Tazz

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Tazz
Tazz 2.jpg
Tazz on Raw in November 2008.
Birth name Peter Senerchia[1]
Born (1967-10-11) October 11, 1967 (age 47)[1]
Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York
Resides New York
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Kid Krush[2]
The Tasmanian Devil[2]
The Tazmaniac[2]
Taz[2]
Tazz[2][3]
Billed height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[2][3]
Billed weight 240 lb (110 kg)[2][3]
Billed from The Red Hook Section of Brooklyn, New York[2][3]
Trained by Johnny Rodz[1]
Debut 1987
Retired 2002

Peter Senerchia (born October 11, 1967)[1] is an American color commentator and former professional wrestler, best known under his ring name Taz (or Tazz). Tazz is signed to Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, where he works as a color commentator.

He is best known from his tenure in Extreme Championship Wrestling, where he was a two time World Heavyweight Champion,[4] a two time World Television Champion,[5] a three time World Tag Team Champion,[6] a two time (and the inaugural) FTW Heavyweight Champion,[7] and the fourth ECW Triple Crown Champion.

His World Wrestling Entertainment career as an in-ring performer came to an early end in 2002, when mounting injuries forced him to retire and subsequently saw him transition into a color commentary role, which he continued to do until his contract with WWE expired in April 2009.[3] Two months later, Senercia debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling at their Victory Road pay-per-view under his original Taz ring name and eventually reprised his role as a color commentator for TNA's broadcasts, replacing Don West.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Debut and early years (1987–1993)[edit]

Senerchia began wrestling in World Wrestling Council and made his professional wrestling debut on June 3, 1987[8][9] in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after being trained by Johnny Rodz. He wrestled as Kid Krush before moving on to the name Tazmaniac, which he would use variations of for the rest of his career.[1] In the early 1990s, as The Tazmaniac, he wrestled for International World Class Championship Wrestling and held its Light Heavyweight Championship for six months in 1991.[10] He would follow Tony Rumble in leaving IWCCW to join the newly established Century Wrestling Alliance. He would also tour in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Eastern / Extreme Championship Wrestling (1993–1999)[edit]

Debut and injury (1993–1995)[edit]

In October 1993, he and Joe Chetti (brother of Chris Chetti) debuted in the Philadelphia-based Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW), prior to its name change to Extreme Championship Wrestling, as the tag team The Tazmaniacs.[2] When that team broke up, he was put into another team with Kevin Sullivan, with whom he won the Tag Team Championship twice.[6] During his second reign as Tag Team Champion with Sullivan, The Tazmaniac became a double champion when he also won the Television Championship for one night in March 1994.[5] For most of the rest of the year he floated around the tag ranks, teaming with different partners. He held the title once more, this time with Sabu, until Sabu was legitimately fired by ECW owner Paul Heyman for no-showing an event in favor of touring Japan for New Japan Pro Wrestling.[11]

Tazmaniac was put out of action by a legitimate injury for much of 1995. On July 15, during a tag team match 2 Cold Scorpio and Dean Malenko delivered a spike piledriver to him, and though he knew it was about to be performed, he did not have time to properly protect himself. As he explained on the DVD documentary The Rise and Fall of ECW, "I landed right on my forehead and just jacked my whole neck back and that was it." The neck injury was so bad that, according to Tommy Dreamer, hospital staff couldn't believe he'd walked into the hospital where he sought help after the match. Though he was unable to wrestle, Paul Heyman continued to pay him per their oral agreement, forging a loyalty between the men.[12]

Return from injury and championship reigns (1995–1999)[edit]

Following his neck injury, Taz made appearances with The Steiner Brothers, even standing in their corner during matches with The Eliminators and getting physical with Jason. It was at the 1995 November to Remember, when Taz turned heel and joined up with referee Bill Alfonso. Working as the special referee for Alfonso's match with ECW commissioner Tod Gordon, Taz refused to count to three and assaulted Gordon, then making the count for Alfonso. In his post-match promo, he claimed that no one was looking after him while he was injured and that no one cared (though Heyman was still paying him, the kayfabe story was that he had been forgotten and that Alfonso was the one helping him keep food on his family's table). He was also angry that Sabu was brought back in that very night.

Taz returned to the ring On December 19, 1995 at Holiday Hell with a new look and wrestling style. The new character had him clad in a black/orange singlet and exhibiting a more physically intense in-ring style, focusing his offense on mat wrestling and suplexes, which announcer Joey Styles dubbed Taz-Plexes, earning him the nickname "The Human Suplex Machine". He also debuted his Tazmission finishing maneuver, causing opponents to tap out to signal their submission as in mixed martial arts instead of nodding their head or vocally saying "yes". This quirk was soon picked up by other companies throughout the country.[13] Heading into the summer, Taz began feuding with Tommy Dreamer, joining up with Brian Lee to face Dreamer and Terry Gordy and later Dreamer and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams. Taz also developed a friendship with The Eliminators, based on mutual respect, and they occasionally involved themselves in his matches. Perry Saturn and Taz were both trainers at ECW's House of Hardcore wrestling school. For a while, some of the students, including Mako and Chris Chetti, would accompany Taz and Alfonso to the ring as a faction known as Team Taz.[11]

At November to Remember, things seemed to come full circle, as Taz stormed to the ring and interrupted Styles and "stole Paul E.'s thunder" by announcing that there would be a "big show in the first quarter of the new year", basically telling the fans in attendance that ECW's first pay-per-view was on the horizon. At that "big show", he guaranteed that Sabu would finally face him. Later that night, he came out to force Scorpio to leave the ring and went on an angry tirade, abusing Bob Artese and holding him hostage in the ring. Several officials and wrestlers came out and Taz eventually got his hands on Paul E. The lights went out and when they came back on, Sabu was in the ring, across from Taz. This was the first time they had been in the ring together since early 1995. Before they could lock up, the lights went out again.

During Sabu's match, where he teamed with Rob Van Dam to face The Eliminators and The Gangstas in a three-way dance, Taz attempted to attack his former partner, but Van Dam saved Sabu and was choked out in the aisle. This distraction caused Sabu to get hit with Total Elimination and his team lost. Taz also began a mini-feud with Rob Van Dam, dominating him in every match and was also out for a short time to get surgery on his injured shoulder. As 1996 ended and 1997 began, Taz and Sabu continued to try getting at one another, with no actual contact.

Early in 1997, the antagonism between Sabu and Taz was growing, as Taz attacked Sabu's partner, Rob Van Dam, costing the team matches with The Eliminators and other teams. In the months leading to ECW's first pay-per-view, Taz would choke out low-level wrestlers with the Tazmission due to viewing his matches as secondary to his rivalry with Sabu. He then dominated another series of matches with Van Dam before meeting Sabu at Barely Legal, where Taz defeated him with the Tazmission,[14] only to have his manager Bill Alfonso turn on him and join Sabu and his partner Rob Van Dam.[1] In response, Taz began teaming with Chris Candido to face Sabu and Van Dam.

Two months later at Wrestlepalooza, Taz lost to Sabu in the rematch, marking his first loss since 1995. However, later in the night, he won the World Television Championship from Shane Douglas to begin his second reign.[5] He defended the title against all comers, including Douglas, Lance Storm, John Kronus, Al Snow, Jerry Lynn and Chris Candido. Throughout late 1997, Taz began feuding with The Triple Threat in addition to Sabu and Van Dam, where he sometimes teamed up with Tommy Dreamer during the feud. At November to Remember, he issued a challenge to World Heavyweight Champion Bam Bam Bigelow. The two would eventually meet, after Bigelow turned on Taz in a match against Shane Douglas and Chris Candido. Taz would ultimately lose the title to Bam Bam Bigelow at Living Dangerously on March 1, 1998.

After losing the World Television Championship, Taz was elevated into the World Heavyweight Championship picture. In May 1998, with Shane Douglas injured and unable to wrestle, Taz was given an old World Television Championship belt painted orange—his trademark color—and began cutting promos, declaring himself the FTW Heavyweight Champion. Though the championship was unsanctioned in storyline, it was defended at ECW shows until Douglas was healthy,[15] at which time Taz defeated him for the World Heavyweight Title.[16]

Just before winning the World Heavyweight Title, Taz "gave" the FTW Heavyweight Title to long-time foe Sabu in a match where he physically pulled Sabu on top of him to allow him to get the pin.[7] Taz held the World Heavyweight Championship for nine months before he signed with the World Wrestling Federation, losing the title as the first man eliminated in a three-way dance at Anarchy Rulz.[17] As he walked out of the ring, a large portion of the ECW locker room joined him on the entrance ramp to give him an emotional sendoff. After being off of ECW television for most of the fall, he wrestled one final match as an ECW performer at November to Remember, losing to Rob Van Dam via pinfall.[18] In the DVD The Rise and Fall of ECW, Taz said that he sign with the WWE because he was in the top of the company and he lost his passion.[11]

World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment (2000–2009)[edit]

Debut and The Alliance (2000–2002)[edit]

After being contacted by the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling in 1999,[19] Taz debuted for the WWF, with the slightly modified ring name Tazz, at the 2000 Royal Rumble with a win over the previously undefeated Kurt Angle at the Madison Square Garden.[20] Just a few months after Tazz arrived in the WWF, Mike Awesome, the man he had lost the ECW World Heavyweight Championship to at Anarchy Rulz, signed with World Championship Wrestling. Legal wrangling by Paul Heyman prevented Awesome from taking the title belt with him, and in a piece of bizarre wrestling history, ECW and WWF officials agreed to have Tazz, a WWF wrestler, make a surprise appearance at an ECW show to defeat Awesome, a WCW wrestler, for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.[21] Tazz held the belt for ten days before losing it to Tommy Dreamer, during which time he wore it on various WWF shows, including an episode of SmackDown! where he lost to the WWF Champion Triple H,[22] a booking decision Vince McMahon later expressed some regret about.[23]

After losing the ECW World Heavyweight Title, Tazz was placed into contention for the Intercontinental Championship, but never won the title. In the summer, after taking time off for an arm injury, he was turned into a villainous character and placed into a feud with color commentator Jerry "The King" Lawler.[24] The feud included matches at SummerSlam[25] and Unforgiven, which they split.[26] Tazz was only able to pick up the Unforgiven win when he received help from Raven, who had returned to the company. Afterwards, the duo formed a tag team that lasted until November.

When the Invasion angle began, Tazz acted as "the voice of the WCW/ECW Alliance", sticking up for them and speaking on their behalf whenever possible. He eventually left the stable after the leader Stone Cold Steve Austin criticized his decision to stay on commentary rather than help ECW owner Stephanie McMahon.[27]

Commentating (2002–2009)[edit]

With injuries mounting,[28] Tazz began performing part-time commentary on Sunday Night Heat in October 2000. He joined the SmackDown! team in February 2001 after Jerry "The King" Lawler quit the company, after calling his first pay-per-view on No Way Out with Jim Ross, as well as becoming one of the trainers for the joint WWF/MTV produced reality series Tough Enough.[24] Lawler returned to the company on November 19, 2001 and resumed his place as commentator, with Tazz becoming both a wrestler and a commentator.[29] In January 2002, he and Spike Dudley won the Tag Team Championship,[30] holding it for over a month before losing it to Billy and Chuck.[31]

Tazz signing autographs in 2006

When World Wrestling Entertainment split into two brands, Tazz was put on the SmackDown! brand, where he resumed his color commentator duties.[32] Not long after he retired from the ring, he became a full-time broadcaster.[33] He co-hosted SmackDown! for World Wrestling Entertainment until a third brand, ECW, was introduced in 2006, at which point he became the color commentator for that show.[3] He was also the co-host, with Joey Styles, of History of Extreme Championship Wrestling on WWE 24/7 Classics, a show that re-airs archived episodes of the original ECW's weekly television programs. Before and during episodes he and Styles provide insight into the storylines, inner workings, and general ambiance of ECW at the time—as they remember it.

In February 2006, Tazz and his SmackDown! broadcasting partner, Michael Cole, hosted a week long trial run of a show on Howard 101 on Sirius Satellite Radio, but the show was not picked up. He also hosted a talk show on 92.3 Free FM at sporadic intervals between late summer 2006 and early 2007, but it was not picked up and the station changed formats, replacing all post morning programming with music. On June 11, 2006, Tazz wrestled his final match to date, defeating Jerry Lawler at ECW One Night Stand.[34]

During the recording of the April 29, 2008 episode of ECW, Tazz's broadcast partner Mike Adamle abruptly walked off set prior to the main event. Moments later, after reading the promo for the upcoming pay-per-view, Tazz walked out as well, leaving the main event with no commentators.[35] On December 13, 2010, Tazz joined Right After Wrestling and said that it pisses him off when companies try to re-create the original ECW. He stated that the original ECW worked because "It was that era, that group of people, that leader in Paul Heyman. We were that little engine that could."[36]

In August 2008, Tazz filled in for Mick Foley as a color commentator on the SmackDown brand, while Raw wrestler Matt Striker filled in for Tazz on the ECW brand. When Foley left the company, Tazz became the permanent color commentator for the SmackDown brand once again. On April 3, 2009, Tazz left WWE when his contract expired. His WWE.com profile was moved from the active SmackDown roster list to the alumni list for a short time, before being completely removed, confirming his departure from the company.

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2009–present)[edit]

Taz (left) with his commentary partner, Mike Tenay in July 2010.

At Victory Road, Senercia, under his Taz ring name, made his official debut during Samoa Joe's match against Sting, revealing himself to be Joe's on-screen adviser and consequently a heel as well as an ally of the Main Event Mafia. The match ending was booked as Taz's presence enabling Joe to recover from Sting's Scorpion Deathlock and win the match via submission after applying the Coquina Clutch.[37]

On the August 20, 2009 episode of Impact!, Taz replaced Don West as the promotion's color commentator and also became a face upon stating that he was only loosely associated with the Mafia and that he had taught Joe everything he knew and that it was now up to Joe to use his newfound skills.[38][39] In May 2012, Taz began appearing as a judge in the monthly Gut Check segment on Impact Wrestling.[40]

On the January 17, 2013 episode of Impact Wrestling, Taz was a groomsman at the wedding between Bully Ray and Brooke Hogan. As Ray and Brooke exchanged their vows, Taz interrupted the ceremony and proclaimed himself to be a member of Aces & Eights after revealing a kutte underneath his coat, turning heel again in the process. Following his revelation, Aces & Eights ambushed the ceremony and attacked Ray, his groomsmen Tommy Dreamer and Brother Runt and Brooke's father Hulk.[41] The following week on Impact Wrestling, Taz revealed that he joined Aces & Eights because of his desire to be a member of a group that adheres to a higher power.[42] On the November 21 episode of Impact Wrestling, Aces & Eights was forced to disband after Bully Ray lost to Mr. Anderson, which also saw Anderson retain his career in TNA.[43]

Personal life[edit]

Senerchia and his wife Theresa have a son named Tyler.[44] He has a tattoo of the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil on his upper left biceps accompanied by the legend TAZ. His action figure produced by Jakks Pacific does not include the character, but does include the name. He has a self designed tattoo on his left lower biceps. Senerchia played high school football. Senerchia also studied judo prior to entering the professional wrestling circuit. He is a fan of the New York Mets, New York Knicks, and the New York Jets.

In wrestling[edit]

  • Nicknames
    • "The Human Suplex Machine"[58]
    • "The Most Miserable Man / Son of a Bitch on the Planet"[59]
    • "The One-Man Crime Spree"[60]

Wrestlers trained[edit]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Amateur wrestling[edit]

  • Empire States Heavyweight Champion[65]

Professional wrestling[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Tazz profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
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  65. ^ Noted by Joey Styles during the 1997 November to Remember broadcast
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External links[edit]