Michael Tarver on Being Bullied by John Cena in WWE

May 1, 2021 - by Steve Gerweck


On the most recent edition of Talkin’ Sass on VOC Nation, former WWE Nexus member Michael Tarver spoke out about how much adversity he faced in WWE, and how hard John Cena worked to hold him back. Here are some highlights:

On the story behind his WWE tryout: “I had only worked for about four years on the indies before I got my contract… (Drew Taylor) and I got in a car from Youngstown (Ohio) and drove up to Rochester, NY (for a tryout at a Smackdown taping)… when I get there Brodie Lee was there – so much talent – Mike Tolar was there…a bunch of people were there. What happened was, I just walked in. I wasn’t booked! I told this story a number of times, I don’t know if it (ever) got back to WWE. I literally just walked in… we go to extra talent, change, go to the ring, go to catering, and I’m literally standing there and Jamie Noble (points at me) and we get in the ring and have this match… I’m so nervous; Edge and Mark Henry and all of these Superstars that I’ve only seen on TV are taunting me and making fun of me.”

On being surprised that WWE had him on the radar: “WWE does their homework, they watch everything. (Johnny Ace) was telling me about matches that I had before I got there; I was like ‘how did you know that?’ So he said ‘I’m going to send you down to OVW.’… I leave the office and I go down to find Drew, we find a little corner and sit down, I said ‘Drew they’re sending me down to OVW.’ We literally sat there and cried.”

On getting to OVW and succeeding: “I drive to OVW, I’m nevous… Bruce Prichard was there. I just volunteered to jump into a drill… it was a psychology drill; it wasn’t (just doing) a bunch of spots, you had to connect the five moves together… That night we had a house show and they put me on a match with Ace Steel (the guy who trained Punk and Colt Cabana).”

On being part of the Floyd Mayweather match at Wrestlemania: “The perfect way to do it was to take a couple of guys from developmental that no one has ever seen before, dress them as Floyd’s entourage, that way they’re in (and) smart to the work and everything is safe… I got so much heat. I flew down March 25 which was a Tuesday, and by that Sunday I was in the main event of Wrestlemania. I got so much heat, it was crazy… They took the four guys (that were part of the entourage) and they booked us in special hotels. We’re riding around in limousines; they wanted to keep the work alive – complete kayfabe. We’re (shoot) riding around with Floyd Mayweather for four days.

On how the WWE can try to bury top developmental talents: “The irony of how WWE works, you could be the man or the woman in developmental, and (when you) get to the main roster, it doesn’t matter how good you are, if one of the main people there don’t like you they will do everything they can do to bury you…. I got to the main roster and just got buried.”

On John Cena working to destroy his career backstage: “Backstage it was just relentless. There were times where he would take liberties in the ring so (I had to defend myself)…. It was Cena. I don’t have any heat with him now, I make jokes about it. There was a target on my back. I don’t know why he targeted me, but it is what it is. We ended up on good terms (but) I had to defend myself a lot. Everyone was high on me, and then all the sudden they all turned on me. People wouldn’t shake my hand – they wouldn’t even speak to me…”

On his advocates backstage: “I thank God for people like Mark Henry and Teddy Long. Mark Henry would pull me aside a lot (and tell me to) weather the storm. ‘You got heat right now, just weather the storm.’ MVP would give me really good advice, Matt Hardy was always really cool. (They’d say) ‘you’re only getting this kind of heat because there’s something really there”

Talkin’ Sass drops every Thursday morning on the VOC Nation Wrestling Network podcast feed.

Link to the episode:

One Response

  1. Taxx W. Hoodchicken says:

    Always wished this dude got a bigger push and a stronger booking

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