I recently spoke with former TNA Superstar Joey Ryan. In the second part of the interview below, Ryan discussed his time with TNA, if his heat with Taz was real, his career highlight, Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan being in charge, teaming with Matt Morgan, his TNA release and much more.

Part one of the Joey Ryan interview is here, where Ryan discussed getting his start in the business, being one of the founders of PWG, Daniel Bryan getting over, working for WWE as an enhancement talent, TNA inviting him on Gut Check and more.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the third and final part of our interview, where Ryan discussed how TNA can compete with WWE, TNA cutting back on high priced talent, attending the WWE tryout camp in August, problems with John Laurinaitis, if his TNA run hurt his chances to join WWE and more.

You can also follow him on Twitter @JoeyRyanOnline , and on Facebook at facebook.com/JoeyRyanOnline.

Wrestling Inc.: Was the idea all along that you'd go on Gut Check and lose, and then do the angle where you're kind of crashing they're TV tapings? Was that the idea from the beginning or did that just kind of happen organically?

Ryan: That was actually pretty organic because I mean initially… they didn't tell me because they wanted it to be as real as possible. Eric Bischoff was producing. He's really big on reality TV and getting real reactions from people. So they brought me in that night. They didn't tell me, but I figured I was going to be a no because I was the second number one and they gave the first guy a contract, Alex Silva. Whether they meant to or not, whether it was Ric Flair shooting on the company or whatever the rumors are now, they gave him one. So I figured they're going to bring me in and it's going to be for a no. And then they paired me up with Austin Aries, and I've worked with Austin Aries quite a few times. We had a match and it actually was really good on TV. It was a good, really solid TV match.

Wrestling's so subjective that you can critique anything. So of course, they could say I did this wrong and I figured the no was coming. But Eric Bischoff and Hulk Hogan really liked my look. So they even told me, right before I went out and did, the next week when we did the judges segment, Hulk Hogan pulled me aside and said, "Hey, no matter how it goes out there, we want you to know that we like you, we like your look and we might be able to do something with you in the future if it doesn't happen now," which kind of gave me the indication that they were going to tell me no. So I was kind of gearing up for that.

Obviously they had me present myself as a heel. So I was like, if I'm a heel I'm not just going to tuck my tail between my legs if I get a no. I'm going to stand up for myself. The biggest boost came literally like moments before I went out on camera to do it, Eric Bischoff pulled me aside and said, "Hey, I understand you're very good on the microphone," and obviously I'm like, "I'm alright." He's like, "Don't be afraid to speak your mind out there and just be real." When he gave me the go ahead to do that, I was like okay. I'm just going to go for it then. I was going to tell them how stupid they were for saying no. I had no idea for sure that they were going to tell me no when I went out there, but I had a pretty good idea they were going to tell me no. So I just went for it.

And then after I did the segment, I wasn't even sure how everyone was going to react to it. I think Taz was a little upset because obviously I was talking a little smack to him. But the office really, really liked it and they were like okay, we want to run with this now. It just kind of organically grew from there.

Wrestling Inc.: You mentioned Taz being upset, I know you guys would go back and forth on Twitter. Taz, with his Tweets, seemed like he was genuinely getting pissed off. Did you discuss any of that with Taz, or were you just kind of going with it and he wasn't liking it?

Ryan: No. He'd know, like I met him that day that I got there. He had no idea who I was, where I came from and this and that. So initially, he was really hot about it because I was obviously coming out and he didn't know who I was or what. But I think after the initial segment happened, he kind of understood that I was just doing whatever I could, even if I wasn't going to get a job, to use my time on TV and do something memorable because you know, he comes from ECW where that is what it was about, just being memorable and branding yourself. I think he kind of got it after he calmed down a little bit. But then the office just told me, because when they hired me, when they said they wanted to run with it, they're like just go promote yourself. That's why I did the Joey Ryan has a YouTube channel show on the Internet and was just talking crap about TNA.

They wanted to make it as real as possible so they were like just go and Tweet about it and just go off. Throw ideas out there and if we need to reel you in we'll reel you in, but just go as if you're really upset about this and they're were like just kind of shy away from… even when I would go make appearances on the show, they would have me just sit in my hotel room and wait and have a car pick me up like while the show was being filmed. It was live at the time, so while the show was airing they would come pick me up at the hotel, drive me there, have me wait and kind of hide in an office, go out and do my thing, and then drive me right back to the hotel so I wasn't around the boys and I wasn't around, the fans couldn't see me hanging out after the show or whatever. They wanted it to be as real as possible.

I didn't really know how the locker room was taking to it because I was never really engaging with them. I was never really backstage. I was always being hidden so I didn't know if Taz was in on it. I didn't know if he was real. I just knew that I had to keep it going to make the office happy. So I was just doing what I could to keep the angle hot.

Wrestling Inc.: Did they ever have to reel you in? Or were you just able to run with it as much as you wanted?

Ryan: Yeah. At one point, I said something about Hulk Hogan and they wanted me to take it down because they wanted me to focus more on like Al [Snow] and Taz and Bruce Prichard and I pulled that episode down after it had been up for a couple days. But I should have put it back up because obviously it's not really relevant anymore. It's on the back of my mind. But yeah, one of the episodes I took down from Hulk Hogan because I was taking shots at management and everybody knew that he was the general manager, on camera he's the general manager, but they wanted me to focus more on the Gut Check segment. That was the only time they had to reel me in though.

Wrestling Inc.: What was that like? You mentioned being a big Hulkamaniac when you were a kid, and now you're in TNA working with him and having him tell you that he's a fan of your character and your work.

Ryan: That was probably the highlight. I mean, you ask me what my favorite moment of my career is, that's it right there. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't even be in wrestling. I wouldn't have been a fan growing up. I have pictures of me as a kid with Hogan foam fingers and dressed up as Hulk Hogan and stuff like that. Here he's telling me that he's a fan of mine, I'm doing backstage segments with him and getting to work with him. He's a complete friend of mine. It would get to the point where, he's very busy on the days of the show when he was there because he was part of the, he was his on camera character but he was doing stuff backstage and stuff, but it would get to the point where he would kind of find me, or I would find him at some point, and we'd sit down. We'd have a conversation, we'd just kind of like… not even really about wrestling, we'd just kind of friendly talk. So I consider him one of my friends now, and that's like, me as a kid thinking that one day I would be friends with Hulk Hogan, it's just crazy for me to think about.

Wrestling Inc.: What do you think of all the backlash towards Hogan and Bischoff? You mentioned you like them both, but with a lot of people blaming them for the company not really growing or going to where it needs to go?

Ryan: There's obviously going to be finger pointing, no matter who is in charge or who is running it if there's different ideas. I think they were more about trying to take some chances, like going on the road was, I think, an idea of theirs to help the company grow because obviously you weren't getting genuine reactions anymore from the Impact Zone because fans were seeing everybody every week and they knew they would see them again next week and the week after that. So I think going on the road, they wanted to get more genuine reactions. But there's a risk. That's what they did in WCW, obviously they had money backing them so they had more room to fail and then rebound and fail and rebound and fail until they hit the nWo stride, so I think that's just it. They wanted to think outside the box and a lot of time in pro wrestling, it's hard to get people to think outside the box. People think that's the way it has to be because this is the way it's been done for years and years and years. So I think that a lot of the backlash, obviously whoever's in charge, if the product is not growing they're going to get the backlash. I don't think it was a lack of effort, I don't think it was anything like they weren't trying to sabotage or anything. Obviously they had a lot of different ideas going on, and a lot of times they had more ideas then there was time for the show.

When I talked to Eric about me and Matt Morgan teaming up, he had all these grand ideas about it. He wanted to do this and that with it. When it came down to it, they had two hours of TV every week and they had a pretty big roster. They had certain guys that they had to put on, so a lot of stuff was like oh, we'll have to do it next week or we'll have to do this because there just wasn't time. They had a lot of ideas like that where it was like, if they had been able to dedicate more time to the idea that he had for me and Matt, maybe me and Matt would still be there as a team right now. Because there was such limited time, only two hours a week every week, that isn't much time when you have a bigger roster. I think they felt, a lot of time, their ideas were too big for what they had.

Wrestling Inc.: You mentioned teaming with Matt Morgan. Did you say, was that something you came up with? Or was that something Eric came up with?

Ryan: It was Eric Bischoff's idea. He definitely liked Matt being my muscle. Kind of like a Shawn and Diesel thing from the 90s. But it was a little different,he had really big ideas for it. He wanted to put a girl with us and he wanted to different things with us. But we were limited on time and how much time he could dedicate to me and Matt as a team. A lot of people like to make that comparison, to Shawn and Diesel, but it was different then because Shawn was the focus and the attention of that group and Diesel was his muscle. They had big plans for Matt. They were doing stuff with Matt and Hogan at the time. So it's hard for that dynamic to get over when it's not so much the big guy helping the little guy.

It was supposed to be… when the attention's on Matt rather than Matt just helping me, you know what I mean? Like I think it was more of a… obviously we're trying to protect Matt and I think after a lot, you know, because they wanted to build him up to this thing, they didn't want him being too vulnerable. After a while, you can only do that for so long where I'm getting beat up and Matt's just watching because that looks stupid for the team if like I'm getting beat up and him not being the one to save me. But they didn't want Matt to be the secondary player in that situation. Like I said, had we been able to dedicate more time to it, because a lot of ideas that were pitched to us or came up for us were never executed to fruition. But yeah, it was definitely Eric Bischoff's idea.

Wrestling Inc.: Do you think it was just cut way too short? Or did you kind of see it going that way?

Ryan: I think it was cut short. I think it was almost… like I said, there's only so much time on TV and they wanted to put us on TV and they had Chavo and Hernandez as the tag team champions on TV. So they had to be on TV too. So I kind of think they rushed feuding for me and Matt and Chavo and Hernandez, because they didn't really want us to be tag team champions. They wanted us to do our little own individual things. So, they put us with Chavo and Hernandez for a while and I really liked working with them. The matches were great, but they didn't want to put the titles on me and Matt. It was one thing where we didn't have a chance to grow ourselves as a team before we started taking losses. It was always me taking the loss and protecting Matt. Matt starts to look kind of stupid if I'm the one who's always getting the losses. So I think if we had a little bit more time or if the roster was a little bit thinner, they could have put us with someone else and let us build, like establish ourselves as some sort of force to be reckoned with before we started going after the tag championships. Especially if we weren't going to win the tag championships, I think the build would have helped us a lot.

Wrestling Inc.: Were you surprised, because you're one of the few talents not from WWE, you were really starting to get over with the fans, that they didn't do more with you at that time, or even earlier this year?

Ryan: Yeah. Obviously, like I said, they had big plans for Matt and I was kind of the secondary player for our team. But I thought eventually we were going to do our own stuff and I thought I'd get to be more the character that I want to be rather than… I mean there was bits and pieces of me and I got to do some promos that were good. But I thought I'd get to be more of the Joey Ryan character, just starting doing more of our individual things. But then I honestly just became a victim of a budget when we went on the road. Stuff was costing more money and they had to tighten the budget and I wasn't… me and Matt had just finished feuding with Chavo and Hernandez and they didn't really have anything for us, so they pretty much just cut a bunch of guys that they didn't have anything written for TV. They were trying to save money where they could because going on the road was expensive, and I understand that, because they had to grow. They wanted the company to grow, so I understand the move to the road, but I just became expendable at that point to them because I wasn't on TV currently in a story line and they needed to turn the corner and make some money, turn going on the road into a gain for them.

Wrestling Inc.: Who informed you of your release?

Ryan: Al Snow. He called me. He's works in talent relations there, so he let me know. Like again, it wasn't even like a "hey, we're disappointed," it was like a "hey, we don't want to do this but right now we have to. It's nothing against you or your work and the door's definitely open down the line." And even since then I've talked to a couple guys there that had ideas of possibly using me in the coming year, even if it's just a one off like recent stuff done with Sonjay Dutt and Petey Williams, or if it's back on the roster. There's definitely ideas going around to bring me back. I think a lot of that's generated by the fan support too because a lot of the fans [audio cuts out] them and write them and request me. So that helps the idea of me coming back. So yeah, it was kind of like a hey, it's something we have to do right now. It's nothing against you. It was very formal. I don't hold any grudges or ill will towards them for it because I completely understand the decision.

Luckily for me I had such success in independent wrestling before I even got to TNA that it wasn't like, TNA cut me, what do I do now? How do I make money? I just went back to what I was doing before. A lot of guys who get upset or get mad, or guys don't really know how to make money on the independents like I do. So they feel like when they get cut that's the rug being swept out beneath them. For me, it's like okay, I just have to get my hustle back on.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the third and final part of our interview, where Ryan discussed how TNA can compete with WWE, TNA cutting back on high priced talent, attending the WWE tryout camp in August, problems with John Laurinaitis, if his TNA run hurt his chances to join WWE and more.

Part one of the Joey Ryan interview is here, where Ryan discussed getting his start in the business, being one of the founders of PWG, Daniel Bryan getting over, working for WWE as an enhancement talent, TNA inviting him on Gut Check and more.

You can follow him on Twitter @JoeyRyanOnline , and on Facebook at facebook.com/JoeyRyanOnline.

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