“Jay Lethal ….. You’re Fired”
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Many people still ask me “Why did you leave TNA?” Well for starters, it wasn’t my idea to be released. It rarely is the wrestlers’ idea. To be perfectly honest, I’m still not sure why it happened. I remember getting a call from Terry Taylor explaining to me that I was being let go. Now, I don’t have the greatest memory but I do remember never being told exactly why. It might be due to the fact that I can’t remember asking “Why?” With the things going through my head at that time, the question of “Why?” was the last thing on my mind. I instantly kicked into “survival mode.” Okay what now? What moves do I have to make right now? What do I need to do to keep paying these bills on time?
It was one of many surreal moments for me. I can’t even remember how long the phone call lasted. Once he told me I was being released I kind of stopped listening but not on purpose. I was shocked, scared, nervous, and kind of embarrassed. Until then I had accomplished so much in a short time. Training under Mikey Whipwreck in 2001, making a pretty good name for myself on the Indy Scene with thanks to Cary Silkin when I started in Ring of Honor in June of 2002.
Then I made it to TNA in 2005. Getting to not only interact with but also wrestle with legends like Sting, Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle, and Ric Flair. Now I was feeling like I somehow Failed.
I remember hanging up the phone with Terry Taylor and calling my best friend Sonjay. Oddly enough, Sonjay had not long ago gone through the same thing with this company. I remember him easing my at the time worried mind as best friends are good at doing.
Then, I called Terry Taylor back. I remember asking him to please repeat everything he said because I kind of “zoned out” when I realized what was happening. I needed a few more details which I’m sure he went over during the first conversation. Terry was very understanding and we had the same conversation all over again. One of the coolest things about that convo was near the end Terry said to me “Jay, you’re a very young kid with big hands (he always joked about me having big hands) and a bright future in this business. Don’t let this get you down. This won’t be the last time you are fired from a wrestling company. It happens to all of us several times. I’ve been hired and fired so many times it would make your head spin!”
Those words really stuck with me. Mainly since I felt at the time this was my first real taste of failure in the wrestling business. In fact, when people ask me if I have any advice for them getting into the wrestling business I give them my honest answer. It used to be “finish school first” or “just be careful.” Now I tell them that getting fired from a wrestling company isn’t the end but it’s the beginning of your biggest “Test” from this business. How you choose to react to this test will play a big part in your success in this business.
There is a really funny and ironic story about that phone call from Terry Taylor. I used to have almost daily phone conversations with Terry since he was A.) One of my bosses, and B.) He wanted to help me by telling me what to fix in the ring. No matter what, every conversation started with “Jay Lethal, you’re fired.” That was even before we said hello. We would chuckle about it and then the real conversation would start. Well, can you imagine how this phone call started???
Jay (Me): Terry!
Terry Taylor: Jay Lethal….. You’re fired.
Jay (me): Hahaha, What’s up Terry?
Terry Taylor: No….. Jay… I’m serious this time. I’m sorry.
Jay (me): Haha what is it Terry I’m in the middle of wa…..
Terry Taylor: We are releasing you from your contract. I’m serious.. I’m sorry buddy….
After that, I couldn’t really remember much as I said before that I kind of “zoned out.” I honestly think it was cool of him to start the conversation off that way. After explaining this story to some people, they thought it was very rude of him. I’m actually glad the conversation went the way it did. For starters, it makes for a cool story HAHA. Also, that’s how our relationship was. He knew I loved to laugh and joke. It also meant to me that nothing was really changing except my employer. Plus Terry knew with me being young and inexperienced to this type of thing and my chipper nature, keeping the convo playful would be a good thing.
Now to answer a question you might have thought of from earlier. Why did I never ask Terry “Why am I being released?” Part of the reason was, I think I already knew why. The company had been making budget cuts for a while at that time. That was also part of the reason that my best friend was no longer there. Come to think of it, not even Sonjay was told why he was released. Plus, I had been off of TV for about 3 months for some unknown reason right after my match with Ric Flair. The other reason I didn’t ask is because I didn’t want to. I knew all that I needed to know. Which was, they didn’t want me anymore. It’s as simple as that to me. I’m always tickled by the reasoning given behind the firing/releasing process. As a company, you either want an employee or you don’t.
Maybe that mind set was part of me being young and inexperience as I mentioned before. At the time I had the mind set that if someone doesn’t want you or to be with you, why try and change their mind? How satisfying is it to know you were wanted, and didn’t have to convince them that they want you? I received a lot of phone calls right after. Some from my friends like Sonjay, Alex Shelly, Chris Sabin, and Chris Daniels just to name a few.
Some calls even came from people I’ve never spoke on the phone with before like a few TNA office guys, Vince Russo, and even Dixie Carter. I remember having a phone conversation with Vince Russo. He called me a few days after my release. I have always gotten along with Vince Russo and still do to this day. I couldn’t think of a single mean spirited thing to say about him if I tried. One thing he said to me was “you had to have seen it coming bro. You weren’t written on tv for a few months.” He’s right, I should have seen it coming but he probably saw it before me since he was the one writing…. Haha!
I enjoyed my time there and was fully accepting of the fact that it was time to move on. While this ended a chapter in my life it has allowed me to finish a previous chapter that I left unfinished…. Ring of Honor!
To be Continued….
(Remember, you have a chance to win your purchase from my Lethal Store for free!! This is a Monthly drawing!! Just enter your order number !!!!HERE!!! for a chance to get your money back!!)