July 5, 2012

Wrestler Taz Brings Lacrosse Passion to Radio

by Matt Forman | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Taz, also known as "The Human Suplex Machine," has become a lacrosse junkie after his son picked up the sport.

The mood is about to change. Former professional wrestler and current Total Nonstop Action wrestling color commentator Taz, also known as "The Human Suplex Machine," is a lacrosse junkie. The two-time FTW and ECW World Heavyweight Champion and WWE World Tag Team Champion hosted a weekly radio show this spring called "Strong Island Lax Chat" on The Lacrosse Radio Network.

The real-life Peter Senerchia didn't know much about lacrosse until his son started playing five years ago. Now he can't get enough.

How did you get into lacrosse?
My first love was football, and that's what I played collegiately at C.W. Post. But I'm a product of the New York City school system. When I grew up in the Red Hook District of Brooklyn in the mid-80s, there was no such thing as lacrosse where we lived. We knew that kids on Long Island played lacrosse, because they were close to us. But I knew nothing about it. I just knew it was a game with metal sticks, and it was somewhat physical. Where I was from, they didn't put a metal stick in your hands.

As the years evolved, I moved out to Long Island and my son, Tyler, got into the game, and so did I. Tyler has played for the last couple years. I got hooked into being a lacrosse fan as a lacrosse dad, spending my springs and summers on the sidelines and bleachers with other parents watching lacrosse. I became a huge fan of the game on TV with collegiate games and the MLL. That's how it all started.

When did your son start playing?
This is his fifth year. Right after his fourth-grade baseball season ended, in that summer, he segued from baseball to lacrosse. He was a pretty good baseball player, but all of his friends were laxers. My theory was, if Tyler wants to play lacrosse, I can't teach him. Therefore, I lined up the best lacrosse men in front of him from this area with such a rich lacrosse tradition. Through a mutual friend, I met Mike Chanenchuk Sr., the former All-American at Navy and director of the Long Island Express club. Mike taught Tyler how to throw and catch, and after eight or nine sessions of training, Tyler really got into it. He also has trained under John Lynott, a defensive mastermind.

What are your favorite parts of lacrosse?
I like the art of defense. If you're watching a really good NCAA team and a good defensive unit, it's like The Rockettes. They move. They follow the ball together. It's just a flow. It's an art.

What kind of lacrosse player would you have been?
I would have been a faceoff guy. I was a grappler. I like the concept of one-on-one, right in the middle, and boom, just going at it. It's a physical situation and it has an important role in the game, because you want to get possession for your team. I like that pressure.

Do you have a catch now?
Tyler started throwing the ball hard and with velocity, and I didn't trust the stick in my hands. So I used a baseball glove to catch, and I would throw it free hand back to him. My son was like, 'Dad, you gotta throw it with the stick so I can see the ball coming out of the head.' I'm like, 'Listen, let's pick up a couple of your buddies and we'll all go to the park together.' So I became the taxi driver.

Tell me about your radio show.
"Strong Island Lax Chat" takes more of a casual fan's approach. It's not stat-driven. It's not X's and O's. It's conversation-driven, following a one-on-one format with guests. It's a casual approach. I'm the complete polar opposite of Quint Kessenich, because I don't have his credibility. I don't have the deep knowledge or experience as a player. If I was doing a pro wrestling show — different story — that's my wheelhouse. What I'm doing here, I'm just going to have a conversation with a guest about their history, their experiences in the game, players they've played with or against. I'm bringing my fan base from a different world, so I feel like I'm doing my part to grow the game.

Favorite moments of your wrestling career?
It's tough, I've had so many. My debut for the WWE at Madison Square Garden against Kurt Angle. That's my hometown, and I debuted at the world's most famous arena in a sold-out building with more than 20,000 people there and millions watching at home on Pay-Per-View. It was a huge moment for me. Prior to the WWE, I was fortunate to have so many great memories, matches and opponents in the ECW against guys like Sabu and Bam Bam Bigelow, with whom I had great rivalries.

Any funny post-wrestling career stories?
My finishing move was a submission move. It was a rear choke called "The Tazmission." I've had a lot of die-hard fans, if they recognize me, come up and say, 'Hey, cool, it's Taz. Put me in The Tazmission.' And I'm like, 'Nah, I can't do that.'

A version of this article appears in the July issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

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