slamming Who podcast  that, "I'm not convinced TNA has made the right decision here" and mentioned Taylor had "a lot of balls to juggle" in a difficult job.  Hmmm. Ask Daffney about that. (And, even worse, I'm reliably informed that she had considered Taylor a good friend, and someone she trusted, dating back to their WCW days, before all that stuff went down.)

Anyway, wrestling fans shouldn't feel sorry for Taylor. As one commentator noted: "Shed no tears for the Rooster. Sycophants always seem to land on their feet."