JTG was the latest guest on Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia and the long-time partner of the late Shad Gaspard took time reflect on the memories of the hero who was once a friend, but will always be a brother to him. Lilian and he talk about how it was Shad who set JTG up with his first-ever solo apartment as he was training down in Louisville, KY at Ohio Valley Wrestling. JTG was still a teenager at the time and enjoyed the very new change in his life.
“It was very liberating. I felt free. I had my own apartment. I had to mature very quickly, cooking, cleaning. That was a lot of responsibility at 19 years old.”
He talked about having met Shad before through a familiar wrestling face.
“Yes, I met him at my first amateur show. I was introduced to him through Elijah Burke, The Pope. Yeah, he introduced me to Shad. From there, It was like a little bother, big brother relationship:
“(Shad) ‘So where you from?’ (JTG) ‘Brooklyn.’ (Shad) ‘Oh what part?’ I’m like, ‘Flatbush.’ (Shad) ‘Oh!’
“It was just the universe – the stars were just aligning. We were in the same area, same background – single mother background. We were both raised by our older sisters and we just had a lot in common so when they did put us as a tag team, it just clicked. Everything just made sense. And we were friends before we were a tag team.”
Before he ended up teaming with Shad, JTG was in a rough spot mentally.
“I almost wanted to quit. I was there for awhile and I was just down, I was like depressed. Cause being in Louisville, KY, no family. And I think it was Paul Heyman’s decision, Al Snow and Danny Davis put us together. And when I found out I was like, ‘Alright, we already have a good relationship. This could [lead] to something.’
Lilian asked how long JTG was in Louisville before he had any sort of major career breakthrough, one that did end up happening for him at the early age of 21.
“I was training with the contract class. You want to train with the contract class so you can eventually be on OVW TV so you can eventually get noticed. I wasn’t even on TV, yet so I was just there lingering,” JTG said. “When we got called we had a blast. We got into a lot of trouble but overall we had a blast.
“We didn’t do anything crazy. We did get fired, but the fans demanded us back,” JTG makes note of the moment on SmackDown when Cryme Tyme went up against Cade and Murdoch. “We got into a situation with another tag team, you remember Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, a rib gone bad. And we put our hands on the referee, you know we did our finishing move on the referee.I don’t know if you remember that? A big no-no. Then we got released, we were gone for about six months and then we came back the day after WrestleMania and that was one of the best reactions we got. I’m gonna say the second best reaction we ever got from the crowd.”
Lilian asked him what was their best reaction.
“The best was working Chris Jericho and Big Show. There was a show in New England and we were the semi-main event and the crowd was stomping their feet, ‘Cryme Tyme! Cryme Tyme!’ I remember like it was yesterday, Chris Jericho looked at me like, ‘Wow, you got that Road Warrior pop!’
“We were in the back locker room, it wasn’t even our time to perform yet, but we were doing so good on television, the segment with us, with The Big Show and Jericho for the tag team titles. It was our time. They thought we were going to get the titles and the crowd was so loud. Like, ‘Wow, we’re over, man. This feels great.'” JTG said being an over fan favorite is better than holding any type of championship gold. To be honest, it’s better than being a champion. They could put the title on anybody, but you can’t make the crowd love you and that’s what we had.
Lilian couldn’t believe that Cryme Tyme never held the tag team titles “We stole ’em. We had ’em for a few months,” JTG added. Garcia then mentions how JTG hasn’t shied away from relieving those moments about Shad when fans share videos and memories with him.
“It’s definitely helping me through this time. Like I was saying before, 80% of my phone is with videos of Shad & me. We were more than tag team partners, you know. We were friends, and eventually we were just brothers. Like his son is my nephew. His wife, I consider her my sister-in-law. We were just tight.”
JTG then talks about not being able to grieve yet because this is something that has never happened to him before – losing someone so close that was a massive part of his life.
“Yeah, I’ve been on this planet for 35 years. I’ve never lost somebody this close with me where you engage with them every day. Where you share the most intimate stories with them, and I’ve lost family, I’ve lost distant uncles and grandparents, but they’re older and it’s like, I don’t want them to be here and suffer so you know, when they transition you’re like, ‘Okay, they’re at peace.’ I’ve lost co-workers, you’ve lost a lot of co-workers, but it never really hit home like this.”
JTG later makes mention that he’s uncertain of what the future holds for him in the ring, but knows that now isn’t a good time to make any sort of decision regarding that.
“I’m rethinking wrestling. Do I want to wrestle? But that’s how I feel right now. You don’t make decisions when you’re emotional, yeah. So we’ll see how I feel further,” he said.
Outside of the ring, JTG has been busy with several projects including Sexy As Hell Beard Care, an app called EarSay and a film project surrounding homelessness in Los Angeles.
(Transcription credit should go to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone)
So much more from this intimate and heartwarming conversation between Lilian and JTG. You can check out the entire video below.