Our correspondent, Jaychele Nicole, hosted an interview with The Mane Event or TME as a part of Bodyslam.Net’s newest series “Meet…” We will be giving you an exclusive look into the minds of the hottest independent talent. This interview comes ahead of their upcoming match against Members Only at Absolute Intense Wrestling’s We Had A Few Hits A Few Years Ago on December 18th. The event will be streaming on IWTV.
The two members of The Mane Event (TME) are Duke Davis and Ganon Jones Jr. They have been featured on AEW: Dark/AEW: Dark Elevation. They are two agile 6’5″, 250+ guys. Below, Ganon explains how the team came to be:
“As far as what brought us together as a tag team, we both came into the wrestling business as singles wrestlers. We both came in very similar. We both started in Pittsburgh, trained at the same place, us both being big guys. We’re both 6’5′. Both over 250 pounds, both some pretty big guys. The way I was being used as a singles wrestler was kind of like how you would see Kane and Undertaker be used. They’re the big guy. It’s so weird. I was wrestling a few years, and I actually went down with a knee injury right around the same time Duke was starting to get traction on his own. So I went down, and in comes another 6 foot 5, 250+ pound guy with dreadlocks. It’s almost like I could’ve just retired at that point. Oh well, he replaced me. So, we both kind of did our singles thing, and whenever I came back, we just started talking. We were like, “It’d be really cool if we were a tag team. Like, it’d be cool.” A lot of people were against it honestly. We would bring it up to other promoters, bookers, and people who’ve been in the industry for a while. 98% of them were like, “Nah, I don’t see it. I don’t think it’s a good idea. You guys are good individually. You don’t want to take away two good singles entities and put it into one thing. You can get more mileage by yourself.” We were like, “Mhm yeah, kinda really want to do the tag team thing.” I think for us both, our minds were just in it. We did have a couple of people who really did support us. They said, “That’s a great idea. You guys are big. Hawk and Animal. I see it. You could be a thing.” That’s always solid. One thing led to another, and then we just went all in on the tag thing. We’ve been doing it for about four and a half years at this point. We completely got rid of the singles deals. The rest is history.”
Through social media, the tag team has been able to gain a lot of traction. They have created hype videos for upcoming matches, been active in Twitter ‘spaces’, and even held their own locker room presser. Duke explains their marketing decisions:
“We weren’t heavy on Twitter before. We were like Facebook type. We were like Facebook heavy, and more like Instagram posting pictures and stuff like that. We weren’t heavy like on Twitter. I think the pandemic happened, and we pretty much started just like tweeting more. We went down to AEW, and we just were talking to each other and said, “You know we got to work on social media stuff.” I think we talked about it, but we didn’t have a design like, “We’re going to do this.” It was kind of just like, “We’re going to start being more social on Twitter” and we kind of started to do that recently. Spaghetti against the wall type deal. You just keep throwing stuff out there and see what sticks. We just started doing videos more, like promo stuff. It seemed to be getting some traction.”
One of the most unique parts of their tag team is the investment they put into their presentation. A key part of their presentation is Ganon’s Gatorade water bottle. During their entrance, Ganon takes the opportunity to hydrate himself by squeezing some water into his mouth from the easily recognizable water bottle. The water bottle became so noticed by viewers that a fan decided to create a Twitter page for it. Ganon details the origin of the Gatorade bottle and the significance of it:
“It never really meant to be more than an entrance prop. The way we model ourselves as professional wrestlers, it’s very true, we look at ourselves as professional athletes who happen to wrestle professionally. We look at ourselves as pro athletes first. A big influence for us in wrestling, a lot of times, isn’t wrestling related. We watch post-game interviews from NBA and NFL players and take bits and pieces of how they act, and how their mannerisms are, and implement that into wrestling. The pro athlete side of us has always been a big appeal to us. The water bottle thing was just a nod to, “I’m coming out to the ring. I’m ready. Let me spray some water in my mouth,” like you see basketball players and NFL players do. It’s just a normal thing. It literally never meant to be more than just an entrance thing. Now, I feel like that’s just me now. People see me and they’ll be like, “Oh where’s your water bottle at?” I just respond like, “Where is my water bottle at? I don’t know, in my bag somewhere.” To me, it was never a big deal, but I guess it’s become that. It’s my Mr. Socko, or Al Snow, it’s his mannequin head. Wrestlers end up having a prop, and it kind of just is their thing. It just happened I guess.”
Duke and Ganon have worked a few AEW Dark/Dark: Elevation tapings over this past year. They did a few tapings when AEW was at Daily’s Place and have continued to do some while they are on the road. Ganon discussed the support they have received from the members of the company and the overall environment backstage from their perspective:
“I would say, overall, in general, the support at AEW is amazing. It seems that way for everybody. You know, the way they kind of approach wrestling, it’s a beautiful thing. I wish more wrestling companies would do it. It’s crazy because it’s such a big company, but it’s such a family, like a team atmosphere. Everyone truly has everyone’s back, and they want everyone to be better. They want everyone to look better, and get better, and do better. A lot of times, in locker rooms, that’s not the case. It’s more, “I want this specific person, or these three people to be really good, and I really don’t care about the rest.” But, that’s never the vibe at AEW. You’ll have your match and you get feedback from people. Good, bad, or indifferent. If you ask people, they’ll tell you. Surprisingly, it’s surprising to me, maybe this is normal, but everyone watches what’s going on. You’ll come backstage, and people you didn’t expect to be watching your match or have any interest in what was going on, they were watching. They’ll pull you aside, and they’ll give you tidbits about what they’ve seen. That’s awesome. That’s every time we’ve ever been down there. We’ve got to work with them five or six times now. That is a consistent thing, it’s not like it just happened once and then never again. Every single time, you see them like that with other people as well, so you know it’s across the board. It’s a very supportive environment, which is awesome.”
We have seen the TME guys push for more tag team matches to be booked on independent shows. They were even able to have a show in honor of the movement. Duke speaks about the inception of the movement and how the #BookMoreTagMatches show came to be:
“We’re really into tag wrestling. We love tag team wrestling. Like tag team matches, we love the art of it. We studied it, like from when we were kids. Ganon and I, we talk about it a lot. We watch WCW a lot. That was our common bond. You know what I mean? It was watching WCW, and that type of stuff. On the indy level, I don’t know if people notice it, but you might have one tag match. On some shows, you might have none, or they’ll have a three-way tag match, something like that. We kept seeing it. I think I was at a point where I was kind of being upset about it. I remember I said something to Ganon like, “We got to start booking more tag matches.” Then, I just tweeted it. I just put it out there like, ‘#BookMoreTagMatches. This is really the PG side of this conversation. I put it out there because I was just like, “Yo man, we keep seeing this over and over again.” There’s a lot of good tag teams. It’s one of those things where we need tag matches to be seen more because at the height of any company, the tag division was always prominent. At the height of any division, any company, any era, it always had decent tag matches. It was always featuring a lot of tag matches. You can tell a story that way. We weren’t seeing it. We just put it out there, ‘#BookMoreTagMatches.’ I told someone before, we were talking before on a podcast, I was like, “It could’ve fell flat. No one could’ve liked it. No one could’ve retweeted it. It could’ve just been like any other tweet because it was just a tweet. But, it didn’t.” So, it inspired us to keep going. The company you’re talking about, Pro Wrestling Conquest, they liked what we were doing. They liked the speed that we were moving and the momentum and attention we were getting. So they were like, “Let’s do a whole show.” They hit us up and were like, “Would it be okay if we called the next show Book More Tag Matches?” We were like, “Yeah!” That’s a big pat on the back for a company, especially in this day and era. I don’t know if you know this, but we’re two 6’5″, 260 pound Black guys. You know what I mean? So, for us to have a situation where a company is coming to us to say they want to make a show basically catering to our tagline we just tweeted about, is a big thing. We pretty much kept the ball moving with that. After that show, we got to keep it going. We got to do some more stuff. So, we got more stuff in the works that we’re trying to build off this #BookMoreTagMatches.”
At the #BookMoreTagMatches show powered by Pro Wrestling Conquest, TME put on one of their most notable matches. They put on a great showing and were able to defeat The Awakening, FKA The Ascension. You can find that match below:
In order to check out all of the great work these two guys are doing, you can support them through the links below!
Follow The Mane Event/TME on Twitter here. Follow them on Instagram here. You can subscribe to their YouTube here. They are also accessible on Facebook here. They also have What a Maneuver! site, along with a Pro Wrestling Tees site.
For the full interview, you can check it out on YouTube here:
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