Tazz: The next Calvin Klein?
When the WWE Universe sees SmackDown announcer Tazz behind the table, or reminisce about his time inside the squared circle, they may see a real tough guy from Brooklyn. However, to his son and his son's little league baseball team, the ECW Legend is a skilled graphic designer. (See Tazz's designs)
"I'm not Calvin Klein, but I'm pretty good," said Tazz, who designed his son's little league baseball team's uniforms. "Most people are surprised that I have this as a talent, especially if they've seen me on TV," said the tough-as-nails commentator. "I like that people are a little surprised to hear that I know how to do graphic designs. It shows a different side of me. I'm far from being one-dimensional."
Tazz discovered his knack for designing during his days as an original ECW Superstar. In ECW's heyday, Tazz would travel to the company that printed ECW apparel. While there, he would absorb the actions of the designers. As he watched and learned more about the process, his fondness for the craft grew, and Tazz bought the program they had been using and taught himself. Former ECW Executive Paul Heyman discovered the now-SmackDown announcer's hidden talent, and enlisted the former ECW Champion to design various company and Superstar logos along with ring attire. (Get ECW apparel at WWE Shop)
"[Paul] trusted me to design a lot of ECW stuff, because it was selling. At times, I would have to design T-shirts for my nemesis," explained "The Human Suplex Machine," who co-created ECW's original barbed wired logo. "I really got enjoyment out of it. I was such a tense individual back then. When I would sit in front of my cheap laptop, coming up with designs ... that would calm me down."
And, when Tazz brought his in-ring talents to WWE, it wasn't long before WWE Chairman Vince McMahon recognized his creativity. McMahon allowed Tazz to create concepts for his signature merchandise. The ECW Legend agreed that merchandise is a collaborative effort between the designer and the Superstar, and that working relationship ultimately determines the success of the product.
"Your fan base won't buy it if they don't think you'll wear it. You've got to design something that the Superstar will go out there and wear on TV. You never know what is going to take off. It can be something as simple "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's 3:16 T-shirt. To this day, that shirt is still a best seller," Brooklyn's Red Hook-section native explained.
The ECW Legend, a supporter of youth and community sports leagues, never misses an opportunity to cheer for his son's little league team. So, when the program was deciding on uniforms, Tazz volunteered to design the team's logo and apparel.
"It's cool watching my son and all his buddies playing and wearing the jerseys and hats I designed," said Tazz, who also designed uniforms for Long Island college teams. "I don't think it's proper to charge a youth program, when everyone else in the program volunteers their time. The money from any T-Shirt sold goes directly to that program for the kids."
In the WWE Universe, our Superstars and Divas are applauded for their acrobatic abilities inside the ring and the work they do outside of the squared circle. Tazz is grateful for that praise, and hopes fans continue to recognize the latter.
"If fans read WWE.com's Over the Ropes section, they'd see all the different abilities our Superstars and Divas have. There's a lot more to being a WWE Superstar than just going out and wrestling. I'm a testament that you can accomplish anything. I'm just a kid from Brooklyn who ‘stole' a laptop and knows how to use it," Tazz said with an ear-to-ear grin.